Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Historical

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Harrow, Alix E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This beautiful work of art, is a love letter to stories and bibliophile’s everywhere. I loved Harrow’s intoxicating magical debut so much that I blew through it in 4 days! I read it back in March but it still sticks with me to this day! But I have to admit, I have been a hard time finding words to describe this magical beautiful experience of a book because it grabbed my heart so completely and did so much to me, that to try to express it in words and to remember all the intricate details has been difficult. But I am happy to report I am currently doing a re reading and so far it is just as magical, heartbreakingly tender and beautiful as the first time. I am so excited that it has finally come out and more people get to experience this epic journey into unknown worlds. This should be on everyone’s reading lists!

Meet January Scaller, a brown girl, an in between sort of thing some call her, growing up in the 1900’s a time rife with social change, and colonialism. A difficult time where the world is in transition and nothing is at it seems. January is the ward of a wealthy white benefactor, Mr. Locke, who spends his waking moments hunting for the worlds artifacts and then selling them to the highest bidder. Or more truthfully, employing people like January’s father to hunt down these treasures, so he can sell them. As a result, his sprawling estate resembles a museum decorated with treasures and all sort of odd things from around the world. Being taught to always be the good girl, she is tollerated in Mr Locke’s society but still she feels like a artifact herself.

With her father gone for months at a time and Mr. Locke attending to meetings, January grows up alone, content with wandering the lonely grounds and halls to be among it’s treasures and discover its secrets. One day when she was 7, playing amidst the wide open fields of the estate, she discovered a door, a blue ragedy door that hadn’t looked like it had been used in ages, and she wished for it to lead to elsewhere, using a old diary she had found. Next thing she new, she was stepping from the familiar into a new world unknown. When she was was older, in the same place she found the diary, she discovered a mysterious book that spoke of secret doors, other worlds, and adventure. As the pages keep turning January discovers connections and truths to her own story, that she never would have imagined and is led into a adventure of a lifetime.

Full of beautiful imagery and entrancing atmospheric prose, this story exhibits the best things I love about books and fantasy in general. Prose that flower off the page and into the reader’s imagination, a coming of age tale, a magic system based in words and stories, other lands, a wild, beautiful, strong heroine who has trouble fitting in and conforming to standards, dastardly villains, sweet friendships, and a heart of love and family at it’s center.

Stories have a way of communicating deeper truths that can’t be understood and communicated in any other way. And their is so much in this book! A imaginative tender hearted lonely adventuresome girl full of all the desires that young girls have, the yearning to be loved both romantically and by a father, and the desire to be part of a grand adventure in unknown new exciting places. This story communicates hope for better things and the understanding that their is something more. It communicates love and the need for family and belonging, it communicates the importance of discovering identity and sticking to your truths no matter what. And it communicates so many other truths that are at once both universal but at the same time, personal as stories speak to each of us differently and discovering what they say, is part of the adventure.

And everyone should go on this adventure! Everyone should read this intricate, tender hearted, complex, magical, tale that will sweep your heart between it’s pages and not let it go, even after the last page is turned.

