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Room to Grow: An Appetite for Life
Room to Grow: An Appetite for Life
by Tracey Gold
Edition: Hardcover
77 used & new from $0.01

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative - Not Looking For Sympathy but to Reach Others, July 28, 2003
by Truc Doan, age 15, Teen Editor
This book is about an actress who had an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa. Does this sound familiar? Before beginning to read this book, I looked at the inside cover and immediately believed I was going to endure a literate, extended version of 'Behind the Music' (only without the music, drugs, or groupies). Well, everyone knows that they say about judging books by their cover, right? Room to Grow by Tracey Gold is about her life and her battle with anorexia, but if you're looking for preachy, 'look-at-poor-beautiful-me,' tear glistening in eye cripe, then you won't find it here.
Room to Grow uses fairly simple language to show the development of a problem, the recognition and the conquering of it. Throughout the book, one accepts that acting was simply something Gold did. It didn't define her and it wasn't the cause of her anorexia. Like most little girls, Gold had grown up wanting to please and (with a little help from movies and books) began to believe that if she was skinnier, it would be better. The book itself is not so much autobiographical as it is informative. Gold's life acts simply as a backdrop to the main topic, a disease that kills.
Gold isn't asking for sympathy. She explains this in the first chapter. She just wants to know that somebody read this and it helped them to better understand the disease and to seek help if they have it. Well, I read it and I commend her for caring enough to write it. ...

Fasting, Feasting
Fasting, Feasting
by Anita Desai
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.87
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delves into the Inner Sanctum of an Orthodox Indian Family, July 15, 2003
This review is from: Fasting, Feasting (Paperback)
by Dashini Ann Jeyathurai, age 19, Teen Correspondent
In Fasting, Feasting, Anita Desai takes on a task that many Indian and expatriate authors have deemed Herculean in nature, a task that involves delving into the inner sanctum of an orthodox Indian family in India. Many who have attempted this challenge failed and came out looking ignorant and insensitive of certain aspects of the culture. Few have succeeded, and among them is Anita Desai.
The reader is faced with several poignant issues played upon in a middle-class family attempting to deal with modernization, but they ultimately that realize life is meant to be lived in their society. A society with a veritable amount of prejudices weaved into its complex tapestry of customs and beliefs.
The story in itself is told from the perspective of the protagonist, Uma, who starts out as a wide-eyed child at a convent who has an enthusiasm for education and an awe of the enigmatic nuns who seem to glide through the school grounds. Unlike her younger sister Aruna, our protagonist does not have the privilege of having "books marked healthily in green and blue for success and approval." Instead, with the birth of her brother Arun, Uma takes on the role of nanny. Here, one encounters the distinct preference her parents have for the male child - a practice that was not uncommon at the time. The teenage Uma questions this sexism when she points out that an ayah had looked after both Aruna and herself as children. Why wasn't the ayah's care sufficient for a male child?
Desai next explores the conventional belief that tied a woman's worth to her physical appearance. A woman who lacked beauty was often rushed into the first marital offer she received, only to pay a heavy price later on. Desai shows the challenges a single woman faces regardless of how successful she is. By contrast, Uma's cousin is portrayed as the ultimate success because she is able to marry well thanks to her looks. One wonders how happy she truly was, however, when she eventually takes her own life.
Arun, Uma's brother, takes center stage several chapters into the book as he begins his studies in America, where he meets the dysfunctional Patton family. Arun is faced with unlimited freedom and grapples with an alien culture in which his landlord's daughter periodically vomits after meals and Ms. Patton is almost a non-entity in the family.
Ultimately, Anita Desai has established herself as one of India's finest fiction writers. To me, great authors are the ones who can make you keep turning the pages, eager to read the next line although there may be more pressing matters at hand - and Desai fulfills that description....

