GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Year-Round School Take 2

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By: Carson M., Teen Blogger

Note from Hannah: You may remember that in June, one of our bloggers discussed the concept of year-round school. Since then, several of our bloggers have considered the issue and written about their take on the balanced school schedule.

"When I say I miss school, I mean my friends and the fun. Not the school."As a 16 year old boy, naturally my immediate response to should students have year round schooling is an immediate and forceful no. However, after doing a little research, yes. Yes we should. While research on year round schooling has given mixed results. Some year round schools have reported an increase in student production and test scores, while others have reported a decline in test scores. According to a Huffington Post article from June 2012, Esther Fusco, a professor at Hofstra University, stated that “research suggests that students in high-needs districts and those who have disabilities do better in year-round learning situations. This is logical because these students do not have the downtime that occurs over the summer. But the results are not very significant. I have not seen any study that shows students greatly improve.” Despite this controversy, many people, including myself, believe that year round schooling is the way to go. In Wake County, N.C., where 50 public schools are on the year-round system, “we definitely use the year-round calendar to maximize space and address some capacity issues,” said spokesman Mike Charbonneau. “We have had a rapidly growing school system for the last 10 years.” Most schools in the United States operate on the 10-month calendar that was established when America was still an agrarian country. But times have changed and many people propose doing away with this “outdated” system and moving to “year-round education.”

In this updated system, schools continue to operate 180 days per year, but they stretch out the 180 days over the entire year and take shorter breaks between each term.

The most popular form of year-round education is the 45-15 plan, where students attend school for 45 days and then get three weeks (15 days) off. The usual holiday breaks are still built into this calendar. There are two other plans in consideration for year round schooling, one being the 60 days on and then 20 days off, or 90 days on and 30 days off. The most important aspect of course with year-round education is how it is implemented. Schools may operate regularly, where all students are on the same calendar and get the same holidays off, or a multi-rack schedule, which has groups of students attending school at different times with different vacations. A multi-track system is currently popular because it allows schools to enroll more students than buildings would normally hold, which benefits both the schools and the teachers. Year round schooling, while it has both its pros as well as its cons, definitely leans more towards the pro side. Year round schooling would enable students to retain the information that they learned, as well as improve their test scores.

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GEPL Teens: Fall Books

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By: Hannah Rapp, GEPL Teen Librarian

School is back in full swing, the leaves are turning color, and the pumpkin spice (and attendant memes) are back in our coffees (and on our screens). Even if it makes me cliché, I love fall – pumpkin spice and all, so I’m excited. And just like there’s a distinct profile for summer reads – beachy settings, lighter themes, maybe some romance – there’s also some books that just scream fall to me. So whether you’re as in love with autumn like me, or having a hard time getting excited, here’s some books that might help you with that fall spirit. (All descriptions from Goodreads.com)

Any Harry Potter book

“Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the “Harry Potter” series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.” (Description of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Hannah’s Note: Since Hogwarts and classes are such a big part of most of the books, with most starting nearing the beginning of the school year, it’s hard to go wrong with a good Harry Potter book (or the whole series!) in the fall.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Book CoverThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.”

Hannah’s Note: From the first line, “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die,” it’s hard to put down The Scorpio Races. The chilly island wind, the November cakes, the terror of the capaill uisce, and more, all make this a perfect book for reading while curled under a blanket with a cup of hot cider (or, yes, a pumpkin spice latte.)

Scarlet Undercover by Jennifer Latham Book CoverScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

“Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.”

Hannah’s Note: Maybe it’s just Scarlett’s hoodie on the cover, maybe it’s the atmospheric scenes of a city at night, or maybe it’s the fun of a good, hard-boiled mystery, but Scarlett Undercover just seems like it’s set in the fall to me, and makes me want to spend cool nights on city streets. After I find out whodunit, of course!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Book Cover Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

“Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.  Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

Hannah’s Note: Okay, I may be cheating a bit, since between this and Harry Potter I’m talking about two of my absolute favorite books. But fall is a great time to retreat into comfort reads and favorites, and while Cath’s story takes place over the course of a year, it starts out with her first day at college – a perfect way to get into a fall read.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake Book CoverAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.”

