Reading Leisurely

     Reading leisurely...something that I rarely get to do lately. Despite this statement I recently had the opportunity to do some much needed reading over  spring break.  I read 17 books, yes 17 while I traveled outside of the country.   It was refreshing to tune out the hustle, noise of the airport and the many lay-overs and just read. Here's two books that I wanted to share with you that I enjoyed.

"Coming Home" - Book 1
by PJ Gray
Saddleback Publishing
Young Adult       pg. 63
*Release date:  May 2013

     I was very fortunate to receive a preview copy of 'Coming Home' from Saddleback Publishing prior to my spring break.  This book is the first in a three part book series and will be released sometime in May of 2013.
     The story's protagonist, Will returns back home after high school to sheer turmoil.  He fights inner demons and struggles with the overall triggers that can take him over the edge.  You can feel the stress that this young man experiences through Gray's simple, verse style writing.  Not to give everything away in this story, male teens will especially relate to Will's frustrations with dealing with family, his neighborhood and work.  This story was so compelling and engaging!   I was also angry at the ending because Gray really left the reader with a cliffhanger.  This cliffhanger is a startling revelation that will change the course of Will's life and will make you gasp out loud.

     'Coming Home' is a very simple read for struggling, non-readers - trust me they will read this book within one class period.  This book is will generate very interesting discussions about right/wrong behaviors and will draw teens to compare events of the story to their own lives.  I would estimate that this book is written on a 4th grade level but it has the cover art appearance of a YA book.  This is very clever strategy on the part of Saddleback; teens who are sensitive about their reading ability will grasp onto the story as well as not feel ashamed of carrying the book in front of their peers.  In addition, the illustrations are great!  The pictures of people that appear in the book are true to life and resemble people from your family or neighborhood.

     I cannot wait until book 2 - "Searching for Answers", comes out and I really look forward to reading more from this Chicago author.  Just to share a little humorous story, I shared this book with one of my co-workers.  This co-worker immediately grabbed the book and began reading while I worked with a student patron.  She finished reading the book under ten minutes and got just as excited as I did after reading the story!

"The War at Home"
by Rena Sanders
Young Adult      pg. 56
copyright date:  2009
     The MissDomino blog is dedicated to the review and promotion of books written in the Urban Fiction/Street Lit. genre.  From time to time I will review books that worthy reads but not within the genre.  'The War at Home' is definitely a book that should be read.

     This story tackles a subject that is rarely touched on:  African-American family life with a Vietnam War Veteran.  Described in a narrative voice, the story begins with 2nd grader, Rena Sanders, participating in a classroom discussion.  Though this sounds like a quite normal classroom activity, this is actually was a very painful memory for the story's protagonist.  It was that day that she recognizes that her home life was very different from her classmates.

     Her father, a Vietnam War Veteran, is abusive to her mother, brother and herself for several years.  Life is difficult living in this Mississippi home and academic achievement is a way for the main character to focus her energies on.  'The War at Home' vividly describes the damaging after effects of war on a family in an unflinching manner through the eyes of a young child that later matures into a young woman.  The story is inspirational and can be used in a classroom setting to encourage students overcome their past disappointments and move to a brighter future.

     Sanders book is a high-interest, low-level read that can be read/discussed with students 5th-12th grade.

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