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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Failed Experiment for Jewel, July 15, 2003
This review is from: 0304 (Audio CD)
by Emily Stoddard, age 15, Sr. Correspondent
I had been highly anticipating Jewel's newest release, 0304, ever since I heard about it earlier in the year. When I actually got a listen and a look at the new Jewel, however, I was shocked by the studio-manufactured sound and a Cosmo-inspired pop look. Hoping that my early observations were misguided, I was still counting on Jewel's 0304. Then the infamous "Intuition" razor commercial. Yes, the same woman who defends her songs as touting anti-commercialism messages actually sells out... to a new razorblade. Jewel was defending her "Intuition" music video's sexualized images as parodies of commercialism, but meanwhile she was profiting from commercialism. The irony of this left me shaking my head in front of the television. My hopes for the forthcoming 0304 were disappearing as quickly as Jewel's devotion to her principles.
Regardless of whether Jewel contradicts herself with her take on commercialism, there is no avoiding the fact that the album lacks substance and musicality. With the arrival of 0304, I could be sure my uncertainty about Jewel's new direction was not based on empty assumptions. The beat of this album not only takes Jewel far from her humble, true-to-self roots, but it also takes listeners to a very different sound.
Time and effort could have been saved if only Jewel and co-producer Lester A. Mendez had double-checked their redundancy. Jewel uses the images of the good guy being bad, street corners, simple girls, and Abercrombie-wearing Americans over and over again to make what is already a cliche point: our society has some issues. While these are issues of concern, Jewel fails to do anything new with them, both in general and within the context of the album. If you want to hear "America," for instance, you only need to hit repeat on "Stand."
Jewel's lyrics read like amateur poetry of a pubescent, angst-driven teenager. In her letter to fans (however many are left after 0304), Jewel promises "a record that [is] lyric-driven." Consider the following from "Fragile Heart": "If u want my heart/U have 2 promise not 2 tear it apart/'Cause my heart/Has been hurt a lot/And it always seems/Love is not sweet, like in dreams." Lyrics like this, which spot 0304, could be considered an insult to Jewel's intelligence.
After all, previous Jewel albums have gifted listeners with interesting perspectives on love and challengenges in the human relationship. Apparently Jewel's new look, doused in pastel and accented by much more skin, is a window into the trite approach Jewel maintains on 0304. The album is redeemed by harsher songs like "Haunted," which has an awkward beginning but settles into a raw sound. "Leave the Lights On" is a unique sound for Jewel, and its simple lyrics are maximized in the framework of a cool band sound. Here too, however, Jewel struggles to make 0304 unique. "Leave the Lights On" is reminiscent of many a Fiona Apple track, leaving fans wishing that Jewel would tap into the unique style that made her a favorite in the first place.
All in all, 0304 is a failed experiment for Jewel. I wouldn't be surprised if the superficial songs ended up as background music for countless cheap romantic comedies. They certainly won't be the background music for me anytime soon, though. I'll count on previous Jewel releases for that, and I'll bet other Jewel fans will do the same.
Copyright 2003

Between Two Junes Is a Forest: A Journal of Everything
Between Two Junes Is a Forest: A Journal of Everything
by Geoffrey Dilenschneider
Edition: Hardcover
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is the Mark of a Gifted Linguist and Talented Writer, July 15, 2003
by Truc Doan, age 15, Teen Editor
Haven't we all wondered at some point what it would be like to see the world through somebody else's eyes? Between Two Junes is a Forest: A Journal of Everything, by Geoffrey Dilenschneider, allows us to do just that - with a twist. The book is written as a year in the life of a poet - not just somebody who writes poetry, but a person who lives, breathes, and sees poetry in whatever he does and wherever he goes.
As I was reading the first chapters of the book, I thought, "This guy can't be for real. Nobody feels this much or thinks this eloquently." The book itself stands apart from the author. Between Two Junes is a Forest does not stray from its purpose: It is the emotional release of a teenage boy who faces his emotions with an acceptance unheard of for teenagers. The essays and poems may be confusing at times because they are not crafted with the eye and precision of a professional set on perfection. They are simply outpourings of one individual in his self-search. It is not Dilenschneider's mission to reveal to the reader some grand societal message behind the subtle metaphors and ironic storylines. This is his truth and these words are the lasting proof of what he has learned.
As always, what readers takes from this heady piece is up to them. They must never forget that the book is written through the perspective of a single lens. I did not agree with some of his opinions, but I can not deny that I admire him for having these opinions and for being able to express them with such precision and grace. It is the mark of gifted linguist and talented writer.
Copyright 2003

Waking Hour
Waking Hour
Price: $11.99
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Messages to Convey and the Talent Too!, June 6, 2003
This review is from: Waking Hour (Audio CD)
by Melisa Goa, Sr. Correspondent, age 17
Mindful of the hundreds of pages I still had to read that night, I reluctantly went to hear Vienna Teng perform one Sunday afternoon in April - only because I had promised my friend who had organized the event that I would come. I planned to be there just long enough to show my support, then slip back to my room to continue my homework. I was so moved, though, that I ended up staying through the entire performance and lingering afterward hoping for more from this extraordinary young singer. I couldn't wait to hear her debut album, Waking Hour, and I was not disappointed when I finally did. Vienna Teng is that rare artist who has both a thoughtful message to convey and the talent to do so eloquently.
The 24-year-old Stanford grad left behind a fast-track career in Silicon Valley to pursue her true passion: music. And we're lucky she did. Teng, who has been writing songs since age six, has a talented, versatile voice that glides effortlessly through her music. Even more refreshing, though, is her candor. Here is a real person, struggling with real issues like the rest of us. Teng's beautifully crafted lyrics come straight from the heart and embrace the uncertainty of life. You will see yourself in the child terrified of a thunderstorm in "Lullabye for a Stormy Night," the girl with an unrequited crush in "Unwritten Letter Number One," and the person peering into her future in "Decade and One." My only complaint is that some of the songs she sang at the performance I attended were not on Waking Hour - but I'll be anxiously awaiting her next album.
Copyright 2003

