Costa Reading

One girl with too many books.


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Book Talking

I book talk every day at work. I’m constantly trying to connect readers with books they will enjoy and that they need. These book talks generally happen spur of the moment and in a conversation. In other words, I’m flying by the seat of my pants and I’m told that I’m good at it, by my coworkers, my bosses, and the people I recommend books to. So when I saw that one of our assignments was to do a book talk I thought it would be a breeze, a for sure A+. But let me tell you, there’s a big difference book talking in a setting you’re familiar and book talking to a classroom of your peers! Especially when the book you choose is convoluted and hard to describe.

I chose to book talk Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick because it won the Michael Printz award for 2013. The premise sounded good too. It’s a story of two people who, through their many lives, connect with each other on Blessed Island. Throughout thousands of years Eric and Merle meet and each time they mean something different to each other. The story of their lives is a carefully woven, intricate tale that could not possibly be summed up in a three minute book talk. This is one book that you say a couple of sentences about and then a person just has to read the book for themselves. It’s a wonderful book that I could hand to teens interested in many different genres but I’m still hard pressed to describe it.


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The Problem Novel

Teen suicide is something that should not be happening as much as it does. There are so many teens that haven’t even started their lives yet they’re in so much pain that they’re willing to cut them short. Some of these teens suffer from severe mental issues such as depression yet many are simply pushed beyond the limits of what they can deal with. Whether they’re being bullied or the victim of some other sort of abuse, these teens aren’t able to stand anymore of it.

What Thirteen Reasons Why teaches teens is that they just might have the power to save the life of someone. It might be somebody they’re close to or it might be a complete stranger. We don’t know the power of a few kind words or a smile might have on somebody. Books like TRW are here to bring this message to as many people as possible.

TRW is told from two different points of view. One of these is the pov of Clay, a nice guy who receives an innocuous looking package in the mail. The other pov is of Hannah, the girl who sent the package. The package is full of tapes that Hannah made that are being sent to very specific people. The tapes are full of the story of why Hannah killed herself. As Clay listens he learns that Hannah has sent the tapes to the people responsible for her suicide. However, he can’t figure out what role he played in her death. In fact, he had always had a crush on her. Yet, as he gets deeper and deeper into Hannah’s story, he realizes the many different times he and others might have been able to save Hannah just by being kind or being her friend.

Many times I found Hannah to be too angsty, too ready to find fault in others, and not very likeable. The reader never gets a chance to really know Hannah beyond her reasons for committing suicide. This was hard for me but then my professor pointed out that author Jay Asher might have kept her such a blank to show that she could be anyone you know. We don’t get to see anything beyond the way people treat Hannah and how she reacts. That could be how this book shows teens that anyone could be Hannah, anyone could need a kind word or smile. It’s a book that teens can learn empathy from. It just might open their eyes to how others might be screaming silently for help. And it just might give them the strength to offer a helping hand.

Additional Information:

To hear Hannah’s tapes click here.

To submit your own review of Thirteen Reasons Why and visit the book’s website click here.

To find help for someone you feel might need it click here.