Green Witch (Giveaway!)

Green Witch is Alice Hoffman’s followup to her previous young adult book, Green Angel.  The story picks up where the previous one left off, answering the many questions that the reader is left with at the end of Green Angel.

In Green Angel, Green is a sixteen year old girl who is left to struggle and survive after her entire family perishes in a massive fire; everyone in the city is affected by the disaster.  Green Witch takes place a year later.  By this point, everyone is slowly piecing their lives back together.  The reader learns the cause of the massive fire that killed so many people: a group called the Horde attacked the city, claiming that people had strayed too far from the simple life.  In the year since the attack, they’ve kept a watchful eye on the people in the city, making sure that the people in the city didn’t try to rebuild all of their damaged technology.

Green, who has always had a magical gift with growing plants and vegetables (to the point where her garden becomes overgrown if she doesn’t trim it back every day), is now thriving.  She is also a collector of stories, making her own paper, and writing down the tales that people tell her about their lives.  She also pines for Diamond, the voiceless boy she fell in love with in Green Angel, waiting for any word of his whereabouts.

Green eventually finds out that Diamond is with the Horde, as is her friend Heather.  She sets out to free Diamond and Heather from the Horde’s prison, but in order to do so, she must first locate three women rumored to be witches; only they know the location of the Horde’s prison.

Green Witch is much more fast-paced than Green Angel, but those who have not read the previous book won’t miss much if they start with Green Witch; Hoffman fills the reader in on all of the necessary background details.  It’s coming of age story that’s filled with magical realism, romance, and adventure.

Green Witch was published on March 10, 2010 and is now available in stores, but you can win a copy right here!  Just leave a comment on this post by next Friday, March 19 at 5:00 p.m. (Central Time).  Make sure you include your email so that I can contact you if you win!

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Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism

What does feminism mean to the modern American woman?  In Girldrive, Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein take readers on a road trip across the United States  in search of the answer to that question.  The book is comprised of journal entries, Bernstein’s beautiful photographs, and excerpts from the interviews that Aronowitz and Bernstein conducted at each of their stops.

Aronowitz and Bernstein are both daughters of noted second wave feminists, so their list of contacts is impressive; the two were able to secure interviews with some of the major movers and shakers of the second and third waves.  But the true intrigue of the book stems from the voices of the non-famous, everyday women that were interviewed: the activists, the students, the single mothers, the artists.  I was even shocked–albeit pleasantly–that one of the women interviewed was originally from my hometown!  Aronowitz and Bernstein diligently included the voices of women of color and economically disadvantaged women, and the end result is all the more powerful because of it.

There’s really no way around the main problem of the book, though: the reader is left wanting more in terms of depth.  Over one hundred interviews were included in the book, so some of the excerpts were a mere paragraph or two long.  Each of the women had so many fascinating things to say about why they did or did not embrace feminism, and the definitions of feminism were also incredibly varied.  Yet this book is not meant to be a collection of oral histories; had Aronowitz and Bernstein  provided that, the tone of the book would have changed radically (and the book would’ve been about ten times thicker).  Still, there were several occasions where I found myself wishing that they had included at least a couple more paragraphs from the interviews.

Girldrive is touching, empowering, funny, and bittersweet (sadly, Bernstein committed suicide before the book was published; even now, thinking back to the interview with her mother is gutting).  The book itself is also visually beautiful, thanks largely in part to Bernstein’s photography.  It would make an excellent gift to your feminist friends.

Lowboy

John Wray’s Lowboy follows William Heller (a.k.a Lowboy) on a whirlwind day through New York City.  Lowboy is a 16-year-old schizophrenic who has escaped from his mental health care facility.  He believes that the end of the world is imminent due to global warming, and that only he can save it by cooling down the temperature in his body.  To do so, he must locate a girl named Emily Wallace and enlist her to help him.  Meanwhile, his mother and a detective race to find him before it’s too late.

I was initially intrigued when I read the summary of this book, but I was also a little uneasy about the subject matter.  It’s very easy for an author to Other their characters or paint them in stereotypes if they come from dissimilar backgrounds.  This isn’t always the case–image if even half of the fiction authors around the world personally experienced the things they wrote about!–but special care does have to be taken when say, a male author is writing a novel in first person and his main protagonist is a woman; the experiences informing that point of view just aren’t there.

In this case, Wray creates a host of characters whose lives are far outside his experience, and it shows.  None of his characters are full human beings.  Instead, their interactions with the world (and each other) serve as mere plot devices. Lowboy, for instance, is off his meds and in the grip of his illness.  The reader gets to see fragments of his thought processes, but really, he’s just a Crazy Person On The Loose who must be stopped before he hurts someone.

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FINALLY!

Confession: I was obsessed with Sweet Valley books back in the day.  Obsessed.

A few years ago, Francine Pascal mentioned in BUST Magazine that she was working on a new Sweet Valley book, where the twins et. al would be grown.  I have been waiting for that book ever since.

Rumors have been swirling for a while, and now it looks like I only have to wait one more year for Sweet Valley Confidential.  The book will feature the Sweet Valley crowd in their twenties.

Now, I fully acknowledge that the Sweet Valley series was horribly written.  I love reading The Dairi Burger‘s re-reads of the series; the books were ridiculous.  However, am soooooooo getting SVC when it comes out!