Price: $15.87
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad Good-byes and Frustrated Anger, April 28, 2003
This review is from: Skorborealis (Audio CD)
by Truc Doan, Teen Editor
A mixture of rock, country and something unearthly, Danielle Howle and the Tantrums' CD Skorborealis gives you a feeling of relaxation and deep sadness. The instrumental rhythm of the different songs makes for a perfect addition to Howle's languid voice. The drumbeats to "Sneaky A.M." are the perfect and necessary background to the song's hopeful and strong lyrics. Howle and the Tantrums have created a great compilation of sad good-byes and frustrated anger.
The song that touched me the most was "Big Puffy Girl Handwriting" where the lines: "...Go on and have your weddings/Of big lettered invitations/Don't forget to invite Barbie/And all of your best creations..." made me smile and turn the song louder. It was the sarcastic, dry words of an almost-cynic that hit close to home for me.
Skorborealis is an album to put on when you need a good variety of music that isn't really that different at all. Being snapshots of everyday life, the songs are not meant to be huge political or social statements. They are just descriptions of an ordinary life, but the descriptions are so eloquent and elegant, that the songs in themselves are not ordinary at all.
While the song "Swamp Song" grows slowly like grass overnight, "Subclassic" jumps right in with a wicked guitar rip. The slow tunes of "Soft White China Patterns" sent chills up my spine while "Hello Kitty" made me want to get up and grab a microphone to jam along. There's something mystical about the songs that made me think of summer and fireflies. What does that mean?
Let's just say that summer and fireflies are a good combination.
copyright 2003

Shattered: Stories of Children and War
Shattered: Stories of Children and War
by Dian Curtis Regan
Edition: Hardcover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse, Compassionate and Important Look at Children & War, April 7, 2003
by Dianna Hunter English, age 20
"The juxtaposition of youth and war haunts me. They say war isn't an appropriate subject for young people, and you know what? I agree. But war doesn't care. That's why I decided to put this book together." -Jennifer Armstrong
Shattered is a thoughtful and moving look at an all too timely topic: war. Editor Jennifer Armstrong has compiled a wide variety of short stories about the wartime experiences of children. A young Palestinian daughter flees to Jordan with her family during the Six-Day War in 1967. A young girl nicknamed Jacket helps hide her best friend's older brother when he is a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Lewis Bowman, a young Mohawk, fights with the Union army during the American Civil War. Zack struggles with his American background during a 1992 "golpe de estado" in Latin America. A family of children faces the devastating effects of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Two children struggle to find safety in Israel after surviving Auschwitz.
This book treats children's experiences with respect. Many of the authors speak from their own memories, and those authors writing fiction capture the intensity, the vulnerability, and the strength of childhood. I have to admit that at first the titled worried me. It is very easy to reduce children to their worst experiences and to neglect other aspects of their human identities so that their suffering is easier for others to process. However, this book's articulation of the perspective of children is honest, and for the most part it succeeds in being authentic. It is moving and, as it should be, troubling.
Given the reality of conflict that we currently face, it is vital to remember the devastation of war, and the destruction of life that is left in its wake. Children are not safeguarded from that violence. Armstrong has succeeded in creating a diverse, compassionate, and important look at children and war.

