We Deserve Monuments follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Avery as her and her family leave Washington, D.C. to return to her mother's childhood home. Avery's grandmother is dying, but somehow her mother and her grandmother still can't bring themselves to reconcile over decade-old, hidden arguments. While Avery struggles to adjust to a new school and new friends, she must also try to untangle the deep roots of family resentment that could keep her family broken forever.
This book is beautifully done. The prose is something out of a dream, and stays light and airy in the same way that small towns seem to hover in a landscape. The past is interwoven into the landscape to create a truly textured story. Every moment is given the weight and wonder that it deserves, and is a glorious reflection on the raptures of youth. Honestly, my only issue is the plot. I feel like the story would've benefited from more focus on Avery and her family, and less on the drama with her friends. I appreciated it in the beginning, but I felt like things fell apart so quickly that I couldn't get invested in what was going on. Avery herself was sympathetic, but both her and every other younger character in the book makes some truly stupid decisions. It worked better for Avery, since it showed her struggling to grow up and be an adult in her family situation while still embracing her teenage years, but I'm not sure if anyone else has enough of an excuse. With the three generations being examined, I wished that Avery's mom had gotten more of a spotlight in the story instead of whatever was happening with the kids all of the time. The story was still tight, and I felt like the ending was deserved and poignant.
I know it sounds like I didn't like this book that much, but that's just because its a very well done story with lots of style and a lot of things to nitpick. My opening notes still stand: this is one of the most poignant and affecting books I've read this year, with a lot of heart and charm distilled into it. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to read some beautiful prose and cry over family!
Reviewer Grade: 12
Although I was skeptical at first, I quickly fell in love with the bizarre world of Dellecher and its fourth-year theater students. The worldbuilding and three-dimensional characters transcended expectations. I read this novel in a mere 3 days, and it didn't take long to get me hooked. I'm obsessed the way these students were with Shakespeare. Unfortunately, this beautifully written novel has some glaring flaws that it wasn't poetic enough to cover. The plot started off strong but lost its way in the whirlwind of the theater world. It veered towards a tangled romance before reluctantly wandering back to its roots abruptly before the novel ended. I would've liked more development in any and all realms besides Oliver and Meredith. In fact, I would happily read a series of books detailing these seven students' journey through university. After about six hours spent reading, I feel I only have a vague idea of these characters, and I'm on the edge of my seat for more. Regardless, it was a thrilling ride, and I'm optimistic for Rio's other works.
I had heard a lot of wonderful reviews about this book and the book definitely met every one. The book focuses on the scandalous life of the mysterious and legendary actress Evelyn Hugo as she retells the story to unknown journalist Monique Grant. During her retelling, the story unfolds that connects everything, leaving the readers still wanting more. I was happily surprised reading and would love to get the chance to be able to experience the story for the first time again. I enjoyed the old timeliness of Hollywood and the resemblance to Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. If you want to be engrossed by a book with twists and turns till the end, then this book is for you!
Reviewer Grade 12
Have you ever read a book that’s so bad it’s good? Maybe even great? Even if you haven’t, there is room for one of these books in everyone’s lives. This book for me is Horror Hotel. Cringey, “Gen Z” dialogue? Horror Hotel has it. Badly written plot with an obvious twist? You can find that in Horror Hotel. One dimensional characters? You guessed it, Horror Hotel. Though, I will give this book credit where it’s due. I had found myself laughing harder than I’ve ever had at a book. It has the exact same energy of something you’d write with your friends at 3 AM. If you are looking for grade-A trash, you’ll definitely find it in Horror Hotel.
The Song of Achilles was written in 2011 by American writer Madeline Miller. It is an adoption of Homer's Iliad and is a retelling of the great Greek warrior Achilles. The tale is told from the perspective of Patroclus. The novel follows the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as it is written in the novel.
