Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Top Ten (okay 12) Books I Read for #summerthrowdown

No matter the purpose, I just can't ever seem to keep a Top Ten list to only 10 items - especially when it comes to books! Since we asked for guest blogging volunteers to share their favorite books read during the two months of #summerthrowdown, I was thinking quite a bit about which were my favorite titles. I started ranking them in my head, and decided I would do my own post. One of the great things about this summer was that I read quite a few picture books along with middle grades and young adult, so I have a fairly diverse list to share. Hope you find some reminders of books you've enjoyed along with some that you may want to read in the coming months!

                                    Picture Books                                   
EACH KINDNESS by Jacqueline Woodson
A FLOWER IN THE SNOW by Tracey Corderoy
THE CLOUD SPINNER by Michael Catchpool
TWO TALL HOUSES by Gianna Marino

                                   Middle Grades                                  
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(my recommendation post)
KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger
(my recommendation post)

                                   Young Adult                                     
PRODIGY by Marie Lu [sequel to LEGEND]
UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi [sequel to SHATTER ME]
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas (my recommendation post)
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
(my recommendation post)

Thanks to everyone who played along with us during #summerthrowdown!
A big thank you to Brian, Sherry, and Kathy for making the planning so much fun and challenging my thinking (in a good way)!
Thank you so much to the publishers who shared some great books with me at ALA!
Thanks to my twitter friends and students who always recommend titles to me, keep me in-the-know about good books, and encourage my reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Post: Wads of Tissue Summer

Today's #summerthrowdown guest post is from Kelly. Kelly teaches high school English in Northern Indiana, not far from Notre Dame University. She’s determined to find the right book for each of her students, and help them understand the importance of being a life-long reader. She really needs to start a blog, but would rather spend her time reading. She can be found on Twitter at @kelvorhis.
Wads of Tissue Summer
I like to call the past few months my Wads of Tissue Summer. It seemed like I was consistently finding myself in a public place when I encountered an especially heartwarming or heartbreaking scene in the book I was reading.  More than once I had to scrounge around in my purse for a tissue or three and try to make it look not so obvious that I was all choked up about something. My ten and twelve year old daughters got to the point where they would roll their eyes and say, “Another wad of tissues book, Mom? Really?” My response was always, “We really need to read this together,” or “Your teacher would love this book, trust me.”
Now not all of the books I read were tearjerkers. The list included picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction along with professional development titles.  As I was looking through my GoodReads account and chatting with my daughters about their favorite reads of the summer, I realized that it was going to be almost impossible to whittle my list down to only ten titles.  After much consideration, here are my Top Ten Favorite Reads from the Wads of Tissue Summer, rated in number of wads of tissue used on a scale from 1-5, with five being the most wad-worthy:

Bigger than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder
This book kicked off the summer reading at my house in early June. I told my daughters I’d be ordering a few middle grade books and would like them to read at least a couple of the titles. My 12 year old snatched this one up right away and read it in one sitting. I loved hearing her reactions to Rebecca’s choices. Her most-telling comment was about how she now understood one of her classmates better because of what the main character had went through. I’d rate Bigger than a Breadbox a 3-wad book.

Divergent/Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent was a reread for me, as I wanted to refresh my memory before heading into the second book of the trilogy, Insurgent. Out of the many Dystopian YA novels I read this summer, these two books resonated with me the most. Maybe it was because I live in the Midwest and was familiar with Chicago, Navy Pier and the surrounding suburbs. After reading Roth’s books I spent a few days being thankful for the world I live in, imperfect as it is. I also wondered if I could face everything that Triss did, and still be strong at the end of the second book.  I do think that Insurgent is the better book of the two, simply because the stakes are so much higher and the ending – well, I won’t give it away, but suffice it to say that I can’t wait for the third book! These books didn’t cause me to pull out the tissues, but were a favorite read none-the-less.

