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37 Things I Love (in no particular order)
     

37 Things I Love (in no particular order)

5.0 4
by Kekla Magoon
 

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Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn't exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life

Overview

Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn't exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life support. Her best friend fails even to notice that anything is wrong and Ellis feels like her world is falling apart. But when all seems bleak, Ellis finds comfort in the most unexpected places.

Life goes on, but in those four fleeting days friends are lost and found, promises are made, and Ellis realizes that nothing will ever quite be the same.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
When 15-year-old Ellis Baldwin's world falls apart at the end of her sophomore year, where does she turn? Her father is in a coma from a construction accident, and is in an Assisted Living Facility (aka ALF). She has a fragile relationship with her mother, and her best girlfriend has no clue to the extent of Ellis's problems. The changing dynamics between friends and Ellis's depth of grief are well shown. This coming out story takes the reader on her journey as she deals with the family dynamics, and tries to understand her own sexual orientation. She desperately needs intimacy and understanding at this stage in her life. Although she spurns the attention of a friend's brother, she is quite attracted to the sister for comfort. She is overwhelmed with dealing with a dying father, distant mother, and loss of friendships. Will she find happiness again so the hard times will be easier? The reader will be quickly engaged in Ellis's poignant journey as she realizes nothing will ever be the same. This novel has been named a 2012 Junior Library Guild Selection. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
Publishers Weekly
Magoon (Camo Girl) gently but unflinchingly explores difficult adolescent territory in this intelligent, affecting novel. Set over the last four days before summer vacation, the book traces 15-year-old Ellis’s complex emotional journey as she confronts the inevitable death of her comatose father, who was injured in a construction accident two years earlier, navigates volatile friendship dramas, explores her sexual identity, and struggles with her evolving relationship with her mother. Deftly developed characters (including well-drawn minor ones) and highly credible relationships—especially the loving yet testy push-and-pull (“a flawed and fragile thing,” notes Ellis) between Ellis and her mother—ground the book. Magoon persuasively depicts the high school social scene and Ellis’s simultaneously secure and awkward role in it; her memories of her father are particularly well rendered with a love that avoids lapsing into sentimentality. Both perceptive and perplexed—“I am torn. Abby: best friend or today’s pariah? Evan: savior of the hour or he who may try to feel me up?”—Ellis tells her story in a singular voice that captures and holds readers’ interest and empathy. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (May)
From the Publisher

“Magoon (Camo Girl) gently but unflinchingly explores difficult adolescent territory in this intelligent, affecting novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“…coming of age, death, hope, love--and Ellis is a character to care about and cheer on for a long, long time.” —Horn Book

“...[a] powerful outing from a rising star.” —Kirkus

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Magoon takes readers through four days in the life of a 15-year-old in this short novel that is packed with memories, flashbacks, issues, and characters, adding a sense of elongated time. For two years, Ellis's loving father has been in a coma and kept alive by machines. Despite his inability to communicate, his daughter holds out hope that he will someday be whole. She doesn't have much of a support system. Her BFF Abby is simply clueless and a flirt. Colin, who adores Abby, shows some ability to connect with Ellis's feelings, but she turns to a childhood friend with whom she has had little contact of late. Trying to sort out why she let their friendship languish; why she tolerates Abby's selfishness; how to relate to her mom, who thinks "it's time"; how to let her father go, and—as if that were not enough—who she is socially and sexually make up the story line. Abby (who has "enlarged" her breasts with Jell-O Jigglers) gets terribly drunk at a party, and there is tremendous drama when the story of her fake bosom hits the high-school gossip mill. When the former friends connect, Cara assumes that Ellis knows and accepts that she is gay, and she takes sexual liberties that confuse Ellis even more. It is not until her father dies and she eulogizes him that readers discover the "37 things" she loves are one memory for each year of his short life. This is an easy but not substantive read, and the ending is too neat.—Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Ellis experiences emotional turbulence as she copes with her father's extended coma and the pain of changing friendships. There is tension between Ellis and her mother. Her beloved father has been in an accident-induced coma for two years. Ellis resists any discussion of removing life support and, despite her mother's disapproval, visits and shares her deepest thoughts with her unresponsive father. Coinciding with her father's accident was the change in Ellis' relationships with her best friends. Ellis, Cara and Abby had been close in middle school, but somehow, Cara drifted away. Now, at this critical time, when Ellis' mom wants her to see yet another psychiatrist in hopes she will accept the inevitable, Ellis finds she needs Cara, especially since Abby is becoming wilder and more self-centered. In the meantime, Cara has accepted that she is gay, adding another complication for Ellis as she seeks to renew their friendship. As Ellis confronts her pain, she is able to see herself, her mother and her friends as they really are. Magoon, winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent (The Rock and the River, 2010), has crafted a fresh look at the complexities that can arise in the friendships of teens. Ellis' first-person expression of her pain and confusion is especially well done. Strong secondary characters provide additional insight. Another powerful outing from a rising star. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429941709
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
05/22/2012
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
252,247
Lexile:
HL600L (what's this?)
File size:
766 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

