Lale Sokolov is a Slovak Jew, being transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Nazis. World War II is raging, and Jews all over Europe are paying the price. Lale is one of many Jews being loaded onto a cattle car to be transported like animals to the camp. Upon arriving, the prisoners have their heads shaven, and their clothes and belongings taken and replaced with a Russian soldier's uniform. They also have a number tattooed on their left arm.
Lale's number is 32407.
German officials discover that Lale can speak many different languages -- German, Yiddish, Russian, and more. This skill earns Lale a job as the Tätowierer (the person who tattoos the other prisoners), because he can communicate easily with prisoners of multiple backgrounds.
At first, Lale is an assistant to the previous Tätowierer, Pepan. Later, when Pepan is taken away, Lale becomes the Tätowierer, eventually taking on his own assistant. One day, Lale is tasked with the job of tattooing a large group of young women who have just arrived. He has trained himself to not look up while working, because looking up at the people's faces just makes his job harder. He does not want to see the faces of the people he is marking. With one person, however, he can't help but look up. This young woman's name is Gita, and Lale can't help but fall in love with her on sight. At the very moment he looks into her eyes, he promises himself that they will survive the camps, get married, and be free together.
Gita's number is 34902.
For the next two years, Lale does whatever he can to keep himself and Gita alive; he smuggles food, medicine, and even makes off with jewels and currency from the coats of newly arrived prisoners (which he can exchange for valuable and important supplies). He takes care of Gita, and uses his special privileges and extra rations given to him as Tätowierer to help as many of his fellow prisoners as possible. All the while, he marks his own people. and he holds onto his hope that he and Gita will survive.
Lale and Gita were real people. Their story is a love story, wrapped inside a horror story. They witnessed many acts of pure hatred and violence. And yet, when Lale met Gita, despite all the horrors that surrounded them, in his own words: "I tattooed her number on her left hand, and she tattooed her number on my heart."
This book is good for history lovers, but I would not recommend this book for anyone under 12 years old. In addition to talking about the war, it is a very violent book, and contains discussion of both mass murder and rape.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a sentimental true story of love and hope trying to survive in a world of hate.
Daddy's afterthoughts: At B&N, Goodreads, Waterstones, and Amazon, this book consistently racks up extremely high reviews, averaging well over 4 stars out of 5 on all four sites. I will be stunned if this is not made into a movie within 2 years. This book is gripping and, I know it is a cliche, but you will not want to put it down.
As Julia said, it is a true story, related to author Heather Morris by Lale Sokolov himself. Lale died in 2006. If you want to find out what happened to Gita, you'll have to read the book.
I can sum up everything I have to say about this devastating book in three lines from the book that effectively capture the swirl of emotions this book generates:
"I'm just a number. You should know that. You gave it to me." "Yes, but that's just in here. Who are you outside of here?" "Outside doesn't exist anymore. There's only here."
Daniel (Dan) Crawford is a 16-year-old attending the New Hampshire College Prep summer program, a program designed to prepare students for college life by having them live in a dorm and take courses for 5 weeks. However, this year the regular dorms have been closed, and the students have to spend their 5 weeks in the old Brookline Asylum.
There he meets Abby and Jordan, two other teens attending the program. Abby has an artistic focus, while Jordan prefers math. One night they are exploring the basement of the old asylum, and they begin to unearth some dark secrets. They find horrific black and white pictures of patients and doctors performing "medical" experiments, creepy and disturbing images that disgust and horrify them. These would be the first of many disturbing discoveries at the old asylum.
A few days later, Dan finds an unread email in his Sent folder. How that even could happen, he is not sure. He clicks on it and is only able to read "RE: Your inquiry regarding patient 361" before an error message pops up. Upon closing it, Dan sees that the email is gone.
As the days pass, more weird things happen. Dan finds notes on his desk that say odd things, his friends receive texts from him that he never sent, he has dreams of the asylum, he gets more emails about "patient 361," and he begins to experience hallucinations. One hallucination is of a room with an operating table, with bloody shackles on the wall. One day, while exploring the grounds, he, Jordan, and Abby find the room, the one from his hallucination. How is that possible?
It turns out that Brookline has dark secrets, and a haunting (and haunted!) past. As Dan and his new friends unearth more of the truth about what really went on in the asylum, they find information that connects them - personally - with the asylum's dark past...