Talk to Me Like Autumn
Talk to Me Like Autumn
by Rae Marcus
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knocks the Breath Out of You, March 2, 2003
This review is from: Talk to Me Like Autumn (Paperback)
by Truc Doan, Teen Editor
"... she buries dead flowers/ in the garden/ at dusk/ and then dances/ barefoot on the thorny soil/ as if no one is looking/ as if she is free..." -"Calliope," Rae Marcus
In Talk to Me Like Autumn, Marcus gives us a collection of poems that are all about emotion. They speak about the moment and how eternal that moment can be. Some of the poems are subtle, others are written shouts. There are many times when the last line of one of the poems knocks the breath out of you. In poems like "Lucifer's Pillows," Marcus gives us doses of painful nostalgia, while in poems like "talk to me like autumn," she creates smooth imagery that soothes the soul.
Although some of the situations may not be the same, the utter feeling behind them leaves you with a sense of déjà vu. No, we may not have experienced what the speaker of the poem has experienced, but we have felt the same emotions. To make us realize this, and to do it so naturally, is quite a feat. Talk to Me Like Autumn is the kind of collection you should read every few years in order to experience the emotions you've forgotten all over again. Some of the poems need to be read aloud so that the taste can bounce off your tongue, while others need to be read silently so that the thought behind them can sink into your mind.
There are some poems, however, that have a bitter (almost humorous) reality to them. The last line of "The Poem That Got me in Trouble in Social Studies" had me laughing, while "Tiptoes" had me shocked and waiting. One of the things that make poems so good is their honesty, and believe me, Talk to Me Like Autumn is full of honesty...

How It Is
How It Is
Price: $15.43
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoky, Impassioned Voice, March 2, 2003
This review is from: How It Is (Audio CD)
by Mary Zachmeyer, Teen Editor
It took me three tries to get this singer and songwriter's name typed in correctly to track down her web site. But it was worth the frustration because from the first short track on Holly's CD, 'How it is', I was intrigued. The mystery grew when the second track hit, and I heard her voice.
Figueroa sounds like a healthy mix of Alanis Morrisette and a touch of the Cranberries-she has the smoky, impassioned voice most singers can only dream of. Her song writing talents, too, are of a caliber that even popular songwriters have trouble achieving.
Figueroa's lyrics are so simple, but when mixed with her powerful voice and the undercurrent of instruments ranging from an electric guitar to an acoustic or a banjo, it just overwhelms with the blues feeling that listeners can be sure to enjoy.
Take, for example, the lyrics from the third track, "Hold On": "I promise I'll be worth it someday/If you can hold on/ We struggle with the lessons but/We are not holy we are human and fallible we are/ Small and petty/But lessons are lessons and we learn from them or repeat our mistakes." The sixth track on the CD, "Scary" is another amazing song: "I only give you a little bit in doses/But I haven't got the dosage right cause you keep spitting me out/Does it really scare you so much/I didn't do anything you didn't ask for/Did I take in the air with such force that you wished I would stop breathing?"
Interestingly enough, this CD release was funded solely by pre-sales from Figueroa's fans and her grassroots organizations, and it's easy to hear and understand why.
Copyright 2003

Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the End of the World
Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the End of the World
by Yang Erche Namu
Edition: Hardcover
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovingly crafted tribute to enchanting Moso culture, February 9, 2003
by Melisa Gao, Sr. Correspondent
Leaving Mother Lake is the autobiographical account of a girl coming of age as a Moso, an ethnic minority that lives in the Himalayas in southwestern China. In the Moso culture, women hold an honored place, and families are matrilineal. Yet young Yang Erche Namu feels trapped by society's expectations of her. As she grows into a strong-willed young woman, she decides to leave the Moso to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. Forsaking her ties to her family and her people, Namu relies on her own determination and resourcefulness to brave the unforgiving world. But Namu is caught between two ways of life, and this struggle eventually becomes the focus of the story.
Namu, now a famous singer, wrote this memoir with the help of Christine Mathieu, an expert on the Moso people and their history. The authors' passion for this story and for the Moso people resonates with every sentence. Moso traditions and beliefs are a departure from almost any we encounter in today's world, and the book is worth reading for that reason alone. Leaving Mother Lake is a lovingly crafted tribute to this enchanting but little-known culture, with all its legend and lore.
Namu and Mathieu use wonderful details to paint a picture of the Moso people and their home. "Red granite and evergreen forests towered over the meadow, and peaks like saw teeth pierced the blue sky, slicing through feathery clouds - ridge after ridge, and as far as I could see," they write. "The air was so pure, so still, so empty of familiar smells and sounds that I might have become frightened if I had not been overwhelmed by so much wild beauty" (80). This calm beauty of the Moso villages later contrasts the rowdiness of the city streets Namu will visit.
Despite its unique setting, the themes of Leaving Mother Lake reach effortlessly across cultural differences. We laugh and cry with our heroine, and we identify with her feelings of confinement and longing. Leaving Mother Lake is primarily a book about love, loyalty, duty, and desire. That Namu and Mathieu can convey these emotions across the vast cultural differences is a testament to their storytelling abilities; their use of exquisite imagery and rich description make the story all the more enjoyable.
Copyright 2003, Blue Jean Online

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