Book Review – Also Known as Lard Butt

 IMG_3451A Teen’s Past Comes Back to Haunt Her

Also Known as Lard Butt, by Ann Herrick is about a young girl’s attempts to flee from her grade school nickname, “lard butt,” and remake her image as she enters junior high school. When Ricky, the progenitor of the “lard butt” moniker moved away, Laura thought she would finally shed the nickname that hangs like an albatross around her neck. But, as the story opens, Laura learns that Ricky is back. Will he revive the name that tormented her for years?

Laura is determined to bloom and that means keeping anyone at her new school from hearing about the nickname. She must figure out how to protect the new image she’s so carefully put together from the one person who could destroy it and decides tutoring Ricky might work. The adage “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” means she will have to put up with being around the person she hates most, but it’s wort it if her new classmates and especially the boy she likes are kept in the dark about “lard butt.”

Laura remains vigilant for any sign that Ricky plans to revive the old name and as she does she realizes that they have much in common. She gradually begins to sympathize with the former bane of her existence and, more importantly, to begin to understand that his bullying of her was his defense against the hurts in his life.

Also Known as Lard Butt is an astute study of tween angst that is, at time, excruciatingly real. If it has been some time since you’ve been 13, you’ll find it impossible not to cringe at the memories this spot-on story evokes. Author Ann Herrick writes from Laura’s point of view and does a commendable job of evoking the pain of being bullied, of wanting to fit in, of being an adolescent. The story is told with humor and charm and holds back from pushing a message too hard. But there is a message here – about empathy and acceptance and growth. In the end, the superficial changes Laura wanted to make seem inconsequential compared to the changes in self acceptance and understanding of others that she winds up making.

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Book Review – Never Let Go by Anne Carol

Cross Continental YA Romance

never let go by anne carol book reviewAnne Carol’s Never Let Go (Book 1 of the Faithfully Yours Series) asks the question: Is it possible to find your soul mate on the other side of the world?

Set in London in the late 1970’s, the story revolves around a high school student from California who aspires to be a writer and the young, English wannabe rock musician she falls in love with. The chasms of culture, ambition and distance between them,hang over the burgeoning romance and the two find themselves wondering whether it is possible to find your soul mate on the other side of the world. And, if so, what do you do about it?

This Young Adult romance if full of longing and the sighs that accompany young love, but it is also a heartfelt and very real picture of what it is like to be very young and very much in love and facing a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Rather than pander to the reader, the author is respectful of her characters – enough to make them three dimensional and real.

There is, of course, more than one obstacle and various outside love interests appear and disappear and threaten to reappear, causing much teen angst. If that seems formulaic, it is a formula that has worked for hundreds of years in novels like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and while Never Let Go may not meet the standards set by those classic works of romantic fiction, Carol uses the familiar trope in a non-cliched way. The characters she creates are like-able young adults feeling the intensity of love and longing in a way that anyone who has ever been in love will immediately identify with. And, for an author, that alone is quite an accomplishment.

This is the first book in the series and one assumes the long distance love story will be continued.  It is easy to believe that many young (and not so young) readers will be waiting eagerly for the next installment.

buy Never Let Me Go on Amazon