Thank you to Orbit publisher for my ARC of this wonderful tale for review!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Awards:
Under a Painted Sky
Lee, Stacey
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Under a Painted Sky is a fictional western story set in 1849 on the Oregon Trail. It is about two girls named Samantha and Annamae who after some unfortunate luck leave their home, Missouri, behind to start a new life, but they must first survive the Oregon Trail. While traveling along the Oregon Trail, Samantha and Annamae disguise themselves as boys to avoid unwanted attention and they join a group of cowboys, but will Samantha and Annamae be able to trust them? Under a Painted Sky is a story about friendship and self-discovery that leaves you wanting to read more. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Under a Painted Sky because Stacy Lee developed the characters very well and I would recommend reading it.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Emma G
Inside Out and Back Again
Lai, Thanhha
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
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Foer, Jonathan Safran
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows a nine-year-old boy named Oscar coming to terms with life after his father's death on 9/11. When looking through his dad's things, Oscar breaks a vase and finds a key and a mysterious envelope labeled "Black". He decides to embark on a mission to find every person named Black in New York City in an attempt to find the one Black who knew his father. Along the way, he meets new friends and discovers more about those he already knew. This book is written from the alternating perspectives of Oscar, his grandmother, and his mute grandfather whom Oscar has never met. This adds an interesting layer to the story, as Oscar lost a parent in 9/11 and his grandparents, both children at the time, lost their families in the bombing of Dresden. This shows a theme throughout this book that grief from war and terror is universal. This book's overall commentary on the human experience and grief, both individual and collectively experienced by a nation, shows the skill and thoughtfulness of the author. On a personal level, I did not find the characters particularly enticing and had a hard time following the plot at times, but I would still recommend the book, especially to someone with an interest in 9/11 or the world wars.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna R
The Help
Stockett, Kathryn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Help is a novel set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960's, written by Kathryn Stockett. The main character, Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan, is a aspiring journalist who lives with her parents and has no intention of starting a family like all of her friends; what she really wants is to be a writer. She decides to take a big risk and interview the help--the African American women who work in the households of white families to make a living--and write about their experiences. Kathryn Stockett's novel follows the lives of three women: Skeeter and two African American women: Aibileen and Minnie. The Help is spectacularly written and very accurately depicts society during segregation. It will make readers laugh out loud, cry, and connect with the characters. The plot is unpredictable and enjoyable, told through several perspectives which creates the perfect character development.
I strongly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Genres:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
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
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A classic piece of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a wonderful depiction of life along the Mississippi river and times past. Huckleberry Finn is a wild, adventurous, and self-sufficient young man who finds his way along the river with an escaped slave. Stealing, superstitions, and deception all describe the journey Huck Finn and Jim take together. They encounter rivaling families, con artists, and Tom Sawyer in their attempt to get north. Mark Twain paints a vivid picture of life in the South with slavery in a way that shows that not everyone believed the same thing. A truly fun and interesting story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book that will interest even the most disinterested reader.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
The Gilded Wolves
Chokshi, Roshani
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Gilded Wolves is an excellent adventure-mystery novel set in an alternate Paris that details the adventures of a team of misfits as they perform heists in an attempt to reclaim things they had lost. Each character is represented in the book with chapters from their perspective. This format allows for the reader to engage with the many different characters on a personal level by reading their personal thoughts and getting the details of their past that isn’t expressed in other parts of the book. The storyline of this novel is very interesting and keeps you hooked with the mystery and suspense. This novel is incredibly enjoyable and I would highly suggest it.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird is truly a masterpiece of American literature.
Along the lines of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee presents us with a coming of age story set in 1930s Alabama. Scout and Jem Finch explore their hometown, get into trouble, wonder about the mystery of Boo Radley, and are faced with a great challenge when their father must prove a man to be innocent. Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem's father, is a wholehearted, unprejudiced role model who always stands up for what is right and who anyone can learn a lesson from. Overall, I understand why many schools require their students to read this book as it is wonderful literature for all generations.

Reviewer's Name: John B
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

You are slowly floating down river on a warm summer night. You have no worries as you gaze at the endless stars above you. You had a simple day; catching fish to eat and lazily laying in the sun as you float wherever the river takes you. This is the life of Huckleberry Finn.
I gave this book three out of five stars because it was good however it wasn't good enough for me to consider it one of my favorite books. I appreciated the multiple conflicts, the complexity of having several conflicts at once made the book interesting. The characters were all well developed even side characters had underlying intents, and backgrounds.
Additionally, the relationships between the characters was engaging, I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Huck and Jim. Finally, I really enjoyed the internal conflict of Huck as he traveled with a slave. Huck's moral conflict from a society being raised in a society that supports slavery was striking as a 21st century teenager. Despite the positive elements of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" it is only pretty good because I couldn't relate to the characters and the book lacked an emotional connection that would make it one of my favorite books. Regardless, you should read this book for to develop an understanding of the culture of the past.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie W
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a fantastic novel that examines the racism present in the South during the Great Depression. The book includes several remarkable instances of justice being served to the widespread prejudice present, which captures the reader. All of the character are well developed and serve well in their roles, especially the main protagonist. The entire setting is also intriguing and forms a solid foundation for the plot. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone as it is a fascinating tale about Southern life.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Between Shades of Gray
Sepetys, Ruta
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Taking place during WWII... Lina, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives a peaceful and normal life drawing and going to school but when the NKVD, better known as Soviet officers, force them to leave, adventure and chaos abduct Lina's normal lifestyle. Lina, her brother Jonas, and her mom Elena have to travel by train living with the bare minimum to survive off of. From Soviet officers forcing them to work to stealing food to survive, Lina has to find a way to outlast WWII and the capture of her family. Her main goal through all this; to find her dad. This dramatic adventure written by Ruta Sepetys will pull you off your seat.
Reviewer's Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
The Marvels
Selznick, Brian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book begins on a ship at sea with a boy named Billy Marvel. He survives a terrible shipwreck and later finds work in a London theatre. There his family lives for generations as brilliant actors--some who are the best kind of people, some who are awful people. All of the family are actors and love the stage and spotlight until young Leontes Marvel. He hates acting, misses his cues, and can’t remember his lines. His parents are ashamed and banish him from the stage. He decides that his destiny lies somewhere else so he runs away.

