Tag Archives: drugs

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse

“Love means holding on to someone just as hard as you can because if you don’t, one blink and they might disappear forever.”
-Tony

Sometimes life just gets too hard. Sometimes everything piles up until it feels like you’ve been left with one option: to end it all. That’s what Conner, Tony, and Vanessa thought, at least– but after failing at each of their suicide attempts, they end up in Aspen Springs for recovery. Now they’ve been given a second chance at life… Will they take it or opt out once again?

I know I start a lot of reviews like this, but I really love this book. The re-read for this review was probably the third or fourth, and I never get sick of it. Although I’m in love with all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, this one is definitely my favorite. It’s the first I ever read by her and what made me fall in love with her writing style and writing, period. It’s a little strange to read at first, but if you give it a chance you’ll adapt quickly and end up loving her too.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, books are always more exciting with multiple narrators. This adds to my love for this book, but I don’t think that is the main reason I like it so much. I’ve always been really into books about mental hospital/group home sort of things, as you may know by my numerous reviews about the subject, and the entire book is about this. Plus, it deals with some really important issues and “taboos,” in such a way that I strongly believe everyone should read this book at least once– especially for those who judge by reputation or first impressions, this book should be a real eye-opener.

And, like I say about all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, it’s powerful. I cry just as much now as I did the first time I read it. It really changed my opinion and views on certain things, but I won’t talk about that… spoilers and all.

What I will talk about before I go, though, is the sequel, Perfect. I don’t own it, I haven’t read it, and I haven’t seen it in any bookstores yet, but I really want to read it. From what I’ve heard, it’s three completely different narrators– two of which I remember as Cara, Conner’s twin sister, and Kendra, Conner’s ex-girlfriend who made a brief appearance in Impulse, but I don’t remember the other at all. I think it sounds like it’ll be incredible, and as soon as I find and read it, you’ll be the first to know.

Once again, I forgot to write this review, so the review for the book I’m about halfway done with now (a big surprise, I bet, but I will say it’s a classic) will most likely be up tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and see you then!

-J

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny Story

“It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint– it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”
-Craig

After nearly committing suicide one night, depressed teenager Craig Gilner decides to check himself into the hospital. He is given a few days to stay in the adult psychiatric ward, where he meets a schizophrenic, some drug addicts, and a girl who scarred her face with scissors. (I don’t want to say too much else for fear of spoiling anything, so I’ll just awkwardly stop this summary here.)

Once again, I’ve forgotten to write a review. It’s been a few days since I’ve finished this incredible book, but I can still recall it rather well. No matter how messed up he is, Craig is relatable to everyone in some way. His thoughts and opinions generally make sense, even if they’re a little far-fetched. He’s a really good guy, despite the bad decisions he may make, and I think we can all relate to that somehow.

It’s rare that I truly find a book funny. Sure, I have a sense of humor, but finding an actual laugh-out-loud-funny is an unusual thing for me. This book was one of the few exceptions so far. Similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, It’s Kind of a Funny Story pokes fun at the mentality of the people in the ward without being offensive or rude, and I admire Ned Vizzini and Ken Kesey for being able to do that.

Now, just today I found out that this book has a film adaption. How I didn’t know beats me, especially because the cast includes people like Zach Galifinakis, Jim Gaffigan, and Emma Roberts. As of now, all I know is I need to see this movie.

And since I took so long for this review, the next review will most likely be up tomorrow. One more book to go and I’ll be book-hunting again, so please leave me some recommendations! 🙂

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks

Go Ask Alice

“I guess I’ll never measure up to anyone’s expectations. I surely don’t measure up to what I’d like to be.”
-Unknown

First, I’d like to apologize for taking so long on this– I’d completely forgotten to write a review once I’d finished the book, and just now remembered it hadn’t been posted.

About five months ago, I posted a review of Jay’s Journal, which was mainly written by the same author as Go Ask Alice, although both have the author’s name listed as “Anonymous” on the front covers. And the explanation for that is simple: there’s a lot of controversy over whether these diaries are real or just made up by Beatrice Sparks, who is listed as the “editor”, or a little of both. And although I don’t want to make this a rant post, that’s probably what’s going to happen. So if that’s not what you came here for, leave now or face extreme disappointment.

Alright, so. Go Ask Alice is about a fifteen-year old girl in the 70s who writes in her diary about normal teenage problems, but eventually becomes involved with drugs. (When I say drugs, I mean LSD, although there are a few mentions of other drugs.) Pretty simple, pretty straightforward, deals with a lot of common young adult novel topics.