Asylum is the first in a bone-chilling trilogy featuring actual photos from actual asylums, which really adds to the creepy atmosphere. Highly recommended for older readers with a high tolerance for books that rank high on the creep-out factor, as it also contains some mild profanity. But you'd swear too if you were stuck where they were. When I finished reading this book for the first time, I was mildly disturbed. Definitely not something I'd recommend for a late-night story.
Asylum is the first book of the trilogy. Find reviews for the next novel, Sanctum, here. Asylum, as described by New York Times bestselling author Heather Brewer: as "Dark, twisted magnificence. Brilliant!" I agree with Heather Brewer!
------------------ Daddy's afterthoughts: I will confess I did not read this book. There seem to be shades of The Shining, though, and IMO, nothing tops The Shining. Still, I would never recommend The Shining for the pre-high school age group, so maybe this series is a good scaffold up to that level of horror novel. I don't know when or where Julia mad a left turn from historical fiction and decided that horror was her bag (she's been bugging me to let her watch The Ring), but whatever keeps her reading :-)
Life isn't easy for Chaya Lindner. She's a Jewish teen living in Nazi-occupied Poland, her parents are in a ghetto, her sister is dead, and her brother is missing. She lives with the threat of death if the wrong person finds out she's Jewish.
Chaya is working as a courier for the resistance group, Akiva, smuggling food, forged documents, and people in and out of the ghettos. Discovery means death, but she's skilled enough to not get caught. Her resistance group assigns her to a cell, a small group of about five people, who raid Nazi warehouses and trains for ammunition, guns, food, or anything that they can use.
One day, her cell gets a new member: Esther, a young Jewish girl. Chaya thinks that Esther is useless. She's untrained, scared, and lacks confidence. Of course, they all started that way, but Chaya doesn't care. They do not need someone weak and helpless right now, as Chaya runs raids, dodges Nazis, and lies to save her skin and protect her identity.
Akiva is planning an attack on the Cyganeria Cafe, a place where many German officers go. Akiva wants the attack to attract a lot of public attention, to persuade people to resist. If they kill a bunch of German officers, people will be inspired to fight back themselves. But the mission goes horribly wrong. The cafe was demolished, and some officers do die, but almost all of Akiva are arrested or killed. Esther and Chaya survive.
Now, they are to head to the Warsaw Ghetto, and start an uprising that will embed itself in history. Just the two of them, making a final stand.
Resistance is a WWII young adult fiction book, based on the real heroics of real young people who fought and were willing to die for their cause. Chaya is sixteen, and while most sixteen-year-old girls are learning how to drive, or throwing parties, or dating, Chaya is worrying about one thing: Could she make a difference? Could she show that the Jews weren't going to allow themselves to be slaughtered? That they would stand strong?
When we think of WWII, we think of the ghettoes, the camps, the Nazis, and Hitler himself: In other words, we think of the horrors. We often don't think of the people like Chaya, who risked everything to save lives, and we especially do not hear about those who would have been heroes, if their attempts at resistance had been more successful.
Resistance is a great historical novel for anyone who is a history lover. I especially recommend this for anyone who has liked the similar books I have reviewed (click the links and read!) like Making Bombs for Hitler or The Devil's Arithmetic. Resistance uses the names of real places and real people who fought and died, or fought and didn't die. They all fought with bravery, and they all worked to show that they wouldn't give up.
------------------ Daddy's afterthoughts: The cover of this book, perhaps deliberately evokes the lone resister at Tienanmen Square. I'm not sure many people know his name either. Chaya is not real, but the people and places around her in this book are. This is a somewhat more "adult" young-adult book, not just because of both the subject matter, but because of the unrelenting horror of wartime violence and the lack of a traditional "happy ending." Nielsen does not attempt to sugar-coat or Disney-fy reality, for which an appreciative and appropriately mature reader can and should be grateful. Much Jewish resistance was not "victorious" in the conventional sense of the word; often, the best that could be hoped for was increased awareness, or enough outrage to convince others to resist as well, so that the resistance would not die out altogether as the Nazis ran roughshod all over Europe. In Chaya's words, "We proved that there was value in faith. There was value in loyalty. And that a righteous resistance was a victory in and of itself, regardless of the outcome."
Alec was your typical video-game loving teenager. Like many teens, Alec has family problems. His father is a violent alcoholic. Many kids and teens today know what it's like to have a loved one who is an addict to drugs or alcohol. The addict often becomes abusive, and this is what happens with Alec's father. This is an important detail, but it is not the main focus of the story.
