I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to Sheila, Jen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.
I don't watch TV (except for the Red Sox) so I'm only vaguely aware of the Survivor phenomenon, thus I was fairly oblivious of Jeff Probst's first book in his new series, Stranded. My expectations were low (unfair, perhaps), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Stranded is an exciting and fast-paced adventure/survival tale. When four kids from a newly blended family go sailing with an uncle, they are most definitely not expecting to be shipwrecked and stranded on a Pacific atoll. They have to use all their combined skills to survive and what makes this book a little more interesting is the family dynamics that emerge as the four kids cope with the crisis. This is a first book in a series and the ending makes that very clear - it is a classic cliff hanger!
It took me a few chapters to warm up to Whistle in the Dark by Susan Hill. This historical fiction title tells the story of thirteen year old Clem who like his grandfather and father before him, must work in the coal mines to help support his family. Clem is devastated to leave school and feels guilty that he resents his sister whose medical bills his work helps pay. I think the reason that I didn't love reading this book, at least initially, is because Clem's life feels so oppressive - the mines are dark and brutal, his family is harsh and unsympathetic and his one and only friend is abused by her father. After finishing it and reflecting, though, I appreciate all that I didn't actually enjoy while reading. Clem's life is oppressive and Hill conveys this well. While I think it will take a special middle grade reader to appreciate this story, it is a powerful one.