Now I’m going to do some comparisons between this book and Jay’s Journal, which I’ll link the review to here in case you’re interested. There are a few things they have in common that emphasize the fact that they’re not true, if even a little: tripe repetition of words or phrases (“I do! I do! I do!”), vocabulary that no normal teen uses, and nearly identical writing style. Other than the subject matter and the character of Jay’s use of poems in his entries, they could easily have been narrated by the same character. In my opinion, Go Ask Alice is wholly fiction, and Jay’s Journal is mostly fiction. I’d like to include a few passages from the books’ Wikipedia articles to show you:

From the Jay’s Journal article:

Jay’s Journal is a book presented as an autobiographical account of a depressed teenage boy who becomes involved with a Satanic group. After participating in several occult rituals, “Jay” believes he is being haunted by a demon named Raul. The book is based on “true” events of 16-year-old Alden Barrett from Pleasant Grove, Utah, who committed suicide in 1971.

Some critics have challenged the authenticity of the story, noting that the editor of this book, Beatrice Sparks, has filled the same role on many other “actual, anonymous diaries of teenagers” that explore such sensational themes as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and prostitution. These books, the most well-known of which is Go Ask Alice, serve as cautionary tales.

According to a book written by Barrett’s brother Scott (A Place in the Sun: The Truth Behind Jay’s Journal), and interviews with the family, Sparks used roughly 25 entries of 212 total from Barrett’s actual journal. The other entries were fictional, based on case histories from other teenagers Sparks worked with, and interviews of friends and acquaintances of Barrett.

A rock opera titled A Place in the Sun was created and performed by Utah country band Grain in 1997. According to some family members, it was a more accurate portrayal and showed Sparks’ alleged exploitation of the story.

And, from the Go Ask Alice article’s Authorship section:

Go Ask Alice was originally promoted as nonfiction and was published under the byline “Anonymous.” However, not long after its publication, Beatrice Sparks, a psychologist, began making media appearances presenting herself as the book’s editor.

Searches at the U.S. Copyright Office show that Sparks is the sole copyright holder for Go Ask Alice. Furthermore, she is listed on the copyright record as the book’s author — not as the editor, compiler, or executor, which would be more usual for someone publishing the diary of a deceased person. (According to the book itself, the sole copyright is owned by Prentice-Hall.)

In an October 1979, essay by Alleen Pace Nilsen for School Library Journal, Nilsen surmised that Sparks partially based Go Ask Alice on the diary of one of her patients, but that she had added various fictional incidents. Sparks told Nilson that she could not produce the original diary, because she had destroyed part of it after transcribing it and the rest was locked away in the publisher’s vault. Nilsen wrote, “The question of how much of Go Ask Alice was written by the real Alice and how much by Beatrice Sparks can only be conjectured.”

Sparks’ second “diary” project, Jay’s Journal, gave rise to a controversy that cast further doubt on Go Ask Alice’s veracity. Jay’s Journal was allegedly the diary of a boy who committed suicide after becoming involved with the occult. Again, Sparks claimed to have based it on the diary of a patient. However, the family of the boy in question, Alden Barrett, disowned the book. They claimed that Sparks had used only a handful of the actual diary entries, and had invented the great majority of the book, including the entire occult angle. This led many to speculate that “Alice’s” diary—if indeed it existed—had received similar treatment. No one claiming to have known the real “Alice” has ever come forward.

And a final section I’d like to share:

In an article on the Urban Legends Reference Pages (snopes.com), urban folklore expert Barbara Mikkelson points out that even before the revelations about Go Ask Alice‘s authorship, there was ample internal evidence that the book was not an actual diary. The lengthy, detailed passages about the harmful effects of illicit drugs and the relatively small amount of space dedicated to relationships and social gossip seem uncharacteristic of a teenaged girl’s diary. In addition, the article mentions the disclaimer in the book’s copyright notice page, which states: “This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”

There are some errors of consistency. On page 16, the author has not “had time to write for two days”. In the same paragraph she refers to the last entry as “yesterday” when she says, “I’ve apologized to every room about the way I felt last night” even though according to her first sentence she would have felt that way two nights ago, not “last night”. On pages 79–80, the text describes the girl living with a friend in Coos Bay, Oregon, where she enthuses over the Diggers’ Free Store and the Psychedelic Shop – both establishments were actually in San Francisco. Another error is on page 2 where the author writes “It’s my birthday. I’m 15.” Later in the book on page 46 in August the author writes “After all I’ve just turned 15 and I can’t stop life and get off” meaning she did not turn 15 eleven months ago.

