National Book Award/Finalist

Book Review: Homecoming

Author
Voight, Cynthia
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The main plot of Homecoming begins when Dicey, Maybeth, James, and Sammy Tillerman are abandoned by their mother at a mall parking lot in the town of Peewauket for unclear reasons. Their father had already left them previously, so after many financial difficulties they were forced to take a trip to receive aid from their Great Aunt Cilla in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They were left with limited money, not enough for a bus, to somehow make their way to Bridgeport. Led by 13-year-old sister Dicey, they must rely on their wits and survival skills to pave the way to their home. Upon arrival, they hit roadblocks. Despite this, they are able to make more money and discover the valuable information their grandmother lives in the small town of Crisfield, Maryland. They are unsure whether or not she is safe because of the instability that runs in the family. Without anything to lose, they decide to make their way to Crisfield in a second attempt to find their home.

I really enjoyed this book because of how they hooked me in really well by creating an atmosphere of desperation and mystery. For example, "why did their father leave?" or, "was their grandmother crazy?" The even better part about this is at the end of the book, it spun up the story very well for a book in a series. Most books in a series, in my opinion, leave you wanting too much at the end of a book. This one just left us with a few key questions left to answer. One of the characters that I felt like I related to, or rather that I hope to relate to, was a character named Windy. Windy was a student at college who took the Tillerman's in when they needed him the most. He was extremely kind towards them and better yet, he did it in a humble way. I hope I can be like this character so I can shine brightness into someone's life that needs it someday. I believe, even though the year is young, that this will be one of the best books I will have read this year. This book was an amazing tale, which I would recommend to anyone in eighth grade or higher.

Reviewer's Name
Cooper

Book Review: We Are Not Free

Author
Chee, Traci
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

We are Not Free, by Traci Chee is about the point of view of Japanese people throughout World War two. The book starts by showing slight racism from "ketos," and how their lives are getting torn apart because of the war. They then get shipped off to internment camps because Americans don't trust them enough to let them be free. The book focuses a chapter on each character to get the full amount of emotions and feelings about being trapped, not being trusted, and racism against each person in the book.
This book is the best book you will ever read. It gives such a great mix of emotions (I was jumping with joy one minute and crying the next.) It opens your eyes to bigger problems in this world and how lucky you might have it. Don't walk, run to the nearest library and read this book!

Reviewer's Name
Mackenzie

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

Author
Yoon, Nicola
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

This book is cute. We follow Natasha, a science and fact-based person, trying to do everything she can to prevent her family from being deported. And Daniel, a creative, hopeless romantic, is doing everything he can to please his parents by going to a Yale alumni interview. While on their own ways, their paths intersect. Daniel becomes determined to prove to Natasha that love is more than chemicals and is a real thing. While Natasha is determined to not fall in love with Daniel and stop her family from being deported.
As said before, this book is cute and explores what life is and what it can be. It does have a form of insta love, but it works with the setup and plot and is well used. I loved Natasha, she was relatable because of her fact-based ways. Then, Daniel was the kind of person that people are drawn to, funny, creative, and peotic. This book explores how much one person can affect so many other people's lives. It shows so many people besides the main character, and we learn so much about them. It is such a hopeful book and it's sp refreshing. Natasha and Daniel's relationship is rushed especially in the beginning. The social and racial aspects of this book are amazing, it was so well explained. There was history so that you could deeply understand why it was the way it was. This book makes you ponder about life, the universe, and fate. The chapters are so short that is it an easy and quick read. Overall it's a cute book that makes you think about life.

Reviewer's Name
Jordan

Book Review: The Westing Game

Author
Raskin, Ellen
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Westing Game is a fun, murder-mystery that follows 16 unlikely people working together to solve a mystery of "who-dunnit?". To sum it all up, this book is about a deceased man named Sam Westing, who planned a gathering for all of his distant relatives at his hotel to play a game that will uncover who murdered him. Sam Westing had said in his will that the very person who murdered him is one of the 16, and whoever had figured out who did it, would win the game and be the heir to his fortune. I liked this book because it was very fun trying to solve the mystery along with our characters and to see all of the different perspectives and thought processes of each of them. I did often find some of the characters frustrating to deal with, however, because they didn't try to work together and only tried to solve it for themselves. If I were to give this book a grade out of 10, I would give it a 7.

