Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (NY: HarperTeen, 2011).
Shy Helen Hamilton leads an isolated life on Nantucket with her dad. She keeps to herself except for her long-time friend Claire and a few others--the ones who don't think she's weird. She feels weird most of the time, too tall, too strong, too everything. She just wants to hide. Then a new family moves onto the island and suddenly things get even weirder. Helen is having vivid dreams about blood-weeping crones out in a desert and is hearing incessant murmurs and noise. Worse, she makes a fool of herself at school when she tries to strangle new boy Lucas Delos, and she can't even explain why she hates him so much since she had never set eyes on him. Her usual defenses are breaking down and her isolated life no longer seems possible as she has to decipher the meaning of the dreams and Lucas's crucial role in her destiny, a destiny she had no idea she would have to face so soon.
Angelini spins an excellent tale, rife with romance of epic proportions. There are a few loose ends that bothered me, however. First, Helen has no clue that she's beautiful, which seems pretty impossible. She's supposed to have the most beautiful face in the world, yet she needs Lucas (among others) to point it out. And she thinks the other kids at her school consider her ugly? Nonsensical. Second, Helen and Lucas solve the issue of the muttering fates a bit too readily, to the point where the decree of the Fates seems too easily dismissed. Hello, Fate is supposed to be unavoidable, as in not something that can be changed. Helen and Lucas can't get around some of their fate, but once they manage the first bit, it seems more likely they'll find another loophole (in the sequel, no doubt). Third, Helen has a necklace given to her by her mother that she's worn all her life, and all of a sudden she notices that everyone sees it as something different. Unlikely! There are some details about Helen's mother that are irksome as well, but for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won't go into them. In any event, they didn't spoil the novel for me; I enjoyed the story a lot, especially the romance between Helen and Lucas. Yes, it's somewhat cliched, but it's still a thrill ride, and they have to battle all sorts of obstacles. This is an excellent choice for fans of Riordan's Percy Jackson series who want their mythology mixed with a bit more love and lust. Recommended for ages 13 & up.
More in reading aloud - http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/reading-aloud-kids-important/ Just to follow up, here is a post from KQ, Knowledge Quest, a publication of AASL, the Ameri...
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