This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Powers - book review

Khosi is a fourteen year old South African girl living under the shadow of AIDS. Everywhere she turns there are signs, warnings and people dying from the disease. Some superstitious people believe that it is a curse. Everyday men make disgusting comments to Khosi and a ‘witch’ in her neighborhood is taunting her.

But Khosi is a regular teenage girl, focused on regular teenage thoughts: a cute boy, her education and her future. Set in modern day, many of the villagers hold on to old cultural customs, creating an interesting science vs. religion/culture conflict. This conflict would make for excellent discussion within the classroom. However, This Thing Called the Future is not a book for ‘light’ reading. Mature readers and advanced students could handle this topic, but most students would benefit from teacher direction. There are great themes and interdisciplinary opportunities within this story. Recommended for high school library purchase.

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Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: High School
Pages: 208
Themes: Coming of age, Science Vs. Religion, South African culture
Character Development: Very well drawn in main character, somewhat stereotypical in some characters
Plot Engagement: Not plot driven. Focus on coming of age for one girl.
Originality: Good cultural depiction on AIDS epidemic in South Africa
Thank you to author J. L. Powers for my review copy
Advisory: Sexual Situations
Publisher: Cinco Puntas Press
Date: May 2011
ISBN: 978-1933693958

BUY This Thing Called the Future HERE

Great teacher lesson ideas and background on the culture: HERE

J.L. Powers has taught African history and writing at a variety of universities and community colleges and is semi-proficient in three languages. She loves to travel and has a husband and a son. You can read more about the author on her website: HERE


© 2007-2011 Cheryl Vanatti for
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Runner by Carl Deuker - book review

I very rarely buy class sets of books for students without first having read them, but I bought a class set of Runner by Carl Deuker on a whim with some spare cash left from last year’s budget. I read it over the summer and was a bit worried because the conclusion is sad (and a bit cheesy). However, today, as I passed through one of my 8th grade classrooms, the teacher was singing its praises and the students were enthralled. I’ll be excited to see how they feel about the ending……

Synopsis: Chance Taylor is a high school senior who lives on an old dilapidated houseboat in Puget Sound with his alcoholic father. Chance gets the opportunity to make some money when a man notices him running around the pier and docks and approaches him about delivering some packages during his run. It doesn’t take long for Chance to figure out that something fishy is happening at the pier (oh…. such a bad pun, but too easy :-). Throw in a cute girl, a terrorist threat and a climactic ending and you’ve got an exciting read for all readers, reluctant readers especially.

Jay Asher interview at School Library Journal

Ever since I read Thirteen Reasons Why, I have been obsessed with it. I recommend it to everyone and wrote extensively about it HERE. Well, author Jay Asher finally has a new book coming out. Here's the scoop on School Library Journal:  Check out the interview here


© 2007-2011 Cheryl Vanatti for
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