The Project by Courtney Summers

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The Project by Courtney Summers (9781250105738)

Lo is a survivor. She was born premature but lived, and she survived the car crash that killed her parents. Her sister, Bea, was always there until after their parents died. Then she disappeared into The Unity Project, leaving Lo with their great-aunt. Now Lo works as an assistant at a magazine, determined to become a writer. She knows there is more happening at The Unity Project than their public face of good deeds for the local community shows. Recognized by a young man at the subway who then killed himself, Lo discovers that he was part of The Unity Project too and that his father believes the Project killed him. Now Lo may have the opportunity to finally uncover what is actually happening at the Project, but as she gets closer to the truth, it may be too much for her to withstand.

Summers follows up her bestseller Sadie with this twisting, mind-bending novel. It is a slow burn of a book, steadily building toward the terrible truth that the reader can only suspect and guess at. Lo, with her physical and mental scars from the accident, is tragically lonely in her life and literally alone. She makes the ideal protagonist for a psychological thriller and also the perfect victim for a cult.

Teens who have followed the NXIVM cult news will recognize elements of that cult in this one. The book steadily tightens the noose around Lo while revealing Bea’s personal experience in the cult years earlier. From idyllic love to control to brutality and abuse, the mental anguish is intense. It is a book full of turns and twists, lies and prophesies, love and survival.

Amazingly raw and gripping, this tense novel is dizzying. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Wednesday Books.

Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy

Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy

Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, illustrated by C. F. Payne (InfoSoup)

Mary Garber was one of the first female sports journalists in the United States. At a time when women were not newspaper reporters, Mary was a sports reporter. Her big break came during World War II when the men were sent to war. After the war, Mary was moved to a news desk but then a year later permanent came back to sports. She was there to witness Jackie Robinson join the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mary herself was barred from the press box and forced to sit with the coaches’ wives rather than the other reporters until her editor complained. Locker rooms were also a challenge. Mary continued writing about sports for more than 50 years, retiring in 2002. Along the way she garnered awards and honors and a reputation for being fair and unbiased.

Macy captures the story of this groundbreaking woman beautifully. The tone is playful and humble with Garber’s quotes often given credit and thanks to others rather than taking praise for herself. At the same time, one understands the courage it took for Mary to continue doing this job in such a male-dominated field. This story is inspirational in the best possible way.

Payne’s illustrations add to the playful feel of the title and the humor. Mary is shown as very petite, dwarfed by those around her. Yet she is clearly the center of attention on the page, her face lit from within by her big eyes and large glasses. Her short hair and can-do attitude mark her uniquely on the page as well.

A great picture book biography to share with children who enjoy sports or writing. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.