Sixteen year old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father's new girlfriend moves into their home. He's already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she's not ready to resume a normal life yet. Distancing herself from those around her, Krista spends all of her time obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.
When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away. It isn't until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista is finally able to confront her grief and begin to let things go.
I recently read and reviewed Going Places by Kathryn Berla (out March 2018) and then got the opportunity to pick up The House at 758. I love discovering new (to me) authors and titles because it's a bit like opening a present- you aren't sure what you are going to find inside, and as you open it you find something that's just right. That's kind of how I feel about Berla and these two books right now. Two months ago I didn't even know they existed, and now they've become books that I'm eager to order for the library and pass on to my students.
I don't want to give much away here, because the story includes some fabulous reveals, so this review will be short and sweet. This book, like Going Places, focuses on a kid who is hurting, who is trying to move forward after a tragedy and who is trying to figure out how to exist in a world that isn't familiar anymore. Here we find Krista still reeling from her mother's death. She's coping in ways that other people don't understand, in ways that are a little odd, and even in some that could be potentially dangerous. When her best friend goes away for the summer, Krista is a bit rudderless. It takes a few unexpected relationships to shake Krista and make her take a hard look at what she wants and if she wants to let herself be vulnerable again. Berla does a great job telling Krista's story. Anyone who has lost someone will find something familiar here, from the anger and grief, to the feelings of being alone even when you are in a room full of people. They'll recognize the guilt and the feelings of "what if?" that fill Krista's mind, even if they are lies that she is trying to get past.
What I love most about this book is that there is no big grand happy ever after. There is just life. In the end you get the sense that Krista's life isn't perfect, but that she'll be okay. For me that's a great message not only for me as a reader, but for me to send my students as their librarian. I'm always trying to find books that reflect real life (even those that fall into the realm of fantasy and sci fi), I want them to be able to see themselves somewhere in the pages, and I think Berla does a great job here. Krista is damaged and she's hurting, but she'll be okay in the end.
Last week I had the chance to make a stop at Letchworth Falls- the first time I'd been there in the winter. A lot of the park was shut down, but we were able to park at Glen Iris Inn and walk down to the falls. The first awesome thing we happened upon was a frozen fountain. As the water from the fountain froze it created an ice cone around the fountain, with just a little water still coming all the way through- it was pretty cool to see. We also stopped at a few pull offs on our way out to get some other views of the gorge and the falls.
I definitely want to make another trip out in nicer weather to visit again and see the lower falls. It's been a long time since I've been here!
All in all a pretty fun few hours!
For more information about Letchworth
I've been trying to see Jonny Lang in concert for years. Once the concert was cancelled, and several other times he was close to my hometown on days that I was no where near. I had the chance to see him at the Jimi Hendrix Experience a few years ago, and while that was an awesome show, it wasn't quite the same as seeing him play his own stuff for a whole night. Luckily the stars finally aligned and my friend and I got tickets to see Jonny at the Tralf in Buffalo. We got our tickets months ago, while eating alligator at a Blues Bar in Lake Placid. It all seemed very fortuitous, even if we did forget it was happening until about a week before when Ticketmaster sent me an email reminding me we had places to be and things to do! I had never been to an event at the Tralf, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of my General Admission tickets, but I shouldn't really have been at all concerned. We snagged a great spot to stand and had a great time!
The venue definitely qualifies as intimate. We were standing room only GA, and while we didn't pay for the spots right in front, our area was only 20 yards or so away from the stage and we had a great view. The only thing I'd change next time would be to pay extra for a reserved table- this is ONLY because by the time the show started we were starving and having a table means we can grub way easier while we enjoy the show. Not going to lie- the show was amazing, but we were both planning where to get food while watching the show and as soon as it was over we were off and running hoping to hit up Mighty Taco or something equally as delicious (Mighty Taco was closed- so it was midnight pizza instead)
creeped on their instagram and realized that they were basically us but way more talented and successful. (I don't think I've ever written a more millennial sentence in my entire life) In fact, the next morning their instagram video was basically them driving around Buffalo trying to find food (#mightytaco). On top of loving the show and their online antics, we also had the chance to meet 2 members of the group at the merch table between sets, which was also super cool.
In other words... we are now fans. We listened to their Spotify channel all the way home. You should all go check out their website and if you have a chance to see them live, you should absolutely do that- they are amazing.
Jonny Lang was amazing as well! It was insane to not only hear him play live but see him play as well. Listening to him on CD's (back in the day) or on Spotify doesn't even begin to showcase how talented he is. The few songs I saw at the Jimi Hendrix Experience we awesome, but legit paled in comparison to seeing him do a whole set. It's a huge under-exaggeration to say that he gets into the music when he plays. The man is basically having a seizure of some sort anytime he steps away from the mic and focuses solely on the guitar. It was... intense. I can't think of any other word for it. He is a phenomenal performer and I am stoked that I had the chance to see him in concert. By far my favorite part of the night was when the band stepped away and Jonny took the stage alone with an acoustic guitar to play a few songs including Breakin Me and Lie to Me. Earlier in the night he also played an expanded version of Red Light which has been one of my favorite songs (by any artist) since it came out in 2003. Getting to hear it live has absolutely been a long time coming (pun intended...)
I took a bunch of photos and videos, although because of the lighting and the stage smoke, they are not the best quality. Feel free to check them out anyways and pretend you were there in the small venue enjoying an awesome concert.
Videos: Blue Water Highway and Jonny Lang
(More to come as they upload)
Blue Water Highway
(check out their website! See them on tour!)
(also check out his website and see him on tour.)
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