Hannah’s Note: What’s fall without a good scare for Halloween? I admit, this is the only book on this list I haven’t read, since it sounds way too creepy for me. I scare easily. But I loved Antigoddess, also by Kendare Blake, and I’ve heard that Anna Dressed in Blood is both great and terrifying – the perfect mix for a book in October!

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GEPL Teens: Year-Round School Take 1

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By: Roy M., Teen Blogger

Note from Hannah: You may remember that in June, one of our bloggers discussed the concept of year-round school. Since then, several of our bloggers have considered the issue and written about their take on the balanced school schedule.

Cartoon Girl Says "What?!?!" Cartoon Boy Says "We Have School In Summer." Cartoon created by ruchizzle at toondo.comThere are many different opinions about year round school. Some may say it’s a good thing, while others may be against it.

There are many pros of having year round school. You would get to see your friends and classmates all the time, instead of seeing them like once or twice after school gets out. Another pro would be that you would probably get longer breaks if you keep the same number of days. For example if your spring break is only a week, maybe it could be two or three weeks long. Also, if school was year-round, there probably wouldn’t be as much summer homework to do because summer break would only be a couple weeks instead of two or so months. If school was year-round, there would probably be some summer sports to do like sports camp, but it’s for school because I know that schools don’t always run sports camps for all sports. Another pro is that you would get to know your teachers more because you’ll see them more often. Those are some pros of having year-round school.

There are also many cons of having year-round school. One con is that there really isn’t anything to look forward to because as a student myself, I know one of the biggest things I look forward to during the school year is when school gets out because there are like two months of no school. Another con is that students might start slacking off more because they are getting tired of school and having no summer break. Also, if school was year-round, it would be harder to plan a vacation because a vacation is usually a week or so, and if school was year-round, you might only be able to go on vacation during certain times. You can’t just go whenever you want because of school. Another con is for college students to come back home, if school was year round they would only come back home for two or so weeks and have to leave again because there is no summer break, which is when college students go back home and spend an extended period with their families. It would also be harder for college students whose families are overseas because it’s a lot more expensive to go back home for only around two weeks. It’s much more convenient if it was for like two months. Also if there was no summer break, you would most likely have to choose between going on vacation and hanging out with your friends because each break would only be a couple weeks, which isn’t a lot of time. Those are some cons of having year-round school.

As you can see, there are many pros and cons of having year-round school. But if you ask students what they would like, I know I would prefer not having year-round school, and I think most students would agree with me because summer break is where some of your best memories can come from.

 

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GEPL Teens: The Humiliations Are Almost Complete

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

As you’ve heard (over and over) from me, from other librarians, and recently, from the Daily Herald, the Glen Ellyn library community surpassed this summer’s reading goals! Teen readers were a huge part of that, setting an all-time record with a 41% increase over the highest levels ever read. Without you guys, the adults wouldn’t have hit their goal – so basically, you all rock!

And of course, as there has been all summer, there is embarrassment in exchange for your awesomeness. And while you guys still have one more embarrassing video coming, since you reached your goals before the tweens, this was the last hurrah for the joint stunts. Middle School Librarian Christina and I saved the best for last, and capped off our summer of ridiculous stunts with a live performance at the Library’s Open Mic Night at the beginning of this month. For better or for worse, none of you were there to see it, so we basically just got up and humiliated ourselves for the amusement of the adults in the audience. But since you all are the ones who earned this, we of course have to share it with you!

So without further ado, I present to you…Hannah and Christina’s Open Mic Night Rap!

I have to admit – this was easily one of the scariest things I’ve ever done! But in the end, it was a ton of fun. I laughed, and hopefully you will all laugh too, which makes it worth it. Enjoy!

