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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback May 2006

Flashing back to what I was reviewing in May 2006:

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. From my review: “For those of you who have never heard of Cooper’s series, I envy you: there is nothing like falling in love for the first time. And once you read The Dark is Rising, you will fall. Hard.”

Vegan Virgin Valentine by¬†Carolyn Mackler. From my review: “VVV is about Mara Valentine; yes, she’s a vegan and a virgin. Mara is headed for Yale, aiming to be Valedictorian, and is all around super student and wonderful daughter. Then along comes Vivienne Vail Valentine, aka V — Mara’s niece, only a year younger than Mara. V is Mara’s opposite; a “nicotine-addicted nympho” who doesn’t care about school or grades. V has been raised by Mara’s older sister, a flighty college drop out who moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, job to job, town to town. Now V has moved in with Mara. The plot is simple: these two opposites find they have things in common, and each changes. V gets a bit more disciplined; Mara loosens up a bit.

City Underground by by Suzanne Martel. From my review: “Luke is the boy living in an underground city; and wow, as a kid reading it, I loved this future city. Pills for food; go into a shower and it would be programmed at the temperature you wanted; it was all so organized and well run and functional. Luke explores and goes outside the city, where me meets Marie. . . . Luke’s people have no hair (genetically, its been decided there is no need for hair). Luke and his scientist ancestors had fled nuclear war; Marie and her village are descendants of the people left behind, who survived. Who, of course, have hair. So much time has passed that both groups of people initially believe that the others are only a myth.”

Light Years by Tammar Stein. From my review: Light Years is about recovery from grief, and starting over. Maya is Israeli and has just started her freshman year at the University of Virginia. In flashbacks, we find out that Maya, like all Israelis, finished two years of compulsory military service, so Maya is older than her peers. She is also older because of her experiences in her home country: her boyfriend, Dov, was killed by a suicide bomber.

The Girl Who Owned A City by O. T. Nelson. From my review: “Sometimes you can’t go home again; or, you can never read the same book twice. I loved The Girl Who Owned A City by O.T. Nelson when I read it in about sixth grade. Given the number of times this appears as a stumper on the child_lit and yalsa-bk mailing lists, I am not alone. This book really stuck with me… If you haven’t read it, plot is simple: virus kills everyone over the age of 12 and the kids are left to fend for themselves. Basically a kiddie The Stand (interestingly, if Amazon’s publication dates are to be trusted Nelson’s book came out before King’s.) . . .¬† So I reread this book, of 10 year old Lisa and baby brother Todd, hoping to revisit the love…. and came away with a sort of sick to the stomach I-used-to-date-him-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking reaction. I’m sure that kids still love it. But as an adult, I couldn’t help but question a lot that I accepted as a child.”

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli. From my review: “Xing Xing’s father has died and she lives with her stepmother and stepsister; the family survives by selling its belongings. The stepmother hopes that someone will marry the stepsister, thus saving the family, before the last bowl is sold. In this time and place, foot binding was viewed as necessary to ensure a good life for women — and good marriage prospects. The stepsister’s feet have been bound in hopes that she will attract a husband; Xing Xing’s feet are not bound, so she is the only person in the house capable of the chores needed for survival: cooking, cleaning, running errands. This is a unique take on the Cinderella story, and not just because of the setting. Xing Xing’s feet may not be bound, but her life is: bound by obligations to ancestors, family members, society. She must find a way to create a life and future for herself. Bound is about choice and acceptance. It is also a very well written, entertaining story.”

soul surfer by Bethany Hamilton. From my review: “At age 13, Bethany was already surfing competitively and had a sponsor; she and her family took her surfing so seriously that Bethany was homeschooled. She was surfing with friends in Kauai, Hawaii, when her left arm was bitten off by a tiger shark. The cover of the book has a picture of the board she was on when it happened; its a wonder that she only lost her arm. There is also a picture of the shark that attacked her: it is huge. The story is simple: its about Bethany’s life before the attack, the attack, and her return to surfing. And let me add not just to surfing for fun: Bethany still competes, and she still wins.”

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is