Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton

Title: Chanda’s Secrets

Author: Allan Stratton

Publisher: Annick Press

Published Date: 2004

Chanda’s Secrets is about a young African girl who has to grow up fast. Her father and brothers died in a mining accident when she was just a few years old. After the accident her mother went through a string of marriages and men. All the while Chanda went to school and helped raise the new children. The last man that her mother married was a no good man. He was a drunkard and cheater. And like so many men, women and children in African contracted HIV/AIDS and gave it to her mother. Losing everyone she ever loved to the disease, Chanda stays stong through it all. She is not afraid of AIDs and stands up for her family, friends and loved ones. Because of her strength, her town becomes less afraid to talk about the disease and they all become a close neighborhood.

My little synopsis of the book does not due the book justice. If I were to mention even half of everything that happened in the book, this post would be two pages long. The story is fictional, in that Mr. Stratton didn’t base it on a real life event. The AIDS epidemic and the suffering in Africa are all real. This story takes real life problems and brings them home with you. As an American, the AIDS epidemic seems far off to most. For me, I have never known anyone with it. Reading about the what is happening to people due to the virus is eye opening. I’ve never been more grateful for living in America and having the education to know about diseases like AIDS.

If you are looking for a good eye opening book or want to read a beautiful story about a young girl looking to save her friends and family, then this is that read.

Happy Reading!

R

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Finding My Voice by Marie G. Lee

Title: Finding My Voice

Author: Marie G. Lee

Jacket Artist: Joanne Pendola

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co

Published Date: 1992

 

Before I start reviewing this book I have to mention that I read a different edition of this book. The jacket cover is different, but I couldn’t find any pictures with the edition I have. The jacket artist is from the version I read. I don’t know if they are different.

Ellen Sung was born in Arkin, Minnesota and lives in Arkin, Minnesota. A small town in the northern part of the state. She is a high school senior determined to make the best grades possible to make it into Harvard. She has pressure from her parents to make A’s in every class and to be just like her older sister, Michelle. Jessie is Ellen’s best friend. They go to parties together and share everything. As the year goes on, Ellen becomes more and more aware of her differences. Arkin is filled with white scandinavian people. She on the other hand is Korean. Brad and Marsha are two of the most popular people in school. They both start making Ellen’s senior year of high school hell. They call her racial slurs and don’t want Tomper, her crush, to date her. At the beginning Ellen is afraid to voice her opinions about the racial slurs and just ignores them. As the year goes on, she starts to find more self confidence and starts speaking up. Tomper decides that he would rather be with Ellen then listen to Brad. Ellen and Tomper become very close. Throughout this whole time, her parents don’t know what is going on in school and are pressuring her to do well in classes and pick a college. Ellen finally confronts Marsha about the racial slurs. Unfortunately this ends up with Ellen in the hospital. Ellen finally decides which college to accept and leaves Arkin behind.

I truly can’t believe I’ve never heard of this book before. It was so great. Getting to know Ellen through the year and feeling everything that she goes through is hard to read. I’m very glad that she finally “found her voice” and spoke up. Throughout the book, we get a glimpse of Korean life from her parents and some culture. Kimchi sounds interesting, but I wouldn’t want to eat it. I don’t like spicy food! I think it really portrays how hard “foreigners” have to work to attain their goals in American. And they do it! I enjoyed the romance between Ellen and Tomper. I was really sad that they had to break up in the end. They seemed to really like each other. When I finished the book, I wanted to know what happened to them both. If they kept in touch and found each other again later in life. Although there wasn’t much action in the story I was totally surprised and upset when Marsha cracked a bottle over Ellen’s face at their last party. I wanted to reach through the pages and slap her silly! Yes, she had been drinking, but that gave her no right to do that. And for Ellen to not press charges. I felt so sad for Ellen. I understand where she is coming from though. It wouldn’t have changed Marsha at all. It might have given her a record though. But Ellen was classier then that. Her vengence will be gained by leaving and making something of herself. I just wish people like Marsha would get put in their place and stop being ignorant. In a perfect world…

This story was excellent. I recommend this from teens to adults to senior citizens. If this book can enlighten just one person, I think Ms. Lee will have done her job. This is a fast read and will get your emotions stirring!

Happy Reading (even if the material makes you sad)!

R

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

First off, Congrats on the first “official YA” book. Not only is this an awesome fun read, but it made you think. And I read the whole thing in one day! That has to count for something!!

I really enjoyed this novel. At first I was shocked that it was about teens and pre-teens having sex to make babies. It was just, WHOA! But like all great dystopian novels, it reeled me in. I do think this is the first dystopian novel I’ve read that actually wasn’t dark. It was light and funny at times. A major plus!

Throughout the reading, I switched back and forth on which type I would be. At first, I’m thinking, no way. I would totally be a churchie. And then I thought, well, wait a minute, I’m not a churchie now…why would I be then? So, I thought…would I be an amateur or professional? An amateur seemed like they bumped not only for the pregg, but also for the pleasure. But a professional did it only for the money. Could I really have sex with a stranger? Hmmmm…And then all I could think was, OMG why am I thinking like this? I don’t know that I would be any of them. I’m 28 right now and it really made me think about if I do want kids now and how I would feel if the world’s population was low would I do it just to repopulate the world? I love when books make me think!

The VERY bestest part of the book though, was the language. I love when author’s make up their own language. It was a little hard at first, but once you got it, it was easy. I caught myself thinking like that a few hours afterwards. It reminded me a lot of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, which was awesome, but Bumped had it’s own twists to the language.

Note to Author: Please, please, please…tell me that there will be a sequel! You totally left us hanging!

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