*"He is half of my soul, as the poets say."*
*Madeline Miller, by using their relationship, is trying to show the role of men in ancient Greek society and how homosexuality was viewed in that era. The most pleasing thing about this novel is Miller's poetic writing and how beautifully she has painted the vivid picture of the emotions of all the characters, and it has taken me into another world while I was reading.
There are some debates that have been going on for centuries until today. For example, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles has been debated for centuries, and still there is no clear evidence of whether they were lovers or close comrades. The second one is that Helen was the cause of the Trojan War, and destroying thousands of ships and men just for a woman is foolishness. As Dr. Faustus says:
*"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"*
Mean by there, is she that much beautiful that kings are willing to destroy anything?
The novel also contains many themes. The first one is *"honour and pride".* Achilles fights for his honour because he wants his name to be remembered, in the same way Agamemnon and Menelaus fight for their pride, which they lost when Helen was kidnapped by the king of Troy. For Greeks, honour and pride is everything, and they prefer to sacrifice their lives over honour and glory. They believe that sometimes violence is needed to prove one's pride. As it is set down in the text:
" *The sons of Troy are known for their skill in battle, and their deaths will lift your name to the stars."*
The second major theme is *impulse to show power*. Achilles, Agamemnon, and Menelaus fight for power and want to have control over their lives; one of the biggest reasons for participating in battle is to showcase their power. Besides this,the powerlessness of women like Helen, Briseis, and Deidmeia can be seen in the novel. Agamemnon treats Briseis badly as a wench or a war prize, and also, Helen is forced to choose a husband even though she doesn't want a husband.
*To conclude* , the novel is a wonderful piece of literature and deserves to be read because the way Medellin Miller has described all the events and feelings of all the characters makes you feel the same.
Alice Oseman's Heartstopper series blew me away, so I was excited to see her take on a contemporary novel. It was... pretty good. The main character Georgia has a very relatable personality as she experiences her freshman year of college, as she tends to overthink interactions and struggles with finding her identity. The close relationship she has with friends was a really beautiful story to read about, so that part was amazing. Pip was a really funny character, and I liked how she also had depth as a side character and didn't need to be with Georgia at all times. However, the plot revolves mostly around Georgia discovering her sexuality, and that felt very repetitive. It was really cool to have asexual aromantic representation, and finding peace in that identity with the loving LGBTQ+ community. I do just think that Georgia kept having the same discussion with herself and dragging friends into experiments with her sexuality for no reason. For example, I found it weird that her roommate, Rooney, was obsessed with getting Georgia a romantic partner. Georgia mentioned being single once, and now Rooney just won't let it go? The book would have been much better if Georgia had just consulted her friends instead of dragging them into this great mission of finding a partner (but it would be a short book if everyone communicated too well!). Overall, I would really recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their sexuality or just a new experience like going away for college. It is a great coming-of-age piece.
Every time I think, "Alice Oseman can't possibly outshine previous Heartstopper books," she proves me wrong! This graphic novel had beautiful art and great representation. Heartstopper: Volume Four follows Charlie and Nick as they deal with separation anxiety, saying "I love you", and working through Charlie's declining mental health. There are some really important themes introduced, the biggest being Charlie's anorexia and OCD diagnosis. This was a really emotional part of the book, but it is also crucial for more young adult books like this to spread awareness about how common mental illnesses are. Charlie and Nick's relationship is strong, but it was also cool that they discussed how spending time with other loved ones instead will strengthen their relationship. Plus, their friends are diverse, endlessly kind, and could easily be real people. It is always a joy to read this series, and I can't wait for Volume Five!
I chose this book because I had watched the movie and was curious as to how the book was in comparison. I found that both were great overall and I don't dislike one more than the other, but the book felt more mature than the movie. Overall I really did enjoy this book, the detail in the book was a great touch, as well as was relatable. Personally, I felt a connection to some of the characters having to leave for college and trying to get the best possible score on the SAT. There is only one thing I did not enjoy about this book though, which is that there is a lot of smoking. The smoking feels a bit excessive, especially when the book follows a freshman in high school, so the amount of smoking I feel like does not portray a true aspect of what that would look like in real life. I would recommend this book to an upper teenage audience since there are mature topics such as brief sexual scenes and smoking. I gave this book 4 stars since I felt like it was very well written and an enjoyable book to read; the deduction of one star was due to the portrayal of smoking. This is honestly a great read that I personally love, I would definitely recommend it!
