Posts tagged ‘mirandakenneally’

July 8th, 2011

Characters I’d Name My Sons After

by Madeleine Rex

The second installment in baby name posts! As I said before in my previous post, Characters I’d Name My Daughters After, I stole this idea from Audrey over at holes In My brain (a blog you should definitely read even if you don’t care what we want to name our children).

Characters I’d Name My Sons After:

Walter Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series. Yet again another Anne character I actually intend to name a child after. I know Walter might not appear to be the most… attractive name to begin with, but read the books. Read the books and love them. Walter Blythe is someone I have a particular connection to – I love him so much. I can’t say more without revealing his fate, but he’s absolutely, unarguably inspiring.

Jem is also one of Anne Shirley’s sons. I’m not planning on naming a child after him because that would be overkill, but I love the name. It’s short for James, obviously, but the nickname is so endearing. He’s a brave, silly, and fantastic little boy who grows into an even more valiant and impressive young man.

Henry from Miranda Kenneally’s upcoming Catching Jordan. I love Henry. He’s beautiful with all his flaws and quirks. He’s the sort of character that immediately feels like a best friend you would love to have in real life, and sometimes it kills me that these fantastic characters can never love me back. Henry’s a gem folks, and I can’t wait for you all to have the opportunity to read Catching Jordan!

Wes from The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (Review). The Truth About Forever was the first Dessen book I read, and I can assure you that Wes makes that book. Even amidst the terribly fun cast of the book, he stands out as the sort of boy any girl would be thrilled to have. I think he prompted me to say sa-wooon for the first time in my life. Need I say anything more?

Linden from Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Review). This name is so odd and beautiful at the same time. Plus, there are these mysterious undertones to it in my ears due to the mysterious nature of his character. I never know what to think of him, but I do know that I’m inclined to like him. You all need to read it and tell me what you think!

May 16th, 2011

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Published: January 1st, 2011

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5


Love is all you need…or is it? Penny’s about to find out in this wonderful debut.
Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows – no more. It’s a personal choice…and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born; The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways…which is too bad, because there’s this certain boy she can’t help but like… [From Goodreads]


I tried to remember what Rita had said about being a bigger person. I could either calmly tell him that he was mistaken or let him have it. I could be the bigger person or I could be like any normal sixteen-year-old.

Like there really was a choice.

“First off, you ever call me a babe again and no medical team on earth will be able to tell that you were once a guy.”

I was only sixteen after all.


A friend of mine (who is probably one of the most mentioned people on my blog), Miranda Kenneally, recommended The Lonely Hearts Club. I think she knew it was the sort of quaint, unusual story that would interest me. She was right.

The Lonely Hearts Club as a title alone is adorable – after all, who can resist the Beatles? – but it’s really the premise that I think attracts teenage girls. How often do we read about girls in undesirable relationships or stuck in awkward situations because of guys? How often do we hear/read about/see girls pining after boys who are actually total nimrods? And the girls are oblivious?


And along comes a book about girls who are avoiding said awkward and undesirable situations. What’s not to love? The Lonely Hearts Club is interesting and other boring adjectives of the sort (please excuse my lack of creativity), but ultimately, it’s charming.

Penny Lane Bloom (don’t you just feel the love?) is the ideal protagonist. Feminist but not obnoxiously so, determined, and a teenage girl who has had her fair share of heartbreak and crushes, she’s the sort of person girls my age look up to. I loved reading about the actions she takes to rid herself of those demons she believes are disguised as high school boys. Meanwhile, she unearths a terrible truth – they’re not all that bad. I always enjoy characters whose philosophies are forced to change over the course of the story. I do believe in standards and belief systems, but certain opinions can morph into stubborn prejudices. I admire characters who remain open to other possibilities.

The supporting characters – a majority of which are girls, understandably – are lively and diverse. The two who play a major part in the story are Tracy and Diane, Penny’s closest friends. I loved that these three did their very best to discover the best qualities in the others and help them to nourish and develop those qualities. In fact, that’s what the whole club is about – girls coming together, standing by one another, and working toward the shared goal of happier lives for all. The greatest thing about this scenario is that Elizabeth Eulberg pulls it off without being overly preachy and thereby turning the reader off. I wanted to join!

Clearly, I adored the key concepts of the novel, but there were a few factors that lowered my final rating, namely the prose and some paths the story took. I often found myself unsurprised by the way certain events played out or the actions of particular characters. Sometimes, characters are predictable because they are always in character. Other times, it’s just colorless. People are infamously inconsistent.

