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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


Undine

Review

Undine
by Penni Russon
Greenwillow/HarperCollins,(Jaunary 2006)
ISBN-10: 0060793899

My rating:



Undine trailed down the stairs to the bathroom. She felt a lump of something, starting at the base of her spine and working its way upward. It wasn't a physical something, though it belonged inside her body, under her skin, trapped inside the fine network of muscle, tissue, nerves, and bone. She knew what was happening because it had happened before and eventhough she felt a shiver of fear, she told herself firmly that mostly she was annoyed, because it was Tuesday, and Tuesdays were--on the whole--not to be trusted.
As the lump worked its way up and prepared to inhabit her mind, she spoke sharply to it. "Stop it. Stop it. Not on Tuesdays."
It stopped for the time being, and she managed to contiune her preparations for the day: locating her math book, extricating her homework from Jasper's tight grasp--"Mine, mine," said Jasper, and You can have it, thought Undine. But she continued to prise Jasper's fingers away and replaced the assignment with a bank statement so Jasper wouldn't cry.
--Undine, Penni Russson, p. 1-2.

Undine starts to feel odd sensations run through her, the way she did before her stepfather died. She tries to push the feelings away, but they keep growing. She confides in her best friend, Trout, who is in love with her, and she tries to confide in her mother, but things quickly get strained between them. As her emotions and magic deepen, Undine is suddenly able to create a huge rainstorm out of her desire for it to rain. This is a turning point for Undine; her power grows, and she is drawn to go "home" to a father she never knew--a father her mother told her was dead. There she struggles to control the magic and emotions inside her, before it controls her.

This is a compelling, fascinating story, deeply layered and rich with believable detail, relationships, emotion, and magic, and a hint of the paranormal. Undine is a very likeable character; she is sensitive, caring, and strong willed---but about halfway through the book, when the magic grows inside her, she becomes selfish, heady with power, and self absorbed, and loses some of her appeal and consistency of character. However, because her character was so strongly laid out before hand, readers will continue to root for her, and be rewarded with Undine's ultimate decision.

Russon uses keenly observed human details and ways of being to make the characters feel unique, real, and fully fleshed, such as Undine being unable to remember the words to one song all the way through while weeding, so she threads together many first lines and bits of chorous, or the dissociation that comes over Undine when she hears a voice whispering inside her head, pulling at her magic. Emotions are also keenly observed and feel right; many times they are written almost like poetry: " 'I look like a casualty of war,' said Undine, lightly, trying to break the tight, thin wire of tension between them. ...Already they could see blood petalling through the gauze." (Undine, p. 31)

Undine has a loving relationship with her mother, Lou, and her baby brother, and this helps us see how much more devastating it is for her when things begin to get hard.

Most of the book is written from Undine's perspective, but some parts are written from Trout's perspective, and the movement between the perspectives works well, adding layers of understanding to the characters' motivations, actions, and reactions.

For much of the book, the tone feels comforting, even though there is tension and hints of danger, and in part that is accomplished by the attention to everyday surroundings and detail. Even physical descriptions at times feel cozy, before the mood changes. The comforting feeling is also accomplished by the loving relationships and strong allies Undine has, that help offset pain, as well as the positive attitudes from other characters, such as Trout, who not only loves her body but loves her mind, and her aunt, who is open-minded, pro-gay, and caring.

A thoroughly satisfying, highly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

-Added September 2006


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