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a story about Gilda, who is an atheist, twenty-something years old, highly anxious, and gay. When she goes to a church after hearing about free therapy and assumed to be applying for the receptionist position, Gilda can't bring herself to correct anyone. Over her term as a Catholic receptionist, Gilda will have to lie about a dead woman, learn the lines for mass, hide her new girlfriend, and discover the hope that can come with the truth.
This book is the type of realistic fiction I usually call "a day in the life." It isn't about extraordinary circumstances or new love or changing lives. It's just someone struggling to survive the way that they always have, perhaps while working to get themselves out of it. Gilda's life is terrifying and constrictive. She's constantly afraid of what other's think of her, of people's disapproval, and yet is often so exhausted that she can barely communicate with the people she cares about. She's also, as the title foreshadows, constantly obsessing over death. Seeing the world through Gilda's eyes is strange and sad and scary. But it's also extremely enlightening. Even though Gilda is definitely an neurotic anomaly, her quirks and struggles are extraordinary relatable. The author really forces the reader to stare in the mirror, to see the fears and embarrassments that hold us back on a daily basis. One example could be Gilda's focus on death, which is almost paradoxical since her fixation on the end of her life keeps her living the life she has right now. I know that when I finished this book, it filled me with the desire to live my life to the fullest. The book also stands out with great prose, memorable characters, and vivid atmosphere!
All in all, this book might be unpleasant to read sometimes due to the depressing subject matter, but it's so educational and important that I'd recommend everyone read this at least once!
Reviewer Grade: 12
The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war -- and he intends to keep it that way. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried -- and some wounds aren't meant to heal. This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Leigh Bardugo pours into her characters -- into their failures and successes, and their responses to trauma, threats, and uncertainties. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays their hearts open to the reader, which is easily perceived through the multiple different point-of-views. As a result, there is a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all of their glassy fragility and heartfelt vulnerability. Fantasy, politics, inner-demons, and romance -- all used to support this novel through character development and unexpected turns in the story. The King of Scars duology is my favorite out of the entire Grishaverse series -- combining storylines and characters from both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I absolutely loved this book, and would definitely recommend the series.
Last Night at the Telegraph club is set in the 1950's and follows Lily Hu a student in her final year of high school, and follows her life. During a dangerous time for Chinese Americans. It progresses slowly the struggles of Lily slowly begin adding up putting pressure on the characters, in multiple moments you can feel the pressure yourself, and feel the struggles. It confronts multiple stereotypes of the time this book it set women in stem, and the lesbian community. The characters in this book feel like their real, the characters have multiple layers to their personality. It immerses you in the story that you can perfectly picture and see yourself in the settings. The ending it leaves you wanting more, I would love to see a sequel of the following events that happened afterwards.
If I had to convince you to read this book in one sentence it would be this. Multiple times I had to stop reading, set down my book, and contemplate if Alice Oseman was in my head. If there is one thing Alice Oseman can do it is write relatable characters. This book follows Frances, a straight-A student whose heart is set on getting into Cambridge, and Aled, a quiet boy who is secretly the creator of a hit fantasy podcast. Brought together through art/media, Frances and Aled become close friends and tackle life changes, emotionally abusive people, mental health, censorship, and just being teenagers. This book perfectly describes the life of a teen going through high school and showed pure friendships based on a mutual love for something. This was extremely captivating and it helped me get out of a reading slump instantly. If you are looking for a book with characters you can relate to, diversity, true depictions of mental health, or just something exciting to read, I would recommend this over and over.
