National Book Award/Finalist

Book Review: A Separate Peace

Book Cover
Author: 
Knowles, John
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In his award-winning book, A Separate Peace, John Knowles writes a compelling story about a friendship at a New Hampshire boarding school. Revolving around the time of World War 2, two sixteen-year-old boys find themselves stuck between the brightness of youth and the solemn disparity of adulthood brought on by war. Gene is a studious serious loner who is the opposite of Phineas, the handsome and popular athlete. Although their personalities may be fundamentally different, they are best friends and roommates who do everything together. The book is narrated by Gene, the protagonist, who slowly begins to resent Phineas for his athletic talent and widespread popularity. In his mind, the once-trusted bond grows into a rivalry, and a rift begins to develop and separate them. Knowles writes the book in rich tones, laced with symbolism and meaning. As it dives deep into themes, this book is often required to be read in high school English class. It is admittedly slow moving, but still filled with marvelous lessons and morals. While I would definitely recommend reading this book at least once and praise it for its depth, personally, it was not incredibly engaging or life-changing for me. While A Separate Peace is an American classic, it lacks the emotional sentimentality that really makes a book stand out.

Reviewer's Name: 
Hope M.

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

 The Catcher in the Rye
Author: 
Salinger, J.D.
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

This book is about a boy named Holden's life. Holden has decided to run away from school after he was suspended. He had to figure out life because he didn’t want his parents knowing. I didn’t like this book because I found it wasn’t very interesting. The reason being is it’s not very adventurous and keeps repeating negativity throughout the book.
(Reviewer Grade. 9)

Reviewer's Name: 
Theanna

Book Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: 
Mafe, Tahereh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is an amazing book. The novel isma coming of age/romance story, based around a 16 year old, muslim girl named Shirin. Shirin experiences horrible acts of Islamaphobia at her new high school and in public because of her hijab. Things get even worse when Ocean, a popular white boy at the school befriends her. The interracial aspect of their relationship makes not only Shirin vulnerable towards acts of hate, but Ocean as well.

Once I started reading this book, I could not stop! I am very thankful my teacher recommended it to me. The story was engaging and fast paced! I loved how beautifully the story was written, and the powerful message behind the words. It is important that teens learn about serious topics like racism and religious discrimination to help prevent hate in the future. There are a few parts in the book with mature language and topics, but I still recommend that teens and adults read this novel!

Reviewer's Name: 
Aztin

Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Author: 
Thomas, Angie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Hate U Give is about a 16 year old black girl raised in a fictional poor community of garden height who goes to a private school on the other side of town. The main problem in this book is when Starr the main character’s best friend Khalid, who gets pulled over from leaving a party and sadly gets shot by a white police officer. The book contains some sensitive topic about black oppression and police brutality. Although it does talk about cop brutality it isn’t a police- bashing book. The book's intention is to spread awareness on the deep conflict with in poor black communities in our nation. I highly recommend this book 10 out of 10.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miguel

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Author: 
Yoon, Nicola
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The reason I chose this book is because of the many books I have read this one stood out the most. The story is about a girl and a boy meet one day in New York. The girl is trying to get her deportation reversed and the boy has a Yale interview. The meet during several events and become fast friends. What I enjoyed most about this book was the events that lead them to become friends, then more than friends. What I didn't like about the book was the ending. I didn't like how everything turned out.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kaitlyn B.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

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

To Kill a Mocking Bird is about the racism and false accusations towards African Americans in the 1930s. The book is for a more mature reader because of the language used and some of the ideas that are introduced. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the racial prejudice in the south in a book with a good plot. The characters are also relatable to a reader which I really enjoyed. Overall I think Lee did an amazing job writing this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jana M.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I read this book my freshman year of high school and there are some really interesting parts to this book involving suspense, murder and mystery but the book can be a little confusing if you don’t really pay attention. This book is very well written as it’s showed us how it was during this time period, giving us a whole perspective on how the characters were feeling at this point of time. The characters in this book do have to deal with a couple of problem which some don’t really go their way for example the whole situation with Tom Robinson. Although this book is well written it does carry some inappropriate language include a very discriminatory word, but you do have to keep in mind that this book was written in a very controversial time where saying the n-word wasn’t really frowned upon (not say that is was right). I wouldn’t recommend this book for children because it’s does deal with murder and rape but other than that it is a very good book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miguel R.

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

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