(Rap written by Hannah and Christina, to the tune of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

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GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Book to Movie Adaptations

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By: Justin A., Teen Blogger

There are some pretty great book to movie adaptations out there. In the year 2014 along there were many books turned into movies. Some of these were, Carrie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gone Girl, Enders Game, This Is Where I Leave You, Divergent and more. Of these movies not all of them did well in the box office. Book to movie adaptations are a great way to introduce new things and interest people in reading a little more, though this only works if the movies look and are as good as the book (given the fact that the book was good enough to gather attention and be picked up by a director)

Of these many books turned into movies I mostly enjoyed three.

Enders Game Movie Poster

Enders Game – This is a post-apocalyptic story where an alien invasion killed many people and the world changed. The new world had evolved in technology including space travel, zero gravity chambers and more. In this world we meet a prodigy named Ender who is very smart and a tactical genius. He gets recruited into a military/boot camp for kids becoming military commanders. The book, comic, and movie are all absolutely amazing and display a world that is mostly original.

This Is Where I Leave You Movie Poster

This Is Where I Leave You – This is a story about a man named Judd who has recently had his girlfriend cheat on him, father die and is now forced to stay in the same house as his two brothers and sister by request of their late father. They all interact very interestingly in the way you’d expect a dysfunctional family to work. This adaptation works because of its real life characters and problems. They have moments where they dislike each other but always love one another and continue to show this throughout the movie and book.

Gardians of the Galaxy Movie Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy – This is a story featuring mostly extra-terrestrial comic book characters. A man named Peter Quill (Star-lord), Groot, a tree-like alien from a dead planet, Gamora, a former evil female assassin, Rocket Raccoon, a weapons and mechanical expert, and Drax the Destroyer, the strongman of the team. While they have many adventures in the comic books, in the movie these unlikely heroes are brought together and must protect a thing known as the orb from the powerful Ronan who can use the orb to destroy entire planets.

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GEPL Teens: Late to the Game

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

As a teen librarian, I do my best to read a lot of young adult literature. It’s not only part of my job, but a huge part of why I love being a teen librarian. I try keep up with a lot of the beloved, popular, or well-reviewed books and series, from The Fault in Our Stars to Divergent to Twilight. I also try and get ahead of what might be popular or win awards. I read an advanced copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, practically salivated until I got ahold of An Ember in the Ashes, and felt a surge of pride when a title I’d already read – This One Summer – was nominated for the prestigious Printz award. But it’s impossible to keep up with everything, and now and then, a book or series that I hear great things about, or that is recommended over and over, slips through the cracks. Often, I never do get around to them, but sometimes, I’m just a little late to the game, which is its own unique experience.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer Book CoverThe most recent example of this is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I just finished the first book on audio, and not surprisingly, given the rave reviews it’s gotten from professionals and public alike, I loved it! I can’t wait to read more of the Lunar chronicles, and I can’t decide if I’m upset I took this long to read it, or glad because now I can binge on the series! Cinder was a little unique in that I wasn’t spoiled too much coming in – I knew Levana was evil and that Cinder was a cyborg, I knew it was a fairy tale retelling, but that much information hardly counts as spoilers – it’s more just basic plot. So I got to go along for the ride, finding out more about the characters, the world, and the intricate plot as I went along. But the downside of coming into the big books or series late is that it’s awfully hard to do it spoiler-free.

The biggest example of that side of the equation for me isn’t actually a book – it’s the TV show Dr. Who. I’m still slowly but surely working my way through the TV series, but it’s a strange experience. Strange because, thanks to my friends, the internet, and the delightfully nerdy social and online worlds that I live in, I already know so much about the show. Major reveals and plot twists were already familiar to me by the time I got to them. I knew all the actors and which number doctor they were before I started. I had strong suspicions about which companions would be my favorites – all of which have been correct so far. I often feel dread in the pit of my stomach long before something bad happens, because usually, I know that it’s coming.