1
Wings
If humans had them, the world might just be perfect.
 
 
I LOOK FOR WAYS to stop myself from falling. The air is wide beneath me. Wide and warm. The beam, cold and narrow. This balancing act will end with me spread wingless in the sky, no idea how it happened—maybe I closed my eyes at the very wrong moment. Then I’m tumbling, tearing, down, down …
The scream that rips out of me is so familiar, I recognize its taste before I even hear the sound. My stomach soars into my throat, about to choke me, when I buck and come awake.
The dream. It’s only the dream. I clutch the edge of my mattress, which is on the floor. There’s nowhere to fall from here, but I feel as if I’m groping the air.
Mom appears in the doorway. She crosses the room with fleet footsteps and puts the washcloth in my hand, cool and soothing. I press it to my face as she settles down beside me.
This is our routine.
Mom scoops the hair away from my cheeks. Her hands are small and swift. She says nothing. She’s tried every comfort word already and learned that saying nothing is always safest.
I get that she doesn’t know what to do with the dream, or with me. The inside of her slim wrist strokes my cheek, maybe by accident.
It’s almost time to get up. Light seeps in under the curtains, and Mom’s here, still dressed in her work clothes.
Her fingers sweep through my hair, every strand, repairing the loose ponytail I was sleeping in. By the time she’s finished, my grip on the mattress has relaxed. I hold on to her arm, knowing she has both feet on the ground.
I don’t like the worried look on her face, or the urgent way she strokes my hand, trying to calm me down.
When I lie back against the pillows, she stops and holds my hands between hers.
*   *   *
“I’M HAVING FETTUCCINE,” Mom says, pressing buttons on the coffeemaker. “What do you want for breakfast?”
It’s things like this that make me sure that we will never talk about the dream. Never talk about anything that matters.
“Oatmeal, I think.”
“Raisins?”
“Yeah.”
Mom stretches high to reach the Quaker Oats carton. It’s only the second-highest shelf, but she wobbles on tiptoe, like a beginner ballerina. At times it’s hard to believe we’re even related. Mom is thin. Rail thin. Dirty-looks-from-passersby thin. Eating-disorder-ad thin, but just by nature. She loses weight when she sneezes. Sometimes I think she loses weight when I sneeze.
Her voice doesn’t match her body. Not at all. People never guess she’s Laura Baldwin, late-night radio goddess, by looking at her. Mom has this deep-throated voice like hot milk on chocolate. Her voice is her job, her life. Her voice is this amazing gift to the world.
To look or sound like her, all small and throaty, is a different kind of dream. Standing side by side, we seem like strangers.
I head for the coffeepot as Mom shifts to the stove. She starts heating water for my oatmeal. Then she nukes the leftover fettuccine from my dinner last night for herself.
Mom works nights at the radio station, so she cooks me dinner while she cooks herself breakfast, and vice versa. We hardly ever eat the same thing at the same time. According to my guidance counselors, this makes me more likely to be “troubled.”
But it works for us. Mom sleeps during the day while I’m at school, so she’ll be awake when I get home. If I come home late, she knows I’ve been to see Dad. Those are the days when she bakes cookies. It’s funny, because Mom’s not at all domestic like that.
She leaves for work at the radio station late at night. Her on-air shift is midnight to four A.M., and she’s always home by six, when I’m getting up for school.
It’s five thirty now. In two hours, I’ll have to leave for school. Four days until summer vacation, and I’m counting the minutes.
“We need to talk,” Mom says, over fettuccine and oatmeal.
“Huh?” My spoon slips, clattering against the bowl.
Mom and I do great at not talking. It’s not a hostile thing. There just aren’t any words lost between us. Mom saves up her thoughts for when she’s on air.
I don’t have a whole lot to say. At least not to her.
“I want us to talk,” Mom says. “About your father.”
I push my bowl away half full.
She’s dragging me across the invisible line, straight into the never-ever domain. I am shaken.
“Ellis, I think it’s time.”
She couldn’t be more wrong.

 
Copyright © 2012 by Kekla Magoon

Meet the Author

Kekla Magoon is the author of Camo Girl and The Rock and the River, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award. She is a New York City-based editor, speaker, and educator. In addition to writing fiction, Kekla leads writing workshops for youth and adults, writes non-fiction titles for the education market, and is the co-editor of YA&Children's Literature for Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of Vermont College.
Kekla Magoon is the author of Camo Girl and The Rock and the River, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award. She is a New York City-based editor, speaker, and educator. In addition to writing fiction, Kekla leads writing workshops for youth and adults, writes non-fiction titles for the education market, and is the co-editor of YA&Children's Literature for Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of Vermont College.

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37 Things I Love (in no particular order) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
Summer vacation is close, but not close enough for sophomore Ellis Baldwin to avoid a barrage of impossible choices. First, there’s life or death for her father who’s been in a coma since she was 13. Then there’s her popular BFF Abby, their dutiful friend Colin, and a shy former friend from middle school, Cara. Ellis may even have to choose between friendship, love, and a date with an attractive senior wrestler. Kekla Magoon masterfully weaves a compelling story, completely unraveling the psyche of her engaging main character, and presenting her readers with fresh and accepting insight into grief and teenage angst. 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) is well-written and well-worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read it yet....go read it...NOW! It is great and inspirationl story!
denisejaden More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful look at a grief not many can understand and complicated friendships. This book had me wrapped up in it from beginning to end!