Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Biography/Memoir

American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Sniper is the biography of the most lethal sniper in the United States military, who was apart of the United States Navy SEALs. The biography encompasses the story of Chris Kyle, to which it describes the story of both his military tours and his own personal/civilian life. This autobiography adheres towards the intriguing events that Kyle experienced within his life.

American Sniper was a very well written book that did a great job describing the embellishments and challenges that Kyle faced, when he was a SEAL or just a civilian. Personally, the book is one of the best that surpasses many other titles that I have read. I highly recommend it to other readers.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
Kehret, Peg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" by Peg Kehret is an interesting autobiography that gives insight to what people with Polio experienced. The main character, Peg, faints one day during school and has a high temperature so she is taken to the hospital. There she is diagnosed with Polio. This news is devastating to Peg and her family but Peg's family decides to stay positive while Peg is sad. Throughout her journey Peg gets better with the support of her parents.

I would recommend this book. "Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" is sad but also heartwarming at times. I read this book because it is a battle book. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however the emotions Peg felt could be related to a lot of other people. The book isn't predictable at all. It is not the best book I have read this year but I would still recommend this book as it is still good.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Irena's Children
Mazzeo, Tilar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved 2,500 children during the purging of Jewish people from Warsaw during World War II. This book details the trials and tribulations faced not only by Irena but the people and children of Warsaw. The underground network formed by Irena and her many friends allowed thousands of children to be placed with different families and continue living rather than being sent to German camps. I was truly awed by the courage described in this book and the measures taken by the people of Warsaw to save the lives of children who weren't even theirs or their friends. The horrors of World War II are indescribable but the necessity of remembering it is imperative, especially when stories like this are nearly unheard of

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Chinese Cinderella: the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Mah, Adeline Yen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The true story "Chinese Cinderella" is about a young Chinese girl named Adeline who faces the struggles of being unwanted and unloved. Adeline is seen as bad luck because her mother died after she was born. Her stepmother, Niang, hates her and favors all other siblings besides Adeline. Adeline achieves academic awards and good grades in hopes to make her family proud however they still see her as nothing. Throughout the book she faces many different problems all relating to her family mistreating her. Adeline is even sent to an orphanage at one point due to her friends coming to her house to throw a party for her. Not only does she face physical issues, but Adeline faces mental and emotional issues. Despite these issues, Adeline stays strong until the end and continues to try her best.

I read this book for a book report and was not at all disappointed."Chinese Cinderella" was sad but heartwarming. During multiple points in the book I cried. Adeline's feelings are very relatable and real. I thoroughly enjoyed the book."Chinese Cinderella" is in a genre of books I do not generally read however I was surprised and actually liked it. It is one of the best books I have read this year; I would definitely recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Awards:
Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose
Robertson, Sadie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"It's not that things aren't scary. They are, and they will continue to be. But each of us has to come to a deep, personal realization that God has already conquered fear - and by the power of His Spirit we can live completely free from fear."

Daughter of the star from Duck Dynasty, Sadie Robertson shares her personal testimony of overcoming fear and anxiety while she was a teen. Fear, anxiety, and depression are just a few struggles that teens deal with today, so through personal stories of her experiences on Dancing With the Stars, Winter Jam, and growing up as a celebrity, along with interactive questions, helpful Bible verses, and challenges, Sadie demonstrates for us how to be rid of our fear through the power of Jesus Christ. She also shows us how to embrace our individual purposes and pursue our passions, ignoring and putting away the fear that's trying to hold us back. As Sadie discusses in her book, sometimes our fear can become SO great, that it causes us to miss out on amazing opportunities and fulfilling our full potential. So if you're tired of having fear hold you back from things you are longing to do, I strongly recommend this book to you!!
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Into the Wild
Krakauer, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Into the Wild is a nonfiction narrative of the life of Christopher McCandless, a man who ventured into the wilderness of Alaska to live a self-sustained life. At first, I thought this book was awfully dry, but I soon warmed up to Krakauer's writing style. In fact, Into the Wild ended up being so thrilling and intriguing that I couldn't put it down. The best part of this book is the inspiration it provides. It talks about McCandless's reasons for leaving civilization behind, and it also mentions many transcendentalist authors. I now love nonfiction adventure. Everyone should read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
El Deafo
Bell, Cece
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is full of so much character it's so hard to stop reading, and it's also an easy book to read because it's a graphic novel.This book tells so much story of this girls problems she goes through, the pros and the cons.

