Notes from the Blender


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About the Author

Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook are both accomplished authors with established readerships in the young adult world. Trish is a former corporate communications consultant whose debut YA novel SO LYRICAL was published in May 2005 by NAL Jam; its sequel, OVERNIGHT SENSATION, published in February 2006. Brendan's novel (co-written with Emily Franklin) THE HALF LIFE PLANETS will come out from Hyperion in Spring of 2010; their second collaborative effort FAUXMANCE will be published by Walker Books in 2011. Brendan has two novels published by FSG's YA division (HOW YA LIKE ME NOW and FOREVER CHANGES) with a third on the way next year. Brendan's adult novels and nonfiction are published regularly at Random House's Villard imprint. He has been featured on the Today show, on NPR'sFresh Air, on Rosie, as well as in Good Housekeeping, the New York Times Modern Love column, and several other prominent magazines and newspapers.


4Q 5P J S Sixteen-year-old Declan is into black garb, violent video games, internet porn, and death metal music to assuage his grief from his mother's death. Classmates call him 'Columbine' and keep their distance. Underneath, he is surprisingly funny, and constantly fighting a 'boner' when pretty Neilly Foster is around. Since being dumped by her boyfriend (for her best friend), Neilly is alone and floundering in unchartered waters. They are both horrified to discover that their parents plan to marry and a new sibling is already on the way. At first, only reluctant allies in their defiance, they ultimately become friends as they discover what is important in relationships. Both protagonists, Declan and Neilly, authentically demonstrate how painful family upheaval is for teens already caught up in the maelstrom of their changing bodies. Both hate the surprise of the impending family-blending and feel insecure about their futures. Dec turns to his dark music to combat his distress while Neilly needs a friend. He deals openly with the 'masturbatory dilemma' of his emerging sexuality, but Neilly downplays the physical and relishes the ego boost of a 'hottie' boyfriend. Both experience release in hooting about their parents' unplanned pregnancy. With colorful characterization, a narrative full of teen socialization, and discussions of pertinent topics--such as same sex unions--this light-hearted novel will prove popular. That it also gives insight into the differences between the sexes is a bonus. F-bombs and street language (dildo, pussy) are present but they do not saturate the text. --VOYA-- "Journal" (12/1/2010 12:00:00 AM)

Cook (Overnight Sensation) and Halpin (Shutout) coauthor an amusing if slightly overstuffed story about two families that collide amid marriages and misunderstandings. Classmates Declan and Neilly are from opposite ends of the social spectrum. Declan is an angry yet sensitive loner, obsessed with death metal, video games, and sex (especially as it pertains to Neilly), who still blames himself for his mother's death in a car accident. Neilly is popular, but has just been dumped by her jock boyfriend and learned that her mother is pregnant and engaged--to Declan's father. Throw in Neilly's father's impending commitment ceremony with another man and Declan's escalating feelings for his stepsister-to-be, and the authors offer ample opportunities for drama. Both Declan and Neilly provide sarcastic and often funny perspectives on their rapidly changing lives, and while Declan's persona can feel somewhat forced ('Oh, for the love of SuicideGirls. Neilly Foster just said three way, '), the teens become allies and develop in ways they didn't expect. The swift plot and sympathetic characters result in a moving story about embracing change. --Publishers Weekly-- "Journal" (3/28/2011 12:00:00 AM)

Neilly, a hot, self-assured junior nicknamed 'Steely Neilly' after facing down ridicule when her father came out, and Declan, a quirky, brooding sophomore infatuated with Neilly and still angry about his mother's accidental death years ago, find themselves suddenly becoming siblings. Her mom and his dad get pregnant and engaged, forcing the two teens (including Neilly's body and Dec's hormones) into the same home. Dec and Neilly's friendship develops surprisingly fast, but the realistic way they help each other through the tough times that follow unfolds at a natural pace. Though the setup could easily yield a slapstick teen comedy, this novel in two voices has both the lightness of such a comedy and an emotional depth befitting the family that is about to be formed. A solid cast of supportive characters help the teens survive and thrive--and even find love--in their new family situation while honoring their pasts. It's a rare treat to find a teen novel with both heart and humor in such great and equal quantities. --Booklist-- "Journal" (10/15/2010 12:00:00 AM)

This contemporary novel deals candidly with multiple teen issues, including sexuality, peer problems, and the added anxieties caused by parental death, divorce, and remarriage. The plot takes form as Neilly and Declan learn that Neilly's mother and Dec's father, whom neither teen had met previously, are not only getting married but are also expecting a baby. In addition to this unexpected relationship, a homosexual relationship further complicates the lives of these two soon-to-be siblings. Neilly's father is planning to enter a same sex union with his longtime partner. The theme is clearly developed as the unlikely siblings deal openly with an outrageous range of controversial subjects with both humor and grace. Readers will recognize that both Neilly and Declan appreciates their family for all that they are an all they may become. This well developed story gives readers an opportunity to see teens 'taking the high road' as they deal with both peers and parents in a novel teens will not want to put down. --Library Media Connection-- "Journal" (1/1/2011 12:00:00 AM)

Two stepsiblings-to-be narrate this charming, funny and surprisingly touching family story in alternating chapters. Declan, the stronger of the two voices, is a prickly but sensitive metalhead obsessed with masturbation and Internet porn who lost his mom to a car accident at age nine. Neilly--over whom Dec secretly lusts from afar--is a pretty, popular junior who fiercely defends her father's partnership with a man. When Dec's dad and Neilly's mom reveal to their children that they plan to get married, the teens quickly unite in sympathy, forming a refreshingly warm sibling relationship as they come to terms with the changes in their lives. Though the lessons Neilly learns are somewhat pat, Declan's transformation from antisocial lech to tattooed vegan and 'boyfriend material' is unique and pitch-perfect, with a satisfyingly realistic number of rejections along the way. Dec's compassionate Aunt Sarah, whose Unitarian Universalist youth group becomes a refuge for both teens, brings yet more wit and kindness to this sweet, emotional, but never hokey mix. --Kirkus Reviews-- "Journal" (9/15/2010 12:00:00 AM)

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