GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Fandoms

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Elizabeth W., Teen Blogger

White Crown Above "Keep Calm and Join Fandoms"Fandoms have recently become a major part of how people interact with a book, movie, or TV show. In many ways a fandom is just a place to talk about a work you like with other fans. However, fandoms do have some serious negative aspects that we don’t often realize.

Recently in an interview Young Adult authors Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater explained the negative aspects of their fandoms. Each said that they had been insulted by fans or felt dehumanized by them. Their fans sometimes seemed to care more about the characters in their novels than about them as people. They have received threats from fans of their work who care deeply about their books but don’t seem to respect them. Both authors feel that they are particularly targeted like this as women authors.

It all comes down to respecting people online. In a fandom, it’s easy for someone to say things that they wouldn’t say to someone face to face. Although fans love the work that their authors create they sometimes don’t seem to respect that author as a fellow human being. In the interview, Stiefvater said, “I’m seen as either a demon or a queen, and the reality is somewhere in between.” People in fandoms often don’t realize that their overzealous emotional responses to books and movies can seriously hurt people’s feelings. Fans should support authors and creators, not tear them down. Fandoms unfortunately produce strong emotions and an anonymous online environment where people feel they can say whatever they want without repercussions.

I know that this revelation about the darker side of fandoms has impacted my view of them. It’s important to always stay polite and respectful of other people, both authors and other fans, when we are participating in a fandom. While authors love when people engage with their work in interesting ways and enjoy their books and movies, they certainly do not appreciate the hate that often comes with it. All of us need to make sure that we are interacting with others online in a way that is courteous and kind. Even if someone wants to critique an author or disagree with them, there are ways of doing that without hurting that author’s feelings or making them feel unsafe. I’m not saying to stop interacting with fandoms. Fandoms can be a really great way of connecting with other people and appreciating a work of fiction, a movie, or a TV series. However, I do believe that we can make fandoms an even more positive environment by respecting and appreciating each other online.

-Elizabeth W.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Honey Girl

Teens Blog Oragne BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman Book CoverI’ve been on a kick this summer of reading (big surprise) summery books! This season has been full of flip-flops, beaches, water, and lazy days for me – at least when I’m reading! This latest What I Just Read was definitely a highlight of all that seasonal reading.

What I Just Read: Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman

What’s It About (Jacket Description): How to survive California’s hottest surf spot: Never go anywhere without a bathing suit. Never cut your hair. Never let them see you panic.

The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

Did I Like It: It was the perfect summer read. Do I need to say more?

Thoughts: There’s so much to unpack in Honey Girl, which is impressive for a relatively quick and beachy read. First of all, I really got into the historical fiction aspect. I’ve never known much about the 70s, beyond watching That 70s Show, and not surprisingly, surfer culture in southern California was definitely different than the small-town Midwest culture portrayed on that show. I didn’t have to believe in astrology to be interested in how Nani embraced it, I didn’t need to own a mis-matched crochet bikini to picture how perfectly 70s it was, and I certainly didn’t need to know how to surf to become completely immersed in the culture portrayed. Because it really was a whole culture – the rules, the hierarchies, the divisions. Reading about the beach culture Nani lives in was almost like reading a fantasy or sci-fi novel, because it was such a completely different world than any that I’ve lived in. The novel is semi-autobiographical, so I believe most of the vivid cultural details. And this surf/beach culture was so much fun to read about that I hardly would have cared if parts of the book weren’t quite accurate.

Another thing that really stood out to me about Honey Girl was how different and refreshing it was to see a sympathetic protagonist who was unabashedly interested in being popular. So often in the books I’ve read, the popular group are portrayed as bad, and the people who want to be popular as misguided or desperate. Freeman certainly didn’t shy away from showing the ugly sides of the popular and competitive world that Nani is entering. But she also showed the good sides of the popular teens, and didn’t seem to be judging Nani for her desire to be part of their group, and to be popular. Her desire to be part of the ruling clique didn’t make her bad, although it sometimes made her behave badly, and it was easy to empathize with Nani’s goals. Despite, or perhaps because of, the personal struggles and grief Nani was dealing with, her interactions with “the lineup” of popular girls and with surf culture in general still seemed important and worthwhile to read about. To me, that really demonstrates Freeman’s ability as a writer, and the incredible, believable complexity and depth of Nani as a character.

