Today I have reviews of two books for you.

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

When Laine's mother tells her that Leah Greene is dead, she can't help but feel that it's a little bit her fault. After all, she did wish for it. Each time Laine's mother says Leah's name, Leah is pulled back to a memory of an earlier time with Leah, of "Lessons" Leah gave her in what friendship is about. This first novel by freelance non-fiction writer Jo Knowles tells a tale about childhood loneliness and the abuse one child can perpetuate on another. I read it in two sittings, and I would've read it in one but I started it late at night and was just too sleepy to pay attention - and I didn't want to miss anything.

What I appreciate most about Lessons from a Dead Girl is that it gives us real people in all of the characters. Leah Greene is a popular girl, and it would be easy for an author to let her be one-dimensional. Jo Knowles gives us another perspective, demonstrating what I think can be one of life's greatest lessons, especially for adolescents: that everyone has problems, and no one acts entirely without reason.

With Lessons, Jo Knowles makes a strong debut. I look forward to her next book, Jumping Off Swings, to be released on August 11 of this year.

Book: Lessons from a Dead Girl
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick
Original Publication Date: October 9, 2007
Pages: 224
Age Range:  Young Adult
Source of Book: Publisher
Related Links: My Interview with Jo Knowles
Buy it [Affiliate Links]: IndieBound - Powell's

Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr

It's lust at first sight when Rachel Lowenstein meets Luke Christiansen, a waiter at her brother's bar mitzvah.  Luke is tall, blond, and decidedly not Jewish.  She desperately wants to date him, but she knows her parents won't approve.  Can she turn her back on her faith and her culture for a cute boy?

Goy Crazy is a charming romantic comedy that addresses coming of age issues common to all teens.  Rachel feels constantly in conflict with her parents.  She's been a good girl her whole life and she's sick of it.  So she decides that her sophomore year of high school, she will be a bit naughty, and she'll start by pursuing a boy from the wrong religion.

 I would recommend Goy Crazy to anyone looking for a fun read that is not so light as to be mindless, but is very clever and uplifting.  It does rom-com right: there's the wrong boy who seems so right, the boy her parents prefer who is not at all what she wants, and the realization Rachel makes that the people she knows aren't necessarily the people they seem to be.  It's a good time, and summer would be a great time to pick it up and take it to the beach with you, but it'll hold up any time of year.

Book: Goy Crazy
Author: Melissa Schorr
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Original Publication Date: August 22, 2006
Pages: 352
Age Range: Young Adult
Source of Book: Author
Buy it [Affiliate Links]: IndieBound - Powell's