The Movie Date is a weekly feature where we discuss movies that may appeal to YA readers. Andrew is The Reading Date’s resident movie critic and this week he discusses Short Term 12, a 2013 film directed by Destin Daniel Crettin.
Working at a group home for unstable teens is demanding enough, but the arrival of a troubled young girl forces supervisor Grace to confront her own past.
If you’re an at-risk teen, Short Term 12 is a pretty decent place to wind up. It’s a well-funded, low-key facility in a sun-drenched California suburb with a mellow, devoted young staff. Though reminded constantly that she’s just a shift worker and not a therapist, supervisor Grace (Brie Larson, The Spectacular Now) is still a bit of a miracle worker; she has a gift for talking calmly and personably to acting-out kids, sympathizing with each of their personal dramas.
How does she do it? Grace is no stranger to trauma herself, and she has the scars—psychological and physical—to prove it. When she and her boyfriend / co-worker Mason (John Gallagher, Jr., HBO’s The Newsroom) are getting intimate, she fights back most unexpectedly, frightening herself even more than him. She shows mercy when she finds angry but talented inmate Marcus with contraband, refusing to write him up because she doesn’t want him to go to jail like her still-incarcerated father. And learning of her own pregnancy gives her pause: though Mason is willing to be a father, Grace is not sure she’d be a good mother, fearing she’d turn out another neglected and abused kid like the ones she tries to save each day.
The movie gets plenty hairy and “real,” but thankfully never goes quite as dark as you’re afraid it will. The two most intense scenes are monologues by troubled kids in the form of artful writing projects. Marcus reveals his mother’s neglect through a heartbreaking hip hop rhyme: “to live a life never knowing what a normal life’s like.” New inpatient Jayden, an artistic if distant girl that Grace immediately identifies with, hints at her own awful issues in the guise of a children’s story. In it, Nina the Octopus is a tragically trusting sea creature who has the poor judgment to choose a hungry shark as a playmate. The tale helps Grace understand the real issues at hand, leading her to consider desperate acts to protect Jayden from further abuse.
Gritty as the film is, its deep faith in the resilient human spirit actually left me in an upbeat mood. Though Short Term 12 relates an interesting character arc for Grace, its workplace setting and changing cast of patients made it feel like an episode or two of a sensitive and insightful TV series. It’s a show I’d watch each week, too, to meet the new kids and hear about their challenges. But mostly I’d be there cheer on the memorable Grace, played brilliantly by Larson. She’s a true heroine, fighting for kids’ souls with confidence and, yes, grace.
Edited to add some twitter buzz from a couple YA authors about Short Term 12:
Short Term 12 is a very worthwhile punch right in the effing heart. Great movie. And now I'm going to cry for a while.—
Melissa Walker (@melissacwalker) April 18, 2014
I know I get excited about a lot of things. But "Short Term 12" is seriously great. Hopeful and humane, but also genuinely romantic & funny.—
Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) April 14, 2014
Sometimes you need a change of pace to snap you out of a reading rut. And a book about a professional assassin who poses as an intern certainly fits the bill. This book recalls classic pulp fiction, and the pop culture nods, plot twists, quirkiness and action are Tarantino-esque. The Intern’s Handbook has snappy dialogue and a quick pace for casual listeners or die hard fans of the thriller genre.
Book: The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn. Simon & Schuster Audio, On Sale Now
Book Info: Received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 8 hrs, 11 mins. Read by: Pete Simonelli. Also available in ebook and hardcover from Simon & Schuster 288 pages.
Cover Story: Love the office supplies in the cover art! The pushpin grin is my favorite. It’s clever and dangerous and ties nicely with the tone of the book.
Office Space: The intern assassins work for a company called Human Resources, Inc. What a perfect cover for an assassin! Interns can sometimes get lost in the crowd, so it’s easy for them to get their intel without being noticed and stab you in the back so to speak. I’ve been an intern more than once, and been responsible for interns, and have to agree that it’s the perfect anonymous cover.
Name Dropping: Our hero John Lago is a big movie buff and has a movie on the tip of his tongue to match any given situation, from Gross Pointe Blank to An Affair to Remember. This all adds to the “movie feel” nature of the story telling. John Lago reminded me a lot of John Cusack’s Martin Blank, and in fact one of the lines John quotes from the film is very appropriate: “If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.”
