Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
I finished reading Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert and all I can say is I feel like I was on a roller coaster ride. This book definitely is the epitome of a diverse novel! This novel is set around Suzette “Little”, the main character, who returns home to Los Angeles after a year in boarding school located in New England. When she returns home, she wonders if she will return to boarding school or stay in LA with her brother, Lionel “Lion” (who was diagnosed bi-polar before she was sent to school), her mother and step-father.
Suzette has many things she deals with in her life. Her brother’s condition was the reason she was sent away as her parents thought it would be best until they could get his condition under control. While at boarding school, Suzette had her first same-sex relationship and had to deal with the fallout when they were discovered. After she returns home, her old crush, Emil now has shown he has feelings for her as well. She also discovers a new friend, Rafaela, who she secretly has feelings for and whom her brother begins dating. On top of all this, she has to deal with the fact that her parents are a bi-racial couple and the looks and whispers she deals with when she is with them or her step-brother. Finally, the most compounding problem emerges when Lionel reveals to her that he has quit taking his medicine for his bi-polar condition! She must then try to save Lion from his greatest threat…himself.
I think this is a great novel that deals with many current issues. It shows the difficulty of those dealing with a mental illness as well as how it can affect the family members. It also explores love and sexuality and all the emotions that arise. I think it’s a powerful novel, and I believe there are many students that would find this book appealing. I would caution though, that because it is written in such a current and moving way, there is some language and situations that may not be suitable for all students. I would not recommend it for younger students or students that would be easily offended.
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
I also finished Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby this week. All I can say is love, love, love! The book is about thirteen-year old Joey Willis who has been deaf since the age of six. She reads lips in order to communicate as her mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. Unfortunately, this limits those Joey can communicate with since not everyone’s lips are easy to read. One day as she is out in the woods picking mushrooms, she meets an old man named Dr. Charles Mansell. Charley has Joey follow him back to his house where she is introduced to Sukari, a chimpanzee that knows sign language.
Sakari was rescued after her mother was taken by poachers and has been with Charley ever since. Soon the bond between Joey, Charley, and Sukari grows stronger than ever with Charley and Sukari teaching Joey how to sign. When her mother learns about this, she forbids Joey from seeing Charley and Sukari. Joey must sneek around in order to see the two. As Joey learns to sign, secrets are revealed about her childhood that were never meant to come out and pretty soon life is thrown up-side down for Joey, Charlie, and Sukari.
Hurt Go Happy is based on a true story of a chimpanzee that learned to sign. It is an emotional book about pain, loss, hope and redemption. I found myself happy, angry, and at times crying over the story line. This is a book I got personally vested in and loved every minute of reading and feel a loss now that it is over. It is a book that could be recommended for any student from elementary through high school. I plan to hopefully have my Literature class next year read this book as I think they all will thoroughly enjoy this beautiful tale.