Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wendy Mass

I just finished my third book by Wendy Mass- A Mango-Shaped Space. Ms. Sauer recommended it to me, along with a number of students who read it. I have avoided it for the sole reason that I knew part of the plot dealt with the main character's cat Mango. And anyone who knows me as a reader knows I have a tough time handling books dealing with animals, especially because the animals often die, and that just breaks my heart.

I promise that I won't give anything away about Mango, but I will tell you that I have found out that Wendy Mass is a truly gifted author. She does an excellent job presenting characters that are different, but likable. There are no parts in her books where I might think to myself, "This is so not-likely. It almost seems fake." Instead, I catch myself surprised that she handles such odd situations, ones I have not and will not experience, by making them seem like they are everyday problems. Below are the reviews/summaries of three of Mass's books that I have read.

A Mango-Shaped Space: Mia's family, and life, are normal. She lives in a rural area and is the middle child. Her younger brother Zack is a little odd since he keeps track of all the McDonald's hamburgers he's eaten, but everyone loves him anyway. Her teenage sister Beth is kind of snotty, but sweet at heart. Mia, well, she has a secret. Whenever she hears sounds, she sees colors and shapes. For so long, Mia thought everyone was this way. Now she figures she is the only one, she hopes to keep that secret between her and her cat Mango.

I truly loved this story. It was not action-packed, but was very 'real'. While I could put this book down, I know it is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life: Jeremy is kind of a chicken. He is afraid to go farther than a few blocks from his house, and really hates surprises. His best friend Lizzie is almost the complete opposite. When Jeremy gets a box that claims to hold the meaning of life, he knows he is going to have to change in order to open it by his 13th birthday. He can not open it without the keys, which are missing, and must enlist Lizzie's help to discover a new side to himself, and find the keys.

I was surprised by how the twists in plot, intriguing themes, and interesting characters really drove this novel and made it an enjoyable read.

Every Soul a Star: Mass uses three very different characters to narrate the story of a total solar eclipse at Camp Moonshadow. Ally, whose family runs and lives at the camp has been preparing for this day for most of her life. Bree, whose family is moving to take over the camp, wants nothing to do with the eclipse. Jack is an underachiever, along for the ride to make up for failing science. These three start off in stereotypical roles, but soon the reader sees glimpses of their true characters.

I was impressed by the seemless plot, even though each chapter was narrated by a different character. I loved how, like all of us, Ally, Jack, and Bree seemed one way- but surprised everyone in the end. If you need one good reason to read this book, you have to get to the description of the eclipse. It is amazing.

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