Reviewer's Name
Lilleah

Book Review: Hell of a Book

Author
Mott, Jason
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The premise of the book Hell of a Book by Jason Mott is as follows: an African American author has written a book and is touring the country to promote it. On his tour, he keeps encountering the same small child everywhere he goes. I can't say much beyond that without giving too much away.

This book recently won the 2021 National Book Award for fiction and I just don't think my review of it will do it justice. Not only that, but I hate writing overly exuberant reviews of books that are this unusual, because not everybody is going to love this book. Or understand it. But, that's the whole point, I think.

It's unusual. It's transcendent. It's elusive. It's ironic. It's deep. It's moving. It gives you tons to think about but very little to grasp onto.

I absolutely loved it. And I already want to read it again.

Reviewer's Name
Marika G.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author
Lee, Harper
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This book is in the top 10 definitely! To Kill A Mockingbird is a story of prejudice Jim Crowe South and the constant fight for justice. Jem is the older brother of 'Scout', a tomboy constantly trying to fit in with the big kids. In the story, they attempt to fight for a black mans rights in attempt to prove his innocence in a rape trial. I would highly recommend this book to middle and high schoolers. This book has a deep meaning of the powerful message that kids can have and their outlook in bad situations.

Reviewer's Name
Luke

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author
Lee, Harper
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel about Jean Louise Finch (Scout), living through her father Atticus' controversial decision to defend a black man in court. Along with experiencing the tribulations of racism in her home town of Maycomb County, Scout, her brother Jem, and her friend Dill explore the curiosities of the town and investigate the mysterious Boo Radley. The plot gave me excitement to continuing reading, and the joining of the two plots at the end created a perfect ending to the story. I thought that the book was really good due to the knowledge that was gained about the history during the Great Depression and the progression throughout the book that helped develop the main character. This was a school required book, but I would definitely recommend it to readers in high school and above.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name
Nicola

Book Review: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Author
Reynolds, Jason
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Look Both Ways By Jason Reynolds is a ten different short stories about kids walking home from school. The ten stories are woven together by the context of a school bus falling from the sky. But no one knows because they were all too busy with their lives. In ten different walks home from school, Look Both Ways captures the humor, poetry, and liveliness encompassing middle school and early high school life. It also explores seeing two sides or more of the same perspective. For example, the ‘bad kid’ may be good-hearted. I think the book was masterfully put together and woven ten stories seamlessly together. This book made me laugh, hope, cry, and believe. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name
Lucia

Book Review: Profiles in Courage

Author
Kennedy, John F
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This book contained a lot of wisdom from a president’s point of view and was a very useful insight into his perspective. I appreciated the many different stories about many different historical figures and their trials, however, i did notice a strong bias against others and their perspectives. If i was to recommend this book to someone else, I would advise them to be careful about taking every word he says to heart, as he doesn’t phrase things from a neutral perspective. Overall i enjoyed the book, but it should be read by people looking for insight, not as an entertaining or exciting book. Though it may not have been thrilling or suspenseful, overall it was really good.

Reviewer's Name
Aubrey

Book Review: The Color Purple

Author
Walker, Alice
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I loved this book. Celie, Shug, Nettie, and Sofia were such strong women, facing a hard life and rising above it. Celie in particular has cemented herself in my mind as one of the great female protagonists in all of literature. I love how she didn't let her circumstances squash her spirit. I learned so much about a wide variety of things in this book. I learned a lot about Africa in the 30s leading up to WWII and the desecration of the tribal land by the English. I learned about the treatment of African American women by African American men and about their resilience and bravery. I loved the ending. Perfect.

Reviewer's Name
vfranklyn