Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman UndergroundTales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely love Karl Shoemaker’s honest, youthful, brave, foul-mouthed, caring voice.
From laughter to tears, this book takes us through Karl’s first six days of senior year high school, this tale of fierce friendship in 1973 – much more interesting than any days of my senior year!
Karl’s dad was the mayor of Lightsburg, OH and there’s a street in town named for the family. Karl’s mother is a widow, an alcoholic who steals Karl’s hard earned money to drink not only at home, but in local bars so she can pick up men. She leaves an IOU with the date and amount whenever she steals from Karl. This makes Karl the only adult in this household, one who has wisely set up some kind of trustee account with his mom’s pay check so their bills get paid first. But…that just keeps the roof over their heads and the lights on.
Since fourth grade, Karl has been in group therapy at school. For this last year of school he is desperate to have a “normal” year:
No group therapy – no sessions with the Madman Underground during school hours – talk about a stigma inducer!
A social life?
A non-group therapy girl friend?
So, Karl launches “Operation Be Fucking Normal.” Oh, yeah. He wants to keep his friends who are all members of that therapy group.
A 2010 LJ review says “This book is the first, and not the last, title on this [?] list that details the impact of bad parenting on kids.” Ouch! I wonder what other books are on that list?
Two highlights:
p.454 “So we fell asleep holding hands. If married couples got to do this all the time, shit if I could understand how there were ever divorces, or even fights.”
p.505 The rescue for Karl. Just ask. Please. Kids of alcoholics? You’ll get it.


The Running Dream

The Running DreamThe Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Five, five, five,…. Loved it!
Sometimes I read things without paying attention to them…I read this title a couple times, read a couple of reviews, saw that the reviews were compelling, then, finally, the title caught my eye!
Did you ever have a running dream? I wondered if Jessica’s running dream was anything like my own. As soon as I started reading, I realized that her running dream was probably vastly different from my own. In mine, I wake up on a bright, sunny morning. I put on my workout clothes, have a light breakfast, warm up, stretch, and start to run. My legs are pumping. My arms are moving. Then, I find out I am not making any headway – because my feet are not touching the ground! As hard as I try to make my feet get to the pavement – I cannot do it. I usually wake up at this point.
Of course, Jessica’s running dream is something she thinks she won’t ever realize again. Due to her tragedy, she meets a new friend with a completely different kind of running dream.  No more details – that would give everything away!

The Girl I Used to Be

The Girl I Used to BeThe Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in return for an honest review.

Teens will definitely enjoy this suspenseful, quick read from April Henry, about Olivia Reinhart, whose mother was murdered presumably by her father, and left at a Walmart at the age of three. This is what our protagonist has believed all her life, until detectives knock at her door, saying part of her father’s remains have been found and it looks like he was killed at the same time as her mother!

Suddenly, Olivia is not the daughter of a killer. As she heads to her hometown for a memorial service for her father, memories begin to surface and she is determined to find her parents’ killer.