Alec used to think that he'd live a normal life. Get a girlfriend, graduate, go to college, graduate, get a job, and start a family. Then someone tried to kill him. Then someone else did. And someone else and someone else. The weird thing about it all (like people trying to kill him is not weird enough) was that the people trying to kill him could point a gun at his head, but no one would notice, even if they did it in public, in broad daylight. Like the assassins all have Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak or something.
Riley was also a typical teenager. Currently, however, she is trying to get away from her step-mother (whom she thinks of as a "witch") and get to her sister's apartment in Vancouver. This wouldn't really be a problem if it weren't for the fact that someone has just tried to kill her (again) at a subway station. Like Alec, she too has had multiple people try to kill her, and like with Alec, no one else ever seems to notice when it happens.
Someone, or something, is out to kill them both. What they are aware of is that something unnatural is going on, and that they don't like it. What they are unaware of is that someone (or something) can mind-control innocent humans, making them do horrible things: kill people, blow up cities.
Or simply not see when an assassination is about to take place right in front of them.
Their paths cross when a man named Darius Finn informs them of the rare genetic trait they possess that gives them special powers. Darius and a group called the Tyons have been searching for people like Riley and Alec, people with that special genetic trait. The Tyons need people like Alec and Riley to learn how to control their power in hope that they can use it to help fight against that someone, that something, trying to kill them both, which they Tyons call Rhozan.
Darius brings Riley and Alec to one of the Tyons' secret bunkers in Toronto, where they are given further information about the Tyons and their role as Potentials. At first, Alec and Riley think Darius and the Tyons are crazy, but things start to make more sense to them after the bunker is attacked, and they realize that there is more going on than they think. The three flee to another bunker in Newfoundland, so Tyon operatives can fully train them to use their powers.
In Newfoundland, however, Alec is discovered to be far more powerful than anyone dreamed. In fact, it was an explosive burst of anger directed at his abusive father that caused the "rip" that allowed Rhozan to come through from his dimension in the first place. Now even some of the Tyons want him eliminated. If Rhozan were to take over the mind of someone so powerful...
It's the best kind of story - kids with troubles of their own suddenly find themselves the targets of assassins while even weirder people claim to be protecting them. And Susan M. MacDonald is the best kind of writer- she drops you into the middle of the action and makes you care what happens so you can hardly stand to put the book aside until you've finished.
Edge of Time is the action-filled first novel in a trilogy (the next book is Time of Treason). I received the trilogy as a birthday gift from my relatives in Newfoundland. (Thanks, guys!) The ending will make you want to read the next book in the series; in fact, the ending will FORCE you to read the next book in the series. It really leaves you on a cliffhanger! I recommend it for anyone who likes a lot of action in their books, movies, or video games. (There is a sort of a video game connection in the book, but I don't want to spoil it!)
Daddy's afterthoughts: An auspicious debut novel! This might be a book you have to hunt for online, but it is worth it. It is published by Newfoundland's Breakwater Books, a small publishing house that focuses on Canadian writers in general and authors of Newfoundland and the Maritimes specifically. Read more about author Susan MacDonald, and the rest of her trilogy, here.
Fair disclosure: My wife's (Julia's mother's) aunt works for Breakwater. But if Julia did not really like the book, she would have said so! (In fact, read her other reviews, and you'll find a couple where she did just that...)
It all starts when Prime Minister DeCree begins to write a dictionary. At first, everyone is fine with his definitions for the words, but when he gets to the D's, to "delicious," no one can agree. He wants to put "Delicious is a fried fish" as the definition. But of course, everyone in the royal court has their own favorite foods. The King loves apples. The Queen prefers Christmas pudding, and the Queen's brother, Hemlock, likes nuts.
Chaos soon ensues, with everyone arguing that the definition of "delicious" should be their favorite food, and no one can agree. To resolve the issue, it is decided that the Prime Minister's 12-year-old adopted son and Special Assistant Vaungaylen ("Gaylen" for short) will ride out and poll everyone in the kingdom for their favorite food. The food that gets the most votes will be the winner and will be put in the dictionary as the definition for "delicious."
Once the poll is made official, Hemlock rides away from the castle. Upon seeing him leave, the King says, "Well, maybe he'll stay away. I wish he would, by Harry. He's always trying to take over and run things." With all the chaos and distrust in the kingdom it would be easy for someone in the kingdom (like Hemlock, maybe?) to go in and stir up a rebellion, to get all the people on his or her side, have them kill the King, then plant himself or herself in charge.
