What Happened to Cass McBride?

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles. 

Where do I start to tell you how wonderful this novel is?  Perhaps with the skill of the writing that manages to create a breakneck speed buts stays firmly in control of the plot points and horror.  Perhaps with the fantastic characterizations that slowly reveal what is lacking in these teenage lives.  Perhaps with the simple fact that it is Gail Giles and we know to expect great quality fiction from her.  Or perhaps with the way that this book with enter your psyche and stay with you whether you are reading it right then or not. 

It is the story of Cass McBride, a perfect daughter to an imperfect father, who strives to do her best in all things but can’t help being a little bit catty.  When a loser asks her out, she nicely says no, but then writes a horrible note about him to her friend.  The boy reads the note and later that day commits suicide.  The boy’s older brother blames Cass for his death and kidnaps her, trapping her in a crate buried beneath the ground.  And there is where all of the characters reveal more and more of themselves until the tension finally breaks.

The book is riveting with a pace that matches the frenzy of the older brother but controlled and forceful like Cass herself.  It moves from a book about the search for Cass to a character study of two teens who couldn’t be more different and more the same.  The writing is accessible and clear, helping the pace of the book stay zippy and the tension build to almost unbearable levels.

Recommend this to every teen out there.  It is a creepy, fast-paced thriller of a novel.  It will be one of those books that is devoured and then shared with friends.  Read it, enjoy it and then pass it on. 

On the Night You Were Born

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.

I am not a fan of most books that tell children about the day/night they were born and how special it was.  They tend to be overly sweet and to not capture the real amazing magic of birth.  So it wasn’t until I saw this book on several lists from independent booksellers as a top pick that I decided to take a look at it. 

It turns out that all of those independent booksellers are right.  This is a magical book with appeal to parents and children alike.  Filled with evocative paintings that create a mood of quiet amazement, the text tells children not of the fact that they were born, but about how unique and special they are. 

I shared this one in bed with my five-year-old son.  At the beginning of the book, it says ” There had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.”  He turned to me with a look of such wonder on his face and whispered, “Never?”  It was a moment of pure connection with the wonder of himself, a moment that every child should have. 

Take this one home to your little one or recommend it to families who adore reading bedtime stories.  It is one to be shared quietly and lovingly in parent-child pairs.  It would also make a fabulous gift for new babies or young children of any age.