Interestingly enough though, I don’t think either of these experiences is inherently better or worse. Reading Cinder relatively unspoiled was fun. It allowed me to experience it as though I was one of the first on the bandwagon, instead of jumping on way late. But watching Dr. Who and getting perspective on all the bits and pieces I already know is fun – it feels like getting to know a celebrity or something. And it means that when there is a twist or turn I didn’t know about, it’s about ten times more shocking, because I thought I knew what was coming.

Like it or not, there are always going to be some things that we come to late. Whether you’re just getting started on Harry Potter, or only now realizing why everybody has been raving about Legend, it’s a fact of life. But the good news is, you’re getting to experience all that wonderfulness now instead of never, and there’s something to be said for both coming in blind to a popular series and enjoying the expansion of a world or story that you already kind of know about. So don’t be afraid to tackle something just because you’re behind the times – whether it’s all new to you or something you’re already familiar with, you’ll still be jumping into a whole new world!

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GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Pixar Touch

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By: Matt J., Teen Blogger

The Pixar Touch by David Price Book CoverI read a book not too long ago called “The Pixar Touch”, based on the titular company. It talks about the history of Pixar Animation Studios and how they went from a low level group to the world’s greatest animation studio. The book begins with future president of Pixar Ed Catmull dreaming of being an animator, though he couldn’t be qualified, so he switched the CG, and eventually got bought by George Lucas to form the Lucasfilm computer graphics division. Then a fired Disney animator John Lassiter was hired by Catmull to work for the division. Eventually, they were bought by Apple creator Steve Jobs in 1986 and they became Pixar.

They made CG shorts before Disney allowed then to make a movie, which turned out to eventually become “Toy Story,” the first ever computer-animated film and goes deeper into the making of the film and the corporate feud they had with former Disney chairman Jeffery Katzenberg and eventually Disney CEO Michael Eisner and how they were acquired by Disney. Unlike “The Pixar Story” documentary, this book goes deeper into the history of the company. What I enjoy the most of this book were the things that the film never showed to us. I liked reading out the 1998 battle between Pixar and DreamWorks (“A Bug’s Life” vs. “Antz”), as well as the two lawsuits for “Monsters Inc.”, first with a Wyoming poet who claims they stole the idea from her and then with a well know artist who claims Mike and Sully were taken from his own characters. Overall, I enjoy this book more than the movie because it goes deeper into the history of Pixar Animation Studios.

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GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Walk on Earth a Stranger

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae CarsonIf you’ve ever heard me raving about The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, it should come as no surprise that I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the first book in Rae Carson’s next series. Lucky for me, I managed to score an advanced copy to get a sneak peek at the book, which will be released on September 22!

What I’m Reading Now: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

Do I Like It: I’m racing through it and it’s written by Rae Carson, so I think it’s safe to say yes!

Thoughts: Walk on Earth a Stranger is a very different book from The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, but that’s not necessarily bad. If you do want to know what it has in common with the GoFaT series, rest assured that Lee is a strong, smart heroine, that there is action and adventure, and that the magic is compelling and a big part of the main character’s life.

Walk on Earth a Stranger is in many ways a Western – a trend that seems to be popping up more and more in young adult literature, and which I’m starting to be a fan of. Lee has grown up in a small Georgia town that was founded on a gold rush, though even her ability hasn’t been able to keep her family rich, unless they want the world to know about her magic and try to use her or hurt her as a result. So Lee mainly helps provide for her family by hunting, caring for their animals, splitting wood, and doing whatever else she can to keep their small farmstead running. Unlike many novels, this isn’t portrayed as Lee being better than other more “ladylike” women, but instead as a simple necessity for her family. I really like that aspect of the book, since I sometimes get tired of a heroine being portrayed as better just because she’s less girly. In Lee’s case, she’s not better, just different.