Innocent Darkness (Aether Chronicles, Book One) by Suzanne Lazear
I originally read this book as an ebook from NetGalley earlier in the summer. I had taken an online class with Suzanne last year that focused on the Steampunk genre and received wonderful feedback and encouragement from her. I was initially intrigued because she’d said her novel was a mix of Steampunk and Faery, and I thought “how do you mix the two in a YA novel?” Well, Suzanne has done just that. The protagonist, Noli, is a teenage girl who loves all things mechanical and just happens to live next to a faery prince. She finds her way to the faery world, falls in love, and has decisions to make. This title was a favorite read and no tissues were required. I can’t wait to share this title with students this fall!

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polishner
I love it when I come across a novel that I can use in connection with a title I teach in one of my high school English classes. The Pull of Gravity is one such novel. The references to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men makes me excited to use it in my eleventh-grade literature class later this year. Ms. Polishner is one of the sweetest YA authors I’ve gotten to know over the summer, and I’d love to arrange a Skype visit with her in the Spring.  Zero wads required for this reading.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
I had gotten away from reading a lot of picture books since I began teaching at the high school level a few years ago.  I fell in love with this book from the very first reading. It has just the right mix of humor and sensibility. Ms. Dyckman is such a funny and kind person, she even sent a package of goodies to my 10 year old and included extras for our local children’s librarian! I’m determined to find a way to incorporate this title into my class curriculum somewhere this year. The reading of this book required zero wads of tissue.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
I had heard buzz about this book on Twitter and thought it would be a good book to read with my daughters. I ended up reading it on my own, as my girls were immersed in other MG titles at the time. Oh my, what a ride this book was, and in a good way. For her entire life, Melody, the main character, has been treated as a body. She has cerebral palsy and almost everyone in her life assumes that her brain is as disabled as her body. Throughout the book, Melody proves to everyone around her that she is smart and has a wonderful sense of humor. As events unfolded, I found myself on a rollercoaster ride alongside Melody, from scenes where my heart overflowed with love and admiration to a gut-wrenching event near the end that caused a massive amount of tissues to be used (while sitting in public no less).  This is a book that helps readers of all ages better understand the lives of those who are limited physically but not mentally. Out of My Mind earned a four wad rating.

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

I put off reading this title until later in the summer because I knew it was a tear-jerker. Reviews along with people on Twitter and Facebook all said that a totally unexpected plot twist happened and to make sure to have a box of tissues handy. After reading three other titles that had me wallowing in soggy tissues in public, I was hesitant to add a fourth title to my Wads of Tissue summer. The book kept beckoning to me as I would peruse my TBR piles for something new to read. I finally picked up See You at Harry’s and began reading. And it did not disappoint. Talk about reminding me how precious family and every single person’s life is makes me all teary-eyed as I type this. I won’t give away what happens, let me just say that I’m going to go hug my girlies just because I can. Everyone should read this book at some point. See You at Harry’s earns a 5+ wad rating.

One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
I was pulled into this novel from the very first page. Carley’s voice is very authentic and I loved her sense of humor. She’s adept at adjusting to new situations, and not at all good at letting her defenses down. The idea of family as many know it is a foreign concept to Carley, and through the love and patience of the Murphy family, especially Mrs. Murphy, Carley comes to know exactly what family means. At the end of the book, Carley knows what she wants but isn’t given the chance to choose. As a mom, my heart was torn at the end, not only for Carley but for Mrs. Murphy as well. I have a new appreciation for parents who choose to open their hearts and homes to foster children. One for the Murphy’s earns a four wad rating.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

In a departure from her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Stiefvater combines her love of equestrians and storytelling in The Scorpio Races. My 12 year old read this first at our house, and couldn’t stop talking about it. Mind you, I had purchased it to read and include in my classroom library, but that was not mean to be. I have long admired Maggie’s (I hope she doesn’t mind I use her first name) gift of weaving a story that entrances her readers. Puck Connolly, the main character, is a young girl who I admired simply because of her determination to save her family home when it seemed that no adult cared what happened to her and her younger brother, Finn. Sean, the long-running winner of the Scorpio Races, faces a similar battle. My favorite line from all of my reading this summer comes from Puck: “I’m so full of an unnamed wanting that I can’t bear it,” (page 54). The last few pages focus on a life-changing decision Sean is forced to make, and the twist at the end had tears streaming down my face. The Scorpio Races easily earned a five wad rating at the Vorhis house.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wow, what can I say about this book? It is definitely my FAVORITE read of the summer. Experiencing the world as Auggie does is humbling. I have shared this book with everyone I know, teachers and non-teachers alike. A common phrase heard at our house is “Choose Kind,” which reminds each of us how precious and wonderful life is. I’m looking forward to reading this to my 10th-graders this year, and know that I’ll have to have wads and wads of tissues once we reach the end. Definitely a 5+ wad book.

