Author Love: Shawn Goodman

I’m kicking off a new feature on my blog called Author Love which I created to spotlight authors I love and think others will love as well. I have some great authors lined up for this feature! This will be a way for me to discuss each author’s group of titles, link to my reviews, feature a quote from each other, etc.

Author Love

I’m excited to feature Shawn Goodman in my very first Author Love post!

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Reasons I love Shawn Goodman…

  • He writes about troubled characters while still offering glimmers of hope.
  • He’s a school psychologist who actively works to enhance student literacy.
  • His characters are unique, well-developed, and ones I care about long after finishing their story.
  • My reluctant readers gravitate to his books and ask for more when they finish.
  • His books are engaging, quick reads that are hard to put down.

My question for Shawn (and all Author Love authors): “Why do you love writing for teens?”

“I love writing for teens because they don’t care who I am, or where I come from. They care about whether or not it’s a good story, and if it makes them think and feel. I think teens are able to let themselves go into a story without a whole lot of judgment or preconceived ideas. And when a book works, there’s this amazing, powerful relationship between two complete strangers: the reader, and the writer.”

Shawn Goodman’s Books:

Something Like HopeTitle: Something Like Hope (My review)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 28th, 2010
Summary (From Goodreads):

17-year-old Shavonne has been in juvenile detention since the seventh grade. Mr Delpopolo is the first counselor to treat her as an equal, and he helps her get to the bottom of her self-destructive behavior, her guilt about past actions, and her fears about leaving the Center when she turns 18. Shavonne tells him the truth about her crack-addicted mother, the child she had (and gave up to foster care) at fifteen, and the secret shame she feels about what she did to her younger brother after her mother abandoned them.

Meanwhile, Shavonne’s mentally unstable roommate Cinda makes a rash move, and Shavonne’s quick thinking saves her life—and gives her the opportunity to get out of the Center if she behaves well. But Shavonne’s faith is tested when her new roommate, mentally retarded and pregnant Mary, is targeted by a guard as a means to get revenge on Shavonne. As freedom begins to look more and more likely, Shavonne begins to believe that maybe she, like the goslings recently hatched on the Center’s property, could have a future somewhere else—and she begins to feel something like hope.

This is a brutally honest, but hopeful story of finding yourself and moving beyond your past.

Kindness for WeaknessTitle: Kindness for Weakness (My review)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Summary (From the publisher):

“In the spirit of [Walter Dean Myers’s] Monster meeting  The Catcher in the Rye, Goodman’s masterful story will remain with the reader long after the last page, echoing the raw truth that perhaps a real man is one who is both brave and scared.” —Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray

In an environment where kindness equals weakness, how do those who care survive?

Shawn Goodman will capture your heart with this gritty, honest, and moving story about a boy struggling to learn about friendship, brotherhood, and manhood in a society where violence is the answer to every problem.

 

 

To read about more fabulous authors, check out Jillian’s Author Spotlight on… feature on her blog, Heise Reads & Recommends.

I Wish These Books Had Sequels

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about books we wish have sequels.  I’m surprised this list was so hard to compile considering how often I finish a book and think, “What? It’s done? I need more!”  Thankfully I was able to come up with ten books that need sequels.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller–I simply want more from this book.  I’m happy with the ending, but I LOVE this story and am being selfish by wanting more.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann–What the heck happened with that ending?! There should be at least a few more pages, if not an entire sequel.

The List by Siobhan Vivian–Too much happened in a short book that took place in a short time span. Another book would be just fine.

Easy by Tammara Webber–Book. Hangover. I still want more of this story and the characters.

Every Day by David Levithan–The ending left me feeling cheated. There really should be a sequel.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney–This is just me being selfish again.

 

Warped by Maurissa Guibord–It’s been a long time since I’ve read this so I can’t remember exactly why I think there should be a sequel. If I remember correctly, there’s an open ending that made it feel like a sequel is possible. Plus, I really love this book.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt–I just want to make sure Carley is doing okay.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell–If you’ve read this book, then you understand why this is on my list.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman–I’m just a little confused about the ending.  It’s not exactly clear what happens to the main character.

