I read a bunch of books over the holidays this year that I haven't had a chance to review yet, but I lurved them and want to share the glory with you. So: a series of brief review posts!
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar. I read a review of this one from the Booksmugglers and it sounded weird and fascinating, and I'm sorry but is that not the best title?
Aspen Quick is visiting his aunt and grandmother for the summer; they need a third family member to help with the ritual. Their family has powers--they can use objects to pull things from people--and they use them to keep the cliff that looms over the town from collapsing and destroying everything. Every few days, the cliff trembles and the family makes an offering. They take something--one kid's competitive spirit; another woman's enjoyment of rowing on the lake. They offer these to the cliff to keep it quiet.
But Aspen can take things any time. He can take away his friend's anger when he's done something obnoxious, or a girl's desire for him to go away. It's easy, and it makes life easy and smooth. He just can't figure out why his father wouldn't take away his mother's desire to move out.
So good. Aspen is exactly the kind of privileged kind-of-brat that having a power like that would make you. He doesn't seem like a jerk, really; even from the first page, you're reading this likeable guy, and he says some things that you think you must have misunderstood in the rush of worldbuilding. But as you go along you realize, no, he just has no idea what's going on outside of his own head. And so you follow Aspen through the summer when he basically learns what it means to be a good person. It's such a good story, with lots of sad parts, and also lots of parts about how hard it is to be a good person that, I'm sorry, I could really relate to.