Honey Girl was the ideal summer read for me – high enough stakes and serious enough issues to make it engrossing to read, but with a lightness as well, and a beach setting so well described that I could practically feel the sun, sand, and ocean. It’s not necessarily the best or even my favorite book that I read this summer, but of all the books I’ve binged on lately, I think Honey Girl is the one I’m most likely to pick up again another summer. I highly recommend grabbing it while the sun is still out (or in a few months when you need to pretend it is!)

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Before I Die

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Alison O., Teen Blogger

Before I Die by Jenny Downham Book CoverI recently read and enjoyed the book Before I Die by Jenny Downham. This book follows a teenage girl who is battling terminal cancer.  She decides to create a list with her best friend of things she wants to experience before it’s too late. Throughout the story, the main character Tessa discovers many things about herself as she falls in love and checks off each task from her list.

I enjoyed Jenny Downham’s writing style and considered it to fit young adult level because it was in between fairly easy and just right for me.  It was easy for me to read for a longer period of time as opposed to other books because the book was easy to comprehend, which was a plus for me personally, due to the fact that I sometimes find myself having trouble reading for long periods of time because I struggle with either concentrating or lacking to understand what is really going on in the book.  I think that the author’s writing style was relatable to teens in the way that all the thoughts and ideas were narrated by Tessa herself.

This book also has amazing characters in it.  The main character Tessa really flourishes throughout the book as she discovers the importance of the little things in life. As a reader, it’s encouraging to read a book when you see the main character changing into a better person as the story progresses.  Tessa’s dad also had a strong impact in the story because he was Tessa’s backbone throughout her journey.  He gave up everything to be there for Tessa in her time of need, and I think that relationship brought real feelings to the book because it showed how much a parent is willing to give up to just be there for their children. Lastly, Tessa’s best friend Zoey plays a huge part in this book.  She represents bravery and fearlessness, which she also teaches to Tessa throughout the story.  She helped Tessa complete her list and carried her through the hard times when all Tessa wanted to do was give up.

This book brings out real emotions and makes you stop to evaluate your own life.  It makes you appreciate not only your health, but also the little things in life that in the long run actually mean a lot more than we take for granted.  This book is full of hope and the writing is amazing, which is why this book is one of my all-time favorites.

-Alison O.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Sequels

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Keanu Reeves Looking Shocked "What If Sean Bean Always Dies Because He Hates Sequels"Sequels often get a lot of grief, especially when they fail to live up to the expectations we’ve formed since the first book (or movie, or whatever.) Look at how fans reacted to the final entries into The Hunger Games and Divergent series, or the criticism heaped on the second two Matrix movies. And don’t even get anyone started on the Star Wars prequels. To be fair, often this criticism is warranted – I doubt anyone would argue that the second to Matrix installments were better than the original, and there were plenty of valid criticisms of Allegiant. But often, it comes down to a combination of quality and personal taste. For instance, there were also many of valid criticisms of Mockingjay, but I loved it and thought it was a great conclusion to the trilogy.

But sometimes, there is a sequel that really does rise above, in terms of critical acclaim or personal opinion (and sometimes both.) I read one of these recently. After really liking To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, I was looking forward to P.S. I Still Love You, and I was excited to finally have a chance to read it this month. To my surprise and delight, P.S. I Still Love You exceeded my expectations, and I ended up loving it even more than the original. This, I suspect, comes down to that magic combination of a skilled writer and my own preferences. Reading about the relationship issues Lara Jean faces as part of an existing relationship appealed to me, as did the treatment of bullying, female friendship, and double standards, among many other things. It felt like a fuller, richer, and more mature book than its predecessor. Obviously, loving a sequel even more than the original doesn’t detract from the first though – I would never have read the sequel if I hadn’t really enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and I still recommend it all the time!

