Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip (Pantoum)

Curveball: The Year I lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick is Pete’s story.  Pete is a freshman in high school, dealing with an injury to his arm that permanently impacts his ability to play his favorite sport – baseball.  While Pete deals with teachers, girls, parents, and how to tell his best buddy AJ about his baseball issue, he is also hiding a secret.  His grandfather is slowly losing his independence as Alzheimer’s takes over his memory and mind.  Of course, all of these painful, awkward threads through the story are written Sonnenblick-style, meaning that you feel like you have a best friend with you, keeping you safe and laughing through the painful moments.


Pantoum Poem


Because memories matter,

Grandpa taught me to watch-

His love of photography,

His love of life.


Grandpa taught me to watch-

He gave me everything-

His love of life,

To see and to remember.


He gave me everything-

His love of photography-

To see and to remember,

Because memories matter.


Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Ages 10 and up

This book, told from the viewpoint of eleven-year-old Caitlin, is amazing.  Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, which makes functioning in the world a challenge.  Mrs. Brook helps Caitlin learn important social skills, like:  “Look At The Person”, using “YOUR MANNERS”, and respecting other people’s “Personal Space”.  Unfortunately, Caitlin has a bigger problem.  She is looking for “Closure” and a way to deal with “The Day Our Life Fell Apart.”  When Caitlin refers to “The Day Our Life Fell Apart”, she is referring to the day that her older brother Devon was killed, changing life for Caitlin and her father who are both grieving.

As Caitlin tries to learn to “Deal With this difficult situation called life”, she comes across a few people who may be able to help her find “Closure” too.

My Rating:  5 stars!

 The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

Ages 12 and up

Gecko, Terence and Arjay have the opportunity to leave the juvenile detention center that they have been sentenced to so they can live in halfway house with Mr. Healy, a man who wants to work with troubled youth and make a difference.  Unfortunately, one night when the boys are fighting, Mr. Healy gets hurt and is knocked unconscious.  While he is hospitalized, the boys have to decide what to do.  They know that if they tell, they’ll land back in the juvenile detention center, so they try to keep their freedom.  They agree that one way to protect their freedom is to stay out of trouble, which is quite the undertaking for boys used to lives of crime.

My rating: 3 stars

Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

Ages 10 and up

When San Lee moves to yet another school, he sees an opportunity to reinvent himself. San is good at moving, and good at taking on a persona for wherever he is.  So far, he has been a skater, a Bible-thumper, a rich preppy kid, and a macho pretend-jock.  This time, as an eighth-grader in Pennsylvania, he lets the persona come to him.

As San becomes the Zen Master of his school, he struggles with who he really is:  an Asian kid who was adopted by white, American parents, with a father who is in prison, and a guy with feelings for a girl that might see through his lies.

My rating: 4.5 stars




  Bang! by Sharon G. Flake

Ages 12 and up

Mann is still struggling with the loss of his kid brother, Jason.   Even though the apartment has been cleaned up, Mann can still “see the blood” from where Jason died after he was shot.  In a world of poverty, crime, and shootings, Mann has to face life and learn how to deal with it himself.  After another incident, Mann’s father makes some decisions to harden his son, or to help him “be a man.”  Mann’s father has been reading about manhood initiations in Africa, and believes that some of the same acts might save his son.  Unfortunately, it might kill him first.

This book gives an authentic look at what life is like in the inner city, and how parents, and their children try to survive.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars


  After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Ages 9 through grown-up

In this sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (one of the best books ever!), Jeffrey is in 8th-grade, and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation while being treated for leukemia when he was four.  He has a pretty severe limp and his brain isn’t as efficient with certain things, especially math.  This is nothing compared to what his best friend, Tad, has to deal with.  Tad dealt with cancer twice, and is virtually stuck in a wheelchair.  The boys support each other as they deal with life as 8th-graders, including issues like parents, siblings, girls, and something that “nobody is talking about.”

My Rating: 4.5 Stars