In regard to the prose, there was a particular pet peeve of mine present in the book that soured the reading experience for me. Two pet peeves, actually. Eulberg tended to summarize events that had passed. I understand that not everything deserves a full-blown scene, but I felt that the summaries jumped off the page and screamed, well, “Summary!” The other peeve of mine is the overuse of words like “started” and “began.” These two things impede the flow of a sentence, and I end up having to reread them. Aside from these minor annoyances, I have no complaints about the book.

When I finished, I immediately moved on to Eulberg’s Prom and Prejudice. She has a talent for adorably out-of-the-ordinary premises. I’m eager to see what ingenious idea she’ll scrounge up next!

The Lonely Hearts Club is a charming and darling book. I’d recommend it to anyone, but I especially hope a lot of teenage girls pick it up. It’s a story of empowerment on our level – we can all relate to the mess the girls find themselves in and learn from the way they band together to create a web of friendships that really is extraordinary.

April 26th, 2011

I was born in 1995

by Madeleine Rex

I am not under the impression that any of you are creating a timeline of my life or writing a paper on me. My purpose in stating the year I was born is to remind you that I am the teenager of today. Going to high school five days of the week, talking with and texting teenagers, and drowning in the glory of overactive hormones and a swarm of young people with the worries/sense of invincibility/insecurities we read about makes me an insider.

I know that adults are constantly saying things along the lines of, “I remember when I was your age…” but that’s not all that’s required to write a young adult novel. You might remember an event or experience, but you, admittedly, did not experience it in 2010 or 2009. Prom in 1988 is different than prom now, despite the fact that the major characteristics are the same.

Miranda Kenneally, who is still young, once asked me what kids my age call a record store. And I said, “Um… a record store?” When I read a draft of one of her books, though, I came across an instant in which the main character mentions seeing someone’s underwear. My eyes bugged out of my head for a moment before I realized she meant undershirt.

I can promise anyone my age would have spit their Sprite all over that page if they’d read that the main character could see the guy’s underwear while he was leaning against his locker. And the reader probably would have blushed, too.

There are little differences between generations. Even those minor differences can help loads when it comes to making stories and characters easily relatable to the audience (people my age). Sarah Enni posted about this last week, and made many great points. I commented and left a short list of things that have struck me as slightly off or outdated and a few things that I think many people would assume were before my generation but are actually talked about. Here’s the comment:

You’re pretty much spot-on, although I think a lot of people my age have a hazy remembrance of 9/11. I remember walking into the living room on the morning before my second day of kindergarten and finding my mother standing in front of the TV, eyes glued to a building going down. I think lots of people my age feel some sort of connection to it (though I could be wrong). Also: We watched the version of Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio in it, and girls *were* drooling. One person people bring up all the time is Justin Timberlake, but I hear practically nothing about him. 😀

There are a few things I see in books that don’t strike true (and sometimes my adult friends will come to me with questions as they write, trying to verify). For example:

1. We (meaning the people I talk to at MY high school) don’t say “cell”. Often, we don’t even say “cell phone”, unless we’re asking if someone has one or what we’re saying could truly mistakenly be applied to a home phone. Most of the time we just call it “phone”.

2. There are names that creep up in a lot of YA books these days that I hardly ever hear. It’d be hard to list all of them, but there are many.

3. People do talk about politics. And the economy. They tend to sound like they’re regurgitating their parents views (and they are often pretty liberal, at least here). However, people get really worked up over it. Even in middle school during the last election, Obama’s face and name were *everywhere*.

4. OJ is still brought up occasionally. Michael Jackson is still brought up all the time. And almost everyone’s seen Titanic at least once.

5. We sometimes mention Blue’s Clues. And Elmo. And The Cookie Monster.

6. We don’t wear skirts over jeans. Ever.

7. Don’t forget Jamba Juice! It’s not all Starbucks.

I realize that these details might seem insignificant, but they’re the ones that stand out to me as I read. Particularly the overuse of “cells” and the occasional character who wears skirts over jeans. I never see that.

Although I understand that particular characters are unique and might break a generalized rule, I wanted to make the point that the details do not go unnoticed by the target audience. It’s like being ripped out of a dreamworld when the reader comes across something that feels off. Suddenly, we’re distanced from the situation or character, simply because we’ve remembered that what we’re reading is fiction. It’s our job as writers to sustain the illusion.