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Realistic

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Have you ever felt out of place? Felt that you were hiding who you really were, or a big part of you? Incorporated with themes of self acceptance as well as humor, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is for you. This book tells the story of Simon, a junior growing up in a small, conservative town. He is gay, and has not shared it with anyone and is not ready to yet. Keeping up a relationship via email with a boy with the pen name Blue, he accidentally leaves his email logged on in the school they both go to. When a boy named Martin finds this email, he blackmails him. Help Martin win over his crush (one of Simon's closest friends), or get revealed on one of the most personal things a human can have, their identity and sexuality. Keeping up this correspondence with his crush, turning more flirtatious daily, while hiding from a close group of friends, is sure to cause all kinds of trouble.

I love this book, because it is full of heavy topics, along with humor and adorable romance. This is recommended to anyone learning about such controversial themes, and to a lower reading level audience, because it is a very easy read. However, the more mature the better, because many cuss words and descriptions of romance are used in this book along with imagery on underage drinking and more. If you have ever felt like you don't fit the description of the normal human being, check out simon vs the homo sapiens agenda today.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anna C.

Book Review: Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest
Author: 
Gewirtz, Adina Rishe
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The book Zebra Forest, by Adrina Gewirtz, tells a story of four lives that are held captive by their father and... the book is essentially just that. The plot is incredibly dull and basic, the characters have no real life to them, the book just seems ramble on and on, and here, everything that can be wrong with a book is present. The title doesn't even have any real importance in the book! I get how maybe a few people might like this book, but from a writing perspective, this book lacks in everything. The book tries so hard to address a somewhat difficult-to-cover topic but forgets that it's meant for older audiences and fails at both. Overall, I would only recommend this book only to the most desperate of readers, or a younger kid.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L.

Book Review: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Author: 
Anderson, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Ms. Bixby is a special teacher. She makes a difference in the lives of her students including Topher, Steve, and Brand. As each boy narrates the story, we realize what she means to each of them and we understand the lengths they go to to tell her this.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: Wish Girl

Wish Girl
Author: 
Loftin, Nikki
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Peter Stone needs a reason to live. Annie Blythe doesn't want to die.
When Peter's parents find the notes he hid, they move the family to Texas Hill County. But he still can't escape their swelling noise... until he sneaks off and discovers a seemingly magic valley, bursting with simply beautiful wildlife and nature. He meets the mysterious girl, Annie. She's a budding artist with terminal cancer, and in less than tow weeks, she's undergoing an extremely dangerous treatment to stop it before it spreads. Her eccentric and dreamy 'live-art' creates a haven for both of them, an escape from chaotic lives.
This book was pretty good, because I felt like the style of writing was meant for a slightly younger audience, which is interesting, because the topics it handled were mature and tough. -Jordan, Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Wonder" is about a boy with face abnormalities named August who goes to public school for the first time as a middle school student. While going to school he makes friends, enemies, and faces hardships most students don't face. The source of his bullying throughout the year is Julian. Auggie deals with Julian and his gang with his own new friends until something unexpected happens.

I picked this book because the description seemed interesting and "Wonder" is a battle book. I enjoyed the deep meaningful lesson that the book teaches. There is actually not a part I did not enjoy. "Wonder" was not at all predictable. I could relate to August because likes Star Wars and I do too. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend reading "Wonder" for a heartwarming story with many ups and downs.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Where the Watermelons Grow

Where the Watermelons Grow
Author: 
Baldwin, Cindy
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Rules for reading:

1) Never ever buy a book. The library has thousands for free.
2) Never ever write in a book, especially if you followed rule 1.
3. Never let more than 5 days pass without reading more of your current book.
Stories don't feel slow if you read them quickly.

Where the Watermelons Grow broke all my rules.

When it finally arrived in the mail, I was very very tempted to devour it all in one night. However, it only took a few pages for me to see that this book needed to be a whole different experience. Like Della, my mama suffers from mental illness. I was 20 instead of 12 when my mama's meds suddenly and tremendously stopped working, and I felt just like Della-- wondering why daddy couldn't take care of it, thinking that I was old enough now that I could fix it if I worked hard enough, and wondering in what ways I had caused or contributed to breaking my mother.

So many times I had to put Watermelons down for a few days (even weeks) to just soak up all my thoughts about a certain chapter or section. It also gave the story more weight to kind of experience it in real time instead of having everything resolve by the end of my week.

One passage that struck me the most was where Della's congregation notices Mama isn't at church and are asking Daddy if he needs any help, but he just sheepishly thanks them for their generosity and assures them everything is fine while Della's mind replays all the things that were not fine about Mama that week and she can't believe Daddy thinks it's fine. I've lived that scene so many times about my mama, and in my adult life when so much is not going great. It's not that help isnt necessary, but more that you dont even know what kind of help to ask for, or if it even exists.

Through it all, Della learns that she has many other women in her life to help mother her when Mama isn't at her best. I know my mom kind of resented my sister and I having additional role models because she didn't want to be replaced, but I don't know how we would have gotten by without having such a community of women willing to take loose chicks under their wing from time to time.

One last thing, I'm a little jealous that Della made peace with her situation at 12. It's a long road, and maybe I haven't mastered it yet either, but it would have been good to have this kind of assurance at 12. ;)

Reviewer's Name: 
Natalie M.

Book Review: Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree
Author: 
Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Fish in a Tree" is about a girl named Ally Nickerson who has dyslexia and faces the struggles of not being able to read and everyday struggles any student can relate to. Ally experiences the school hardships of being alone, bullying, and not wanting to work. Despite these struggles she manages to get through the year while succeeding with her new friends. Throughout the story Ally learns valuable traits that the reader can relate to and apply to their own life. The novel "Fish in a Tree" not only inspires the reader, but teaches that things do get better. I personally liked the book because it was inspiring and had a great plot.

I picked this book for multiple reasons and was not at all disappointed. My first reason for picking the book was because it is a new battle book. My second reason for picking "Fish in a Tree" was the fact the reviews states fans of R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" would enjoy it and "Wonder" is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed the amazing character development the most. I actually enjoyed enjoyed all parts of "Fish in a Tree" and can honestly can not find a part I did not enjoy. This book did surprise me. I expected it to end in a sad, depressing way but it was in fact the exact opposite. I related the most to the main character Ally and her friends Keisha and Albert. This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. I would 100% recommend reading "Fish in a Tree".

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book Wonder fallows different perspectives of a boy named auggie and his family and friends. Auggie is a little boy with a deformed face. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the switching of one prespective to the next. Anyone who wants to read this book is welcome to it can be read by 8-18 year olds or just anyone who wants to read it. The author did a really good job of tying all the perspectives together and make them not confusing. It was definitely one of my favorite books.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ashlyn H.

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