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Karen's Young Adult Book Reviews
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Blizzard /Hole in My Life



Unknown to many, a blizzard was headed for them and would cripple the country from Virginia all the way to Maine in March of 1888. Two massive storms were headed their way and would collide bringing the worst snow storm the country had seen in years. All forms of transportation and communication came to halt on March 12 as many lost their lives trying to get to work and back home. After four days and a fear of starving, the storm moved away. For those who miraculously lived, a way to be better prepared for the next storm would definitely be planned. The weather station was taken from the military and named the National Weather Service. Communication lines would be buried in the future. Underground railways were to be built so that no transportation would halt, and food and coal could be brought into the cities.


Murphy presents this historical story in such a way that everyone had a story to tell. The story is captivating and an interesting read. The blizzard is described in such a way that the reader can almost imagine being there. Drawings and pictures are included so that the reader is fully aware of what is being described. 


One reader comments, “Murphy explains how the Blizzard of ’88 happened, the ingenuity of people coping with the snow’s impact (a coalman used a horse drawn boat to make deliveries!) and the steps that were taken to improve the likelihood that we wouldn’t be caught so unprepared again (the weather station was no longer given Sunday off!) A great read!” (


Another reader states, “Overall, a superb piece of writing and history” (


A teen reader comments that through Murphy’s book, “you can feel the cold and pain of people trapped by the Great Blizzard of 1888” (


 Murphy, Jim. 2000. Blizzard! New York: Scholastic Press.


Sources Book Reviews. Accessed 18 July, 2005. Accessed 18 July, 2005.


T-phile. Accessed 19 July, 2005.

Hole in My Life


Jack Gantos writes about his high school years and how he wants to be a writer. He keeps a log of ideas. He moves to St. Croix with his family during his junior year in high school and works instead of going to school. He builds shipping crates for those shipping goods and household items back to the United States when an uprising begins. Gantos ends up working with a drug dealer because he is promised $10,000 that he thinks will help him go to college. A drug bust and misunderstandings send him to prison. He intends to do well so that he can leave prison sooner than the court expects. He works as an X-ray technician in the prison and keeps out of the lime light of the disturbances in the prison. He eventually has help applying for parole. Gantos is told he can only be paroled if he has a job, a place to stay, and an acceptance into a college program. Jack obtains all of this and is released from prison. He has written other books for children.


Gantos’ book is very entertaining. Although he is in a tough situation, he chooses to make the best of it. He realizes that he made the biggest mistake of his life and will have to work on his dream later. He gives the reader hope that even though you make a mistake, with determination you can turn your life around and make the best of the situation. He makes the reader realize that you should never give up on your dream. Gantos records in a makeshift journal in a prison book in the space between the lines hoping that he can one day use it. He is forced to leave the book behind when he leaves prison, but lets the reader know that what he has written will remain a part of him.


One book reviewer writes, “Gantos manages to write in a way that dismisses the dubious "romance" of prison, drugs, and "life on the edge" without ever sounding didactic or heavy-handed. Older teens will appreciate his candor and sheer willingness to give them the straight story. Vigorously recommended” (


Another reviewer states, “Knowing that the narrator is destined to land in jail keeps suspense at a high pitch, but this book's remarkable achievement is the multiple points of view that emerge, as experiences force a fledgling writer to continually revise his perspective of himself and the world around him. The book requires a commitment, as it rambles a bit at times, but it provides much food for thought and fuel for debate. It will leave readers emotionally exhausted and a little wiser” (


A student reader comments, “"You learn a lot of lessons that inspire you to head down the right path in life . . . Excellent" (


Gantos, Jack. 2002. A Hole in My Life. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.


Sources Book Reviews. Accessed 29, July 2005.


Greenwich Schools Book Club.  Accessed 29 July, 2005.





Created by K. Braswell for LS5623 at Texas Woman's University.