This middle grade book by Lauren Myracle, the book is actually an astute study of eleven and twelve year-old girls.
A character-driven story with a lot of heart, Eleven nearly exactly mirrors my own experiences at that age. What do you do when you feel as if you and your best friend are drifting apart? When friends outgrow each other, can they still remain friends?
When I was eleven, my best friend and I were on different "teams" at school, just like Winnie and her best friend Amanda. Amanda wants to try out perfume and read Seventeen magazine, while Winnie wants to explore a quirky vintage store. This is the first indication that the girls are on separate paths.
What I enjoyed about this book is that Amanda is not turned into a stereotypical "mean girl." Nor is Winnie a typical nerd. Instead, the author sensitively depicts the process of growing up as subtle differences become larger obstacles to friendship.
I think so many of us go through this, and it's easy to get angry with the popular girls when they leave their old friends behind. Reflecting on this book, I remembered the fact that my best friend was more interested in makeup and boys than riding our bikes and playing outdoors meant that we quickly drifted apart. We went from best friends to strangers in a matter of weeks. In high school, she and I ended up working together, and we renewed our friendship almost five years later. Neither she nor I had fought the first time we parted ways. It was more like a natural progression toward the people we were becoming.
This is what we see in Eleven, and I hope to read the continuing story in Twelve and Thirteen.
America Singer lives in a future dystopian America in which everyone has been divided up into distinct social castes. Social pariah Eights are at the bottom of the spectrum, while the elite Ones rule the nation. America is dating Aspen, a man below her caste, but then has the opportunity to vie for a position as a princess and a One through a Bachelor-like reality competition designed to win the heart of Prince Maxon. Political unrest threatens the selection process and the country, while America finds her heart frozen between two men.
Like the Matched series I read previously this year, the first book in this trilogy has a wonderful premise, but while the tension holds up in book two, the plot comes to a confusing and then rushed conclusion in book three. I think it could have been better if the final decision for princess was made in book two. Then, book three could have focused on life outside the palace, political changes, and the dual revolutions taking place to the north and south.
If you love The Bachelor and you have a hankering for more dystopian lit, then check out the series. I did enjoy the novels. However, by book three, the love-triangle was unnecessary and the passion and love between the prince and princess did not seem as genuine. I also think that the author missed an opportunity to fully explore the political and social themes she set up in the first two novels. I haven't read the fourth book yet, but I hope to soon.
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This was my second journey into this fairy tale landscape created by Alethea Kontis, and while the book has its flaws, I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time! Sunday is the youngest of seven daughters born to a woodcutter father and a part-fairy mother. The story begins simply, as Sunday meets (and kisses) a frog. But, there are twists, turns, and fragments of other fairy tales woven into the primary plot that keep readers interested until the book’s shocking conclusion.
This book is the first of a series about the Woodcutter family. I enjoyed the nods to other characters, which will later be fleshed out further as the series continues. I also enjoyed the hints of what had come before this story began. On a lesser note, I felt that Sunday and the frog’s initial friendship and later the prince’s “love at first sight” happened a bit too quickly.
The characters are supposed to be plays on archetypes, so at times, the character development falls a bit flat. Again, these are facets of traditional fairy tales, but the author plays with so many other elements, I wish she had played with these as well.
Some readers may not enjoy the mish-mash of other fairytales including hints of “The Princess and the Pea,” “Snow White,” and many others. However, that was precisely what
I liked about the book. Also, it’s meant for younger readers, so I could imagine examining/reading the original tales, other alternate versions, Disney versions, etc. that could produce some good discussion in a classroom or at home.
I read book two as well, and plan to pick up book three, so for me, the benefits of the series outweigh its disadvantages.
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