Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Breaking Up is hard to do

Title: Breaking Up is hard to do
Authors: Niki Burnham, Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, & Lynda Sandoval
Publisher: Graphia
Publication Date: May 5, 2008
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Age Group: Young Adult

Four fabulous young adult authors come together in this short story collection to bring teens tales of love, heartbreak, and hope. Each author brings a unique voice to the collection and the stories represent a range of characters, story lines, and styles while centering on the theme of love and loss.

Niki Burnham shares the story of Toby, a high school junior with a gorgeous girlfriend. Things seem to be going great for Toby as the school year starts until his girlfriend starts pressuring him to have sex. Burnham does a great job writing about not being ready for sex from the male perspective as Toby struggles with his conflicting feelings.

Newcomer Terri Clark provides a fast paced story about Dark Dee who gains the ability to hear other people's thoughts after being in a car accident. This leads to the unpleasant realization that her boyfriend has been dating her to gather information for a book on how to get girls from a variety of cliques to fall in love with you. Dee and her friend, Pixie, decide to reveal the boys scheme before they can con anyone else. In order to do this, they must bridge the gaps separating the various social groups at school. Clark engages the reader with snappy dialogue and well drawn characters.

Ellen Hopkins offers the reader a story in verse form, breaking the prose of the rest of the book. Her main character, Lisa, feels plain compared to the other girls in Palm Springs. She is happily surprised when a boy comes in to the coffee shop where she works and eventually asks her out. As the relationship develops, Lisa finds herself changing her outward appearance to please her new boyfriend. She adapts to the relationship in ways that make her uncomfortable especially when her boyfriend starts putting on more pressure. Hopkins verse is shaped to fit the content and the emotions of her narrator.

Lynda Sandoval shows another side of love when Mia's girlfriend, Paige, breaks her heart at the beginning of the school year by hooking up with the school's hottest guy and outing Mia as a lesbian. Mia rides an emotional roller coaster as she deals with the scenario that her summer love is actually straight and having her sexual preference known by the entire school. Sandoval writes in depth characters and carries the reader along for the emotional ride.

All four of these stories revolve around first loves and heartbreaks. While this could be a very depressing collection, each author also injects strength into the characters to overcome the heartbreak and offers the characters hope for future relationships. A great read for mature teens!

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