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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors



Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
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2 Remote Warehouse Children's Young Adult- Social Issue Fiction

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ISBN13: 9780811867801
ISBN10: 0811867803
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Doomed loves, failed families, nixed dreamssomeone else's leftovers are heaped on our plates the day we come into this world.

Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald's counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life thats anything but, how long can normal really last?

Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree's mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother's boyfriend one rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.

Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel's sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when an unexpected phone call forces a trip to visit a sick grandmother she's never met, revealing her family's dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.

As three girls from three different decades lives converge, they discover they are connected ways they could never imagine. Each of them finds strength that brings her closer to healing a painful past, and faith that there is a happier future.

Review:

"Kwasney's evocative story shifts between the lives of three struggling 15-year-old girls being raised by single mothers in small New York cities. Madeline, living in 1977 Elmira, N.Y., is overweight, depressed and overburdened: 'I will always be stuck here. In this spot. In this body. I will never be a spirit. Or anything other than what I am,' she thinks. Her life consists of babysitting her alcoholic mother, until she meets sensitive Tad and begins to hope for a life with a stable family. In 1993, Desiree, whose story is told in free verse, is raped by her mother's boyfriend, Larry, becomes pregnant and flees with her boyfriend, Jeremy, who believes he is the father. And in present-day Poughkeepsie, overachieving Ariel's ambitions and friendships are stifled by her controlling boyfriend. Ultimately the girls' stories converge as they cope with the hands they've been dealt ('We all inherit someone else's leftovers,' Ariel muses) and attempt to build better lives. Kwasney's (Itch) protagonists are distinctive and empathetic, her narratives meticulously structured and realistic, exposing the unpredictability — and sometimes unfairness — that life can bring. Ages 14 — up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

At 15, every girl believes her mother has always been middle-aged and clueless. But this compelling novel tells the other side of the story through the alternating voices of Madeline, Desiree, and Ariel. Living in three different decades, each young woman comes face to face with harsh realities.

About the Author

Michelle D. Kwasney has written two middle grade novels: Baby Blue, named a Booksense Pick and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and Itch, released in 2007. Michelle lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she writes and teaches art. Visit her at www.michelledkwasney.com to learn more.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Jodeana, February 13, 2010 (view all comments by Jodeana)
It’s a simple question: How does your mother influence your behavior? In fact, it’s such a common cultural happening for us to blame our lives on our parents that I am surprised no one has explored this theme in this way before. In a no holds barred method of storytelling, Ms. Kwasney follows the lives of three teenaged girls as they become mothers and the subsequent lives of their daughters. It starts in the 60s with Madeline whose mother is a drunk. Madeline’s mother drowns her sorrows in beer they can’t afford. Madeline drowns her own sorrows in food, until at over 200 lbs. she finally meets Tad who sees her for the beauty she is. Replacing her need for food with her need for Tad, Madeline finally finds love and attention. . .and a baby. Enter the early 80s and Desiree. Desiree’s story is told in free verse with and all in lower case which is, perhaps, a nod to Sylvia Plath. After the death of her father, her mother, Madeline, has finally replaced Desiree’s father with Larry—a man who “only wants them to be a family.” Ever suspicious of Desiree’s motives and behavior, Madeline accuses her daughter of being a slut and regularly rampages though Desiree’s room looking for evidence. Unfortunately, she is only too willing to ignore the evidence that Larry has raped her daughter. The ensuing pregnancy is blamed on Desiree’s boyfriend, Jeremy, and is the beginning of the end of Desiree and Madeline’s relationship. That pregnancy is the beginning of Ariel, named not for the mermaid, Sylvia Plath’s work, Ariel. Desiree has longed to do everything differently with Ariel. Her approach is different from that of her mother’s and this is the foundation of Desiree’s relationship with Ariel. Meanwhile, Shane, Ariel’s boyfriend, has managed to infiltrate that cocoon of mother-daughter safety, and in a series of increasingly erratic and abusive behaviors is pressuring Ariel into a relationship that exclusively revolves around him with no room for friends or family. Soon she begins to recognizes that Shane is leaving her not even enough room for herself. The stories are told simultaneously, alternating between episodes in the lives of these connected women. Adults reading the book are going to shudder as all of the red flags of abusive behavior rear their ugly heads and at the helplessness of a young woman trapped by an older man willing to exploit her mother’s weaknesses. Sexuality is not described in graphic detail, but there is enough to clearly demonstrate the dichotomy between a loving relationship and a relationship built on selfish needs. It’s a book with a lot of potential as a read-aloud, and is one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to young ladies who may find themselves in similar situations. Perhaps this theme has been explored before and the books have been so nondescript that it was just waiting for an author like Ms. Kwasney to do it justice.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780811867801
Author:
Kwasney, Michelle D.
Publisher:
Chronicle Books
Subject:
Mothers and daughters
Subject:
Forgiveness
Subject:
Social Issues - Adolescence
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-Adolescence
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Subject:
Situations / Adolescence
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090923
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 9 up to 17
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.5 x 6 x 1.25 in 1.48 lb
Age Level:
14-22

Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Adolescence
Young Adult » General

Blue Plate Special New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$16.99 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Chronicle Books - English 9780811867801 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Kwasney's evocative story shifts between the lives of three struggling 15-year-old girls being raised by single mothers in small New York cities. Madeline, living in 1977 Elmira, N.Y., is overweight, depressed and overburdened: 'I will always be stuck here. In this spot. In this body. I will never be a spirit. Or anything other than what I am,' she thinks. Her life consists of babysitting her alcoholic mother, until she meets sensitive Tad and begins to hope for a life with a stable family. In 1993, Desiree, whose story is told in free verse, is raped by her mother's boyfriend, Larry, becomes pregnant and flees with her boyfriend, Jeremy, who believes he is the father. And in present-day Poughkeepsie, overachieving Ariel's ambitions and friendships are stifled by her controlling boyfriend. Ultimately the girls' stories converge as they cope with the hands they've been dealt ('We all inherit someone else's leftovers,' Ariel muses) and attempt to build better lives. Kwasney's (Itch) protagonists are distinctive and empathetic, her narratives meticulously structured and realistic, exposing the unpredictability — and sometimes unfairness — that life can bring. Ages 14 — up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , At 15, every girl believes her mother has always been middle-aged and clueless. But this compelling novel tells the other side of the story through the alternating voices of Madeline, Desiree, and Ariel. Living in three different decades, each young woman comes face to face with harsh realities.
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