Island, Book Three: Escape – by Gordon Korman (2007)

Island book 3

This is the finale to the “Island” trilogy. One of the six friends is on the verge of death, and the situation seems impossible. But despite the odds, they work together to save a life. In doing that, all their lives are saved.

This story is outstanding! It conveyed so well the concept of perseverance, no matter how hopeless the situation is. It also showed six young people putting aside their differences, coming together as friends, and stepping into adulthood.

Links to reviews of books 1 and 2:




Island, Book Two: Survival – by Gordon Korman (2007)

Island book 2

The second book in the “Island” trilogy picks up right where the first one ended. The six teens are on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. At this point, they realize that if they want to survive, they have to put aside their petty disagreements. They start working together to find food, water, and shelter.

It isn’t long, however, before they discover that they are not alone on the island. And the other people are definitely not there to help them. To make matters worse, one of the six becomes seriously ill. Their only hope is to find some way off the island. Desperation binds the six together, and a plan is made to get at least one of them back to civilization.

I loved the growing friendship between the six teens in this book. Instead of constantly thinking of themselves, they began to think of others first, and what they could do to help and protect each other. Compassion and growing friendship made this a great read.

Island, Book One: Shipwreck – by Gordon Korman (2007)

Island book 1

It’s the tale of six teenagers setting sail for a month-long voyage on the Pacific Ocean. Each one is there for a different reason. Will and Lyssa have such severe sibling rivalry that they physically attack each other. JJ is the the son of a rich Hollywood director, and his impulsive behavior keeps getting him in trouble. Luke was given the choice of juvenile hall or this trip after a gun was planted in his school locker. Ian’s parents want to cure him of his obsession with watching television. And Charla’s parents think it will be a change of pace for her after experiencing burnout from too many high school sports.

The journey begins with getting used to the responsibilities of life at sea. It’s hard work, but one by one the teens adjust to the routine. Then an unexpected storm strikes, and all aboard find themselves hanging on for dear life, and bailing salt water. The boat begins to break up and sink, but the six manage to hang on to floating debris and eventually drift to an island.

I liked the eclectic-ness of the kids in the story. Each one had a unique personality, and his or her own battle. The theme of fighting their particular weakness fit perfectly with fighting the storm on the ocean. As soon as I got to the end of this book, I wanted to jump right into the second book to see how the six would deal with their situation.


Review of book two in the trilogy:

Review of book three in the trilogy:


Rules Of The Road – by Joan Bauer (2005)

Rules Of The Road


Jenna is only 16, but she is older than her years. She has to deal with an alcohol-addicted father who has abandoned the family, but drops in unexpectedly every few months to wreak havoc. To help support her mom and younger sister, she takes a job in a shoe store. There she develops a talent for finding the perfect pair of quality shoes for each person who walks in the door.

Mrs. Gladstone, the elderly owner of the shoe-store chain, is impressed with Jenna’s work, and recruits her as a driver for a six-week trip around the country to check up on all her stores. At first Jenna is intimidated by her boss, but it doesn’t take long before she joins her in trying to save the business from a hostile takeover by none other than the owner’s son.

I enjoyed the back-and-forth banter of the conversations during the road trip, and the strong female characters in the book. It’s not often you find a book about inter-generational friendship and respect. Women of all ages will enjoy this novel.


I let Mrs. Gladstone in the back and gently shut the door like it was holy. Mrs. Gladstone nodded to me, which I guess meant I could now get inside the car. I squeezed behind the wheel. Mrs. Gladstone pointed at a button near the dashboard. I pressed it. My seat adjusted perfectly.

I checked the mirrors, the dashboard monitor, buckled my seat belt. I felt like I was in a tank.

She sniffed. “Start the motor.”

I fumbled with the key, started the engine, put the car in reverse, and decided not to ask if she was a praying person.

“Here we go,” I said, inching the huge car backwards.

“Freeze!” she shrieked.

I slammed on the brake.

“I believe it’s customary to open the garage door before backing out of it!”

“Sorry, Mrs. Gladstone…I’m kind of nervous.”

“Press the button on the control board.”

I pressed it. The garage door went up.

“Proceed,” she said stiffly. “And may God Almighty be merciful.”

“Amen,” I said and slowly backed the white beast up the driveway onto Astor Street.

Turnabout – by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2000, 2007)


Have you ever wished you could go back to an earlier time in your life? Your body would be stronger, healthier, and faster. Hearing and eyesight would be improved. Your memory would be accurate. Life would be more carefree. Everything would be better – right?

At the beginning of this novel, Melly and Anny Beth are both approaching 100 and living in a nursing home. They and a number of the other residents are given the chance to participate in a medical study that will help them “un-age”. They agree to be in Project Turnabout, which is kept a secret from the world.

The story goes back and forth from 2000, when the project is started, to 2085, when Melly and Anny Beth have “un-aged” back to youth. Life is not quite what they thought it would be.  The book portrays what the fountain of youth might be like if we ever found it.

If We Survive – by Andrew Klavan (2012)

If We Survive

“If We Survive” is an action-filled novel about five Americans who go down to a Central American country to help repair a schoolhouse for a village. The book begins at the point at which the project is complete and they are all set to return to the US. Then disaster strikes without warning – hence the title.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book were the different personalities of the American team – one sympathetic to the revolutionaries, one a spoiled brat, one idealist who thought he could just talk everyone into getting along, one young woman with an almost otherworldly calm, and a terrified teenage boy who had come on the team to get away from his bickering parents. And then there was their Hans Solo, the I-don’t-care-about-anyone-but-myself pilot. Teens and adults alike will enjoy this book.


“It was a church project. Or a church-slash-school project, to be more precise. The villagers here were too poor to buy the wall material themselves, and the local men were too busy working for their daily bread to take time to put the schoolhouse back together. So our church had taken up a collection for the cinder blocks and tools and mortar and so on, and then called for volunteers to come down here for a week or so during the summer break and slap the thing back up so the kids could get some kind of education. Grove High put up posters about the mission too, and Principal Hagen mentioned it during an assembly. In the end, some of us joined up in the name of Christian outreach and some of us came to get the Public Service credits we needed for graduation. Some of us had our own reasons too. Well, I guess all of us had our own reasons, when it comes down to it.”

Crazy Dangerous – by Andrew Klavan (2012)

Crazy Dangerous

Sam is just an ordinary guy that wants to fit in and have everyone forget that he’s the pastor’s kid. Jennifer is a girl suffering from schizophrenia whom Sam saves from a group of bullies. From that point on, Sam is her best friend and hero.

The story is told alternately from Sam’s and Jennifer’s point of view. Both of them struggle with their fears and demons. The phrase “do right – fear not” pops up many times throughout the story. There is much for them to fear, both from people they can see and presences they cannot see. Sam makes some bad decisions, and then struggles with how to get himself out of the situation. The story reminds us that we’ll encounter spiritual warfare in life, but have to keep struggling to do what’s right.

The book would be great for a discussion group. There are some suggested questions by the author at the end of the book.



Jennifer dropped her voice and leaned toward me. “I said your name last night,” she confided to me as if it were her great secret.

“You…what? What do you mean?”

“I said your name,” she repeated, even softer than before. “When the demons came to my house.” …

“Demons, huh?” I said. I hoped maybe Jennifer was making some kind of joke, but I didn’t really think she was. “You get those a lot around your place?”

She nodded. “They come in at night. When no one else can see them. They change everything.”