Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Notebook series

The Indigo Notebook
By Laura Resau
Delacorte Press, 2009. 324 pgs. Teen fiction

Fifteen-year-old Zeeta has lived all over the world, thanks to her free-spirited mother, who constantly moves them around the globe. When they move to Ecuador, Zeeta, who has always wished for a normal life, finds that she just might get it after all: her mother meets an American man, who specializes in organization, and seems to be settling down. Meanwhile, Zeeta meets a guy of her own: Wendall, a teenager from the U.S. who was adopted as a baby and has come to Ecuador to find his birth parents. As Zeeta helps him on his search, she is also searching to discover what it is that she really wants.

An interesting look at another culture, this book also provides readers with adventure, family issues, and a bit of romance. This highly enjoyable book is the first in a series, and I look forward to reading more. A little bit of language, but overall fairly clean.

The Ruby Notebook
By Laura Resau
Delacorte Press, 2010. 373 pgs. YTeen

Sixteen-year-old Zeeta is living in France, the 16th country she and her flighty mother have lived in, which is something Zeeta deals with but also can't help resenting sometimes, as she's forced to leave behind friends, and she feels, even pieces of herself . This time should be different, though, because Zeeta's boyfriend Wendell is supposed to come to study art for two months, and Zeeta can't wait to be with him. However, before he gets there, she meets Jean-Claude, who sparks her interest even though she doesn't want him to, someone from her past begins slipping notes and gifts into her bag, and an elderly couple wants her to find a fountain of youth they believe is hidden in their town. Soon, Zeeta is on a quest not to find the water and the mysterious gift-giver but also to find herself.

This book started out a little slow for me, but once it got going, I really enjoyed Zeeta's quest, as well as her relationship struggles, and the symbolism woven into the book. It's more literary than a lot of teen literature but also still very accessible to readers. It's partially an introduction to a foreign culture, partially an invitation to be moved by characters and their journey, and completely lovely.

The Jade Notebook
By Laura Resau
Delacorte Press, 2012. 365 pgs. Teen fiction

After seventeen countries in seventeen years, Zeeta has finally found a place that feels like home to her in Mazunte, Mexico, which is also where Zeeta thinks her long-lost father might be from, and she's determined to find him . She and her flighty mother are managing cabanas and really feel like that this could be the place for them. Zeeta's boyfriend Wendell is there studying the sea turtles native to the area and everything seems to be going well, at first. But then they find out that the land they're living on is supposedly cursed, Wendell starts having visions of danger, and Zeeta finds out some things about her father that make her wonder what kind of person he really is. To make matters worse, poachers are stealing the eggs that the turtles are laying and no one will help Wendell and Zeeta save the turtles.

In the third and final (I think--I didn't actually read that anywhere, but this book had an epilogue that made it feel more "done" than the other books) book in the series, readers once again get to explore a new country. The descriptions of the turtles, the local people, and the food will make readers want to pack their bags and head to Mexico. I really enjoyed the mysteries wrapped up in the story--who the poachers are, who they can trust, and what's the truth about Zeeta's father--and how things played out. This is a satisfying series that probably doesn't get read enough.

Side note on this one: In many respects., I would consider this series to be realistic fiction...except for the fact that Wendell has these visions. I don't particularly believe in visions or ESP or anything like that. So, to me, that puts a fantastical element into the story. However, I know that there are those who do believe in these sorts of things--and quite often in indigenous cultures, this is something they firmly believe in, so to them, it's a reality. So where I see fantasy, they see reality...and I suppose the appropriate action then is to classify the book as realistic fiction...but I'm interested in what other people think about that. Would you classify it as realistic fiction?

4 stars. Apparently when I read the first book, I noticed some minor language but I don't remember it now. I didn't notice any in the third book. Zeeta and Wendell do have a fairly physical relationship (kissing a lot, laying down together), but there wasn't anything explicit or even anything that made me entirely certain they were having sex, although it could possibly be interpreted that way.

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