The very next morning, Gaylen sets out on his journey. He takes the King's swiftest horse, Marrow, to make the trip faster. Gaylen arrives at the first town to be polled, and at first everything goes fine, but soon people are fighting, and shouting out names of foods. The Mayor of the town eventually calms everyone down, but still, it takes three days to poll everyone in the town, and even though there are around 200 people in the town, no two votes are the same. Gaylen is beginning to think that, at this rate, the Prime Minister may have to leave "delicious" out of the dictionary!
On his last night in the town, Gaylen hears from the Mayor that there is a man riding around on a gray horse speaking out against the King. Gaylen immediately knows that this man is Hemlock. The fact that everyone has their own opinion about "delicious" and everyone is fighting about it is bad enough, but Hemlock riding about trying to stir up a rebellion is even worse! And every day, the kingdom steps closer to a civil war. The book comes complete with a map of Gaylen's path through the kingdom, so you can see his whole journey.
The Search for Delicious is a great children's novel. In a funny and clever way, it shows how most fighting usually starts off with really silly things. I'd recommend it for anyone - kids or adults! - aged 9+. Parents may be familiar with this book as well, it was published around 50 years ago. I'm glad that there is an older book like this that is still not as well known, so today's children can still enjoy some of yesterday's stories, without having them forced upon them and possibly ruined by school.
------------------------------ Daddy's afterthoughts: There aren't a lot of books, I think, that do as good a job of providing biting political satire to readers this young as The Search for Delicious. One needs only look as far as the dysfunctional Congress(es) of the last few years to find real-world exemplars of the obtuseness of some of Babbitt's characters. A sweet and light allegory. I really enjoyed it as well.
Esme Raji Codell wrote this book to tell about all the exciting events that occurred during her fifth grade year. In the introduction, Esme says that your our minds are like attics, and that memories are like paper; they can crumble and turn to dust, so we put them in boxes that get packed away. She found these memories in "boxes" her "attic," and she wanted to share them with us.
Sing a Song of Tuna Fish is a memoir, but unlike Three Little Words, a memoir I reviewed earlier, this book does not focus on tragic memories. Instead, it focuses on the times that had an impact for Esme, those memories that left a mark.
She tells about when she egged a car with her mother; a red Jaguar was parked in front of a fire hydrant near their apartment, and her mom didn't like it, so she had Esme egg the car from the balcony. She tells about the Chicago neighborhood she lived in, and talks about some of the stores, restaurants, and other places in the town, such as the local bakery, the laundromat, and the gift shop. In addition to these things, she also talks about her schooling experiences, her childhood thoughts about love, a party she and her cousin threw for their grandma, and a few other things. It's a little bit of everything.
The book is like a journal of her per-teen life, and proof that even a "regular" kid's ordinary, everyday life is worth writing about. Her stories will make you smile. If you go back and read my review of Nothing, by Annie Barrows, the theme is similar. Ordinary kids actually lead pretty interesting lives, if they stop to think about it a little.
Codell says that we all have these memories stored away in our mental "attic," and we just have to find them, and wipe away the dust once in a while. She goes up into her attic and dusts off some wonderful stories. -------------------
Daddy's afterthoughts: I've heard tell that Esme Raji Codell does the reading herself for this book's audiobook, and that she imbues it with some real personality. This collection of vignettes is full of whimsy and some funny OMG moments. The perspective of a 10-year-old is good for that. She writes about her fifth-grade self, so the book targets that age range, I suppose (9 to 11), but I read the book and think that adults will warm to it as well. As YA memoirs go, it is not at all heavy and adult-themed like The House on Mango Street, but it still retains a sense of seriousness and sincerity even through the hilarity and silly bits, and there are discussions of mature topics that may stimulate conversation with younger readers like school life, love, money, and religion (Codell is Jewish, and much of the storytelling is infused with cultural references familiar to those of us that grew up in Jewish households; for others, perhaps somewhat less familiar). Codell provides lesson plans and discussion guides to accompany the book at: //www.planetesme.com/tunafish.html.
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter is a memoir (an autobiographical, true, story) of her nine years in foster care, starting from the day the police arrested her mother and placed her and her baby brother, Luke, in the foster care system, and ending a few years after Ashley was finally adopted at the age of 12. In those nine years she lived in fourteen different foster homes. As for the foster parents:
"Some were kind, a few were quirky, and one, Marjorie Moss, was as wicked as a fairy-tale witch."
