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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

23 / 100 books. 23% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

61 / 165 books. 37% done!
Saturday, February 06, 2016

Middle Grade Magical Realism Novel Fat With Wisdom

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For Priscilla, Marla, Eleanor and Astrid, dealing with their mother's alcoholism and violent mood swings is just a way of life.  They're used to it.  But when the girls move with their parents into their mother's childhood home in New Hampshire, things grow even more difficult.  The worst thing of all is that Priscilla's older sisters are hiding something from her.  At eleven, they think she's too young to know what's going on around her.  Which is ridiculous.  "Silly" is just her nickname—Priscilla knows her mother is sick, knows her sisters are up to something, and knows she wants to be part of it.

When Silly is finally let in on the big secret, she's dumbfounded.  The closets in the girls' new home are doorways that lead to fantastical worlds, beckoning them far away from the harsh realities of their real lives.  Best of all, Silly is able to manipulate the closet magic in ways her sisters can't.  Finally, she's getting the kind of attention she's always wanted from her older siblings.  Silly could stay in her own magical world forever!  When she discovers a scary truth about the closets, however, she begins to fear for herself and her family.  Will the mind-boggling wizardry that's bringing the sisters together be the very thing that tears them apart?  Can Silly save them all before it's too late?

Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu is a tender story about a family that's falling apart at the seams.  It's impossible not to sympathize with the girls at its center as they struggle to deal with their unpredictable mother.  While the reader will cheer when the sisters find a happy escape from their unhappy lives, she will also realize the importance of their reemergence.  After all, despite its actual thickness, this is a novel fat with wisdom.  As sad as it is, Rules for Stealing Stars teaches some great lessons about facing problems, finding good in even the most difficult circumstances, and working together to create solutions that work, even if they're not perfect.  Although it's a little depressing, this is a poignant gem that will touch readers old and young.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scary scenes and serious subjects (alcoholism, death, parental neglect/abuse, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Haunting Minnow Bly Ultimately A Story About Hope

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For the last twelve years of her life, 17-year-old Minnow Bly has lived in the Montana wilderness with 100 or so other members of a polygamous cult led by Kevin, their Prophet.  Kevinians live by strict rules—no music, no outsiders, no reading for girls, etc.—all of which are violently enforced.  No one is more aware of this than Minnow, whose hands were chopped off as a punishment for disobeying her leader.  

Hiding a secret that could get her killed, the teen knows she has to leave the Community to save her own life.  A fire at the commune offers a perfect escape, especially since the Prophet lies dead in its wake.  But, a scared, handless girl wandering around Missoula alone is bound to attract attention.  Soon, Minnow finds herself imprisoned in a juvenile detention center for assaulting a stranger.  She's offered leniency in exchange for telling the FBI what she knows about Kevin's death, but Minnow refuses to bite.  She'd rather rot in juvie than spill her secrets.  

The more time Minnow spends at the center under the tutelage of her world-wise cellmate, Angel, the more her world expands.  Allowed to study and think for herself for the first time in her life, Minnow begins to realize how much the world has to offer.  The more alluring freedom becomes, the more tempted she is to reveal what she knows.  But can she risk confiding in the FBI?  Or will that be the end of everything for her and everyone she loves?

As you can tell from the plot summary, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes, is not a light, frothy read.  Not at all.  It's a bleak, heart-wrenching story about the dangers of religious fanaticism and blind faith, and the capacity of human beings to commit acts of both great cruelty and great kindness.  Above all, it's about a young woman discovering her own surprising potential.  Grim though it may be, in the end, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a novel about hope.  Haunting and heartbreaking, it's also a taut, compelling page turner that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.  If you're looking for a discussion-worthy pick for your next book club read, you may have just found a worthy contender.  I can't say I loved this book, but it definitely kept me reading and thinking.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language and violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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