GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – When I Was the Greatest

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 56 - ImageEarlier this year, I went to a library conference where I was lucky enough to meet a lot of wonderful young adult authors.  One of the brand new authors I had a chance to meet was Jason Reynolds, whose first book was just published in January.  I finally got around to breaking out my (signed!) copy of his book, which brings me to…

What I’m Reading Now: When I Was the Greatest, by Jason Reynolds

What’s It About (Jacket Description): In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

“A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.”

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should’ve been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.

Do I Like It: YES YES YES

Thoughts: I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Northern Illinois.  I hated sports as a teenager, and my best (and geographically closest) friend was a ten minute drive away.  So believe me when I say that reading about Ali growing up in the middle of Brooklyn, boxing, and with his best friend living next door is something that is utterly and completely outside my experience.  But I am so glad I’m reading it, because this book is great.

It’s a short book, so I’m over halfway through it already, and I’ve realized that it’s definitely going to be a book that doesn’t have a ton of action or fast-paced plot.  It’s not a quest or an adventure or even a traditional coming of age story.  It’s more a slice of life, with just a little excitement to keep the tension up.  Not a lot has happened so far except getting to know the characters, and the boys preparing to go to a big party.  But it’s a slice of life of a really endearing character, surrounded by a fully realized and engaging neighborhood of realistic characters.

The narrator Ali is such a likeable guy.  He loves his family, is fiercely protective of his little sister, is devoted to his best friend Noodles, and almost equally devoted to Noodles’ brother Needles.  Reading about the three of them – Ali, Noodles, and Needles – is completely immersive and engaging, even when not that much is going on.  They are all so much more complicated than “the boxer,” “the comic geek,” and “the knitter with a syndrome” (yes, Needles knits,) but each of these descriptors really does tell you a lot about each character.  I feel like they are all real people, like I’m actually reading about real events in a memoir or something.  And Ali’s voice is so good – he’s smart, but he’s also a part of his neighborhood and the world he grew up in.  He seamlessly integrates slang and the mind of a teenage boy focused on girls and partying with a the thoughts of a kid working hard to be the best he can be, take care of his family, and be engaged with the world around him.  He feels even more real than every other character, which is saying something.

I think my favorite part of this book so far though has been reading about Ali and his sister, Jazz.  Mostly because Jazz is so great.  I kind of want to read a book from her point of view.  She’s younger than Ali, 10 or 11, and simultaneously mature beyond her years and still a lovable little kid.  She loves to cook and braids Ali’s hair and has the same caretaking instincts he does.  But she also loves to watch trashy, Jerry Springer-esque TV shows and talk on the phone every night to her friends.  And she and Ali are clearly super devoted to each other, even when they get on each other’s nerves like siblings do.  It’s a joy to read about.

So I highly recommend When I Was the Greatest, even if it doesn’t seem like the kind of book you would normally relate to or pick up.  It’s the greatest – really!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Summer Reading Starts Today!

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I’ve been talking about it for weeks, but today it’s finally upon us – summer reading is starting at GEPL!  I know you’re still worried about finals and graduation, but summer reading is going to be awesome, and you may as well get started on it early.  Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:

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Your school books count! Any book you read for school, including whatever is on your summer reading list, counts for GEPL summer reading too.  And this is a really good thing, because…

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We have an awesome grand prize! Two winners will get one of the grand prizes, two $200 gift certificates to Ticketmaster.  You can use those bad boys for concerts, Broadway shows, Blackhawks game (my personal favorite,) or anything else that requires a ticket.  And let me tell you, $200 can buy tickets to some pretty awesome events.  Or it can buy you a lot of tickets to some awesome, if less famous and expensive, events.   Every five books you read gets you an entry into our drawing, so the more you read, the more chances you have to win one of these.

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You get prizes just for signing up & reading one book! We are giving away t-shirts to every teen who signs up (they have an adorable owl on them.)  When you finish your first book, we’ll give you a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks or Amazon.  And c’mon…you have to read at least one book for school this summer, and since that totally counts (see above) it’s like we’re giving you things just for doing your homework.  Which, let’s be honest, makes homework better.  And if it’s not for homework?  Well then we’re giving you stuff for reading great books that you want to read anyways, and that’s even better!