Thanks so much for sharing, Kelly! Don't forget to check out all of the #summerthrowdown guest posts at the blogs of all of the coordinators: Brian, Kathy, Sherry - and check back on Sunday for my own personal Top Ten list from my #summerthrowdown reading!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guest Post: Top Ten Fearless Females

For today's #summerthrowdown guest post, I have Meagan who has been an active participant in both rounds all summer. Meagan teaches high school English in Northwest Indiana. She always has a book handy and blogs about her reading and teaching experiences at Find her on Twitter (@uhohmeagan) and let her know your favorite Fearless Females!

Top Ten Fearless Females, Heroines, and All-Around B.A. Girls

First I’d like to thank Jillian for inviting me to guest post on her blog! I am so grateful to her, Brian, Sherry, and Kathy for #summerthrowdown. I read over 50 books in the first round and nearly as many in the second round (though I stopped updating my totals halfway through, oops). I read. A lot. But Summer Throwdown made me read more. Way more. So without further ado, I present my top ten fearless females, heroines, and all-around B.A. girls and strong fems (in no particular order).

War-orphaned Alina struggles with belonging. She overcomes immeasurable fears and ultimately realizes the strength of her own power. She courageously does what must be done. Alina, aka The Sun Summoner, learns that throughout her entire life, she has always belonged with the one constant in her life.

Oh, goodness. Allie survives the accident that kills her boyfriend. She struggles to endure with and deal with the guilt and the fifty other emotions she feels. Her little brother, Charlie (who has cerebral palsy), tries to help her. Her small town eyes her and her best friend Blake when their romance begins to blossom. Allie learns a lot of secrets and begins to remember the night of the accident. A realistic contemporary, Breaking Beautiful follows Allie’s shattered world as she tries to keep living and move on. She’s definitely a fearless fem!

Oh, John Green. Why?? Hazel is ready to die at 13. Her cancer will take her life before she reaches 14. But she doesn’t die. Hazel’s quality of life isn’t all that great – she’s permanently hooked up to an oxygen machine. But then she meets Augustus who really shows her what life is about. While I’m not a fan of the “girl needs a guy to show her she’s worth living for” or “girl needs a guy to make her realize something” plot tracks, Hazel just blows that out of the water. She has so much strength and courage, even when she doesn’t.

Steph Landry, How to be Popular
It’s pretty impossible to follow Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, but remember, these are in no particular order! Steph wants desperately to be popular. She wants to belong, like Alina in Shadow and Bone. She actually makes it, and is pretty much the most popular girl in school – for a week. Then she has to make a decision: maintain her popularity at what sacrifice? She learns that she does belong, with that one constant in her life. Steph isn’t insecure, she’s just a typical teen. I don’t think being popular is all that great, or even something we should all strive for, but the fact that Steph actually set out to do it – and succeeded – makes her a fearless fem.

I hate that she runs to slimy Wesley (and does the dirty…several times) as a distraction from the not-so-great status of things at home. Wesley nicknames her the Duff because Bianca isn’t the prettiest or the skinniest of her two best friends. She’s more of a body guard than an equal – and that sucks. I definitely related to Bianca, and I’m sure that many other young girls can identify with her as well. Bianca looks for a distraction (albeit in the wrong place, in my opinion) and finds that her feelings weren’t exactly left on Wesley’s front doorstep. When all is said and done, Bianca actually lets Wesley in. And they bond. Majorly. Way to go, Bianca, you found yourself! Bianca is my B.A. female.

Piggie (yes, Piggie is a girl) is celebrating being a pig. But her best friend Gerald is an elephant. Read: not a pig. He feels left out of the celebrations – but Piggie shows him you don’t have to be the same to be friends! I love Piggie – she is fun-loving, carefree, and just loves everyone. A great role-model and example for beginning readers! (Also, I’ll be sharing this with HS students in a “mutual respect/we belong/love each other” lesson.)