John Lago 007: John relays his story through The Intern’s Handbook, as if the reader is a new intern learning the ropes. The handbook is also a sort of confessional for John. In this line of work, the “interns” must retire by 25 to keep their cover believable. At 25, John is a seasoned professional who has seen it all. He has a briefcase full of tools of the trade and is his boss’s go-to guy. Now he’s on his Last Job in the business – what could go wrong? John is looking forward to reinventing himself and settling down, though this is the only life he knows. He’s a badass assassin, cool under pressure, and fast thinking. If you’re a shady executive you don’t want John Lago to be your intern.
True Romance: There is some romance in this book to break up the violence and mayhem. Alice is a femme fatale type John meets on the job and they strike up an unconventional sort of relationship.
Royale with Cheese: If you are kinda so-so on mystery-thrillers but you like Tarantino films, Jim Thompson books, and pop culture references sprinkled throughout your books you may want to give this one a chance. It is so cinematic in feel and like a classic film noir. The author, Shane Kuhn, has a screenwriting background so I’m sure that’s no accident. The dialogue is snappy and the story moves quickly and keeps you engaged.
Plot Twist: This book has three stories in one and John Lago’s final assignment has many twists and turns. It’s one of those just when you thought it was over the shit hits the fan type stories.
The Intern’s (Audiobook) Handbook: I listened to The Intern’s Handbook audiobook, read by Pete Simonelli. I am a fan of this narrator from the romance novels he’s performed (under the name Sebastian York) including Emma Chase’s Tangled and Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series. Simonelli’s voice is strong, confident and smooth and I’m smitten with it. He kind of has a Jeffrey Dean Morgan type of voice and is a really great storyteller. Simonelli’s narration comes off so effortlessly and he embodies John Lago’s cockiness and internal struggle in his performance. He makes all the voices distinct, and I like that his female voices are not overdone. Simonelli’s voice swagger fits John Lago’s character like a glove.
Take a listen:
The lowdown: The Intern’s Handbook is like a summer popcorn movie with lots of action. There’s not as much actual intern office stuff as I would have liked, though I think the premise is perfect for the movies and the fast pace and twists are a blast.
Read if you like: Black comedies, pop culture references, Tarantino movies, pulp fiction. There’s also a free prequel novella called Casual Friday you can check out to get the flavor of the book.
Author Shane Kuhn discusses the book:
Mailbox Monday is a weekly event where we share our latest book arrivals. Link up and find new mailboxes to stalk at the Mailbox Monday blog!
Here’s my week in books:
Noggin by John Corey Whaley – Kirby Heyborne performs this coming-of-age book
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle – Yay the sequel to Better Nate Than Ever! Also performed by the author!
Love Life by Rob Lowe – I’ll always have a soft spot for Rob Lowe, and he even performs this book!
Other books in the mail:
How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker – A teenage girl gets signed up for a weight loss reality show and deals with the consequences of her new fame and svelte body.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – New Jenny Han! In this book, Lara Jean’s secret letters to her crushes get mailed.
Blue Notes by Carrie Lofty – A New Orleans set New Adult book about a piano prodigy and the rich and powerful guy who takes an interest in her.
Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata – Such a cute cover! This Middle Grade book is about an eleven year old adopted boy who feels like he’s an “epic fail” to his parents. Why else would they want to adopt another baby?
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis – This fantasy book sounds very intriguing. It is hard to sum up in one sentence, but it’s a dual pov about a teen boy who when he closes his eyes sees life through a different character.
What’s new in your mailbox?
Today is Record Store Day! My vinyl records always ended up scratchy back in the day, and I currently embrace the digital world of Spotify and whatnot. However, I do have a lot of vinyl records in my house, since my husband (Movie Date Andrew) has an entire room dedicated to music. He even has a dj set coming up soon.
Vinyl is still really popular and collectible with cool limited editions, colored vinyl, and swanky turntables. On Record Store Day you can hit your favorite independent record store and find all kinds of specialty items. If you’re into that sort of thing hopefully you’ve already hit the shops since I know they sell out of the good stuff quickly. Here’s what’s on offer for RSD at local music mecca Amoeba - Andrew’s favorite record store haunt.
