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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: My Sister's Boyfriend (Changes #9) by Katherine Applegate

my sisters boyfriend by katherine applegate
My Sister's Boyfriend (Changes, #9) by Katherine Applegate is part of the HarperCollins Changes Romance series that was published in the early 1990's. Even though it is part of a series, it is a stand alone book that has nothing to do with any of the other books in the series. As a teenager, I discovered another book in the series before this one, On My Own (Changes, #10) by Janet Quin-Harkin, and it led me to purchasing this particular book. The genre is romance, but I would classify it as romantic comedy.

Rereading this as an adult, I still found myself laughing at some of the same parts that I did as a teenager. Mainly those parts having to do with the little brother and the best friend Lucas. Even though this is a relatively short book geared towards tweens and teens, you still get a fairly good sense of character development. It was a well written book that still keeps my attention as an adult.

With that being said, there were a few things that I didn't particularly like . . . okay, maybe it was just one major issue and a minor issue. As a former beauty pageant kid, I had issues with some of the parts regarding beauty pageants. It is very rare for a person to just sign up for a pageant and win it as a beginner. I don't think I have ever seen a contestant have acting as their talent. It just doesn't happen. At least, not when I participated in them for an eleven year period. The minor issue I had with My Sister's Boyfriend is a lot of the scenarios aren't exactly believable . . . the mom doesn't cook because she doesn't trust appliances, so they bring home take out food or eat out, but because of this, it does bring some additional comedy to the book. 

My Sister's Boyfriend is a perfect type of romance book for girls aged 11 and up because it never really deals with sex. All the romantic scenes are pretty innocent with the characters just kissing. Even though it was written in the 90's and there really isn't any modern technology mentioned, I think girls would still find it relatable.

Synopsis:  After receiving news that her play won a local playwright competition, Justine and her family have a celebratory dinner at home. When her crush from the summer before shows up at that dinner and is introduced as her sister's new boyfriend, Justine is in shock and will go to no ends to hide the truth from Skyler.

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