Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Salon: YA Fiction

I have a lot of reading news for the Salon this week! First of all, I finished all 3 of my YA novels that I took on vacation, so I am feeling pretty good about myself in the reading world again! I'll tell you about them a little further down.
Secondly, I discovered a book blog that is new to me, My Friend Amy. Amy writes about a lot of mainstream/popular books, and she is sponsoring a blog carnival in a few weeks for all book bloggers! She is calling it Book Bloggers Appreciation Week. She'd like participants to register so she can maintain a list. There will be prizes and giveaways, The Oscars of Books!
Amy is a LOST fanatic, just like me! Actually, I think she is worse because she attends conventions and reads all the blogs about LOST. Anyhoo...She is running a LOST books challenge. If you are unfamiliar with this TV show, there are many references to a variety of books: classics, children's lit, obscure older books, etc. Some are actual books that characters are reading, others are names of characters taken from books, all different literary allusions. (I hope I used that fancy word properly!)
The challenge is to select 5 books from the series and read them by December 31. I have never done a book challenge, so I thought I'd give it a try. These are the ones I have chosen.
After All These Years by Susan Isaacs
Bad Twin by Gary Troup
Dirty Work by Stuart Woods
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
(Can you believe I've never read this?)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Or this? What a heathen!)
On to some YA Fiction!
Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught is the story of Jamie, a high school senior who loves journalism and is writing a weekly column for her school newspaper about being Fat Girl. The story is told through the columns, as well as Jamie's first person narrative. I discovered this book through Becky's Book Reviews. Becky always seems to hit it right on the money for me, whether she likes or dislikes a book.
Jamie is a wonderful writer, as is Susan Vaught, the author of the entire book, which is important, because she needs to win the National Feature Award to pay the college tuition that her working class parents just can't afford. She wants to attend Northwestern University as a journalism major. Besides being a writer, Jamie is an actress and has had key, but not starring, roles in all the school musicals. Her boyfriend Burke is a member of the football team, and her two best girl friends are NoNo, a sensitive, vegetarian activist, and Freddie, a fashionable, African-American lesbian. I did not love the friends as characters, and I especially wanted to slap NoNo and tell her to get over herself. I thought they were somewhat one-dimensional, which often happens in YA books. However, in a crisis, everyone was always mature and understanding of each other, which often doesn't happen in real life.
Jamie's column is the focus of the book, and it soon takes on a life of its own. First local media are interested in her story, then national. Some want to know if she considers herself a role model or an advocate for the obese. Obese, by the way, is a word Jamie strongly dislikes. She is FAT. Deal with it. Some say she is the poster child for what is wrong with the health of the young people in our country. Throughout it all, Jamie stays strong for one so young, but these questions make her start to question why she is writing on particular topic, should she consider bariatric surgery, and will she always be Fat Girl.
I really enjoyed the information Jamie shares about how daily life as a Fat Girl is different than for a Skinny Girl. For example, she goes to the doctor and can't wear the jonny, as well as other problems with the exam room. She tells the readers about the difficulty of buying clothes, being taken seriously, being served in stores. Something else Jamie does is only eat in her own home. Because of this, when she gets home after school, newspaper, and play practice, she is starving, and scarfs down entire pots of stew, pints of ice cream, etc. However, never does she see this as a problem, it's just the way her life is. She comes from a family with fat genes, so deal with it is her motto.
Overall, Big Fat Manifesto is a great read. I liked that the ending didn't wrap everything up in a pretty bow. Jamie is still conflicted about her weight and her "role model" status and readers don't know if she will get into Northwestern or win the National Feature Award.
I will save my other YA novels for another post, as this one is getting very long! Be sure to stop by the Sunday Salon and see what others are enjoying!


Table Talk said...

Not a YA author I know. Is she published in the UK, do you know? I must have a look round the library site and see if I can find her work.

gautami tripathy said...

It is so difficult to get to read certain authors in India. Unless you find those in pavements book bazaars..

Do check out my Sunday Salon posts :D

SS 1: Review of The Dark Child

SS 2: Musings about books

Stephanie said...

I love YA books!! I think I finished 3 myself in the last few weeks. Can't wait to read your other reviews.

I also joined the Lost book Challenge. LOVE that show!! To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

nikkicrumpet said...

Hi Elizabeth

I'm jealous of your reading time...I have been reading the same book for a whole week...which for me is bizarre. It seems that blogging is taking up much of my reading time! Have a great night!

Janet said...

I am ashamed to say I have never read "To Kill a Mockingbird" either and even more shameful I am not in the least inclined to read it now, lol. I love being old enough and sure enough of myself to admit that!