At the Moss foster home, Marjorie Moss abuses the children in her care and then lies about it to the authorities to save her skin. She beats the children, locks them outside, threatens them with a gun, and pours hot sauce down their throats. Some of the kids try to tell what is going on, but nobody believes them. Mrs. Moss is a "model" foster parent, and even teaches classes for other foster parents(!).
When Ashley grew older, she tried to sue Mrs. Moss and her husband, but once again, they lied so they would be safe.
To this day, some foster parents still treat foster children like animals or objects, rather than human beings. This book is a first-person account of what happens in some foster homes. Ashley wrote a very detailed description of each foster home she lived in, how the foster parents treated her, and what she kept inside. All Ashley wants is to live with her mother again, but as time progresses, she wonders if her wish to be with her mother will ever come true.
This book is not to be read by children younger than 11 because parts of the book talk about things like molestation, sexual battery, and abuse. Ashley wants the world to know the hardships some foster children must endure, and has succeeded. Today Ashley is a foster mother herself and has cared for more than twenty kids. She gives speeches about the foster-care system and how to protect our nation's children.
Daddy's afterthoughts: This book was one of the recommended titles for Julia's "summer reading" between 6th and 7th grade. This is some pretty heavy stuff for that age bracket. I remember when I was her age the controversy swirling around Judy Blume's books (especially Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret and Deenie), and whether or not they we appropriate for 10-12 year-olds. Those books seem innocent and sweet compared to some of what Ashley is exposed to in some of these homes. For mature tween readers, then, or for tween readers whose parents are ready to have some very grown-up conversations. But for what it's worth, Julia reports that she "loved" this book, and read it through 2 or 3 times before sitting down to write her post. And for what it's worth, this memoir is nowhere near as dark as the pseudo-memoir Go Ask Alice, and has a positive ending and strong message.
Mona has lived in the painting Mona Dunn(her portrait) in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery for almost a century. Ever since she was moved to the gallery, she has obeyed the number one rule: No one is allowed to know the paintings are alive.
All of the gallery's "residents" obey that rule, among other rules, and live peacefully. They can move around through the different paintings as easily as you or I can go to different rooms in a house. They attend meetings. They hang out with each other and socialize. They laugh; they play. They generally live like you or I do, but they can never leave the paintings.
And they never age.
A restless 13-year-old girl, Mona loves to explore the gallery. She enjoys talking to the friends she has made in other paintings, and admiring the scenery of some of the landscapes.
Sargent Singer is the 12-year-old son of the gallery director. He's a talented painter and is visiting his father for the summer. His parents are divorced, and he hasn't seen his father for a while. One day, Sargent is looking around the gallery when he catches sight of Mona's portrait. He thinks he sees her sticking out her tongue at some rude children in the museum. But... that's impossible. He tries to convince himself that he is only hallucinating.
The museum closes for the day, but as the gallery director's son, he has the freedom to move around after hours. He returns to Mona's painting, and he notices that it is empty! He glances around at the other paintings, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees a shape in the painting San Vigilio, Lake Garda that shouldn't be there.
Peering closer, he realizes that the shape is Mona Dunn.
Mona is horrified, believing that the biggest and most important secret of the Beaverbrook Gallery has been exposed. But he and Mona become friends, as they are forced to team up to solve mysteries about what is really going on at the gallery.
How can such a friendship survive, when he is real and she is just... paint?
The Frame-Up is perfect for fans of the movie Night at the Museum,and, like in Harry Potter, the paintings come to life. (This novel actually makes references to both movies.) And there is a scene involving movie night at the museum's summer art camp that will make you giggle. There are also some similarities to a wonderful book I reviewed recently about a girl trapped in a painting on the side of a china platter, Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley. (Click the link to read my review!)
The blurb on the cover says "Look beyond what you think you see." And that's always what you must do.
------------------------- Daddy's afterthoughts: This book takes the Toy Story trope and has some fun with it. (I know, Toy Story wasn't first, but it's the one most kids will register with. For a nice internet rabbit hole to fall down reading about this stuff, try this.) The copy of the book Julia had (a pre-publication draft) only has black-and-white reproductions of the artworks, all of which are real, but I have read that published versions of the book contain full-color plates. For young readers who are art lovers or who fancy themselves painters, the book dips its feet in that world nicely. In fact, it reminds me personally of my favorite board game growing up in the 70s as a child, Masterpiece, where the goal is to buy and sell classic paintings at auction for a profit. (Follow the link for a short video explaining the game - it is a great way to introduce kids to great art, though the game is out of print now.)
