Contemporary

Book Review: Invincible

Book Cover
Author: 
Reed, Amy
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Evie has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she's agreed to stop
treatment, prepared to face the bitter end. That is, until by sheer miracle,
her cancer completely heals and she can move on with her normal life again.
However, everyone still sees her as Cancer Girl, and she's unable to live the
life she thought she gained back. That is, until she meets Marcus. To her,
even with the danger involved, he is the light at the end of the
tunnel,making her feel invincible to all harm. However, she had no idea she'd
soon be on a winding path down the drain.

This is a story that gets more and more depressing as it goes on. Already
dealing with the depressing topic of cancer from the start, you'll soon find
yourself jumping into topics of death, loss, abuse, and drugs. Since this
comes right from the eyes of the main character, this book has an almost
unbearable pain leading up to a depressing and nerve-racking conclusion. This
book is beyond criticism.

Reviewer's Name: 
Naomi S.

Book Review: The Last Forever

Book Review: The Last Forever
Author: 
Caletti, Deb
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

After tragedy strikes a family, Tessa is left alone with her father who doesn’t know how to grieve the death of Tessa’s mom. Her dad's way to fix their grief is to embark on a last minute road trip which lands them in her grandmother's coastal town. While Tessa tries to grieve she also asks her grandmother about the numerous questions she has about the past, questions about her mother and questions about her dad. Her dad leaves her alone with her grandma but the longer she stays there the less she wants to leave, especially after she meets the very handsome Henry Lark. She can’t help but wonder if she goes home if she will be faced with crippling grief over her mother and forced to take care of her delusional dad. She does her best to live in the moment and enjoy the time she has left with Henry before she leaves. Although it wasn’t my favorite romantic novel it is an enjoyable book and was fun to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S.

Book Review: Starry Eyes

Book Review: Starry Eyes
Author: 
Bennett, Jenn
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Zorie, a young girl who lives with her mother and father who are happily married; or so she thought they were happy. Zorie is suddenly struck with life altering information when her neighbor/ ex-best friend, Lennon hands her a manila envelope that had accidentally been delivered to the wrong house. Zorie is mortified when she opens it only to see photos of her dad with another woman, and is even more mortified that there was a possibility Lennon and his family had seen the photos too. Struggling to figure out what to do with the photos while juggling work and drama with friends, Zorie is all too happy to say yes when her best friend Reagan asks her to come on a camp trip. However, Zorie forgot about a previous commitment she made to go to the astronomy clubs stargazing party just one peak over from where Reagan's camp trip was. Wanting so badly to leave home for as long as possible and put her worries behind her Zorie decides she can do both, she will go on the camp trip and from there take a bus to Condor Peak for the star party. Zorie’s plans are turned a little upside down when Reagan picks her up for camping and Lennon is with her and some other familiar faces from school sitting in the back seat. Once they reach the campsite things take a turn for the worst when a fight between Reagan and Zorie ends up with Reagan and her other friends abandoning Zorie and Lennon in the middle of the night. Zorie and Lennon are then forced to talk about the past and all of the miscommunications that led them to hate each other as they hike their way to Condor Peak. This novel had a very intriguing plot, I loved the unpredictability of every page turn.

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S.

Book Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Author: 
Lewycka, Marina
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian is a very entertaining tale of the vastly different experiences and perspectives of Ukrainian immigrants post-WWII to post-Cold War in Great Britain. It's a story that also explores the challenges of caring for aging family members. Well worth the read - it'll completely broaden your horizons. Also, it's very funny.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: The Future of Us

Book Review: The Future of Us
Author: 
Asher, Jay & Mackler, Caroline
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The Future of Us follows Josh and Emma, two teens in the year 1996, who log in to Emma's computer, and are automatically logged in to an unfamiliar site called Facebook. Throughout the story, they work to alter their future, seeing it change every time they login to Facebook. At first, they are estranged friends, but we see them grow closer the more they encounter. This book, while it has an interesting premise, was not particularly fun to read. It was not particularly immersive, and the events just seemed to happen, not really dragging the reader into the story the way I prefer. Recommended for ages 12+

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: 
Semple, Maria
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Written creatively through letters, emails, and memos to and from characters, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is the story of a woman struggling with her past. Bernadette Fox is a former architect whose claim to fame was also her downfall. Now vanished from the architecture world, she lives in Seattle with her successful husband and tenacious daughter, Bee, and does all she can to avoid social interaction. While Bernadette is preparing for the family trip to Antarctica that Bee has been anxiously awaiting, a confrontation with another parent sends her spiraling out of control, resulting in Bernadette’s sudden disappearance. This book explores the difficulties of mental illness and how our actions affect one another, told through many different perspectives. Bernadette’s opinionated personality will have readers laughing, and her insights are truly relatable. A rollercoaster ride of emotions, this novel is beautifully and creatively written to portray a woman’s imperfections and a daughter’s determination to find her mother. Teen and adult readers alike will connect with Semple’s characters and appreciate her sense of humor in Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

Book Review: 365 Days of Wonder

365 Days of Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

After reading the critically-acclaimed book WONDER by R.J. Palacio, a family member bought me this book for Christmas. It technically has no plot but instead gives you a positive quote for every day of the year. Each quote and the book included is displayed creatively and colorfully to really amp you up all day every day. This book is called "Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts"
so, at the end of each month, there is a short story told by Mr. Browne teaching the audience lessons. I would recommend this book to any age group, if you're into life-lessons and positive quotes, then surely you should barrow this book (or buy it for year-round use). Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain book jacket
Author: 
Stein, Garth
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Garth Steins creates a beautiful image of the friendship between a man and his dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain. The narrative follows a dog named Enzo and his owner, Denny Swift, as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
The story is told from Enzo’s point of view as Denny leads his life as a professional race car driver.
I didn’t really enjoy this book. Enzo’s character felt a little bit forced and annoying. The writing style is somewhat similar to John Green’s in that it has this “fake deep” tone. I also thought the book was too depressing. Most of the time I like reading sad books, but with this one, it felt like there was always one bad thing after another. I probably wasn’t in the right mood to read this book, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere
Author: 
Ng, Celeste
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng poetically depicts the social intricacies and injustices of American suburban life. The narrative follows Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl as they move to a new town called Shaker Heights. The two become involved with the Richardson family, and Mia clashes with the head of the household, Elena. Meanwhile, a scandal arises when there is a dispute over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style was perfect for the story, and it reeled me in every time I picked up the book. This style also added to its provocative depictions of social injustices. I adored how Ng wrote both sides of the debate (about the adoption) equally, letting the readers decide who to side with. She didn’t dehumanize any of the characters. My only problem with the book was Pearl’s arc. There was a lot of focus on her character, and I personally thought she was a little bit boring. Her storyline was very predictable and flat. Besides that, it was a great book that was simultaneously lyrical and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart book jacket
Author: 
Lippincott, Rachel
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A story of a chronic illness, and the five feet that separates two people from life or love.

Stella has cystic fibrosis, which is an illness that causes buildup of mucus in the lungs. Most patients, if they never received a transplant, drown from the mucus itself. However, Stella has hope; but as that hope seems to be dwindling down, she meets a boy by chance, Will, who shows her how beautiful life really can be. No longer is her mind filled with death, but it’s filled with pure love and happiness. But here’s the catch, Will had cystic fibrosis as well, and his is incurable. “Five Feet Apart,” leads us through an enchanting love story of two teens who can never touch, never feel, never hug each other. They love in ways you can’t explain, and even though they know their love is short-lived, they stay together, through every breathable moment.
(Reviewer Grade 9)

Reviewer's Name: 
Hanna S

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