Have you already read The Fault in Our Stars and need another tear jerker? Look no further – this is it. I started Laika in a coffee shop but I had to leave when the water works started. I finished the book in private where no one would judge me crying over a graphic novel about a dog. It was…an awkward moment.
You’ve been warned.
Before humans went into space, before chimps, there was Laika – the first living creature to go into orbit around the Earth. Laika went up in Sputnik II; a rushed second satellite launched by the Soviets in 1957.
Laika was a loveable and loyal terrier mix who ended up going from home to home, even being a homeless stray, before getting caught by the dog catcher and given to the Soviet space program for experimentation. Through all of it she was an upbeat dog, even loving the scientists who put her through such experiences like being in the centrifuge at 4 G’s or strapping her into special dog space harnesses. Those who worked with her came to love her so dearly, and author Abadzis really conveys the pain of the scientists who knew what they were doing – sending the dog on a one way trip into space.
Abadzis not only shows us what the stressed out and overworked Soviet scientists went through, but also lets us see the world through Laika’s eyes. We see her confusion, her love, and in the end her pain. This is story is not sugar coated – and it will break your heart. Even if the story of Laika is familiar to you, this is a recommended read.
Formats Available: Book
Reviewed by Lynette, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch
The title is a mouth full, but don’t let that deter you – in fact, the title is what grabbed my attention. Upon actually glancing past the cover, I discovered how epically funny this book is. I stress the word epically. I laughed out loud so many times that multiple people had to ask me what was so funny – which bothered me immensely because each time I had to put it down to talk to them!
Our evil genius, Oliver Watson, is in seventh grade, and to the rest of his classmates he’s seen as a bumbling idiot, scaredy pants, and general freak to steer clear of. It turns out Oliver has been playing them all – at home and at school – from the very beginning. See, Oliver’s really a secret evil genius who never saw the benefit of letting people in on his genius, because no one worthy of it. For all of his thirteen years he’s been amassing his strength and power; including an underground lair, body guards, more wealth than he can spend, and a professional grade science lab with a whole army of scientists and engineers at his disposal. All the while, everyone around him sees him as a sloppy and simple minded seventh grader – even his own parents.
Oliver is fine with people not knowing – in fact, he prefers it that way. He’s even put several barriers in place so that even if people come looking for him, they’ll never be able to prove it – should anyone ever suspect. But now – now he’s got something to prove…to his Dad; a former class president who won’t stop reliving his political past “glories.”
Author, Josh Lieb, is a producer from the comedy news show, The Daily Show. This is his debut novel.
Maddie is seventeen, and already has been given the descriptive nickname “Mad Dog Maddie” for her wild behavior. After too many wrong turns she finds herself in a teen rehabilitation center. Rehab isn’t for her – she does not want to be there, nor does she think her problems are comparable to the others she meets in rehab. Everything changes when she meets another rehab patient, Stewart. The time that had been dragging on so slowly in rehab is now happening so fast after meeting Stewart.
And then she gets to go home.
Maddie is a changed girl now, she’s actually trying to reel in her rage and desire to drink and party – but, no one is buying it, no matter how hard she tries, what grades she gets, or how nice she acts towards others. Though she is sincerely trying to turn her life around for the better everyone, including Stewart, classmates, and her family, suspect she’s going to slip back into her ways. So what about Stewart and his struggles? The more Maddie tries to turn to him for help the more distant he becomes.
Author Blake Nelson writes in a way that makes Maddie’s issues feel so real. Her struggle to reign in her anger and party girl behavior are heart breaking to read. As the reader you understand her sincerity, and yet you also understand why those around her are leery to forgive and forget her wild past. They can’t fully invest in Maddie again until she’s proved herself, and this isn’t anything she can turn around in a matter of months. She realizes she might be fighting her own reputation for years to come.
I would recommend Recovery Road to any young adult struggling to turn people’s opinions of themselves around. It isn’t easy, you might not be able to get everyone to forgive you, but you can come out the other side as the person you want to be – regardless of what anyone thinks about you.