I also liked how quickly Carson establishes the world of the story. In the first few scenes, we are introduced to Lee as a character, some of her abilities (like hunting and gold-seeking,) and her family. I immediately felt connected to Lee and her family in just a short time, which is important so that we as readers can understand how devastating it is for Lee when things start to go wrong. Where I’m at, the tension is really starting to ramp up, and new adventures are beginning. I’m excited to see where the story goes, how the hints of a more widespread magical world play out, and how Lee’s abilities come into play in this only slightly altered version of our own world. Walk on Earth a Stranger promises to be a great adventure story, a good friendship story, well-researched historical fiction, and an introduction to a fascinating magical system.

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GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Fandoms

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By: Ashley H., Teen Blogger

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Book CoverI recently read an interview of Cassie Clare and Maggie Stiefvater about the darker side of their fandoms through the internet. Explaining that some of their “fans” on social media made them feel dehumanized. The article talked about the hate that the authors received from some people in their fandoms on a daily basis. In my opinion there will always be hate, it’s just human nature. But now with the internet, people can make threats that still are seen but through a computer screen.

Even though the article focused on the fans that aren’t truly fans, that’s only a small portion of a fandom. To me a fandom is like a bunch of new friends who love the same show or book as I do. It’s a collective group that supports each other. People create and share beautiful fan art of their favorite characters or write fanfiction, creating a new character and placing them in their favorite universe, or they scroll through Tumblr to see what other people have created and reblog it. In some cases people find new friends due to fandoms, because of how much importance a certain book or TV show has to them. Another amazing thing is that with social media, fans can share their amazing art and stories with each other and even with actors or authors. They can even ask questions and get answers, or even get retweeted and be seen by some of their idols. What I have experienced with my many fandoms isn’t hate, though it exists, but love and support. As upset as I am that some people would cross the line between fan and hater, I am happy to say that both authors, Cassie and Maggie, recognize that there are people in their fandoms that do love their books and even defend them against hate that is sent. Fandoms in their entirety is one of the best things about a book or TV show, and I hope that people will experience the same things I have if they ever join one.

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GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Willowdean Dickson

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Dumplin by Julie Murphy Book CoverYou guys, if you haven’t already heard of this book, it is officially time to get super excited about Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. This book has been getting a lot of buzz, and I was able to score and advanced copy for my ereader. As of the time I’m writing this, I’m about 20% in, so I won’t be reviewing the book as a whole. But at 20% in, I can tell you for sure that the main character, Willowdean Dickson, is worthy of a top level Great Character Alert, because she is FABULOUS.

Willowdean lives in a small town in Texas famous for its teen beauty pageant, which her mom (a former winner) helps run every. Willowdean, however, is more interested in her best friend Ellen, music, and her work crush Bo than she is in beauty pageants. She is also, in her own words, a “resident fat girl.” As far into the book as I am, I already love Will. She is unapologetic about her size, her ideas, the fact that she has a crush on a jock, or anything else. She loves her best friend more than almost anything, puts up with her mom’s pageant diets and criticisms while still loving her, and sticks up for a girl at school getting teased.

All of which is not to say that Will is perfect, or that everything is going perfectly for her. She does get insecure sometimes, especially when it seems like Bo might be interested in her. She is also insecure about her friendship with Ellen, which comes out when Ellen starts talking more with a work friend from the trendy boutique she works at. She is not immune to being frustrated with her mother, or apathetic about school. She misses her aunt Lucy, who died before the start of the book, and sometimes takes this out on others.

But Will is smart, funny, confident, thoughtful, and witty. She loves to sing to Dolly Parton, spends mornings and afternoons at the pool with Ellen, and jumps at a chance to try on one of the hallowed pageant crowns, despite her disinterest in the competition overall. Her realness and fun makes her someone that I can not only picture knowing in real life, but someone I wish I knew in real life! I’m sure I’ll continue to love Dumplin’ as I follow the rest of Willowdean’s story, and if you place your holds now, you can find out ASAP when the book comes out in September if you feel the same!

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