While Andrew is shopping today I took some pictures of some favorite music-themed YA in his music cave. Even if you aren’t a vinyl collector, if you’re a music fan you may dig these books:
Amplified by Tara Kelly – Jasmine moves to Santa Cruz to prove she can make it as a musician.
Beige by Cecil Castellucci – Kay moves from Canada to Los Angeles to live with her dad, aka The Rat from punk band Suck.
Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway – What happens when the story of your breakup becomes a hit song?
The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz – A teen works in a record store and moonlights as a music blogger known as The Vinyl Princess.
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales – A depressed girl finds solace in music and DJing.
DJ Rising by Love Maia – Marley has a stressful home and school life, but DJing provides a release.
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert – An estranged mother and daughter have a punk rock bond- can it lead them back to each other?
Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick – Amber puts on a brave front, always looking on the bright side. Circumstances take a turn for the worse, and can Amber come out of it like a rock star? This book doesn’t have the major music theme that the other books on this list do, but Amber still has her own inner soundtrack of positivity.
Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning – Molly’s band The Hormones was supposed to be just for fun, but they unexpectedly rise to stardom.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – Before it was a movie it was a book! Music references galore.
Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker – A music-obsessed teen spends the summer in Austin for an internship at a record label.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills – Gabe is a transgender teen who hosts a weekly radio show called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. This book is a 2014 YA Stonewall award winner.
How do you listen to music? What is your favorite music-themed book?
Hollywood is still enamored with book adaptations and there are a slew of them to look forward to this fall. This week we got the first look at the trailers for two highly anticipated adaptations: GONE GIRL and IF I STAY.
Gone Girl is based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 runaway bestseller. The film adaptation stars Ben Affleck, Rosalind Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sela Ward. The trailer hit the Internet today. Let’s take a look:
This is a David Fincher directed film based on a favorite book, and starring Ben Affleck – I’m pretty confident I’ll see this one opening weekend. Look for Gone Girl to hit the big screen October 3. I highly suggest you pick up the book first! I hear Gillian Flynn wrote a whole new ending for the movie- wow!
If I Stay is based on Gayle Forman’s 2009 book, and the movie trailer debuted on MTV today. If I Stay stars Chloe Moretz, Mireille Enos, and Jamie Blackley. Here’s the trailer:
If I Stay is directed by R.J. Cutler and from what I’ve seen from photos so far the casting looks pretty great. (And the trailer gave me chills) The book If I Stay is one of the first books that got me hooked on YA back in 2009 so I really hope the movie does the book justice.
Look for If I Stay to hit the big screen August 22. Bring tissues! And read the amazing book first to see why you need to bring the tissues.
Happy Book Birthday to Jennifer L. Armentrout’s DON’T LOOK BACK!! DON’T LOOK BACK is a young adult suspense novel coming to you from Disney Hyperion.
I don’t read a lot of mystery, but the DLB synopsis calls out to me, and I may already have this book on my library hold list. It has a big mystery with a twist, amnesia/ unreliable narrator, and romance. And Armentrout’s books are so addictive that doesn’t hurt either.
Today I have an excerpt to share to give you a little taste of DON’T LOOK BACK:
I didn’t recognize the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or
friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeds choked the front of the dilapidated home.
Windows were boarded up. There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered,
wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Walking felt harder than it should be, and I stumbled off the chilly asphalt, wincing as
sharp gravel dug into my feet.
My bare feet?
I stopped and looked down. Chipped pink nail polish peeked through the dirt…and blood.
Mud caked the legs of my pants, leaving the hems stiff. It made sense, seeing as how I wasn’t
wearing any shoes, but the blood…I didn’t understand why there was blood staining the knees of
My vision clouded and dulled, as if a gray film had been dropped over my eyes. As I
stared at the weathered asphalt under my feet, large and smooth rocks replaced the tiny stones.
Something dark and oily seeped over the rocks, slipping through the cracks.
Sucking in a sharp gasp, I blinked and the image was gone.
