National Book Award/Finalist

Book Review: Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again
Author: 
Lai, Thanhha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: The Odyssey

The Odyssey
Author: 
Homer
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, and it is a literary classic about two great quests. Ten years after the fall of Troy, Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca, and his house is plagued with suitors wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. His son, Telemachus, feels overwhelmed but is sure that Odysseus isn't dead. With the help of the goddess Athena, he sets off to search for his father as the reader learns more about Odysseus's previous journey and resulting enslavement. Telemachus encounters many obstacles which shape him and build his confidence by the end of the story.
Although this book is a classic and was probably very popular in ancient Greece, it is not an enjoyable book to read. There is too much unnecessary dialogue, and the plot is excessively long. Due to the old language and lengthy descriptions, reading The Odyssey is a very strenuous task.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is a story that beautifully represents society in a way few novels can. Set in Maycomb, Alabama in the early 1930's, it is told from the perspective of a 6-year-old girl, Scout, as she grows, plays, and gets into trouble with her older brother, Jem, and comedic friend, Dill. Scout's wise father, Atticus, must defend an innocent black man accused of rape; along the way Scout meets people and learns things that impact her life. Meanwhile, Scout, Jem, and Dill, are determined to learn more about their mysterious neighbor and the violent rumors that surround him--sometimes getting themselves into humorous situations--and learn something surprising. The book is spectacularly and wisely written, with characters readers will connect with, and themes that are important in all readers' lives: courage, empathy, and the power of standing up for what you believe in. Scout's sense of humor and insightful observations will make readers think and keep turning the pages for more.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H

Book Review: Monster

Monster
Author: 
Myers, Walter Dean
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is an interesting and suspenseful novel. It is filled to the brim with moments that will have readers on the edge of their seat. Monster also is written in a unique format, in the form of a movie script written my the protagonist Steve Harmon, who is awaiting trial for a crime he didn’t commit. This story is written with intense figurative language that paints a terrifying image depicting the horrors of prison. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great suspenseful read. Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

To Kill a Mockingbird is a well thought out, very deep and well executed book. Although it contains some very strong language, I'd say this is a must read for any teenager. Set during the time of the depression, this book deals with many political issues such as racism while also managing to teach very important lessons along the way. The complicated sentence structure in the book, as well as the vocabulary serve to make it a very fun and chalenging read. In my opinion this book is truly one of the best written in history.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rohan G.

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Book Thief is a novel set over the World War II period. It tells the story of a young orphan, named Liesel. She arrives to her new home with her foster parents, Hans Hubermann and Rosa Hubermann. As she lives there, her love for books begins to grow. Taking risky steps, she steals books from many others, even rescuing one from a pile of burning books of the Nazi bonfire.
As time passes by, Liesel and her family secretly shelter a Jewish boy from the father that had once saved the life of Liesel's father, Hans.

This book was well written and enjoyable to read. It took the perspective of two significant characters, Liesel and Death, which offers a standpoint that the reader could decipher themselves. In addition, with the inclusion of dry humor and insightful observations it would demonstrate a more impactful feeling towards the reader with the overall fate of the characters and the story. This is an important detail, that adds much more feeling that is captivating and interesting.

The Book Thief was a book that could not be predictable, nor fast paced.
Rather it was slow and every turn of direction the story had felt dangerous and worthwhile. It is important for the reader to understand it slowly, however is contradictory to the fact that it is highly captivating to want to see what will happen next. The Book Thief is personally a very well written book and is one of my favorites.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing
Author: 
Ward, Jesmyn
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is a mix of old folklore and spirituality, racism, social stereotypes, and empathy. It revolves around a family who face racism from the white grandfather of black children. The main characters are the mother, the son, and the baby daughter, who relies more on her brother than her own mom. Her mother spends more time doing drugs than raising her kids, so the grandparents have generally brought them up. Their father, a white drug dealer, is in prison, and the book follows the family’s road trip to go and pick him up. The novel switches between a modern setting, and the prison but from the 1940s, when the black grandfather was in jail. The story analyzes the reasons behind a broken family, and brings to light the continued racism in the southern USA. However, the spirituality plays a role because another character who joins the road trip is the mother’s dead brother, who appears as a ghost and brings up the idea of family. I enjoyed this book very much because of its complexity. The book can be a slow read, as all the scenery and characters are continually described in precise detail, but the author leaves no point unexplained. The meanings behind the plot are subtle, and the supernatural aspect is a good point of interest to tie together the past and the present. I loved the honesty behind the author’s writing, and I enjoyed the beautiful writing style. I would highly recommend this book, and would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Author: 
Taylor, Mildred D.
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is about an African American family living in the South during the Great Depression who faces the daily struggles of racism. The novel is told through their oldest child's, Cassie Logan, point of view. The Logans own their land and are successful which makes them a prime target for lynching or other racist acts. Cassie's family perseveres through the situation due to their independent lifestyle.

I wouldn't recommend "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". I found the book extremely boring and uninteresting, but other people might not. I read this book with my class because I had to. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however what the Logans faced can relate to other people. In my opinion it was predictable and it was by far not the best book I have read this year. "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is not a bad book I just found it boring.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

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: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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

Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a wonderful coming of age book that shows the hardships of being different in high school. Simon Spier is your average high school student. He has a close group of friends who he loves, he gets decent grades, loves participating in theater, but he keeps a secret about himself from all of those around him.
"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a great story for those who love love, drama, and just being a teenager. Truly a story for the ages.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

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