Babymouse, Babymouse series
Oh, Babymouse! There are now 16 books in the Babymouse series (#17 comes out Jan 2013!), and I love every single one of them. Babymouse is silly, sometimes ignorant (but never in a bad way), and is always daydreaming. She encourages readers to dream with her as she set out on hilarious quests – like wanting to be queen of the world, a famous rock star, a mad scientist. Babymouse is awesome, and is definitely a fearless fem!

I had to read this over the summer because it was summer reading for incoming freshman. Esperanza’s tale is briefly and poetically told in a series of vignettes. We watch her grow from a child to a young adult. Esperanza refuses to inherit her grandmother’s defeat, though she did inherit her name. Her life as an immigrant is told simply, and is sometimes painful. She definitely impressed me by opening her own home later in life to those less fortunate and displaced. Heroine and fearless female is she!

Brooklyn Wrainwright, A Bibliophile Mystery series
I do not prefer mysteries. But I couldn’t pass up a book with a strong female lead who loves books! Brooklyn solves murder mysteries which are often inextricably linked to books (either she’s working on restoring one, she’s receiving donated rare books, etc). Though Brooklyn is sometimes portrayed on the silly side (not often), I love that she’s just so B.A. about everything.

This pick comes straight from my sister. She read tons of books with me this summer and we often traded. I was having a difficult time choosing a final Heroine/Fearless Fem so I asked her for some help. She loves how eleven-year-old Cass works through everything she has to. She’s smart and prepared. Her backpack (which she always has) is full of really useful stuff to help her and Max out of any dire circumstance. Cass is anything but normal. I bought this book for my sister when it first came out, and she made me buy her every sequel! We love this series. Cass is awesome!

Thanks so much for visiting, Meagan! 
Don't forget to check out all of the #summerthrowdown guest posts at the blogs of all of the coordinators: Brian, Kathy, Sherry

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Post: Top 10ish #summerthrowdown 2012 List

For my second in the series Top Ten Book Read Guest Post by #summerthrowdown participants, I'm welcoming Jessica Walsh, a 7th grade language arts teacher who blogs at Stories Told in Stick Figures. Jessica is visiting to share her top books she read this summer.

Top 10ish #summerthrowdown 2012 List

10. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
What better way to start an “ish” list than with a book that tells you it’s okay to think “ishly”? I’m so glad I picked up this picture book recommendation as a companion to Wonder by R.J. Palacio from a Nerdy Book Club post. What student (or adult) doesn’t freak out at the thought of standing out?  The idea of thinking “ishly” lets us see that putting our own unique spin on life makes everything way more interesting!

9. Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery
You know you’re on to something when a book keeps you from taking a dip in Lake Michigan on a 90 degree June day. This book is a fascinating mix of informative and narrative written for young readers (and 30ish sunbathers). The chapters alternate between facts about autism and stories of Temple dealing with society’s misconceptions about her. Get to know Temple and the impact she has made on our world.   

8. The Secret of the Fortune Wookie by Tom Angleberger
I love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series and its blend of hijinks and hilarious sketches. This newest installment is definitely one of the first book talks I’m doing this year. I know my kiddos from last year will be excited to get their hands on it after waiting all summer since Darth Paper Strikes Back came out. In the spirit of Origami Yoda: A copy you must find!

7. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Is it crazy of me to say that when I was younger I WISHED I had braces? Seriously. I actually envied the girls who commiserated over getting their braces tightened and complained about busted rubber bands. Regardless of being Team Braces or not, this graphic novel is for everyone! Smile is about the author’s years of dental surgery and growing pains that many young people experience, told in a painfully hilarious way. I loved Telgemeier’s references to 90s pop culture, making the setting true to her experience, reminding you that yes, these things happen to real people, and yes, you will survive. You may even become a successful graphic novelist! I can’t wait to do this as a read aloud this year (with Elmo assistance!)

6. Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Dystopian YA is my go-to genre. Plus, could this cover be any more beautiful? The sequel to Wither takes Rhine out of the mansion and into the crazy world. This is a completely ethereal and enthralling read for upper grades. The final book in the trilogy, Sever can’t get here soon enough

5. Legend by Marie Lu
Looking for something to read now that you’re done with The Hunger Games and waiting for the next installment in the Divergent series? Pick up a copy of Legend and satisfy that action/dystopia craving.

