Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Title: Something Like Fate
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Date: May 2010
ISBN-13: 9780670011469
Reviewed from Advanced Reader’s Copy from publisher

Plot Summary: Lani and Erin are best friends, but total opposites.  While Lani is completely content doing her own thing, Erin is totally outgoing and loves being the center of attention.  Even their zodiac signs are complete opposites, as Lani, a Taurus, notes (Erin happens to be a passionate Leo).  The friends complement each other well and have wildly different taste in everything.  At least, they used to…before Erin started to date Jason.

Lani can’t deny that she is totally attracted to her best friend’s guy, but she could never betray Erin’s trust by trying to be with him, so she’s doing her best to get over her feelings.  But she can’t stop feeling a strong connection when they’re hanging out, and when Erin leaves for the summer, Lani starts seeing a lot more of Jason.  Of course it’s not okay to steal your best friend’s boyfriend.  But what if it turns out that he’s your soulmate?

Critical Evaluation: Something Like Fate sets up a premise that many teens have experienced – the complications of a love triangle, particularly the difficulty that arises when one of your best friends is involved.  The story is told in the first person from Lani’s point of view, a character who places lots of faith in her horoscope readings – an indication that the turn of events may have indeed been fated to happen.  Lani, who has never had a boyfriend before, is facing one of the toughest decisions of her young life – choosing between her long time best friend, and the boy who might be the love of her life.  The guilt and confused feelings she experiences are well captured by Colasanti, as is the development of her friendship with Jason while Erin is out of town. The characters weren’t particularly well developed – their circumstances may change, but they don’t undergo much transformation – but they still provided a light and enjoyable story of love and friendship.

Reader’s Annotation: Lani and Erin are best friends, but have completely different personalities and interests, until Erin starts dating Jason and Lani can’t help but feel totally attracted to her best friend’s guy.  What happens when your soulmate is with someone else?

Author Information: Raised in northern New Jersey, Susane Colasanti studied at the University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburg, and received her master’s degree from New York University.  Colasanti began teaching at a wealthy school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then switched to a position as a high school physics and earth science teacher in the South Bronx, where she taught from 2000 to 2007.

She wrote her first two young adult novels, When It Happens and Take Me There while she was still teaching, before deciding to become a full-time writer.  Colasanti says it was a difficult decision to make, but that she “could reach more teens as an author than [she] ever could as a teacher” (Source).

Genre: Romance

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Was Lani wrong for feeling attracted to Jason?  Would it be better for her to be faithful to her friend, or true to herself?
2) Why do you think Jason dated Erin if he had such a great connection with Lani?
3) What did you think about the ending?  Who do you think Jason should have ended up with?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: a reference to partying

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: There were a few reasons I wanted to include Something Like Fate in my collection – it is a very new book (I received the advanced copy a few months ago, and it has just recently been released in hardcover), I needed more romance titles in my collection, and Colasanti is a rising star in the young adult literature world – I have heard her described as the “next Sarah Dessen.”

Extras:

Susane Colasanti’s website and blog.

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May 16, 2010 Posted by | Books | | Leave a comment

Emma (Volume 1) by Kaoru Mori

Title: Emma (Volume 1)
Author: Kaoru Mori
Publisher: CMX
Date: September 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1401211325

Plot Summary: Set in Victorian England, a young girl named Emma was rescued from destitution by a retired governess named Kelly, who trains her how to become a proper British maid.  When Emma meets William Jones, a wealthy member of the gentry who once had Kelly as his governess, the two are instantly attracted to each other, but they are unable to express their feelings to each other because of the class differences that keep them apart.  To further complicate things, a visiting prince from India, William’s friend Hakim, is also attracted to Emma and wants to court.  Also, William’s father expects him to marry Eleanor, a girl from a higher class.  In the midst of societal pressures and expectations, can true love conquer?

Critical Evaluation: The first volume of the manga series Emma is the introduction to a forbidden romance between individuals from very different worlds and social standings.  The story was quiet and slowly paced – although the latter point may have been a result of the difficulty I had in reading the panels from right to left, as I am not a frequent manga reader.  Emma was more than just a love story – the level of historical detail enriched the backgrounds of the illustrations and meant that the setting was an integral part of the narrative.  It is obvious that Kaoru Mori has done her research in creating this series, which has experienced enough popularity to be spun off into an anime series, called Emma: A Victorian Romance.  I wasn’t convinced enough that Emma was actually worth having two wealthy men falling in love with her – she was a sweet character but not a very interesting personality.  Still, sometimes it’s best to read romances where the protagonist isn’t too developed and the reader can project themselves onto the character – isn’t that why Twilight is popular?

Reader’s Annotation: During Victorian England, a maid named Emma and a wealthy member of the gentry named William Jones meet and fall in love, but are unable to express their feelings because of the class differences that keep them apart.

Author Information: Kaoru Mori is a manga artist from Tokyo.  Her manga series, including Emma and Shirley are primarily set in Britain and about maids.

Shy of making public appearances, Mori doesn’t like to be photographed and prefers to publish drawn self portraits.

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Does social class still affect our culture?
2) Are there any boundaries that prevent people in love from being together in our modern society?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: None, although the series is rated at Teen Plus, defined by CMX Manga as “appropriate for an audience of 16 and older. They may contain partial nudity, mild profanity and more intense violence.” Later volumes in the series display some nudity in a non-sexual context, which may explain the rating.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I wanted to include some manga in the collection and was drawn to this one because the historical setting sounded interesting.

Extras:

Official Emma website

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Manga | , | Leave a comment