Monday, September 11, 2006

Looking for Alaska...literally and figuratively...

I have two reviews for you today. One, Looking For Alaska, deals with a young man's coming-of-age struggle as he finds his place in the world. It is both humorous and philosophical in nature. The second, Alabama Moon, is another coming-of-age novel; however, Moon Blake is many years younger than Miles Halter and has an even longer journey he must take to make sense of his surroundings.

Green, John. 2005. LOOKING FOR ALASKA. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525475060 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

LOOKING FOR ALASKA is a coming-of-age novel starring Miles Halter and his eccentric cast of friends. Miles had always been different from his peers; for years he’d been searching for the “Great Perhaps” but he finally begins to understand the meaning of life when he ventures forth into the great unknown leaving his familiar home and school in Florida for his new life at a boarding school in Alabama. Miles, like all the characters in LOOKING FOR ALASKA, has his own eccentricities. Mile’s eccentric obsession—besides his love for philosophy—is his fascination with memorizing the last words of famous people. “It was an indulgence, learning last words. Other people had chocolate; I had dying declarations” (11). Miles, nicknamed, “Pudge,” is soon initiated into a close circle of friends including his roommate Chip Martin (the Colonel) and Alaska Young. It is his relationships with his friends—Alaska in particular—that will change his life forever.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA is well written. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny such as when Pudge and his friends are playing pranks on their peers or pondering the glory of the bufriedo, a deep-fried burrito, and at other times deeply touching such as when Pudge and Alaska are discussing the meaning of life and what it means to truly live.

John Green's Weblog
John Green's Bio

Key, Watt. 2006. ALABAMA MOON. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. ISBN 0374301840. [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]

Moon Blake, a.k.a. “Alabama Moon,” is a ten year old boy who bears more weight on his shoulders than any child should ever have to endure. Raised in the forest by a father of questionable mental health, Moon knows more about nature and living off the land than almost anyone. But when his father dies due to complications from a broken leg--he refuses to have Moon seek help from the ‘outside’ world--Moon learns that what he knows about deers, snakes, rabbits, and squirrels won’t help him when it comes to surviving in human society. And human society seems to be a fate Moon can’t outrun as more people become aware of his existence. How can the state allow a ten-year-old-boy to run wild in the forest without proper care and schooling? But can a boy who has only been taught to mistrust and hate ever learn to trust and love other humans or is he destined to be a wondering loner like his father? His father’s dying words spoke to him of his dream that Moon would be able to make his way to Alaska and live free and strong with others ‘of his kind.’ As Moon struggles between awakening dreams of his own--friendship, love, and companionship with his peers-- and his father’s dying request, the boy becomes a strong and confident young man finally free to make his own decisions and merge his two realities.

Watt Key Official Site


Anonymous,  6:28 PM  

reminds me of my own upbringing. Well, the "father of questionable mental health" part anyway.

Sounds like a great book - another good selection by Ms. Becky.


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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