A century later, Joseph Jervis, another runaway, finds a place to stay with an uncle in London. Grumpy Uncle Albert and his strange but beautiful house lure Joseph on a search for clues. He begins to think that he might be related to the Marvels and begins an incredible adventure to find out who he truly is.

I really enjoyed this book. During the mystery, I felt like I was right alongside Joseph as he found clues to his mysterious past. I am happy that I figured out the mystery before Joseph did. The story had a very sad ending, but overall stayed pretty bright. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Brian Selznik’s other books, mysteries, or heartfelt books.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C
Outrun the Moon
Lee, Stacey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I tore through this book. Mercy is strong and inspirational, but also displays characteristics not normally seen in fictional characters. All of the girls seem ahead of their time and are well-rounded and friendly. Mercy does not have everything handed to her on a silver platter, and she must work for what she wants. This book is realistic, fits the time period, and is very interesting.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna D.
Genres:
Suite Francaise
Nemirovsky, Irene
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Suite Francaise is an interesting book detailing the experiences of multiple characters and what they face as they evacuate Paris and deal with the German occupation of France. I read this book for school but still found it very interesting. It was a bit slow at first with exposition of characters in almost every chapter. I did enjoy getting to see how different classes reacted to having to leave their homes and what they faced afterwards. Not only does Nemirovsky use multiple characters to show the difference in experience, but also her use of imagery and figurative language add to the essence of struggle. Overall, I enjoyed this book but wouldn't have chosen it myself.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
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.
The Girl From Everywhere
Heilig, Heidi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In "The Girl From Everywhere," sixteen-year-old Nix and her father lead a crew of time travelers abroad their ship, the Temptation, in a quest to find a way to save Nix's late mother. I really enjoyed this book -- I was hooked from page one. I think what really pulls you in is the complexity of the time travel -- in this story, they use maps of places during specific time periods to reach where they want to go. It's such an interesting concept that I hadn't seen before this story. I also really liked the crew -- they were all very diverse with interesting backgrounds and personalities. If I had one complaint, it's that Nix's love interest, Kashmir, is sort of your typical YA love interest -- suave, charming, sometimes abrasive, a little arrogant. Maybe it's just because this is a really common archetype in YA, but I found his character a little irritating. Nevertheless, this is an incredible story that is definitely worth checking it.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Tombs
Schaumberg, Deborah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Tombs is a story told from the perspective of Avery Kohl a girl in New York 1882. I found this book was a very enjoyable read. It had a very interesting air of mystery. I also loved the feeling of being unsure about what she would do next. I first noticed this book by its cover and then I read the summary on the back and found it to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to others looking for a interesting read. I would recommend this book for ages 13-15.

Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
The Book Thief
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief is a very well known book/movie and for good reason.
This story follows a young girl living in Nazi Germany who deals with her family hiding a Jewish man, the book burning's, and her own insatiable love for reading. The Book Thief gives an interesting perspective of World War II that we don't often see in historical novels with a story about a blind follower of the Nazi Regime but who also sympathizes with Jewish people. I really enjoyed this book as someone who loves WWII history and personal stories. I highly suggest this book to any reader, I think it is a very important story to read.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
To Kill A Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is an examination of racial tensions and living as someone who defies the social norms to do greater good. It follows a small family that consists of a father and his two children. The father, a lawyer, becomes the first white man in his time and area to defend a black man in court, alienating himself and his family from the rest of their society (because he did what was practically unspeakable in the town's eyes). A fascinating series of events ensue, in which the children grow up learning what it feels like to feel prejudice and can thus empathize with the struggle that colored people around them face. The father must sacrifice his social standing and endure hatred and threats because he chooses to defend the truth, rather than the race. All in all, I would recommend this book not only for its complex and very interesting plot, but also for its analysis of racism and human nature in regards to the greater good and a sense of humanity. Themes of empathy and sacrifice then escalate the plot to its famous and unexpected finale. It is worth the read even only for the father's speech in court towards the end of the book, where he makes his case in favor of a colored man. I would give this book five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q

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