Bruce, 16, and Milton, 18, are brothers, and the type of high schoolers that always get into trouble. Bruce gets into fights, and Milton gets arrested. In fact, Milton and Bruce are planning a robbery even though Milton hasn’t even had a trial from his last crime. But it's not what you think... they're not "bad" guys.
When they get to the bank that they want to rob, Bruce gets out of the car that they used to get there, and which will also act as their getaway car, and everything seems to go fine. Until Bruce tears out of the bank, with a practically empty sack, and tells Milton to drive. They get 3 blocks away when the bag explodes. The teller had sneaked a dye bomb into the bag. And now they have useless money, and were covered in neon green dye.
They bury the evidence in their backyard. But they haven’t buried the soiled wealth unnoticed, though. Terrence, an “almost legally blind” neighbor, has heard them and recorded their conversation while out bird-watching. (Actually, he doesn’t really “watch” them. Since he is nearly blind, all he can do is record their songs and the sounds they make. But his is why he has his recording equipment with him.)
Bruce and Milton know that they are in trouble, because Terrence had been recording birds while they were burying the money, and Terrence may have recorded their conversation too. What Bruce and Milton didn’t know was that Terrence told his girlfriend, Nina, and her brother, Carraway, a soldier back home from the War after surviving a tank explosion in Iraq. Carraway is “a stickler for law and order.” Carraway knows that Bruce and Milton attempted to rob a bank, because Terrence told him. And he’s not too happy about it.
The dust jacket says that Flash is based on an actual robbery that the author witnessed. I liked the way the narration is in the third person, but the point of view switches from seeing Nina’s side, to Milton’s side, to Terrence’s side, and back again, as if someone were recording their thoughts and words. The novel talked about the crime from the criminals’ perspective, and I liked that too – it is not something you see a lot: Bruce and Milton are motivated by the need to get money for their family, not just to be "bad guys." Ever since an explosion at the sugar refinery killed their father, their family has been very tight on money. The insurance company forced the family to take only 1/3 of the payment they were due. The insurance company knew that he had nothing to do with the accident, and was just ripping the family off. They told them they could take 1/3 or take nothing. What choice did they have? Now they are poor, and their mother is sick (and lacks the money to get proper medical help).
I found this in a “horror” section in the library... which is weird. This book is not scary, other than the mildly disturbing cover image. Michael Cadnum used a real event to write a “thriller” that in my opinion was not super-thrilling. But don’t let what I say get in the way of if you want to read it, if you like crime thrillers or detective stories, that type of thing. By all means, go right ahead!
Daddy's afterthoughts: Julia was not especially enthralled with this one, but it's not really her genre of choice. Kirkusrates the book highly, praising its "unpredictable resolution that brings the cast to the end leaves room for reflection on motivation and character in hard times." Bob's Book Blog calls Cadnum's writing "vivid and evocative" and calls it a "brilliant story for teens and reluctant boy readers." Well, Julia is neither a reluctant reader, nor a boy, so maybe that's it. The book is gritty, realistic fiction, not the fantasy and dystopian fare that is de rigueur in YA fiction these days, so if you are looking for something in that vein, there you go.
Charlotte and Frankie are two girls who believe that absolutely NOTHING happens in their lives. So Charlotte decides to write a story that records everything that happens during their sophomore year of high school to prove that their lives are full of nothing. She writes about her friends, her crushes, other people's girlfriends and boyfriends. She writes about her looks, her best friend's looks, parties she goes to, and a bunch of other things that fifteen-year-old girls tend to do (shopping and stuff like that).
And then she realizes something.
She realizes that real life isn’t fiction. Real life isn’t a book or TV show. Charlotte and Frankie want a lot of drama in their lives, and that just doesn’t always happen.
Nothing is not for young readers. Nothing has more than a few swear words on every page, and Charlotte and Frankie talk about sex. They also do drugs (they smoke weed) and drink. Now, don't get me wrong. I liked the book. It made me laugh a lot, mostly at the unpredictable behaviors of teenagers. But it’s not a kids’ book.
Even a book about "nothing" must have a purpose. This one teaches that real life isn't a fantasy world like you'd see on TV, or read in a book. The problem is, many people think that it is. Charlotte and Frankie do, but they start to realize that, possibly, their lives were already “maybe, just perfect.”
Just remember that your life isn't nothing. Life is full of activity and excitement; you may just need to write it down to see it!
Daddy’s afterthoughts: I can't possibly add thoughts any better than the author herself. The advance reader's copy Julia got her hands on had this gem tucked inside. It pretty much says it all. Enjoy!