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You’ll be helping animals when you read! Just like the ones plastered all over this page, because we all know how we feel about animals on this blog.  But really, you will be helping – every book you read will get us closer to our goal of 6,000 books read by adults in our library.  And if we meet that goal?  The Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library will donate enough to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center to provide 60 weeks of care to a rescued animal.  So not only are we giving you stuff for doing homework and read great books, you’ll be doing good for an orphaned or injured animal (or many!) while you do that homework and read that great book.

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You get points for using Twitter & talking about books! You know that feeling when you finish a book, and you either hated it so much you want to complain, or loved it so much you want to tell the world?  Well we want to hear it!  So much so that we’re willing to bribe you to talk about books.  So if you follow us (@GEPLTeenScene) on Twitter and tweet at us about what you’re reading, we’ll count every five tweets as a book read – which gets you that much closer to another chance at those Ticketmaster gift cards!  And if you write a book review (at least 250 words please!) that we can post to this blog and e-mail it to me at hrapp@gepl.org, that counts as another book read.  So if you read a book, Tweet about it while you’re reading, and write a book review, you’re over halfway to an entry in the drawing for the Ticketmaster gift cards!

So that’s what you need to know about GEPL summer reading.  You can sign up starting today by coming in to the library, calling 630-790-6630, or going to www.gepl.org/summer.  If you register this week, you’ll be entered into a drawing for one of three pre-publication book copies (and for fans of The Testing series, Graduation Day is one of them!)

Once you sign up, come in to the library to grab your free t-shirt, and start reading, tweeting, and enjoying some great reads!

Posted in GEPL Teens

Sign Up for GEPL’s Read to Rescue Summer Reading Program

news-blog-bannerReadtoRescueHoriz-2-1Starting Monday, May 12 you can help the Glen Ellyn Public Library provide 60 weeks of care to an injured or orphaned animal at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center by signing up for our Read to Rescue Summer Reading Program!

 

The Glen Ellyn Public Library has set two reading challenges for the summer of 2014:

Children: Read 70,000 hours
Adults: Read 6,000 books

 

In response to the Glen Ellyn community’s commitment to reach such lofty goals, The Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library will donate enough funding to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center to provide 60 weeks of care to an injured or orphaned animal.

 

In addition to working toward a great cause, the library is offering great prizes for sign up and participation:

 

For Kids (Birth through grade 8)
Receive animal crackers upon sign up. Additional prizes include books, patches, bookmarks and more. Tweens will receive a Read to Rescue frisbee upon sign up.

For Teens (High School)
Teens will receive a free t-shirt upon sign up. Then they can select from a variety of gift cards, including Amazon and Starbucks, after logging their first book (at gepl.org/summer). Teens will receive a book credit for every book read and for every book review (at least 250 words) emailed to our Teen Librarian Hannah Rapp at hrapp@gepl.org.

Teen Twitter users can also receive a book credit for every five tweets they send about what they are reading to @GEPLTEENSCENE (Teens must be following @GEPLTEENSCENE to receive book credits).

For every five book credits a teen earns, he will receive an entry to win one of two $200 Ticketmaster gift cards!

For Adults (18+)
Adults will receive a milk chocolate goose upon sign up. Adults will also be entered to win a one-year family membership to Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo or Cosley Zoo.

 

Starting May 12, register at GEPL.ORG/SUMMER 
 
 
Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Animals Beastly & Beloved

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 54 - ImageAs you know (because I won’t stop talking about it) GEPL’s summer reading program is about to start.  This year, our theme is Read to Rescue.  Thanks to a pledge from the Friends of the Library, you can help us reach our goal of providing 60 weeks of care to injured wildlife at the Willowbrook Wildlife Foundation just by reading.  I for one am really excited, and this has plenty to do with the fact that I love animals.

This love extends to my reading.  I’ve always been a sucker for books featuring animals of any kind – real, mystical, talking, barking, sweet, dangerous, adorable, ugly.  You name it, I love it in book form (and in many of those cases, actual form as well).  And I think I’m not the only one drawn to some or all depictions of animals in the books I read.  After all, they can add so much to a book.

They can provide comic (or adorable) relief, like Slipstream in Across a Star-Swept Sea or Smut in Dairy Queen.  They can be dangerous as enemies or allies like the unicorns in Rampant and the Capaill Uisce in The Scorpio Races.  They can be a way for a person to find an escape or a direction, like Darius’ falcon in Darius & Twig or the farm animals in Over You.   And of course, animals can give us love, friendship, and companionship, like Pounce in Terrier, Bendomolena in Audrey, Wait!, or  Otto in Endangered.

