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Movie Monday: Room

Monday, December 28, 2015


Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Running time: 117 minutes
Released: 2015
Distributed by A24 Films

Held captive for years in an enclosed space, a woman (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.

Room seems like a small-scale film, but it does so much with so little. Most of the film centers on just two characters, a mother and her son, and takes place inside of a small room. However, even with the seemingly small focus of the film, there are heavy internal struggles as they adjust to a completely different world and their new lives in it.

Half of the film centers around 5-year old Jack and his mother who is simply referred to as Ma and their lives as they are contained to a single 10-square foot room that they call ‘Room.’ Ma was kidnapped and held captive 7 years ago by a man they call Old Nick and has since had a son five years ago. There is a daring escape that is portrayed through Jack’s perspective and the film changes as Jack and his mother must adjust to a new life together.

A lot of the film focuses on Jack’s experiences as his whole world changes. He goes from thinking that the small room was the entire world to finding out there is so much more to see and experience in life. However, as wonderful as this new world is, it also frightens Jack and often he finds himself longing for the safety of Room. Jack shows the fears that people face when they are forced to leave their comfort zone and are thrust into a frightening new situation. Ma also faces her own battles, as she must readjust and come to terms with her circumstances after being a prisoner for 7 years. For so long, she had to be strong for Jack’s sake and after the escape, she begins to question herself and her relationships with her family.

Room is an amazing drama film. The internal struggles that each character goes through are extremely engaging. The acting does a great job in bringing out all of the emotions that each character goes through as each they try to find their place in a new life, particularly with Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay and Ma, played by Brie Larson. While half of the film was constrained to a small room, the film is really about a much bigger world.

While there have been numerous big name films this year, like The Martian and The Force Awakens, this film does not pale in comparison with any of them. This was a true heart-wrenching drama and I strongly recommend this film to everyone.

Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bone Gap
Laura Ruby

Genre: YA FantasyMagical Realism
Hardback: 368 Pages
Publication: March 3, 2015
by Balzer + Bray

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.


Bone Gap is bizarre and magical. Much like Kate Karyus Quinn's (Don't You) Forget About Me, I can see readers either completely losing themselves in this novel or wondering what in the world is going on here.

Upon reading the first pages of Bone Gap, I felt as if I had been thrown into a fairy-tale world. There's Finn, who talks with the crows and the corn. There's also the way that the story is told—in a language that suggests something magical is sleeping within Bone Gap, and we may stumble upon it around the next page corner.

What didn't quite work for me is the way the story was told. The story jumps around, between the past and the present and between the alternating perspectives of Finn and Roza, plus a brief look into Sean's mind and Petey's mind, which I would have been fine without because they didn't really contribute to the plot. In fact, I would have been fine if the only perspective we saw was Finn's. While I appreciate getting to know the characters' pasts, there was so much going on that I didn't feel like I really got to know the characters and their world.

I confess. I would have quit Bone Gap in the first quarter of the novel had I not read reviews that gushed about the amazing plot twist at the end. While Bone Gap is a magical place, and I love reading stories about magical places, the plot twist came too late to redeem the novel for me. Furthermore, not much time is spent working with the plot twist. In fact, other than working in a brief fling with Greek mythology, it doesn't really contribute to my understanding of the world and the characters.

For a more engaging story that also worked with multiple worlds, I would recommend His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. If you liked (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, then you may also like Bone Gap.

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 3 stars

  • N/A
  • Explicit sexual scenes
  • Stalker

Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Karole Cozzo

Genre: YA Contemporary
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: August 4, 2015
by Swoon Reads

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?


How to Say I Love You Out Loud is a powerful coming-of-age story about a teen girl trying to make a place for herself in the world.

I normally don't read novels about teenage girls trying to fit into school and who are a little boy crazy. I'm that girl whose first bike was Power Rangers themed and, given a choice, would rather watch Antman than Inside Out. What drew me to this novel was the family element—because I firmly believe that there are not enough novels out there containing strong family relations, and I'm always on the lookout for more.

Frankly, How to Say I Love You Out Loud is, at its heart, the story about a teenage girl trying to fit in. She knows that she's a terrible person for not wanting to be associated with her brother and for wanting to keep him hidden. That's what costs her a real, open relationship with the boy she likes and with the girl who's kind of a best friend to her. While Jordyn's cowardice made me cringe, I can relate to her feelings of wanting to hide the parts of her with which she is ashamed. We all have things that we don't want to share with the people we treasure because we know that it will make them see us in a less perfect light, and it takes getting used to—not being perfect.

While Jordyn matures over the course of the novel, there is not much character development in the supporting cast. Alex sounds like a great guy, but he goes out with Leighton, your stereotypical queen bee. It's not until later that he explains Leighton's good traits. I wish we'd gotten to see more of her good traits because she was a downright b****. (Pardon the language. I couldn't think of a better term.) As for Jordyn's two girl friends, we only see a little of Erin, and I honestly can't remember who Tanu is. I wouldn't have remembered she existed had Jordyn not invited her dress shopping towards the end of the novel. She doesn't get enough character development to play much of a role as far as I can remember.

Given all the issues that Jordyn faces, I am disappointed with the ending scene of the novel. While it shows that one part of her life gets fulfilled, I was really hoping to see her character growth topped off with something about family or her embracing her newfound identity. Instead, we get a makeout scene, which honestly seems to suggest that getting the guy is what matters most to her. I do understand that falling in love can cause a girl to prioritize her romantic life (been there, done that), but I believe it's important to assert that love isn't all a girl has to live for. Boyfriends can come and go, but our (true) friends, our family, and the lessons that we learn growing up will stay with us. That said, I was moved by Jordyn's speech about her brother and the meaning behind the title of the novel.

On a last note: the writing and organization was a little over the place. Events didn't quite flow into one another, and some areas were less developed than others. Some characters fell by the wayside; others weren't quite rounded out and fell flat and stereotypical. Overall, How to Say I Love You Out Loud is a solid debut novel. I'd be willing to give another Karole Cozzo novel a shot.

A copy was provided by Macmillan for review

Rating: 4 stars

  • N/A
  • Some Language (cussing)
  • Making out / kissing