Well, that’s mostly all I have to say about that. I don’t think I would’ve complained so much about the validity of the book if it weren’t for my hatred of it– I found it an extremely boring, hit-and-miss novel, but the hits were so few they were nearly nonexistent. It’s a really popular book, however, so you may like it– who knows. Maybe I’m just one of those people who despises a bestseller. But, if you do decide to read it and completely agree with me, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Identical

“I will probably die before he does. Dying, for Daddy, would be the ultimate defeat. But death doesn’t scare me. To know exactly when I might expect it, up close and in my face, would actually be a comfort. Because to tell the truth, most of the time dying seems pretty much like my only means of escape.”
-Kaeleigh

Identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne may seem the same on the outside, but they lead completely different lives. Raeanne uses drugs, sex, and purging to settle her inner demons, while Kaeleigh turns to bingeing, drinking, and self-harm. Raeanne has relationships with numerous guys, while Kaeleigh struggles to keep one. Despite their differences, their explanations are the same: their father sexually abuses Kaeleigh consistently, while Raeanne is forced to keep quiet and stay away. But after years of enduring this torture, it comes to be too much for either twin to handle alone– but who will step up and release the other?

One word can easily describe this entire 560+ page book: powerful. It’s not for the faint of heart, and definitely don’t read it if you don’t expect to cry in the near future. And I’m not just referring to the twins’ lives– even some of the minor characters’ backstories are tear-inducing. There isn’t much else to say; Identical is one of those beautiful-in-a-sick-way novels that really makes you appreciate everything you take for granted.

Without revealing any spoilers (which is the absolute last thing I want to do, considering the huge one in this book), I think the ending of the novel is definitely a topic of discussion. It packs a punch, no doubt about that, and may even require a second read-through for you to fully get your head around. Once again, no spoilers, but I have to compare it to The Prestige. It was the first psychological thriller/twist-ending movie I’d seen since I watched The Sixth Sense at a young age, and to this day it has stuck with me and has become one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s exactly how Identical was for me: I think it’s safe to say the ending of this book was unlike any other I’ve read, and I need to find more like it.

Okay, I think that’s enough gushing in one day. I’ll have another review for you guys in a few days, and most likely it’ll be a big change from the reviews I’ve recently posted. This is a big year for books for me, and I hope you’re all as excited as I am. Have a great Labor Day weekend, and I’ll see you soon!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland

Fall to Pieces

“I hate to say this, but, God– what have you sent me to love?”
-Mary Forsberg Weiland

Mary Forsberg Weiland, famous 90s model and ex-wife of Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland, has been to hell and back. She’s had her fair share of the tabloids’ distorted versions of the truth, and in her autobiography, she sets the record straight. Fall to Pieces is a walk through her modeling career, relationships, addiction, recovery, relapse, mental illness, and everything in between.

I absolutely adore this book, and I’ll tell you why. I first read it last year, when I needed a nonfiction book for a report for my freshman English class. I really wanted to read Girl, Interrupted, but since my parents had already bought me that book for Christmas and it was currently November, they brought Fall to Pieces home one day after shopping. I wasn’t a huge fan of Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver– I didn’t know many songs other than the big hits, like “Vasoline,” “Plush,” and “Fall to Pieces”– but I decided to give it a try anyway, considering the caption on the front of the book said it involved three of my favorite subjects to read about.

The book starts off with a memory of Mary’s first try at heroin, which automatically reeled me in. Unfortunately, it was just an attention-catching prologue, and I had to wait for page 72 before she even met Scott. Their relationship is heartbreaking, and although I really disliked Scott for the games he’d play with Mary, he eventually grew on me and came to be known as a really nice guy. Even while using heroin, he tried to protect Mary– when she first tried it at the very beginning of the book, he tried to stop her because he didn’t want her going down the same, dark path.

You may have heard the story, but you haven’t heard it like this: the truth, not over-exaggerated or glamorized. It’s not only great for fans of Scott Weiland’s bands or those who like it for its subject matter, though. It mentions encounters with various other celebrities as well: musicians like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols; actors and actresses like Robert Downey Jr. and Charlize Theron; and countless others. Fall to Pieces is dark and twisted, yet inspirational and beautiful in the aspect of recovery and always seeing the good in things, even when they don’t turn out the way you planned. Please, go out and buy this book– it won’t let you down.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Crank Series by Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass, Fallout)

CrankGlassFallout

“Crank is more than a drug. It’s a way of life. You can turn your back. But you can never really walk away.”
-Kristina/Bree, Crank

So I’ve done it. After thinking about it for 50+ reviews,  I’ve finally made a full series post. Now this is as weird for you as it is for me, so please bear with me as I try this out.