Reviewer grade: 11
Me Myself & Him follows Chris Schweitzer, a graduated high school senior ready for his last summer in small town Ohio. But when he does whippets in an alley, passes out, and ends up in the hospital, his life splits down two paths. The story follows both these possibilities: one where his parents find out and ship him off to spend the summer with his distant father, and a second one where his parents remain in the dark, and he stays in town with his slightly distant friends. No matter which path taken in this multiversal tale, both sides end with Chris' life changed forever.
This book was very solid. I say this meaning no offense: it wasn't boring, slow, tangential, or otherwise hard to read. It was easy to read, and if I recall correctly, I finished it in under two days. I call this a solid story because that's what it is: a story that is very easy to enjoy. The characters are fun and witting and exciting; it's very easy to get invested in them and their choices. Even antagonistic characters (often including the main character) are likable and relatable, despite their horrible choices. The dual story structure stays interesting and fresh, exploring the characters from many different angles. I like how the story expands on its dual universe origin, including science and research to solidify the basis of the premise.
There were a couple things that threw me off. One storyline became, to me, far more intriguing because it delved further into the protagonists relationship with his father, which really helped flesh out both characters. The other side of the story had its merits in evolving the protagonist and his relationship with his friends, but it wasn't nearly as compelling for me. The only other issue was that the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I don't disagree with how the ending turned out, since it resolved both sides of the story, but the ending just felt a bit abrupt.
Still, these are my opinions, and one of the reasons I called this a solid story is because I think anyone could enjoy it. This book is fun, clear-cut despite a complex premise, relatable, and heartwarming. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a story about goodbyes and new beginnings, with some bittersweet laughter along the way!
Reviewer Grade: 11
They Both Die at the End is a perfect book for both tweens and teens! Set in a futuristic time where the "Death-Cast" can predict your death, two teenage boys, Mateo and Rufus, meet through an app that leads you to your last friend. Both of them are on their death day, wanting to live memories they never got to and they learn how much of a gift it is to find love, even in your last hours. Though Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, they connect in a way they never could with anyone else and live the short life they wanted together.
I loved this book because it was deep and meaningful. It gave thought to so many things and made a day last an eternity. I stayed up all night reading this book because I just couldn't put it down, it was entrapping how the author put down their last moments together as a story with so many lessons to learn from. I picked this book because it was different than what I normally read and because I wondered how the author would put it together, knowing that the title gave it all away. I was not disappointed at all! If anything, I was only sad and disappointed about how it ended, otherwise, the book was fantastic. Even though the title of the book is a complete spoiler, by the end you never see it coming and it is so sad when you realize the book is over. The ending was very predictable but it will surprise you even though you know it will happen. It was an amazing book about their story of gay love and I ended up crying at the end because it was so beautiful. The author made the boys very relatable and emotional in a way that truly hooked you into the book. This is one of the best books I've read this year and I would certainly recommend that you read it too!
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a fictional autobiography written by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong. It is written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese-American son to his illiterate mother.
To me, it was a surprise to hear that this novel was a work of fiction. The scenes constructed were so raw and real and written with so much emotion, that I automatically figured that this was a memoir. However, I later discovered that this book was fiction, with a couple of truths sprinkled in. I really loved the format that Vuong decided to use in this book because the letter format felt very lyrical and poetic at times. The book was refreshing and easy to follow, as opposed to the topics discussed in the book. As an Asian-American myself, there were many topics addressed in the novel that I could really sympathize and relate with, and while the subjects addressed could get pretty heavy and difficult to read through at times, I was grateful that Vuong took it upon himself to shed some light to many real issues and experiences. While I personally enjoyed the lyrical writing and could sympathize with the difficult subjects, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. There are many scenes in the novel that could be triggering and too much to handle, and even I felt like I had to put down the book a few times to get a break. I would recommend that before anyone decides to read this book, they should look up the content and trigger warnings. However, those that do decide to start this novel will definitely not be disappointed.