So this month, we’re celebrating all the wonder that is animals – real or fictional, beastly or beloved.  Pick up a book and enjoy the diversity of creatures they contain while helping animals in the real world through our summer reading program!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Finding New Reads

Teens Blog BannerWith summer reading coming up, we hope you’re going to be doing lots of reading.  After all, reading is how you’ll get your t-shirts and gift cards, and score your chance for some sweet Ticketmaster gift cards.  But deciding what to read next can sometimes be tough.  Really tough.  It’s not that there aren’t a ton of great books out there – there are.  There are so many that the challenge becomes sorting through them, and trying to pick one becomes really difficult.  Add in that the times when you finish a really great book or series, and all you really want is to read something just like that, and it becomes nearly impossible.

Blog Entry 53 - Image 1Luckily, the GEPL Teen Scene is here to help!  We’ve just posted lists of books specifically designed to help fans of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars find their next great reads.  Now of course, no book will ever be just like another, and that’s a wonderful thing, but we can at least try to find similar reads for you.  And there are many reasons you might have loved these books.  Maybe your favorite part of Divergent was the dystopian setting, but maybe it was the action or the characters.  Maybe you loved The Fault in Our Stars because it made you cry, but maybe you were more interested in the witty dialogue or the romance.  The books in our lists try to take into account all of what’s wonderful about these great books, not just one aspect.

So browse these lists, and see which title calls to you.  Or if you’re still Blog Entry 53 - Image 2not sure, send me an e-mail at hrapp@gepl.org or come in to the library and ask for Hannah – I’m always delighted to talk about books, and I always enjoy hearing about what you loved and why.

You have busy lives and choosing a new book takes time – but sorting through all those books and helping people choose new ones is what the library is here for!  And with that in mind, I have a question for you – what other books can’t you get enough of?  What other lists do you want to see?  Comment, e-mail, or tweet to @GEPLTeenScene, and I’ll make it happen!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: May!!!

Teens Blog BannerIt’s MAY you guys!  Is it just me, or did this month take forever to get here?  Granted, the rainy, chilly weather doesn’t feel much like May, but I have high hopes for the month.  May is clearly the best month all spring, and here’s why:

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School is almost over, but finals haven’t started yet!  Yes, school being “almost” over isn’t as great as being “actually” over, but as far as spring goes, it’s as good as it gets.  And luckily, finals don’t actually start till June – so you can enjoy the thought of summer break without having to take any tests just yet (though when you do have to take them, you know we’ll be here for you with pizza and extended library hours!)

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Cookout season can finally begin!  Weekends should be full of grilled food, shorts, and lemonade, and we can finally start making that a reality in May.  The weather (theoretically) will finally stop being as windy, wet, and cold as it’s been for most of the last couple months.  The grills can be brushed off, the charcoal prepared, and the lemons squeezed.  Something about May definitely brings cookouts to the forefront of people’s minds, and I for one am super excited.

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It’s baby animal season!!!  Yup, all the birds, bees, cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. are having babies.  Small fuzzy animal season is upon us!  Obviously the internet is full of adorable animal pictures any time you want them (see this blog…or our Twitter…or our Tumblr…) but there’s something about the extra helpings of real life cubs, kittens, chicks, etc. that makes spring, and especially May when they’re all outside enjoying the great weather, really special.

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Flip-Flops and bare feet! There’s really not a lot else to say about this.  When the weather gets warmer – as it should in May – real shoes can go out the window.  I try and spend as much of the warm weather as possible wearing no shoes at all, or as little shoe as I can get away with (thus, flip-flops.)  And those glorious months of foot-ish freedom usually begin in May!

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GEPL Summer Reading starts! Yes, yes, this is shameless self-promotion, but give me a minute to convince you on this.  You get to help animals just by reading.  You get a t-shirt just for registration and a gift card for reading one book. And if you read five or more books, you get a chance (or several) at a $200 Ticketmaster gift certificate.  On top of that, all your summer reading for school counts towards your total!  We’re literally giving you things for doing something you’d have to do anyways.  I think that’s something to be excited about.

Those are my thoughts on why May is going to be a great month – what are yours?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – The Selection

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 51 - ImageSo after hearing from a couple of teens here at the library about this book, I decided to check out today’s “What I’m Reading Now” choice!