4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes & The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson  If you don’t follow @maureenjohnson on Twitter, you are missing out on some hilarity. I knew TwitterMaureen before I knew AuthorMaureen, and I adore them both equally. 13 Little Blue Envelopes and its sequel share a spot on this list for taking me on my only international trip this summer. No passport necessary.

3. The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco and Kleenex go hand in hand with me, and The Junkyard Wonders definitely requires a handful. My words can’t even do justice to the power behind this book. All I can say is, if you are looking for a book to remind you what a difference you can make in the life of a child, this is it.  

2. Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth
This series is the new “it” series in YA. They were at the top of my TBR pile the day after school got out simply because it was the first time they were back in my possession since book-talking them with my kids! Let’s just say I went all Golem from Lord of the Rings with these until I finished them. My apologies to my husband.

1. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
There is only one spot I could have possibly placed this book on my Top 10ish list. If you haven’t heard of this book, let me tell you: The One and Only Ivan is not an independent reader book. It’s not a MG book. It’s not a YA book. It’s an E book, to borrow a rating from video games. In other words, an Everyone book. I definitely joined the bandwagon on loving this book, and boy, I’m glad I did. My life is better for having read this book. 

Thanks so much for visiting, Jessica!
Don't forget to check out the entire series of #summerthrowdown guest posts on all four blogs.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Post: Picture Books in a High School Classroom? Absolutely!

In thinking about the hundreds of participants who read thousands of books for #summerthrowdown Librarians vs. Teachers, we (Brian, Kathy, Sherry, and myself) wanted to hear about and share some of the favorites that people read, so we asked for volunteers to do a "Top Ten Books Read" guest post on our four blogs this week after the second round ended and we all headed back to school for a new year.
My first guest post is from all-around awesome person (and my convention buddy) Sarah Andersen from YA Love blog. If you haven't "met" her online yet, you really should. She's a fantastic high school teacher and blogger who works tirelessly to bring an appreciation of reading to her students. I'm so excited to hear her Top Five Picture Books read list!
Picture Books In A High School Classroom? Absolutely!
I kind of grew out of picture books after elementary school, but since starting my Masters Degree I’ve discovered a new appreciation for them.  Reading a picture book as an adult, especially as a teacher, is a completely different experience than it was when they were being read to me as a child.  Now I find myself looking for picture books that I can use in my classroom to serve as mini lessons for things like drawing inferences, making predictions, foreshadowing, etc.  Some of my high school students are a little shocked when they first see me pull out a picture book, but once we start reading them many of them instantly remember how much fun they are to read.
This summer I completed my Masters Degree; I’m now officially a Reading Specialist.  Instead of writing a thesis, my cohort ran a summer reading clinic aiding elementary students who struggle with reading.  I worked with a fifth grade student moving into sixth grade this fall, so we worked quite a bit on comprehension strategies.  Because of his age my professor helped me find picture books that she thought he’d enjoy and would still find challenging.  Since this clinic took up a large chunk of my summer, most of my first round of #summerthrowdown reading consisted of picture books.  Today I’m going to share a few titles that I think would work well in a high school setting.

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco—I haven’t read many YA novels that take place during the Civil War, so finding a strong example in a picture book was really exciting.  I don’t teach much in my classroom that works with the Civil War, but history teachers could certainly use this text.  It’s also an excellent example of the power of friendship and characterization.  It is lengthy, so I’d probably break it up into two read aloud periods unless you have the time to read it in one class period. 
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg—This is a really cool picture book that would work great with middle school and high school students.  It’s a complex story that would work perfectly to introduce how to make inferences.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that students have a difficult time making inferences and supporting them.  The Stranger is both interesting and short which makes it a great piece to use in a mini lesson.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell—This is a really cute picture book that would work well when focusing on making connections.  Many students can relate to having family over and all the chaos that occurs in a crowded home.  I’d like to use this when introducing our narrative writing unit because I’m sure it would give my students plenty of topic ideas.  We used this as a read aloud in our reading clinic and the kids loved it.  At the end of the clinic most of them said this was one of their favorites.
Just A Second: A Different Way to Look at Time by Steve Jenkins—The importance of reading non-fiction texts is really being emphasized right now, so why not include a picture book?  I loved reading this book because the illustrations are great and the comparisons are fantastic!  I can easily picture students reading this book more than once so they can retain the many facts about time.  I don’t know if this would make the best read aloud, but it’s a great independent read.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco—I am so happy I discovered Patricia Polacco this summer because she is positively wonderful.  Reading this book made me cry.  And when I say cry, I mean I had to grab a few tissues.  Not all students struggle with reading, but I think many would connect with this story and how difficult it is to fit in and feel smart and confident when you can’t read.  Even better?  The illustrations are just as beautiful as the story.  This is a top-notch choice for any grade level.