Reviewer's Name: Delaney
We Bought a Zoo
Mee, Benjamin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"We Bought A Zoo", an inspiring story about following your dreams, is an interesting novel. Published in 2008, this book is now a major motion picture. I started reading this book about two months ago, having finished it mid-April. I am in the eighth grade, and found this book a little advanced.
It talked about terminology that is most likely aimed towards an older audience, of that including zoology and business. However, I found this book very informative and inspiring in spite of it's difficulty. This book is a personal narrative from the perspective of Benjamin Mee and his road to zoo owner. The copy I read did include some profanity (cursing), so if that is not something that appeals to you, this book may not be for you. However, if you like an inspiring read and learning new things, this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
I am Malala
Yousafzai, Malala
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"I Am Malala" was a pretty great book, and is now one of my personal favorites. It did not take me long to read and is good for anyone ages 12+.
This book does contain some sensitive contents and might not be great for younger kids, unless the parents are okay with harsh and sad topics in the Middle East. The book does not contain a whole lot of content on what goes on in that area of the world, and it mostly focuses on Malala and her story.
Malala is a young teen from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was raised peacefully, but the Taliban soon started to take over the area. The Taliban started like a little seed, but grew into a giant weed that basically controlled everything. They eventually made it so girls were not allowed to go to school, and women were not aloud out of their house unless they are accompanied by a male relative. Malala would not put up with this, for she has a desire to learn and know answers to her questions. She is the daughter of the principal of her school, and grew up admiring the students that attended. After surviving a bullet to the head, months in the hospital, and a move to England, Malala becomes activist and stands up for girl's rights and her belief that everyone has the right to go to school. I liked this book because Malala is a great role model and author. She really provides a strong figure for any girl growing up in this hectic world. This is definitely one of the best books I have read and I am sure I will read it again in times to come. Any girl (or boy) can relate to Malala because she described herself as being an ordinary girl that wanted to see change in the world. She shows that anyone can adjust their view on the world if they just use their voice to speak out. I absolutely suggest this book to someone if they are looking for a fairly quick read!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Into the Wild
Krakauer, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was required to read Into the Wild for English class and normally I’d be procrastinating to get into those books but I enjoyed this one a lot. In 1990, based on real life events, a wealthy boy named Christopher McCandless, fresh out of college from the East Coast, abruptly decided to donate all of his money to charity, sever contact with his parents, and set out for the great Alaskan wilderness. He journeyed all over the West Coast traveling around California, New Mexico, and Arizona and even held a job at a farm in South Dakota, eventually renaming himself Alexander Supertramp. Alexander picked up new skills and information such as how to skin a moose, different camps he might stay at, what weapons he needed, etc. from all of the individuals he met. For years, he remained in the continental United States but his goal was always to live off the earth in Alaska - he thought there was more to life than the money and fame his parents treasured. What I enjoyed most about this book was that there were actual accounts of Alexander’s journey either from his personal journal or the friends he encountered that allowed the readers to sympathize with Alexander and understand his goal despite his unfortunate fate. The problem with the novel was that I think Alexander was portrayed to be more conscientious and experienced than he truly was due to the fact the author, Jon Krakauer, outright states he idolizes him in the foreword. This concept can also be emphasized by the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter that provide quotes from famous adventure novels including The Call of the Wild and White Fang as if trying to ensure that Alexander was the hero Krakauer thought he was. However, I did find Krakauer’s bias easier to support the claim that Alexander was naive. Why else would the author be trying so hard to prove he was not? Slow-paced at some parts, but I do think this is an interesting telling of what so many individuals are afraid to do.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
The Invisible Wall
Bernstien, Harry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry is a small boy living in a war torn part of England. His street is divided by an invisible wall… a wall divided the Jews from the Christians.
There is an unspoken hatred of the other side, and any possible relationship between the two sides is crushed. But what happens when a Jew and a Christian fall in love? Harry’s elder sister begins to love a Christian boy, and is treated horribly for it. She is beaten by her drunken father and shamed by her family and friends. Harry is forced to choose between what he knows to be right and what he has been raised to accept is right.This book is nonfiction.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was wonderfully written and I loved the author’s narration. Although, I felt like nothing good ever happened. It seemed like the author was just choosing the most terrible, most horrendous things and depicting that as the everyday life. Who knows? Maybe that’s how it actually was.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T
Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Skloot, Rebecca
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a powerful narrative detailing one of the most revolutionary scientific and medical discoveries of the 20th century: HeLa cells. Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951 when she was 31 years old. During a surgery to remove some of her tumor, one of her surgeons took a sample of that tumor for testing in his lab. As he had tested many other cancerous cells, he expected Henrietta's cells to die within a few hours. They never did. Her cells continued to reproduce, and still do to this day. Henrietta's family, however, was never notified that her cells were taken. They discovered this in a news article years after the fact. The book not only tells Henrietta's story, but her family's as well. Rebecca Skloot worked for years with the Lacks family to ensure that justice was done, and Henrietta was not lost to history. I enjoyed the personal perspective that Skloot used to tell the story. It had the full potential of being written like a scientific journal, but Skloot told it as a beautiful narrative. Henrietta, her husband and children, and even Rebecca herself were characters and there was emotion on every page. It reads like a novel. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in medicine and its history.

