When you're doing an on the spot book talk (recommendation), most of the time the requester doesn't have all day to stand there and listen to you wax poetic about how the nuances of some character in such and such a book really tie it together. Most of the time, especially if they're a teenager, they want one sentence that answers the question: "what's it about?"
"Aboutness" is a subjective term, of course. Is Harry Potter about magic or overcoming adversity? Trick question, it's about friendship! Maybe. There's no correct answer.
Regardless, because I've been reading far more books than I can review, I decided that was actually a good thing, because that's not what the patrons need for on the spot, no time to wait requests. So for all of the books I've quickly read this past month (in my attempt to reach my goal of 100 books a year), here are some quick, to the point blurbs.
Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin
Summary: A teenager dies and must come to terms with her departure from Earth during her afterlife in "Elsewhere."
About: Acceptance, death, love
Genre: Drama, Romance
Audience: Teens who like some sappiness in their books. Someone looking for a quick read. Future Jodi Piccoult readers. If you can pick those patrons out (and I can), then give them this book now. That is to say nothing against Piccoult, she just writes for a very particular audience.
The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Summary: It's 1995 and after a teen girl downloads AOL, her future Facebook page comes pops onscreen. She and her neighbor attempt to make decisions to lead to their future lives as seen onscreen.
About: Facebook, present and future decisions, teen angst
Genre: Dramedy, Romance
Audience: Teens (or adults) who like some emotion with their comedy. People who like multiple narrators. People who are starting to get annoyed with the fake/overdramatic personalities encouraged by Facebook.
Between Shades of Grey*, by Ruta Sepetys
Summary: In 1941, Lina's family is imprisoned by the Soviet Secret Police in labor camps in Siberia and the North Pole.
About: Survival, love, death
Genre: Historical fiction
Audience: Anyone interested in the Holocaust period would enjoy this book. People who aren't afraid to feel all the feelings. Someone looking for historical fiction.
*NOT PART OF THE FIFTY SHADES TRILOGY - a woman grabbed my arm on the T when she saw me reading this book and eagerly asked if another book had come out. NO.
Ten Cents a Dance, by Christine Fletcher
Summary: Set in 1940s Chicago, a young girl leaves her low paying factory job to take up "taxi dancing"* in a nightclub to help support her family, but it ends up turning her life upside down in ways she could never have imagined.
About: Taxi dancing, the mob, racism, post-Depression era
Genre: Historical fiction, drama
Audience: Historical fiction lovers, people who are interested in dance, people who love movies about the depression
*Taxi-dancing does not equal prostitution, although it did in some cases. Basically, it was like a strip club minus the stripping, where men paid to dance with the ladies and you could earn a lot more doing this than factory work.
The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Bartoletti
Summary: A boy in the Hitler Youth illegally listens to the BBC news to find out what is really happening in WWII.
About: Holocaust, Hitler Youth, courage
Genre: Historical fiction (the author, a noted YA nonfiction author, used her book on Hitler Youth to create this story)
Audience: Students learning about the Holocaust (only because some of the information seems heavy-handed and takes away from narrative flow - she is a nonfiction writer after all)