What I’m Reading Now: The Selection by Kiera Cass

What’s It About (Jacket Description): For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Do I Like It: So much!

Thoughts: Despite the fact that I’m not totally sold on the dystopian aspect of The Selection, I’m really enjoying reading it!  It’s fast-paced, but not in a battles/action kind of way, just in an “everything is happening and it’s exciting” kind of way.  I like America, and am finding her and Aspen’s relationship to be every bit as dramatic and swoon-worthy as anything I’ve ever read about before.

As a dystopia, I’m not sure I understand world of The Selection.  I can’t figure out how a society would get to the place they’re at, or why.  The caste system is a powerful storytelling tool, but I’m not sure it makes sense in the context of our current culture.  And the vaguely sexist society doesn’t seem to follow from the kind of sexism I see in our society and culture today.  Maybe I’ll find out more as I read and it will make more sense, maybe not.  But fortunately, this doesn’t really make me like the book less – I just view the world more as a fantasy world than a dystopian one, and then it works fine for me and doesn’t distract me from the awesomeness of the story.

One thing I love about this story is America’s reaction to the selection and to getting in.  She only agrees to do it because of pressure from her family, who want the best for her and need the money, and Aspen, who can’t stand the idea he’s holding her back.  But once she is in, she does get swept up a little by the glamor of it.  She tries, even when she really just wants to be sent home, so she can make her family proud and not embarrass herself.  She is pulled between wanting the life she left behind and wanting the good parts – the food, the clothes, the friendships – of her new life at the palace.  It makes her an interesting character to read about, and her reactions to everything that goes on seem real and relatable.

I’m almost exactly halfway through the book, and it’s reaching a point where I think things are about to pick up – there’s been a rebel attack, America and Prince Maxon are forming a friendship, and several girls have already been sent home.  I’m excited to see where the story goes – and definitely hoping for more Aspen before the end of it!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Volunteering Inspiration

Teens Blog BannerTomorrow GEPL is having a Volunteer Fair!  This is a great chance for anyone looking to get some hours in for Key Club or National Honors Society, or just looking to get involved and give back.  There will be all kinds of organizations here wanting to sign up volunteers on the spot.  And if you’re looking for some volunteering inspiration, the books listed below all feature awesome teen volunteers!

Blog Entry 50 - Image 1The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti – Jade hates being at the mercy of her anxiety disorder and panic attacks.  So when she finds out that the elephants at the zoo have a calming effect on her, she begins watching the zoo’s live webcam, which is where she first sees Sebastian.  When she starts volunteering at the zoo to get closer to her beloved elephants, she finally meets him.  Jade is quickly drawn into Sebastian’s world with his son he is raising alone and his grandmother who is raising him.  But Sebastian is holding something back, and Jade’s relationship with him is about to get a lot more complicated than she imagined.

Blog Entry 50 - Image 2Lucky T by Kate Brian – Carrie didn’t actually want to volunteer to build houses for the poor in Calcutta, India.  But she had to find a way to get her lucky t-shirt back, so off to India she went.  Carrie’s life was perfect – great grades, great boyfriend, great roles in the school play and on the varsity basketball team – until her mom accidentally donated her t-shirt.  But as she abandons building houses and scours India for her good luck charm, Carrie finds herself actually liking kids when she starts volunteering at an orphanage, and liking Dee – another volunteer there – even more.  Readers accompany Carrie as she struggles with Dee, doing good, and her own privilege.

Blog Entry 50 - Image 3Meeting Chance by Jennifer Lavoie – If you suffered from a debilitating fear of dogs after a brutal dog attack at age nine, what would you do?  Aaron decides to face his fear – and conquer it – by volunteering at an animal shelter.  While Aaron is there, Chance appears at the shelter.  The pit bull is as scarred and scared as Aaron is, but that doesn’t prevent terror from stopping Aaron in his tracks when he meets Chance for the first time.  The two must learn to trust each other if either of them are going to recover from their fear and trauma.  As Aaron bonds with Chance and a new human friend he made at the shelter, he slowly begins to let go of his fears and come into his own.

