When 17-year-old Dylan Mahoney naively engages in “sexting,” she becomes an Internet phenomenon and a social pariah. Isolated from her friends and family, she retreats into the blogosphere, where she happens upon an online community of home-schooled teenage girls who write about their conservative Christian faith and document the blissful domesticity of their lives. Against her better judgment, she joins this community under false pretenses and develops a special friendship with a blogger named Abigail. The extraordinary set of events that ensue are at once outlandish and absolutely believable, thanks to Bloss’s compelling, down-to-earth prose. Conservative Christian characters who could easily be caricatured are multi-dimensional and complicated, and the lessons Dylan learns through her experiences with them are equally nuanced. Bloss somehow manages utter frankness and great generosity in her portrayal not only of Christian separatists, but also of typical modern families such as Dylan’s. Rather than promoting or demonizing any lifestyle, the novel illustrates how profoundly teenagers who seem to have nothing in common can connect and support each other, even as they choose very different paths.
Hooray! This is a truly exceptional novel, and I’m thrilled that PW picked up on the careful nuances of it.
Upon arriving in London from Louisiana for the school year, high-school senior Rory is told that someone “pulled a Jack the Ripper” the night before. She assumes the phrase is some quaint British colloquialism she has yet to learn, not an actual reference to a gruesome murder committed on the same date—August 31—and in the same location. The smart, breezy, self-deprecating narration and textured boarding school atmosphere provide easy entrance to this increasingly eerie murder mystery in which the only sure thing is the schedule—Jack’s. On September 8, the anniversary of the Ripper’s second strike, police find another body near Wexford, Rory’s school. Johnson raises the stakes even further after Rory has a near-death experience, starts seeing people her classmates don’t, and falls in with a ragtag undercover group investigating the possibility that the murders have a paranormal explanation. Suspenseful and utterly absorbing, this first book in the Shades of London series will leave readers glad that Johnson, like her copycat killer, plans to return to the scene of the crime.
And that’s not all! We just learned this morning that Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris has been nominated and is in consideration for the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2012 list! Woot!
What’s going on in your lives? Any good news to share? Let’s celebrate in the comments!