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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

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Teen Books That Have Something to Say


The Blue Girl

Review

The Blue Girl
by Charles de Lint
Puffin (reprint, paperback),(April 6, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0142405450
ISBN-13: 9780142405451

My rating:



"You look just like the imaginary friend I had when I was a kid. Only older, you know?"
That was the first thing I ever said to Maxine. We were both sixteen, and it happened midterm on my first lunch break at my new school. I'd just transferred to Redding High, after my mom moved us from Tyson to Newford so that we could "find ourselves." Find herself, she really meant. Neither my borther Jared nor I was particularly lost.
The words were a test of sorts, the sort of peculiar thing that's always popping out of my mouth. How people react lets me gauge their possible compatibility. Jared uses music. To register positively on his radar, you have to have the right attitude about the right band at the right point in their career. I think my way's more fair. Or at least more inventive.
--The Blue Girl, Charles de Lint, p. 3.

Seventeen-year-old Imogene rebels against the pain in her life; she belonged to a gang, and uses punk-style clothing and an attitude as armor, covering her vulnerability. But she realizes that her rebelliousness has hurt her. When her family moves, she decides to try to change, and becomes friends with another outsider, Maxine, an introverted, intelligent girl. At the same time, magic keeps coming into Imogene's life—her childhood imaginary friend comes to life and gives her warnings, and she sees Adrian, a ghost at school who is obsessed with her. Things get bad when she discovers her boyfriend's been cheating on her—with someone close to her, which increases the betrayal. Imogene runs from the pain, straight into trouble—a street gang who deal with fairies, some of them pretty mean ones. While she lives on the street with the gang, she has to rely on some of her old skills and gain some new ones to get out of trouble and stay alive.

There is a nice blend of modern-day reality and fantasy, with details from the real world helping to ground the story and enhance the fantasy elements, and the fantasy elements echoing problems that can occur in our society, especially bullying, violence, street life, and drug use. This is a gritty story, with angst and emotional pain woven into the pages, giving the book some weight, and hope, humor, and magic helping to lighten and balance it out.

Many of characters feel very real and fully dimensional, and distinct from each other, most especially Imogene, Maxine, and Adrian. There is a depth to the characters and to their understanding of themselves and each other that adds to the richness of the story. Imogene, especially, is a likable character; her loyalty, inner strength, sense of what is right, and determination to stand up for others and do what she thinks is right helps us care and root for her, and hope that everything will turn out all right. Her lively, snappy dialogue is enjoyable. It also helps to see Imogene be very loyal to and protective of Maxine, and stand up to the tirades they receive from homophobic bullies. Imogene and Maxine's friendship is built up well. Adrian comes off as creepy, selfish, and a coward, and this emphasizes even more Imogene's strengths. All of the main characters grow and change throughout the book, especially Imogene and Maxine, who each help the other, Imogene helping Maxine become more assertive and brave, and Maxine helping Imogene to care more about school and people. The street kids and the fairies are not as fully developed or real, and at times they are annoying, outright despicable, or simply not interesting.

The movement between the main characters' POV sections and the now/then time line works well, at times moving seamlessly, adding depth to characters and to the suspense through information and opinions other characters have—although the first really long POV switch away from Imogene may be off-putting to some readers.

The tension increases nicely, especially as Imogene begins to see the shadows more and starts to uncover the dark occurrences with the fairies. de Lint skillfully creates breathers in the tension through humor, details of life, strong allies, and temporary saves, which helps the reader retain keen interest and plow forward through the story.

There are strong, positive messages sprinkled throughout the story, in the actions, decisions, and thoughts that the characters make, though in one or two places the messages don't feel like a teen's observations or thoughts. There are many things in this book for readers to mull over, and the focus on friendship, caring, loyalty, and inner strength is uplifting.

Though the fantasy and magic in the story is highly imaginative, there are too many different things going on, and this takes away from some of the enjoyment of the book. The story doesn't flow well from school to street life, from imaginary friend come alive to ghost to angel to fairies. At times it feels like different stories forced together, especially in the move from Imogene and Maxine to Imogene on the street with the fairies and street gang—the shift is abrupt and disruptive.

There is a happy ending, which I enjoyed, but a few things feel tied up too easily and neatly, including Imogene's relationship with her mother (who we hardly saw or heard about) and the soul eaters. Still, overall the ending worked, and the story is written well.

The Blue Girl is a fantastic story you can really sink your teeth into—deeply satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable. de Lint has a strong voice and imagination that works well with fantasy. Give it a try. You won't regret it. :)

-Added February 2007


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