Reviewer's Name: Hannah H.
Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Sedaris, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

David Sedaris truly does not disappoint in his autobiography, When You’re Engulfed in Flames. The way that he is able to express himself while being true to his own story is amazing. He takes a normal self-discovery story and adds enough detail and personal insight, that it makes it one of the most entertaining books that I have ever read. I can see, however, that this is not the book for everyone. It uses quite a bit of vulgar language, discusses about adult topics, and talks about multiple controversial subjects (political subjects in our nation). It has a very liberal feel, and would most likely not appeal as much to strict conservatives. But, nonetheless, a book is a book, and this one was extremely well written and hilarious. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud in quiet environments. The wit that David Sedaris has is impeccable and one of a kind and constantly present throughout the book.
I initially picked up this book because it was given to me as a gift. The gift giver had not read the book but had just seen the exquisite artwork on the cover and knew it was going to be good. Since then, I have recommended this book to so many who want a quick, funny, uplifting read. And that is why I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading self narratives with a humorous twist.

Reviewer's Name: Emma K.
Awards:
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Noah, Trevor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Trevor Noah's autobiography, which focuses on his childhood in South Africa, gives audiences a funny yet insightful look into life in South Africa before and after apartheid. The book is also a compelling mother-and-son love story. Noah's astute and comedic storytelling makes "Born a Crime" is a very smart and enjoyable read.

