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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good Behavior (by Nathan L. Henry)

At age 16, Nathan Henry spent a year in county jail, most of it spent waiting on his trial for armed robbery.

He really wasn't a bad kid. Not the kind of kid whose parents just know when he's born that he's trouble. But he became the kind of kid nightmares are made of--drugs, violence, sex, and some seemingly psychotic tendencies (what do you call killing gophers because you can?). Add in a painfully rural small town childhood, a father forcing his own psychoses on Nate, and a mental health system that "healed him up, then shipped him out" without a second glance. But Nate's not a lost cause. And I think that's the real lesson for adults--that not every kid who seems to be really is unreachable and unredeemable. They can be salvaged, can be turned, even when we don't try.

Nate's story is gritty and compelling. This was not merely a page-turner, it was a page-gripping read that I didn't put down until I was finished. Nate's story, told in alternating chapters (the life that led to jail and the months he spent there reflecting), is reality. While some may think it an extreme case of teenage reality, I think it will be altogether too familiar to many

Nathan's story of his year in jail and the life that led him there combine to create a powerful portrait of an American youth gone bad—and a moving story of redemption.
(From the Bloomsbury site blurb.)

This title is not yet available for purchase. I received an ARC while at TLA this year. The book is due to be published in July 2010, from Bloomsbury Publishing. Because it has not yet been finalized and published, there is no cover art to share.

The Kid Table (by Andrea Seigel)

Thanksgiving and you're stuck at the kid table again? You know the rules:

1. You're a kid until the adults say you're not.* You can drive, but you still have to sit with a toddler.
2. Know your role: If the family thinks you're rebellious, rebel.
3. What happens at the kid table stays at the kid table. Talking to a cousin is like talking to a priest.
*The definition of kid does not have to be equal or fair; cousins may be upgraded to the adult table at any time.
(From the front cover of the ARC)

Just reading the blurb on the front of the ARC had me going---I remember my years at the kid table all too well. Ours even had varying sizes as the majority of us got older and couldn't fit at the little one anymore.

Ingrid and her teenage cousins are perpetually stuck at the kid table, until Brianne shows up for their 40-something uncle's "bar mitzvah" with her new boyfriend. Suddenly, everyone's anxious to be seen as an adult, except for maybe Ingrid.

Ingrid's long been a little on the outside--just as loved and close to all her cousins as the others, but somehow a little separate. She doesn't emote unless necessary and often comes across as cold to the family. Couple that with the odd fact that pets seem to die around her, suddenly and strangely, and well...maybe Brianne the psychology major is right about her "diagnosis" of Ingrid. The introduction of Brianne's boyfriend causes some serious turmoil for Ingrid, and just might crack her shell.

I love the characters in this book. Everyone is so vividly real that I felt that I could've been at my own family's kid table. All of them have a coming of age moment or two, but there's none of the requisite (and often overdone) teenage angstiness that so many YA novels have. In the end they all realize what the kid table has always meant for the whole family, and how they've all evolved.

This title is not yet available for purchase. I received an ARC at TLA this year. The book is due to be published September 2010, from Bloomsbury Children's Books. Because the book has not yet been finalized and published, there is no cover art to share.

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