The first book in the series, Crank, tells the story of Kristina, described as “gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.” One day, when she decides to visit the father who has been missing all of her life, she discovers a powerful drug: crystal meth. Soon Kristina’s life is changed forever as she falls deeper into lies, trouble, and addiction.

In Glass, Kristina continues to struggle with her addiction, but with all new problems. As everything around her falls apart, she’ll have to find new ways to get with the monster, and they won’t be pretty.

Fallout takes place nineteen years after the events in Crank, and is told by Kristina’s teenage children, Hunter, Autumn, and Summer. Although their lives are completely different, they have one thing in common: their mother has torn their families apart, forcing them to live separately (and in some cases, without knowledge of each other). But when their paths intersect, their individual lives will be changed forever.

These books are impossible to put down. I know I would’ve had them all read within a few days if it weren’t for my final exams this week. The series is, like Ellen Hopkins’s other novels, not for the faint-hearted, and as real as it gets. Also, I commend the author for her incredible talent of being able to write a teenager’s point of view flawlessly, no matter the subject matter or age range.

The character of Kristina in the first book, Crank, was especially relatable to me due to the description of her personality (quoted above), and I think that made me like the first book a lot more. It is really interesting to see how someone like Kristina could turn down the dark road of crystal meth so easily, and how it affects everyone around her. By Glass, though, the story starts to drag on a little. It feels like most of it is being repeated, or that the words don’t matter and are only there to take up space. I became bored with this book very quickly, and feared that the final book of the series would be even worse. But, I can gratefully tell you, Fallout was my favorite of the three.

The narrator change is what made Fallout interesting to me right from the start. Books are always more exciting with separate narrators, considering you have three different voices, three different points of view, three different lives instead of one throughout the whole 500+ page novel. But the change in narrator wasn’t the only thing that made this addition the best.

Although it makes me upset to finish a series, the final book is usually my favorite. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Everlasting of the Immortals series by Alyson Noel, and Fallout of the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins all have that in common, for two main reasons: one, the climax is biggest and best thing the author can possibly think of; and two, the author always finds a way to tie all of the previous events together perfectly. This denouement, as my English teacher says, is so exciting to me. And the final book in the Crank series fits this description well.

I hope this extra-long series review was worth the thirteen-day wait for me to post again. This review was exhausting, so I think I’m going to stick with some single books for a while until I’m ready for another hour-long reviewing session. Please let me know what you think of the series review style and whether you think I should do this for every series I review. Thank you so much for reading, and have a great summer!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jay’s Journal by Beatrice Sparks

Jay's Journal

“Why so much hate in your mind when love is the only way to straighten things out?”
-Jay

This is the “real” diary of a teenager named Jay as he becomes interested in the occult, “edited” by Beatrice Sparks. The quotations may have given away that I think the validity of this book is utter crap. Sure, it may have been loosely based on a real diary, but I’m talking very loosely. And it’s not because I don’t believe something like this could happen, because I’m open to all possibilities; it’s the writing style that gives it away. First of all, another of Beatrice Sparks’s “discovered and edited” books I’ve read, Go Ask Alice, is written in the same exact way as this one. The constant repitition of words three times feels like it’s obsessive-compulsive. Constantly capitalizing or emphasizing certain words, random poems, and incredible vocabulary are not the things that you find in the average teen’s journal. Just saying.

Other than the unreal quality, I think it was an overall good book. Some parts were actually very creepy, which is why I tagged this book under horror even though I don’t think I’d consider it wholly horror. The same reason I tagged psychic, considering the powers of witchcraft and altering the future, etc.

There were some graphic rituals described with a lot of detail, so if you’re squeamish I’d suggest you to stay away from this book. Also, if you’re extremely creeped out by Satanism, demons, and all that fun stuff, don’t even go near this book. Honestly, it would probably scar you for life. But what else can you expect from a book about demonic cults?

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die

“Keep breathing. Just keep doing it. It’s easy. In and out.”
-Tessa Scott

Tessa Scott is a teenager who has been fighting lymphoblastic leukaemia since she was twelve. Knowing she isn’t getting any better and her time is running out, Tessa arranges a list of things she’d like to do before she dies. And starting tonight, she’s going out with her best friend Zoey to accomplish number one on the list: sex.