Hands trembling, I raised them. They were also covered with dirt and scratches. My nails
were broken, bloodied. A silver ring wrapped, encased in soil, around my thumb. Air froze in my
chest as my gaze crawled over my arms. The sleeves of my sweater were torn, revealing pale
flesh covered in bruises and gashes. My legs started to shake as I swayed forward. I tried to
remember how this had happened, but my head was empty—a black void where nothing existed.
A car drove by, coasting to a stop a few feet in front of me. Somewhere in the trenches of
my subconscious, I recognized the flashing red and blue lights as a source of safety. Elegantly
scrawled along the black-and-gray side of the cruiser were the words ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF’S
Adams County? A flash of familiarity came and went.
The driver’s door opened, and a deputy stepped out. He said something into the radio on
his shoulder before he looked at me.
“Miss?” He started around the cruiser, taking tentative steps. He looked young for a
deputy. Barely out of high school and able to carry a gun seemed wrong somehow. Was I in high
school? I didn’t know. “We’ve received some calls into dispatch concerning you,” he said
gently. “Are you okay?”
I tried to respond, but only a hoarse squeak came out. Clearing my throat, I winced as the
motion scratched and pulled. “I…I don’t know.”
“Okay.” The deputy held up his hands as he approached me, as if I were a skittish deer
about to bolt. “My name is Deputy Rhode. I’m here to help you. Do you know what you’re doing
“No.” Knots formed in my belly. I didn’t even know where here was.
His smile strained. “What’s your name?”
My name? Everyone knew their name, but as I stared at the deputy, I couldn’t answer his
question. The knots started twisting more. “I don’t…I don’t know what my name is.”
He blinked, and the smile was completely gone. “You don’t remember anything?”
I tried again, concentrating on the empty space between my ears. That was how it felt.
And I knew that wasn’t good. My eyes started to tear up.
“Miss, it’s okay. We’ll get you taken care of.” He reached out, lightly taking hold of my
arm. “We’ll get this sorted.”
Deputy Rhode led me around the back of his cruiser. I didn’t want to sit behind the
Plexiglas, because I knew that wasn’t good. Only bad people sat behind the glass in police
cruisers. I wanted to object, but before I could say anything, he settled me into the seat and
wrapped a coarse blanket around my shoulders.
Before he locked me in the bad part of the car, he knelt and smiled reassuringly.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
But I knew he was lying, trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work. How could
everything be okay when I didn’t know my own name?
ABOUT DON’T LOOK BACK:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all—popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her—even if the old Sam treated him like trash.
But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory—someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
“This engrossing thriller packs a heady atmospheric punch with plenty of theatrical scares,” Kirkus Reviews
“Armentrout has written another winner. From the first page to the last, she builds both terror and confusion to the point where readers will be hooked and on the edge of their seat. This standalone contains all of Armentrout’s usual trademarks– a strong and determined heroine, witty comments and hot guys–but she adds in an extra layer by ratcheting up the suspense to the highest degree and follows it up with an ending no one will see coming.” RT BOOK REVIEWS 4 1/2 Stars TOP PICK
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
Are you as excited as I am to read this book? If you’ve already read it, what did you think?
Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re talking about all the Bookish Things (that aren’t books) that we want to own! This was a fun exercise, because I’m usually just all about the books. I found lots of great gift ideas though!
1. E-Reader cover - It’s hard to find vegan e-reader covers, and I love the one I have, but can’t help but be tempted by this pretty one. Source
2. Bookshelves - This Stacked Teacup Bookcase is fun. Source
3. Book Jewelry - This shop has a lot of cute bookshelf necklaces! Source
4. Book Mug - A banned books coffee mug! Source
5. Book Stationery - Lots of great literary greeting cards! Source
6. Book Art - This would be great in a child’s bedroom, or in my own library of course. Source
7. Book Accessories - How handy is this Personal Library Kit? Source
8. Book Bag - Lots of great literary tote bags can be found here, like this Little Women bag. Source
9. Phone Case - Vintage library card inspired case! Source
10. Reading Lamp - Love this book rest reading lamp. There are lots of other great bookish items at the LAPL store. Source
What are the bookish items you have your eye on?