LGBTQ

Book Review: They Both Die at the End

Image
They Both Die at the End
Author
Silvera, Adam
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

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!

Reviewer's Name
Ella R.

Book Review: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Image
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Author
Vuong, Ocean
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

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.

Reviewer's Name
Michelle Y.

Book Review: They Both Die at the End

Author
Silvera, Adam
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

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.

Reviewer's Name
Katherine

Book Review: Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

Author
Fitzgerald, Tom (Thomas)
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

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!

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: Heartstopper

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

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.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends

Author
Nijkamp, Marieke
Rating
1 star = Yuck!
Review

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

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: She Drives Me Crazy

Author
Quindlen, Kelly
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

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!

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: Baby & Solo

Author
Posthuma, Lisabeth
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Baby & Solo is a story about friendship, heartbreak, movies, and The Things That Are Wrong with us. It follows Joel, fresh out of treatment for years of mental illness and ready to begin his life. He applies for a job at the local ROYO video, and finds himself thriving with a clean slate, especially around the enigmatic and acerbic Nicole "Baby" Palmer, someone who might be his first real friend. But as life begins to spiral out of control (as it usually does) he finds that he might need to face his past if he ever stands a chance of moving forward.
This book was brilliant. I have no other words for it. From the first chapter, the startling humor and charm of our protagonist kept me turning pages. And as the cast emerged, with Baby especially being a breath of fresh air in a world so choked with mediocre or boring female characters, I found myself unable to put it down. This book is around 400 pages, and I sped through almost all of it in one night, it was that gripping. The first thing I have to commend this book for is its heady sense of life. Some books merely create the illusion of life in its characters and story, but this one felt more like a movie (ironically) where I could almost see the character's faces, hear their voices, and bask in their triumphs or tremble before their struggles. Something about the rawness of the characters made me more attached to a book about teenagers from the 90s who worked in the equivalent of a blockbuster than any contemporary iPhone using, slang abusing teenage stereotype from the 21st century. Another thing that's amazing about this book is the prose. For one, I didn't expect it at all. It was a funny book, a sort of dark-comedy, with a loving attachment to Star Wars and laughable hatred of Dirty Dancing. I didn't think there'd be some parts of this books with absolutely gorgeous writing, that could take you from laughing to nearly crying with a few well-placed, beautiful lines and startling deep writing. Another thing: this book is really sad. But not a cheap, overworked kind of sad. It's the sadness that seeps through the snarky lines and hilarious antics. There's a melancholy to this book that soaks into almost every page, and genuinely makes you realize that life is a tragedy for these characters, and that their triumph is being able to smile through it. The ending nearly broke my heart, but the promise of moving forward, the promise of getting better, kept me smiling through my tears.
I could rave about this book for hours, but I don't want to give a single thing away, because I desperately want the very few people who read this review to read this book. All in all, this book is astounding. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, but especially those that like quick humor, fantastic characters, 90s nostalgia, and books that tears your heart apart while putting it back together.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Reviews: Gracefully Grayson

Author
Polonsky, Ami
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Gracefully Grayson is about a boy in sixth grade who is forced to go through the struggles of transfering to a girl. In the middle of sixth grade, Grayson has the opportunity to try out for a school play. He has not done any after school, but he decided to go out on a limb and try out, but for the lead girl part. He ends up getting the part, but word spreads fast around his school, and him and his teacher, who is the play director, both get hate. While he rehearses for the play, he has to deal with bullies, the weight of thinking that he might get his teacher fired, and his aunt not supporting him fully. He also has to figure out whether he wants to show off everything he wants to wear, or stick to the boring ways boys act and what they wear.
This book was ok. It showed the pressure that LGBTQ people go through every day, but there were no huge plots. The book was boring at parts, but overall, it was a good story and book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy read.

Reviewer's Name
Mackenzie

Book Review: The Song of Achilles

Author
Miller, Madeline
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I initially picked this book after seeing all the clout it was getting, as I'm sure many have noticed, it's popularity is unmatched. I walked into reading the story with a raised eyebrow, unsure if it would live up to its hype. It did. The story closely follows the Greek invasion of Troy after Helen is swept away by Paris, and if you have read the Iliad, then I am sure you already understand the plot. What differs from the work of Homer, however, is the pace at which Miller writes and the story she pushes. It is a beautiful rendition of war, love, and heartbreak. Between fighting battles and training with Chiron, Miller shows the sides of these famous heroes we all guessed at but never saw-- from running along a sun-warmed beach to tearing out hair, you will never be as deeply connected to characters as you will while reading this. My favorite part about this book was how beautiful Miller's incredible prose and the scenes that are forever engraved in my head: Thetis touching the chin of Achilles, Patroclus's hands on the gold of well-known armor, and a stone memorial built on the greatest hill, two figures standing side by side nearby it. This is not only one of the top book's I've read this year, but nearly the best book I've read in my entire life.

Junior-11

Reviewer's Name
Sarah T.