One of the reviews featured on the back cover of the book says “I defy anyone not to cry while reading this.” I’ve seen things like that on multiple books, so I just blew it off, even though I already knew it would be an extremely sad book. And I didn’t cry throughout the book… until it was nearing the end, and I began to tear up. Soon I was full-on crying, and then the book ended, leaving me feeling hollow.

And though I only finished this book about ten minutes ago, looking back at my reaction made me realize that in order to do that, this book had to be awesome.

From the beginning, I thought I was going to hate this book. The first few chapters of the book is just sex, drugs, and more sex, definitely not typical for a YA book. But I went along with it, and I’m so glad I did.

All in all, to me it wasn’t good enough to pass up the others and be considered a favorite, but it was still a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. And the review on the front is a hundred percent accurate: “A book that will make you happy to be alive.”

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Get Well Soon

“I hardly think it wise to put the idea of flying into the heads of impressionable teenagers who are already battling the challenges of lunacy.”
-Anna Bloom

It’s so difficult to write a review of a book with the kind of storyline that giving away tiny details could ruin the entire plot. So, all I’ll say is that the main character, Anna Bloom, is in a mental hospital, trying to make sense of everything and deal with the problems from both her old and new lives.

At first, I thought this would be just another mental hospital story. I still liked it; it was just kind of a “what else is new?” book. But at a certain point, where Anna notices something different about one of the patients (that’s the best I can do, sorry!), I started to get really into it. I wanted to know everything about this kid. The suspense was nearly killing me, especially because nothing regarding it is revealed until almost the end of the book. I read half the book in one sitting, I was so desperate to know. And when the truth came out, I was impressed. The signs were subtle but there, and I was a little surprised I didn’t pick up on it sooner.

Although I liked most of the characters (which doesn’t happen often), I have to say my favorite is Matt O. I don’t know what it is about him, but I just want to be friends with this kid. It was a little weird how many shared interests Anna and I had, too. (Imagine reading a book while listening to a band you really like and wearing one of your favorite shirts and pair of shoes. Now, imagine the narrator start talking about that band, describing your shirt to you, and mentioning the shoes you’re wearing. Then, a while later, the narrator mentions that she really likes to do one of your favorite passtimes. Wouldn’t you freak out too?)

And, a quick note before I leave: Since tomorrow is my birthday, I don’t know if I’ll get around to reading or not. If I do, great; if I don’t, you guys will probably have to wait an extra day until I post again. And since I’m basing what book I’m reading next over whether I get to read tomorrow, that may mean waiting up to four or five days for another review. 😦

Have a great weekend, guys. See you later!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine

“The dark does not weep for itself because there is no light. Rather, it accepts that it is the dark.”
-Balder

After being diagnosed with mad cow disease with no hope for a cure, loser Cameron Smith becomes everyone’s hero overnight. While staying in the hospital, an angel named Dulcie visits him in the middle of the night and tells Cameron he has to search for the cure in order to find it. He takes with him a Spanish dwarf named Gonzo and they travel across the country, meeting all sorts of unusual people, villians, and Viking gods as they look for not only a cure for disease, but a cure for the end of the world.

This book poses the possibility of so many different things, such as “What would happen if there were nothing but happiness?” and “If you only had one wish to base your life on, what would it be?” It’s definitely the kind of book to make you think right up until the end.

I know you guys probably hate my nerdy comparisons, but I can’t resist this one. This is the only way I can think of to make you understand what reading this book is like. Going Bovine, to me, is a lot like the movie Total Recall (both the Arnold Schwarzenegger one and the Colin Farrell remake)– the best part about it is the fact that throughout the whole thing, you don’t know if most of it was real or not. I’ll provide you with some examples–without spoilers, of course:

In Total Recall, Douglas Quaid uses a sort of memory-implanting device called Rekall to see what his life would be like as a secret agent. Just as it’s about to take effect, the people who have set up the device for him learn that he’s not who he appears to be and try to kill him. The basic plot of the movie revolves around the whole idea of “Is this whole thing really happening, or is it just part of the Rekall?”

In Going Bovine, Cameron is diagnosed with mad cow disease and told the symptoms he will face, incluidng dementia and hallucinations. After a few nights in the hospital, he is visited by a punk-rock angel and told he needs to search for the cure if he wants to find it. Everything he encounters on his crazy adventure could very well be a hallucination from his disease, but who knows?

This book is pretty intense. You have to be open to all possibilities while reading it, or you probably won’t like it at all. I was really skeptical about reading this, but now it’s within my favorites of my new books (and yes, I do say that a lot, but I truly believe this one passes up almost all of the others). It’s definitely an adventure you won’t want to miss out on, and an adventure I’m glad I decided to take.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,