Book review: You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery, by Jen Petro-Roy

Petro-Roy. Jen. You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery. Feiwel and Friend,. 2019. 283p. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-250-15102-5. Ages 13+. P7Q8

This self-help book from an eating disorder survivor defines these disorders, explains types of treatments, and gives such assistance as cognitive reframing and relaxation. Petro-Roy provides personal experiences with research and interviews with both professionals and those who have experienced these problems.

Verdict: The style is conversational and accessible for people searching for solutions to personal problems in this area. Although the audience is teenagers, adults can also benefit from this guide, and professionals dealing with the subject can also find it useful.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.


Book review: Locked in Ice: Nansen’s Daring Quest for the North Pole, by Peter Lourie

Lourie, Peter. Locked in Ice: Nansen’s Daring Quest for the North Pole. Holt, 2019. $19.99. 316p. ISBN 978-1-250-13764-7. Ages 12-15. P4Q7

In 1893, a Norwegian scientist, Fridtjob Nansen, took a crew of 13 men and 28 dogs in an attempt to reach the North Pole. During the three-year journey, he came closer than anyone else—274 miles—and his dream was not undisputedly achieved by land until over 70 years later in 1968. When Nansen realized that his ship could not get the pole, he and Hjalmar Johansen set out on foot in March 1895 and traveled for over a year until returning home in August 1896. The ship with its crew joined him soon after, but all the dogs had been lost long before. Copious use of historic photographs, primary sources, and end materials that even include a list of the equipment taken on the ship and the names and weights of all the dogs gives a feel for the trip.

Verdict: The sepia ink and traditional fonts give a dated look to the book, and the detailed maps are difficult to read. The extensive details in the book are useful for the curious who find them interesting but slow down the reading for those searching for adventure.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors get Real about Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America, edited by Amy Reed

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors get Real about Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America. Ed. by Amy Reed. Simon Pulse, 2018. $18.99. 288p. ISBN 978-1-5344-0899-9. Ages 13+. P7Q8

The non-fiction narratives from these women across the generations—many of them members of ethnic and sexual minorities—related their struggles to survive in a hostile environment, sometimes both within their own homes and within the communities where they lived when they were young. Each one ends with explanations of their survival processes and encouragement for their readers to move forward and fight back against oppression. Because, or perhaps in addition to, their minority status, many also discussed the devastation of the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president and how his position has changed their cultures for the worse. One of the most outstanding statements comes from Aisha Saeed, bullied and persecuted while she was growing up as a Muslim. Her mother-in-law taught her “that I am not defined by what others think of me.” As Saeed pointed out, the lesson is not a panacea against pain but it allows her to move on.

Verdict: Powerful and heartfelt yet diverse, these intersectional essays from authors of books that speak to young people give insight into the ways that youth can change the world. Recommended.

March 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Underneath It All: A History of Women’s Underwear, by Amber J. Keyser

Keyser, Amber J. Underneath It All: A History of Women’s Underwear. Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner. 2018. $37.32. 94p. ISBN 9781512425314. Ages 12-15. P7Q8

As Keyser writes, “The history of clothing is a history of difference,” and nothing may demonstrate this difference more than undergarments for men and women. Far more than a description of how women’s clothing changed throughout the centuries, it reveals societal expectations of females from the time when they wore no underwear so that men would have control over them through the time that women had highly restrictive undergarments for the same purpose. In the patriarchal societies, they were forced into discomfort and “limited mobility” in the mandates to please males and keep their second-class role. Because of these demands and the desire for oil, over two million whales were killed in two centuries, a culture that shifted when petroleum removed the need for whale oil. Corsets shifted to stays of steel, and women were liberated only when the steel was required for building ships in World War I; eliminating corsets built an entire battleship. Keyser finishes the book with the current expressive fashions of women’s underwear. Plentiful colored illustrations, photographs, and black and white drawings add to the highly accessible text.

Verdict: The feminist perspective of women’s fashion throughout the ages gives a new history for young people about women’s repression and their occasional escape in a fascinating, well-illustrated book. Recommended for all libraries for youth.

March 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson

Johnson, Steven. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World. Viking. 2018. $19.99. 152p. ISBN 9780-425-28778-1. Ages 12-15. P7Q9

Those who live in comfortable settings rarely reflect on the creative minds that give us warmth, technology, and safety plus clean food and water. The chapters in this book following the history of science—Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time, and Light—trace these subjects back to prehistoric times to connect the dots of discoveries leading to electricity, health, and other advantages that give security.

Verdict: About the adult version of this book, satirist and writer, Jon Stewart stated, “An unbelievable book … It’s an innovative way to talk about history.” Johnson’s fascinating connections are similar to the twists of mystery plots, and this adaptation for young readers may lead some of them to the original for adults, published in 2016.

March 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction. Scholastic, 2018. $14.99. 310p. ISBN 978-0-545-90248-9. Ages 12+. P8Q9

The creator of the well-known graphic series Lunch Lady uses a graphic narrative to write a painful memoir of his childhood, first living with his drug-addicted mother then with his grandparents. The couple struggles to get along with each other, but they both love him, shielding him from the fact that his mother is frequently in rehab or prison. Kroscozka doesn’t know his biological father’s name is until he needs his birth certificate to go on a ski trip. Although his life has shadows, Kroscozka manages an almost normal life through his drawings and close friendship with a neighbor boy. Energetic ink drawings with shades of gray and orange add to the emotions of the author’s words. An Author’s Note fills in the blanks of his life, and A Note on the Art describes the sources for some of his art.

Verdict: This honest memoir displays self-reliance and survival during a painful childhood that leads to a successful, happy adult life with an understanding of flawed people. An important addition to both graphic narrative and adolescent memoirs.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, by Box Brown

Brown, Box. Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman. First Second, 2018. $19.99. 260p. ISBN 978-1-626-72316-0. Ages 16+. P5Q6

Best known as Lafka in the television sitcom Taxi, Andy Kaufman also made his name as a stand-up comedian. His obsession with wrestling combined with his need to make people dislike him led to fame during his short life. Kaufman’s pretense as a lounge singer Tony Clifton and his practical jokes caused people to boycott his real funeral because they thought he was pulling another joke on them. As in Andre the Giant, Brown laboriously tracks his career and detailed conversations between Kaufman and Jerry Lawler in following the Memphis (TN) professional wrestling scene.

Verdict: Filled with trivia, this graphic biography for adults becomes tedious and Kaufman is not a likable subject.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.