This experience got me thinking about those times when sequels equal or even outstrip their predecessors. Critics and fans alike agreed that Toy Story II and Toy Story III were at least as good as the original, and I’ve never met anyone who thinks Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the best of the series. Sequels have great potential to improve on the original, since less time needs to be devoted to scene-setting or exposition, and more time and energy can be spent on plot, character development, and issues. But it depends on authors, screenwriters, producers, and more understanding their characters and their world, staying consistent with what they set up in the original, and making their sequel go beyond simply repeating what was successful originally. Plus, of course, that all-important personal taste aspect!

Do you have any sequels that you prefer to the original? Have you ever been surprised by a sequel? Do you like a sequel that is widely disliked? Or dislike a sequel that is widely liked?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers Take 4

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Roy M., Teen Blogger

Baby Looking Triumphant: "Got All Of My Textbooks As Free PDFS."A big debate that people are having today is whether or not technology is a good or bad thing for teens to have.

Attachment to smartphones can be a good and bad thing. Some good things about smartphones are that you can keep in touch with your friends no matter where you are. You can also look up anything on the internet at any point in time instead of wondering about it until you can get to a computer. Smartphones can also keep you from getting bored. Some bad things about smartphones are that they can be a distraction. Another bad thing is that if you lose it you are out a lot of money. Those are some good and bad things about teens’ attachments to smartphones.

But there are some problems with technology. It could distract a teen during class or even driving because he/she might have an urge to text one of their friends during class or when driving. Another problem is that it could distract a student from doing his/her homework because he/she might not want to do it and he/she would much rather play on his/her phone or watch TV.

Technology can contribute a lot to education and socialization. A lot of schools are adding in more technology to their courses. I remember one time when I was in 3rd grade, my district and my high school district got smart boards in almost all the rooms. Now that smart boards have been around so long, teachers are using smart boards in their lesson plans, whether it’s to take notes on it or watch videos or show projects. Technology has also made it easier to do out of school projects because you can use a phone to plan everything, or video chat, and you can do all the work you need to do over the internet together. Now, my school is getting iPads for some grades so the grades that get iPads no longer have to carry around as many books and can do most of their homework on their iPads. Technology also allows you to be more social with your friends. You can plan where you want to go out or you can just plain talk to each other through text. Technology can also allow you to talk to people from all around the world even if they don’t speak your language. As you can see, technology has played a big part in education and socialization.

Adults who think teens aren’t experiencing the “real world” because of technology are wrong. They are wrong because we are growing up in a time where technology is everywhere. They grew up in a time where not every household had a TV and they didn’t need technology as much, but nowadays most households have a TV, computer, and probably some kind of gaming console. Technology is part of everything now, so adults who don’t think teens learn how to exist in the “real world” because of technology are wrong because technology is everywhere and it’s just part of our lives and culture now.

Overall I’d say that technology is a pretty good thing for teens to have because it makes education and socialization easier, and it keeps teens up to date on how to use all the new technology that comes out.

-Roy M.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Under a Painted Sky

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey LeeEveryone has certain genres or stories they tend to gravitate towards or away from. It’s natural! But once again, I’ve been reminded how important it is to not let those tendencies get in the way of finding a great read. For instance, I’ve never been a big fan of Westerns or Oregon Trail type stories, but I am a huge sucker for friendship stories. And if I hadn’t given my latest What I Just Read book a try, despite the cowboy thing, I never would have discovered the amazing friendship at the core of it.

What I Just Read: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Did I Like It: More like LOVED it!

Thoughts: Like I said, I’m not usually a fan of Westerns, and aside from the joy of killing 1800 pounds of buffalo (and only being able to carry 200 pounds back to the wagon,) not all that interested in the Oregon Trail. And Under a Painted Sky is a Western set on the Oregon Trail – complete with covered wagons and cowboys. But as it turns out, I can love a Western, and be fascinated by life on the Oregon Trail! Under a Painted Sky won’t disappoint fans of Westerns. There’s outlaw gangs, horses, stampedes, fiddles, quests, and more. And for Oregon Trail fans, there are covered wagons, dangerous river crossings, and cholera (yes, cholera – and it’s ugly.) I am by no means trying to say this isn’t the type of book I thought it would be, because it was.