Blog Entry 50 - Image 4The Language Insideby Holly Thompson – Emma misses Japan, where she was raised, all the time.  But she is trapped in the US while her mother undergoes treatment for breast cancer.  When Emma’s grandmother pushes her into volunteering at a long term care facility, Emma doubts it will help with her homesickness.  But as she gets to know Zena, the resident she is helping to write down her poetry, and gets close to Samnang, another volunteer, Emma starts to think the US isn’t so bad.  But will she stay, when the chance to return to Japan is offered?  The Language Inside is told in verse, and the lyrical language beautifully illustrates Emma’s inner life and struggles.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Visit with Twenty Local Organizations During GEPL’s Volunteer Fair

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VolunteerFair-3The Glen Ellyn Public Library will host a Volunteer Fair on Saturday, April 26 from 1pm to 4pm intended to connect Glen Ellyn residents with organizations that inspire them.

The Volunteer Fair will be held on the library’s second floor and will include representatives from twenty organizations including: American Cancer Society, Animal Rescue Foundation, Bridge Communities, DuPage Forest Preserve, DuPage Habitat for Humanity, ESSE Adult Day Services, Family Shelter Service, Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library, the Glen Ellyn 4th of July Committee, Glen Ellyn Children’s Resource Center, Glen Ellyn Food Pantry, Glen Ellyn Historical Society, Goodwill Workforce Connection Center, Northern Illinois Food Bank, People’s Resource Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Ten Thousand Villages, Willowbrook Wildlife Center, World Relief DuPage and YWCA.

Communications and Theater Professor Emerita Dr. Maria Bakalis of the Glen Ellyn Historical Society will deliver a keynote presentation at 1:30pm. Dr. Bakalis’s inspirational presentation will reinforce the ideals and rewards of volunteerism.

The Glen Ellyn Public Library’s Volunteer Fair is open to the public and suitable for all ages.

Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Sophie Winters

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 49 - ImageThere are a lot of reasons to love a good book – gripping plot, incredible setting, swoon-worthy romance or heart-pounding action, etc. etc.  But one of the biggest reasons I end up falling for a book is because it features a really great character or characters.  “Really great” doesn’t always mean someone I’d want to be friends with, or even someone particularly good or kind or admirable.  It’s a character that feels real, that I care about, and that I can’t wait to keep reading about.  Every now and then, I come across a character who just jumps off the page at me – and I think it’s only fair to share that with you in a “Great Character Alert!”

For the first edition of the Alert, I want to talk about Sophie Winters from Far From You by Tess Sharpe.  Sophie is one of those characters who I’m really not sure I would want to be friends with, and while she is admirable in many ways, she also has plenty of problematic qualities.  But those are just part of what make her such an interesting character.  To give you an idea of the context for her character and the plot of Far From You, this is the description of the book from Amazon:

“Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick. 

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.”

I’ve never read a book from the perspective of a recovering addict, so that alone makes Sophie a fascinating character to me.  Through flashbacks, readers can see her addiction as it develops in the wake of her accident, and in the parts of the book set in the present, how she still struggles despite months of being clean.

Sophie is angry and bitter about so many things – about Mina, about everybody assuming she relapsed, about her accident.  She is also angry at a lot of people – her parents, Mina’s boyfriend, and even Mina herself.  I love that the reader isn’t sheltered from the nastier emotions that can go with grief and loss.  Sophie’s mourning isn’t pretty, it isn’t a smooth road, and it doesn’t always move forward without hurting those around her.

But there’s a lot to admire about Sophie too.  She is determined and tenacious – first about beating her addiction, then about hunting down the truth about Mina’s murder.  She cares for other people, and struggles to do what’s best not just for herself, but for those around her.  Despite her anger at many people in her life, she also feels compassion.  She never blames the driver from her car accident, despite her permanent injuries, she remembers that her parents love her even when she’s angry at them, she understands why Mina’s family would hate her.

No discussion of Sophie would be complete without talking about her relationship to Mina.  In the flashbacks, we get to know Mina almost as well as Sophie, and I could have written just as much about how great a character Mina is as I did about Sophie.  And their relationship with each other is fascinating – they are really attached and really love each other, but at the same time, they are each holding something back from their friendship.  They can bring out the best or the worst in each other, depending on the circumstances, because they know each other so well and care about each other so much.  Being hurt by Mina drives Sophie deeper into her addiction, but in the end it is Mina who convinces Sophie to get clean too.  Without Mina, Sophie wouldn’t be the person readers see.

Sophie is a complicated, fascinating character, and it was her as much as the mystery in Far From You that kept me glued to the page.  So if, like me, you’re drawn in by great characters, I highly recommend checking out Far From You.

Posted in GEPL Teens