If you aren't prepared for a soul-crushingly beautiful read, don't pick up this book. In a world where everyones' death day is predicted with absolute accuracy, two teenage boys meet for one last day of life together. I admit to throwing this book across the room several times due to the intense, sorrowful nature of the story and feel that I am justified in doing so. Silvera writes a compelling love story with a melancholy twist; I feel that the plot is worth the tears that leaked from my eyes for days after finishing this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a sob-worthy, artfully written story.
If you're looking to get educated on LGBTQ+ history, this is a great book to try. I loved hearing about some of the most influential figures of the LGBTQ+ movement and their impact on others. They persevered even through backlash from events like the AIDS epidemic and built a community where everyone is welcome to be themselves. Some parts can get slow to read, but the authors use modern language and humor to appeal to a variety of audiences and make history more entertaining. This book is so empowering, give it a try!
I'm not a huge graphic novel fan because previous ones I've read have been too complicated to get hooked on. This series totally changed my mind! Heartstopper is a wholesome story of two schoolboys who fall in love and deal with all sorts of backlash from it. Even through the pain and sadness that bullying can cause, Charlie and Nick have a lovely way of persevering and having great communication with their diverse support system. It teaches that no matter how alien you might feel, there is always someone ready to listen and accept you. Plus, if you like this series already, try out the Netflix series for a beautiful adaptation of it.
This Is Where It Ends follows four students who recount their perspectives going through a school shooting at Opportunity High. Initially, I was intrigued to read this book since it covers a very sensitive topic and is a topic that I was interested in learning more about. However, the novel completely missed all my expectations. Instead of a thoughtful, heavily researched, realistic story, I got a novel that seemed to be an insult to any school shooting victim. The novel was way too action-packed, in such a way that every single plot point in the book seemed wildly exaggerated. Making it worse, the school shooter in the novel was way too villainized. With cheesy lines and no real reasoning behind his actions, the author made it seem like the shooter was some kind of superhero comic villain, with no other drive for his actions besides to incite fear in others. There was no psychological deep dive into why the shooter, a previous student in the school, ended up in the way he did, and why he thought his only solution to his problems was to murder his classmates. It was a shame to read such a novel meant to address a major problem in America, but was instead contorted and desensitized in a way to appeal to the entertainment industry, and failed to have any educational value at all. To put it shortly, This Is Where It Ends seems more of an action-thriller novel, not one that is meant to be taken seriously at all.
Reviewer Grade: 11
She Drives Me Crazy opens with Scottie Zajac horrendously losing the first basketball game of the season to her ex-girlfriend. And it keeps going downhill after that. After a horrendous fender-bender in the parking lot after the game, Scottie is forced to carpool with Irene Abraham, the beautiful head cheerleader with a heart of stone. But after a few twists and turns, Scottie comes up with a perfect way to get back at her ex: fake date Irene until their next basketball battle. But within their fake relationship, Scottie finds that maybe feelings, relationships, and exes aren't as simple as she thought.
This book was fairly simple. It was a standard rivalry turned forced cooperation turned love story, with lots of shenanigans along the way. The things that made this book stand out from the simplistic romances of its peers was surprisingly not how the main love story was handled, but rather how the previous one was. Scottie had been in a nasty breakup caused by a nasty relationship, and it shows. She's torn about her ex and is constantly conflicted over whether ending the relationship was a good idea or not, something that's sadly very common for victims of toxic relationships. Her self esteem is noticeably impacted, and she has to struggle with this throughout the rest of the book. The book also handles a lot of other difficult subjects really well, like the demonization and trivialization of cheerleading, and the criticisms given to gay athletes. Despite these heavy topics, the book still delivers the fun romance it promises, with a few interesting twists thrown in that complement the themes of toxic relationships and moving on. The characters of the book were also surprisingly endearing. Scottie was loveable despite her flaws, Irene was one of the coolest female characters I've read in years, and even the side characters each shone and grew in really unique ways.
All in all, this was a great book, which I'd definitely recommend for lovers of romance, rivalry, character growth, and some 90's era romantic gestures!