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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.

PARALLEL VISIONS book cover

Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

See Previous Book

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Teen Books That Have Something to Say


Jasper

Review

Jasper
by Michelle Groce, illustrated by Laura Duis
Novello Festival Press,(March 2005)
ISBN-10: 0976096315

My rating:



He knew the boy was leaving. A wispy dream in a lazy day catnap turned vivid and real, like all the things he saw before they happened. The pictures came to him unbidden; he preferred to think of sunny days and bowls full of tuna fish, lovely red meat and hands that lived to scratch his chin. Much as he craved his thoughts of comfort and tried to hold them steady in his mind, they slipped away like smoke once the pictures started.
--Jasper, Michelle Groce, p. 1.

Jasper sees things--premonitions--that he can't stop, even though he'd often rather not have them. He just wants to be a house cat--a cat with regular meals and lots of love. He desperately wants to find a home. But he's been in a lot of fights, and is a bit mangy. No one seems to want him.

When his boy moves away, Jasper is left all alone. He can talk to the moon, and sometimes she answers him, and urges him to do the right thing. And then Jasper meets Hank--an owl who can hear his thoughts, and see Jasper's premonitions as he sees them.

I am a fan a paranormal fiction--when it is well written. This book is incredibly well written---so much so that you won't want to put it down. The characters feel full, developed, and believable; there are beautifully observed details that help make everything seem real, lots of sensory description to bring you right into the world and keep you there, and vivid, fresh observations and ways of seeing things. Hearing Jasper speak, it truly feels like we're seeing and experiencing the world through the eyes of a cat who has premonitions. And that takes great skill.

All but one of the characters feel like they have complexities and personalities that make them real--even the minor characters. Both human and animal characters have layers and depth, habits and quirks that make them seem alive. This is especially important since Jasper passes through many characters in his search for a home, and many of those characters pop back up throughout the book. The only character that doesn't feel like she has much depth or complexities is a minor character who dies in the book--and this helps make her death less painful for the reader.

Jasper especially feels real. We are shown how he feels, made to also feel the dryness in the mouth, the pain in the gut--instead of being told how he feels. And we see things through his own particular view of the world.

Jasper doesn't want his premonitions; he just wants food and love, and he wants it all the more desperately because he hasn't ever gotten enough of it. Because of that, he sometimes acts selfishly. Although he almost always chooses to do the right thing, Jasper often has to be pushed by Hank into taking action. These things help make Jasper seem believable and real--a likeable hero with some flaws. We quickly come to root for Jasper, and to want him to find what he needs.

Jasper experiences pain and hardship, but he has many tender and reassuring moments mixed in with the pain that help leave the reader with an uplifting, satisfied feeling. The story is not sugar-coated; we see how cruel people can be--but we also see how kind and giving they can be, and the good feeling in this book is what the reader is left with.

Groce has a keen eye for observation, both in the outer world, and in people and creatures, and what makes them tick. And she deftly weaves those observations and details into the action of the book, and into the observations of other characters; the details never stop the story.

There are some positive messages subtly woven into the book; they are not preached at the reader, but rather come naturally through the actions of the characters. We see how treating a bully with kindness can help change them and possibly make a friend; how doing the right thing can not only help others but also help ourselves; how we need other people; and how we can search for our dreams and find them. This is an inspiring, feel-good read.

The ending felt just a little too neatly wrapped up, with Jasper ending up at the mean man's house, who is no longer mean. Although it's nice not to have a completely predictable ending (such as Jasper ending up with the nice woman neighbor or Brittany, the girl who likes him), it felt a little unbelievable that the mean man would change that much, even though we saw him change throughout the book.

This is exquisitely written; I was completely pulled into the story and held there. Not once did it dump me out of its story world. And the ending left me feeling satisfied and happier.

If you want a thoroughly enjoyable paranormal read, get this book! You won't regret it. Highly recommended.

-Added March 2006


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