But what was great for me to learn is that a really well-written Western, like a really well-written book in any genre, can have all kinds of other appeals as well. For me, I loved the adventure aspect of two young women trying to track down something important (in Annamae’s case, her brother, and in Samantha’s case, her father’s best friend and clues about her future) and overcoming obstacles to do it. There is danger, intrigue, and some humor. There are fights as well as fun, despite the dangers of the journey. But as is usually the case for me, it was the characters and their relationships that really brought Under a Painted Sky into the realm of the truly great.

Annamae and Samantha are both fantastic characters, and they complement each other well. Annamae is nearly fearless, always fierce, and extremely down-to-earth and pragmatic. She keeps Samantha, an artistic dreamer, centered. But both characters are strong – strong to their core. They have each endured terrible things, horrors even in Annamae’s case, but they have both decided to push through anyways, to struggle for what they want, and to keep embracing life and joy. And their friendship with each other is lovely to read about. They learn to trust each other fast, because they have to, and their friendship is forged by fire. But they also make each other laugh, and look out for each other, and talk to each other about big and little things, and even have in-jokes. It’s so real and wonderful to read about, even in these extraordinary circumstances. To be honest, for me at least, Samantha and Annamae completely overshadowed the supporting characters, even though they were all wonderfully interesting, well-developed, and likable.

So if you like adventures stories, or Westerns, or cowboys, or are obsessed with the Oregon Trail, this is a book for you. And if you like well-developed characters, dynamic and relatable relationships, and great friendships, this is also the book for you! I can’t recommend Under a Painted Sky enough, and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Lee will do next.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers Take 3

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Sabrina A., Teen Blogger

Buzz and Woody "Technology; Technology Everywhere."You are standing in line at a coffee shop and the person in front of you is using their smart phone. At school, iPads are being used for textbooks and homework. Technology makes most people’s life a lot simpler but is it really all that good? There are many debates on whether or not technology is helping out our society or only dumbing us down. There are many reasons why people believe that technology helps us out. One of them is that they give us more experiences.  For example you get to meet people online who you would not get to meet in person, and see pictures and videos of places you would not get to travel to. Another reason why some people believe that technology is helpful is because it helps people learn. For example, if a student has a question on their history homework, they will most likely use their iPhone or Tablet and simply google the question. Also it could help a busy parent learn a recipe for dinner, for instance. The last reason why a person might believe technology is good is because it saves people in times of an emergency. If one gets sick or doesn’t feel good, they could call someone, or if a child is in danger they can call their guardian. One phone call can save someone’s life.

Although many people believe that technology is valuable, many people believe that technology is making society stupid. One reason why technology is bad is because people depend on it to remember important things for them such as a best friend’s birthday or a test day. Another reason why technology is harmful is because it ruins society’s social skills. Everyone talks to teach other on these tiny little screens through texted words and the only way to express emotions through text is emoji’s. Society completely forgets how to read facial expressions and body language and so when a person needs to be social in real life, they get anxiety. The last reason why some people believe that technology is unhealthy is because it causes bullying. A lot of people have a hard time saying mean things to someone’s face but they do not mind saying it over social media. Over social media almost anyone can access it and the person can be humiliated in front of a lot more people than just a small group of people at school. Technology encourages cyber-bulling with apps like Yik-Yak,, and etc. These apps let people post things anonymously so everyone can be a bully on those types of apps without revealing their identity. Technology can be dangerous and harmful, however it can be really helpful – if people use it in the right way.

-Sabrina A.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: The Watchful Protectors

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

As I’m sure you all remember (and some of you are probably getting sick of hearing,) we’re doing some fun stuff for summer reading this year.  Between tug-of-war with the fire department tonight, great gift cards and grand prizes, and the opportunity to raise money for our local heroes, it’s a great program overall.  But of course, that wasn’t enough for me and Middle School Librarian Christina – we had to take it up a notch!  You can read more about the crazy stunts we’re doing this summer here, but if you’ve been reading this blog, you know you’ve already unlocked several tiers of our embarrassment.  If you attended our Nerf Wars in June, you even got to participate in one of them with us, letting us have what-for with your Nerf guns.

