Posts Tagged ‘basketball’

 reason to breathe    Reason to Breathe, by Rebecca Donovan

I was talking to another teacher at Chaffey High, Mrs. Vanderbeck (who used to work at Colony as well), about the bullying books I was reading this year. She told me about one she thought was great, so I asked her to write a guest blog post and share the book with you. Here it is!

I just finished a book, Reason to Breathe, by Rebecca Donovan.  It’s about bullying and physical abuse, but from the adults that are supposed to look out for you.  Emily, “Emma” has worked really hard to create a facade of indifference to all the students around her.  She is counting the days to her “liberation”. The day when she graduates from high school and is able to go to college. 

Emma is a straight A student, editor of the school newspaper, is a star soccer and basketball player, all the while hiding a terrible secret.  Her best friend, Sara, knows that things are not perfect at Emma’s home, but she doesn’t know the lengths Emma has gone to protect her little cousins.  In spite of her best efforts, she falls in love with Evan Matthews, a new student to her school, who won’t take “No” for an answer. The book is graphic, sad, and yet allows the reader to feel Emma’s annoyance, curiosity, interest and finally the love she thought was not meant for her, at least not in her current situation. I really enjoyed it. It’s a fast read. I am going to put it out for my students so they might read it during SSR. –Mrs. Vanderbeck

High school housekeeping: I looked and I have one copy at Chaffey, none at Colony. So I’m adding it to my ‘purchase ASAP’ list. I also see that it is the first book in a series, so if you also enjoy it, I’ll get the sequels. –Ms. W.


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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

I wanted a good book—realistic, but one in which characters could work out their problems. Some good writing. So I picked up Sarah Dessen because I knew she’d deliver.

In What Happened to Goodbye, McLean, now in her senior year, has been on the move with her dad for a couple of years. This following a really ugly divorce after her mother admitted that she was having an affair and in fact, was pregnant, as it ends up, with twins. To make matters worse, her mom’s new husband (and father of the twins) is the coach of the Defriese University basketball team. McLean is named after the previous coach and her dad is a rabid fan. Or was, until his wife left him for the new coach and for the scandal that ensued.

McLean’s dad is a restaurant consultant. He works for a company that buys restaurants and reinvents them, creating profitable businesses. He has to move after each restaurant is fixed. McLean moves with him, reinventing herself at each new school—she changes her name and becomes a cheerleader in one place, a goth girl in another. Yet when the two arrive in Lakeview, McLean makes friends and realizes that she cares about others, especially her super-smart nerdy next-door neighbor, Dave.

Though as a child McLean always had great times with her mom when her dad was working night and day trying to make his own restaurant profitable, and though she is told that her parents’ breakup was both their faults, she can’t forgive her mom and doesn’t want to be around her or her new family. By not complying with the legal terms of custody, she frustrates her mom, who consistently tries to reconnect with her and is willing to involve lawyers to get what she wants.

Though Dessen makes some weird writing choices in the last quarter of the book, giving outcomes of scenes and then giving the details of the scene (thus foregoing some of the suspense), I loved the characters and how they interact with one another. I love how McLean has to come to terms with her new life, with her mother, and with her new friends.

It was fun watching a character work out serious problems in a way that’s not perfect—things can’t be perfect—but in a way that’s positive. Because I liked McLean and wanted a good future for her. I think you will, too.

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