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Maria Rachel Hooley is the author of over forty novels, including When Angels Cry and October Breezes. Her first chapbook of poetry was published by Rose Rock Press in 1999. She is an English teacher who lives in Oklahoma with her three children and husband. She loves reading, and if she could live in a novel, it would be Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn.
on Jan. 20, 2011 :
Originally posted on my blog at http://mrcheesete0.wordpress.com:
October Breezes follows the life of a young high-school girl, Skye Williams, through many of the terrible experiences she goes through. Other key characters include her mom; her mom's fiance, Warren; Her best friend, Devin, her new beau, Kellin; her unlikely ally in all the mess, Jimmy; the girl who wants her boyfriend, Becca; and the guy of her nightmares, Tyler. On the proverbial "high-school food-chain" Skye and Devin rank quite low, so low they don't exist to the "popular crowd". Kellin, Tyler, and Jimmy are all on the football team, and Kevin is the quarterback. Kellin and Jimmy are the opposite of all the stereotypes that just popped into your head. Tyler follows said stereotypes to the dot. Becca is the witch with a capital B who controls the minds and actions of all the girls in the popular crowd, the "queen bee" you could say. Throughout the book Skye runs into problems that threaten to destroy her life, usually caused by Tyler and Becca. Devin tries to warn her, but every time she ignores him they grow farther and farther apart. He doesn't like Kellin, but Kellin isn't the problem, Tyler is. Becca pretty much hates Skye's guts, because she has the guy Becca wants more than anything else.
I'd have to say I see through Devin's perspective the most, if I was asked. I can relate to being in his shoes, trying to stop your close friend from dating a guy that is going to hurt her. I sympathize with Skye, but as I'm not a teenage girl, and have been in almost none of her problems myself, I can't really imagine being in her shoes. This is really good book, but it isn't the kind of book I would ever say I "enjoyed", because its an extremely sad story. I didn't like the story, but there was a very loud message being said through the story, and the message is a good one. Throughout the book, I found myself on the edge of my seat, worrying for Skye, and wanting to punch Becca in the face. The writing is so good, it just drags you right into the story. I couldn't put it down My favorite part of the book was the ending, when we finally learn what the big deal with Becca is, and the couple that should have been together throughout the whole book finally come to terms with their feelings for each other. The ending to the book, was the best part because it ended all the sadness. My least favorite part was all the times Skye was abotu to do something stupid, and I couldn't warn her (I know that makes me sound silly, but its true). I wouldn't ever change anything to the story, it was written perfectly as it should have been, and for that I congratulate Mrs Hooley. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any and all young adults out there who enjoy reading, and even a lot of those who don't enjoy reading should read it. I would especially recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, or Brian Katcher's Almost Perfect. Thank you to Mrs. Hooley for giving me the chance to read this novel and enjoy it.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on Oct. 20, 2010 :
October Breezes is written for a YA audience but this is a story so thought-provoking that it makes good reading for their parents as well. Just about every painful adolescent dilemma imaginable -- some routine, others life-altering -- is thrown at Skye Williams. Some she handles well and others she botches. The strength of the story is in how Skye picks up the pieces and who she turns to when life goes badly.
The characters are alive, and, more importantly, realistic. I remember all of them from my high school years and I think most YA readers will recognize them too. One character in particular, somebody who probably won’t even be on the poster when October Breezes hits the big screen, resonated with me because he is the kind of quiet hero that really exists but is seldom written about.
Parents who check this book out will be reminded of serious issues that teenagers must deal with. Ultimately, though, it’s a book for teens. The complexity of issues presented in such an entertaining and gripping storyline leads me to declare October Breezes to be a YA masterpiece that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Oct. 09, 2010 :
While I admit that the first half of the book moves pretty slow, now that I’m 85% in, I can see that it was necessary to get the character development needed for a novel of this depth. This book is on the serious side, dealing with teen dating, rape and pregnancy and has some hot button issues, but the writing and the realism that the author manages to capture makes it mesmerizing to read. I cannot put it down now that I’m at a critical point in the story.
But therein lies the problem with this novel. It's pretty serious stuff and I really wanted the author to give us more information about the aftermath and healing. I think those elements would have been much more important than the long set up. Yes, we needed that too, but it still could have been trimmed by 1/3 in the front part of this book and still been very well done. It wrapped up entirely too fast for me. I needed more, not too much more, but just enough so I would feel good about how Skye's life turned out.
There were a few grammar/spelling errors, but nothing a good content editor couldn't help with. I dunno. I'm really torn on this one because had it not be for how well the author presented this hard subject matter, I would give it 3 stars, but I'm going to leave it at 4 because this is a TOUGH one to tackle in the YA market and she handled it beautifully. The characters were realistic, compassionate and well-rounded. I just hope she continues to write and maybe makes sure her next book goes through a top notch editor.
I would recommend this to high school students. I think the message is one that is important. HOWEVER, I would urge parents to read this one first to make sure their child can handle the subject matter. Only you know your kid, right?
(reviewed within a month of purchase)