But for those of you who couldn’t make it (or even those who could!) we wanted to make sure you got to experience the humiliation as well.  So without further ado, I present to you: The Watchful Protectors!

Tier One you can see above.  Tier Two’s stunt was a whole week of goofy outfits at work, all of which you can see pictures of here.  And you’ve unlocked Tier Three as well, so Christina and I will be attempting to race three-legged in the library parking lot without causing serious injury to ourselves.  Stay tuned for that video soon, and keep reading – next up is a break dance competition, and if you meet your goals, we’ll have a live performance (and of course video) of the most awkward and embarrassing stunt yet!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers Take 2

Teens Blog Oragne BannerBy: Alison O., Teen Blogger

Woman on Phone "I Feel More Naked Without My Phone Than I Do Without Any Of My Clothes."The ongoing debate regarding society’s attachment to smartphones questions whether the heavy reliance on these devices is good or bad. I think that our attachment to our smartphones is bad because of the things that it holds us back from. Many argue that the reliance on smartphones is responsible for the lack of human interaction now a days. I agree with this thought, because many of us get swept up in technology, which sometimes prevents us from communicating face-to-face with those around us.

On the other hand, technology can be a positive tool used in schools to reinforce learning in the classroom. Many times at my school we use smartphones and iPads to play educational games like “Kahoot!” or take online quizzes and tests. We also use technology to keep updated on our teachers assignments through a program called “Schoology” which helps us stay on top of due dates. I think that technology is very helpful for education because it enhances the learning by using devices that we are more comfortable with.

Some of technology’s problems these days is that it holds society back from creating real relationships. In the past, people would be forced to meet up in person and have a conversation because they weren’t offered the luxury of smartphones to communicate with one another. Now a days, if you needed to discuss something with someone, you could easily text or call them about it. I think this holds people back from real relationships that people used to have in the past. Many technological features such as Facebook, for example, allow people to keep updated on their friends’ lives by just clicking on their profile, whereas if technology wasn’t an option, people would have to meet up and talk if they wanted to know about their friends lives. I think that technology is negatively affecting humans’ relationships with other people, and the “realness” of these relationships.

I hope that we will teach the younger generations and ourselves the importance of getting out in the real world and keeping our technology addiction to a minimum. There are so many important aspects that we are missing while hiding behind our smartphones, and it’s important that we realize this and become more self-conscious about using our smartphones.

-Alison O.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Ashley M., Teen Blogger

Guy In Glasses and Hat With Two Phones In Hand and Stricken Expression on Face: "Instargram is Down - Just Describe Your Lunch To Me."Many adults say that teens are way too involved with their phones. Rather than socializing the old fashion way, you know – talking to each other in person, instead they are staring at a screen and typing. I agree with this 100%. I think that it is very important to put your phone down and talk to the people around you sometimes.

There are many ways to avoid using your technology, and actually communicate with each other. I work at a summer camp, and there is a rule that we never have our phones around the campers. I think this is extremely smart. Camp is all about working together and focusing on having old fashioned fun. Enjoying each other’s company and living in the moment. If phones were permitted, I understand you could take pictures of the cool activities you are partaking in, but the moment would be lost. You would be focused on the perfect lighting of your picture rather than the memory and amazing opportunity you are a part of. I remember one of my volleyball coaches would always have us put our phones in a pile, and whoever grabbed their phone first had to buy us all ice cream. This forced us to talk and actually get to know each other. This event created a much closer and fun team to be a part of. I tried to have my current team try this. I knew it would bring us closer and we would have less distractions but, no one was up to the challenge. One of my teammates said, “I can’t be without my phone”. That hit me hard, I couldn’t understand how badly she needed her phone and quite frankly I realized how scared I am for future generations, and their forms of technology.

If teenagers and even young children are overcome with their technology and constantly being distracted, human beings will lose the one ability that sets us apart. That ability is our communication. Family dinners will be silent, friends will hang out but only remain on their phones, and schools will consist of distracted students. I hope that someone can find a way to communicate the importance of one on one communication. I myself will try to remember the importance of putting the phone down and living in the moment. I hope that you will do the same. :)

-Ashley M.

Posted in GEPL Teens