Hating Heidi Foster Is Heartbreakingly Compelling…

ImageSometimes you read a book that stays with you for a long while. You think about the characters and their fates, what they’ve learned through the course of their emotional journey. Hating Heidi Foster by Jeffrey Blount is one such book. The deceptively slim book packs major emotional punch.

Hating Heidi Foster is a YA novel about friendship and what happens when one selfless act destroys what was considered by all to be an unshakeable, unbreakable bond. Mae McBride and Heidi Foster have been friends for as long as they both can remember. Even in high school, everyone thinks of them as being joined at the hip. All that changes when Mae’s father dies while saving Heidi’s life. A distraught Mae cannot forgive her father for leaving her and for saving Heidi instead of saving himself. As Mae’s anger intensifies and consumes her every waking moment, Heidi’s own guilt eats away at her, breaking her down physically and mentally. Heidi longs for Mae’s friendship again but Mae–unable to forgive and forget–cannot see past what losing her father has done to her and her family. Is there any way these girls can find their way back to friendship?

If I were still teaching, Hating Heidi Foster would be required reading for all of my students. This chronicle of the trials and tribulations of what can divide and ultimately reunite friends was powerful and beautifully written. Don’t be fooled by the slimness of the book; the emotional complexity of the novel and the pitch-perfect way it handles the ups and downs of being a teenager and how grief and anger affect each person differently…just read it. And then give it to your teenage daughter or niece or cousin.

You won’t be disappointed. Hating Heidi Foster is a definite must-read.

A new take on a fairy tale: Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a page-turner

ImageAs much as I love stories about dystopian societies, it’s not very often that I read them. Then I saw the cover for Cinder and I was intrigued. I asked around and then one of the staff at Science Fiction Bokhandeln in Gamla Stan told me he was convinced I ought to read it. He’d read an advance copy and was hooked. Needless to say, I was even more intrigued. And I have to say–he wasn’t wrong.

Cinder is based on the fairytale, Cinderella. Instead of being set a long time ago in a far away land, Cinder takes place in New Beijing, the capital city of Eastern Commonwealth, after World War IV. Cinder is a cyborg and, because of her non-human status, she is seen as a second-class citizen. She has no rights and is considered the property of her legal guardian, Adri, and her daughters, Peony and Pearl. She earns money for the family through her work as a mechanic at a stall in the local marketplace. One day, the Crown Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, Prince Kai, shows up at Cinder’s market stall and asks if she can repair his android. Later, when Cinder’s step-sister, Peony, contracts the plague, which has claimed thousands of victims in New Beijing and for which there is no cure, Cinder’s guardian blames Cinder and “volunteers” her for research. From that point forward, Cinder and Prince Kai become intertwined–by the threat of war and by a forbidden attraction.

Though Cinder is YA fiction, it is a novel that will appeal to people of all ages. It’s a real page-turner that is full of intrigues and just enough romance to keep you hooked. I finished reading Cinder last night and I’m already longing for the next book in the series. So if you like your sci-fi with a fairy tale twist and a dash of romance, you need to read Cinder. You won’t be disappointed.