Reviewer's Name: Melina
Awards:
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler
Freedman, Russell
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Russell Freedman's book chronicling the White Rose Resistance Movement is a brief but enlightening overview of the resistance to the Nazi's in WWII that will sure to spark interest in history for teens and adults. Freeman's work is always well researched, well written and he includes many interesting historical photos as well as an index, notes and a great selected bibliography for further exploration. Spoiler alert to parents, readers will encounter gruesome facts about the execution of the movements members, so parent pre-reading is advised. For ages 12 - 18.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Book Review: Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation)
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken (teen version) is a well crafted biography written by Laura Hillenbrand. Unbroken tells the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian and bombardier of World War II. Louie was mischievous and trouble-making as a young boy until his older brother, Pete, introduced him to running. As Pete urged Louie into the sport of running, Louie began to desert his old ways and commit himself to running. Louie soon was at the top of his school in running, setting new records and winning numerous races. Louie’s skill carried him all the way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Reaching the strongest point of his life, Louie hoped to travel to Tokyo for the following Olympic games. Unfortunately, terror came and his dreams were to be put on hold.
World War II struck, causing Louie to enter into the Army Air Forces as a bombardier. Louie and his team of airmen faced many near death experiences.
Although these were blood-curdling situations, none would compare to what Louie was soon to face. On a rescue mission in May of 1943, Louie’s plane crashed. The crash led to a terrifying and unfathomable journey on which Louie survived life on a raft and the wrath of Japanese guards of the POW camp he resided at. Louie went through incomprehensible pain from being beaten by his captors, having to perform forced labor, going through starvation, and constantly battling a sickness. He was also robbed of his self-esteem and was treated like he was worthless. Consequently, Louie’s story is breathtaking and intriguing. Unbroken provides insight on the torturous lives of POW during WWII and the determination and perseverance of many during WWII.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a WWII buff, history lover, or is in search of a thrilling and breathtaking story. I enjoyed it because I am interested in learning about World War II and I found the book to be moving.
Unbroken is fascinating and is not dull or boring. The book will leave you wanting more and you will find it hard to put it down. However, I found the beginning part to be a bit uninteresting and tedious, as it told about the planes and equipment for World War II. Once that part is over, though, the book is quite exhilarating. I would caution that younger children should not read the book, as there are some graphic and gruesome scenes of how the POWs were treated. I would suggest the book for teens between the ages of 13-16, since there is an adult version of the book for those older than these ages.
Unbroken is one of my favorite books, and anyone who is interested in history or is seeking an electrifying story should read it.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Maya K.
Book Review: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Warren, Andrea
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

There are a crap ton of holocaust books out there. That said, this is a good one. The author interviews a survivor and recounts his horrible tenure in the death camps. The result is riveting. This book is classified as juvenile, but it's best for upper elementary and older, including adults.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Brown Girl Dreaming
Woodson, Jacqueline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This poem book is really well written. It has a unique poem style with just as a unique narrator. This book is about a girl named Jackie growing up in the 1960's-1970's. She has to deal with the hardships of not being treated well because of her skin color along with other things going on in her personal life. The author of this book did a really good job at putting these dilemmas that Jackie faces in the mind of a little girl. I would have rated this book 5 stars if it wasn't so dry in the middle. You get sucked in right from the start but then in the middle of the book, it gets a little boring. But don't give up on it, it picks up later on and has a fantastic ending.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chris Kyle was nothing more than a simple Texan man who loved hunting and rodeos. All that changed in 1999 when Chris signed up for the Navy SEALs and began BUD/s training. From that moment on, Chris Kyle vowed to protect and fight for his nation, even putting country before family. American Sniper is an autobiography written by Kyle himself, as he talks about his childhood, life before, and after becoming a SEAL. He records life on the battlefield of Fallujah and Ramadi, but also the relations he had with his teammates, both alive and deceased. Kyle is acknowledged to be one of the deadliest snipers’ in American History with a count of 160 confirmed kills. This is one of the most well-written and amazing novels I have ever read and for anyone who didn’t know, Chris Kyle was killed on February 2, 2013 on U.S soil by a former marine, which makes this book all the more honorable and, for lack of a better word, sad. When reading this, you can actually know what the life of a SEAL, or even a militant at that, was like but also that Chris Kyle was an amazing man who gave so much for so little.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Into the Wild
Krakauer, Jon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

September 1992, a young man named Chris McCandless is found dead in the Alaskan Wilderness and Jon Krakauer is determined to sniff out every clue as to why. Into the Wild follows the life of Chris McCandless, a young man who dropped everything and took to the road, and how he even ended up in Alaska in the first place; and although he is dead, the trail and influences he left behind live on in those he met. The story jumps around occasionally, but it is just extraordinary to me how a single young man was able to travel almost all of the United States by foot and hitchhiking, and then end up in Alaska where he lived in the Wild until August 1992. Krakauer interviews the people who Chris has interacted with, and all of them say that Chris changed their life for the better, even those who he only shared a car ride with. I personally enjoy this book because it makes you feel as if what he did was amazing and if you, too, need an adventure like that in your life. I definitely recommend this book to all readers since every single person can take something from this book, negative or positive.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.

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