Thanks so much for visiting, Sarah! And stay tuned for the rest of the guest posts on favorites from #summerthrowdown this week!

Friday, August 10, 2012

SEND by Patty Blount

Title: SEND
Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 291
Source of Book: Bought the paperback
It's been five years since I clicked Send. Four years since I got out of juvie. Three months since I changed my name. Two minutes since I met Julie. A second to change my life. To keep his secrets, all he has to do is listen to the voice in his head and just walk away...
On his first day at his new high school, Dan stops a bully from beating up a kid half his size. He didn't want to get involved. All he wants out of his senior year is to fly under the radar. But Dan knows what it's like to be terrorized by a bully-he used to be one. Now the whole school thinks he's some kind of hero, except Julie Murphy, the prettiest girl on campus. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn't really Daniel.
I was intrigued by the cover and summary of SEND when I saw it on a New Releases table at the bookstore, and as I'm always on the lookout for quality books related to bullying that will possibly engage my students, I decided I definitely wanted to read it. I was unprepared for the intensity of the story I would enter and the perspective that I would be seeing. From the first page, I was drawn into the story through the voice of the main character. Patty Blount uses an interesting tactic with an internal voice battling Dan throughout the book, and it added a much-needed depth to the story that allowed for the reader to feel a better understanding of what Dan's internal conflict is and how he grows in accepting his own circumstances.

Unfortunately, we all too often hear the stories of bullycides and hear about a final straw event or attack that happens right before. In this case, Dan caused the final straw event, and a young boy is dead. We don't often hear from the standpoint of the bully in these cases, and it isn't one we often sympathize with, but I think it's imperative as we try to send messages to students about bullying, that they see the perspective of the other side. In this case, Dan is that other side, but he's on the other side of spending time in juvie for his actions, and his life has been irrevocably changed. He thinks of himself as a murderer, even though he was a good kid before that, and his inner demons lead him to step in when he sees another kid being bullied so he can stop it. He doesn't want others to make the mistakes he has and he doesn't want anyone else to suffer in the way his victim did. It's an intense story, and as Dan starts to realize how much he likes Julie, and as he tries to befriend Brandon who is constantly being bullied, he has to come to accept some of the choices he has made and how to get past them so he can have a life. He made some big mistakes, but he's learned from them, and his focus is on not allowing those things to happen again. He doesn't think he deserves to be happy and have a girlfriend, but he is alive, so what's the use of that if he doesn't live? One of the strongest parts of this story for me were the interactions of Dan with his parents and grandfather. The family unit is strong in his life and it seems honest in the way that they fight for him and try to help him to be able to live a life beyond the mistakes he made.

This is a story of mistakes, honesty, survival, acceptance, and forgiveness. How can one forgive someone who led a kid to bullycide? How can the family forgive those actions? Can the person forgive himself? These are all questions that come up in this book. Dan's story helps us to think about all of that and possibly understand it in some small way. The repercussions of these actions are something that students and teens need to see and talk about and understand and realize. I hope SEND might be the book to lead to those important discussions about perspective and choices and actions and repercussions and doing the right thing in the face of wrong. Note: This story has a couple of mature scenes and there are many uses of mature language. I definitely think SEND is a book that should be shared with high school students. It's the first book that I've read that I think could be a good companion/ladder to 13 REASONS WHY, which is something I've been hoping to find for awhile.