Review: Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman

Kindness for WeaknessTitle: Kindness for Weakness

Author: Shawn Goodman

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 14th, 2013

Interest: Author / Contemporary / Guy Appeal

Source: ARC received from the author

Summary (From the publisher):

“In the spirit of [Walter Dean Myers’s] Monster meeting  The Catcher in the Rye, Goodman’s masterful story will remain with the reader long after the last page, echoing the raw truth that perhaps a real man is one who is both brave and scared.” —Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray

In an environment where kindness equals weakness, how do those who care survive?

Shawn Goodman will capture your heart with this gritty, honest, and moving story about a boy struggling to learn about friendship, brotherhood, and manhood in a society where violence is the answer to every problem.

Shawn Goodman’s sophomore release, Kindness for Weakness, made me feel an array of emotions: hope, grief, dismay, and more.  I absolutely loved Something Like Hope, so when I featured Kindness for Weakness on Waiting on Wednesday, Shawn offered to send me an ARC of it.  I had requested a copy via NetGalley, and hadn’t received a response yet, so I accepted his kind offer.  Regardless of how I received a copy of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to offer it to my students.

What I like most about Shawn Goodman’s writing is how honest and real it is.  He works with troubled kids as a school psychologist and it’s evident in his writing.  He really understands what teens are going through and how much they suffer.  He understands what a bad home life can do to a teen.  He knows how difficult it is for troubled teens to trust themselves and others.  The characters in Something Like Hope and Kindness for Weakness display this deep understanding.

James is a character I cheered for while reading.  He’s really trying to find his way and learn what it means to be a man, to stand up himself, and how to trust himself and those around him.  His mom is basically absent, her boyfriend Ron is abusive, and his brother isn’t the best role model.  Thankfully James has an encouraging English teacher, but he’s really the only supportive person James has at the beginning of the story.  He has so much potential if only he believed himself and had support outside of school.  James’s character made me think of students I have at school.  He’s a good kid that’s stuck in a bad situation and ultimately makes poor choices because of this.  The reader, fortunately, can see his potential and goodness even if James can’t.

I had a difficult time reading this because of the guards at Morton (the juvenile detention facility).  They are brutal and horrible.  There are some shining characters there like Samson and Mr. Eboue who really make a difference for James and some of the other characters.  I hope the brutality at Morton is an exception and not the rule, but part of me thinks that’s not the case.  I have had students like James and like the other characters in Kindness for Weakness.  They may make bad decisions, but I know they need guidance and someone to believe in them.  I don’t work in a detention facility so I can’t understand what that’s like, but the teacher in me hopes they can and are better than Morton.  The setting Shawn Goodman created in Kindness for Weakness really plays a pivotal role in the book.

I will admit that I had a difficult time keeping all of the characters straight and probably could have done without a couple of them.  Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The last few chapters had me racing to finish, but also cringing at the brutality.  The ending, however, shocked me.  I’m not sure what to think, and even though I was upset, the ending works.  I’m even tempted to read The Sea Wolf by Jack London which plays a strong part in James’s development and the development of the story.

Kindness for Weakness definitely has a place in classrooms and libraries.  I highly recommend reading it and handing it to a teen reader.

Waiting on Wednesday–Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

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I really, really loved Shawn Goodman’s debut Something Like Hope, so I’m really, really excited about his sophomore release Kindness for Weakness.  His passion for helping teens stands out in his writing and really resonated with me.  I know the summary for this book is sparse, but it’s still intriguing.

Kindness for WeaknessTitle & Author: Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman

Release Date: May 14th, 2013

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary (From Goodreads): One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Catcher in the Rye.

A fifteen-year-old boy from an abusive home desperately seeking his older brother’s love and approval starts pushing drugs for him and suffers the consequences.

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