The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a French girl who did not want to get married and prayed to a dangerous higher being made a deal. The deal makes Addie cursed to live until she gets tired of living and not being able to remember as she lives. Throughout the novel Addie is alone for 300 years her only company this higher being who enjoys to mock her. Finally after 300 years someone remembers her.
The novel is written in a bit of a slow pace, but it slowly builds up as it goes on. The novel switches between the past of characters lives and the present. The ending is a little surprising. The book is worth the read.
Reviewer Grade: 9
Holes by Louis Sachar is a piece of young adult fiction that weaves together elements of mystery, adventure, and coming-of-age themes. The novel's plot centers around Stanley Yelnats, a young boy who is sent to a juvenile detention camp after being falsely accused of stealing a pair of shoes. At Camp Green Lake, Stanley is forced to dig holes in the desert as part of a rehabilitation program, leading him to uncover a mystery that has haunted the camp for generations. Sachar's portrayal of Stanley and the other boys at Camp Green Lake is one of the novel's strongest qualities. Through their interactions and experiences, Sachar explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Stanley's transformation from a timid and isolated boy to a confident and capable young man is both inspiring and heartwarming. This novel is very appealing due to is humor, unexpected backstory, and suspense that kept me hooked throughout. The novel's themes of friendship, perseverance, and the importance of doing what is right resonate with readers of all ages and make it a true gem of young adult literature, I'd recommend it to all!
Reviewer Grade: 11.
"Summer and July" by Paul Moiser is a warm novel about a girl named Juliet. Juliet's mother is a nurse who has to travel to California for the summer. Juliet is very upset about the move because she did not want to leave her best-friend Fern. Then Juliet meets Summer, a local surfer girl. Summer helps her adjust to the new surrounding, (which is very hard due to her mental illness). She faces her struggles with her new positive companion. When Summer reveals her own pains, Juliet must now be the one to help Summer overcome them.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is a timeless classic that explores the lives of teenage boys growing up in a society divided by socioeconomic class. The novel's plot centers around Ponyboy, a member of a gang known as the "greasers," who are constantly at odds with the wealthier "Socs." When Ponyboy's best friend Johnny kills a Soc in self-defense, the gang is forced to go on the run, leading to a series of events that force Ponyboy to confront the harsh realities of his world. Hinton's portrayal of Ponyboy and the other greasers is one of the novel's greatest strengths. Through Ponyboy's eyes, we see the struggles and challenges of growing up in poverty, dealing with absent parents, and trying to find a place in a world that seems to be against you. The characters are all fully developed and unique, each with their own backstory, motivations, and distinct personalities, adding depth and complexity to the story. Hinton's portrayal of the greasers' bond highlights the importance of having a support system, even in the face of adversity. Additionally, the novel explores themes of social inequality, prejudice, and the challenges of coming of age in a world that is often unfair and unjust. I really enjoyed the authenticity of this novel through the abundance of dialogue and interactions between characters. I highly recommend this book as The Outsiders resonates with readers of all ages.
Reviewer Grade: 11.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky, is a coming-of-age novel that explores the complexities of adolescence and the struggles of navigating social and emotional challenges. The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Charlie, a high school freshman who is struggling to fit in and find his place in the world. Charlie is a sympathetic protagonist, with his struggles with mental health and social anxiety serving as a powerful critique of the challenges of adolescence. His relationships with his friends Sam and Patrick provide an exploration of the complexities of friendship and the ways in which it can provide a sense of belonging and acceptance. Chbosky combines elements of romance, personal drama, and coming-of-age themes to create a plot that is emotionally resonant and suspenseful. The novel's themes, particularly mental health and the effects of trauma, are poignant and impactful, with Charlie's struggles serving as a critique of societal marginalization and stigmatization. Chbosky's descriptions of Charlie's thoughts and emotions are vivid, immersing readers in the experience of living with mental illness and navigating social and emotional challenges. His use of literary devices, such as symbolism and foreshadowing, adds depth and meaning to the story that kept me engaged throughout. While this book was heartwarming, it was also heartbreaking and took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I would recommend this novel to all who love a sappy, coming of age, insightful read that gets you thinking about life.
Reviewer Grade: 11.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a very insightful novel that explores themes of mental health, friendship, and self-discovery. The story follows the life of 16-year-old Aza Holmes, a young girl who is struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, as she navigates the challenges of adolescence and tries to solve a mystery involving a missing billionaire. Aza's struggles with mental health serving as a powerful critique of the ways in which society can stigmatize and marginalize those with mental illnesses. Her relationships with her best friend Daisy and her love interest Davis provide an intriguing exploration of the challenges of friendship and the complexities of romantic relationships. Green’s prose perfectly captures the voice of a young girl struggling with mental illness- his descriptions of Aza’s thought processes and compulsions are vivid and immersive, offering a nuanced portrayal of the experience of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. His use of metaphor, such as the titular “turtles all the way down,” adds depth and meaning to the story, inviting readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the novel. I loved the depth and detail that this book had, and I feel like each and every character had so many layers to them that really helped me visualize the story as I read. Turtles All the Way Down is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and I plan to read it again. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys coming of age, narrative style books with strong takeaways.
Reviewer Grade: 11.
Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is one of three—four, as of November 2023—books that tells the tale of a cafe with a chair that allows visitors to travel back in time. Contrary to the simplistic concept it carries, there are rules one must follow:
1. One cannot change the present, regardless of their efforts.
2. Occupants must remain in their seat, otherwise they will return to the present.
3. Occupants must finish their coffee before it gets cold. If they do not, they become a ghost and are bound to that chair forever.
4. They can only meet people who have visited the cafe. With that being said, patrons need to travel to the day, hour, minute, and second their targeted person was in the cafe.
5. Patrons can only return to the past once.
6. Despite the first rule, one can give or receive gifts, and one can take photos.
Sorrow and the conflicting bet of regret is a spill all four of the patrons decide against drowning in. Clarity wiped their messes and ordeals clean through the reminiscent transparency of hospitality born from truth, unsaid words, or the driving words to live the rest of their life as a happy person, rather than a person grieving the nauseating reality they're set to survive in.
The book Less follows a middle-aged, gay author named Arthur Less, and recounts his loves and losses from a third person point of view. His lover of many years, Freddy, leaves him for a more serious relationship, he goes on a trip around the world partly to avoid Freddy's wedding and his upcoming 50th birthday. The book explores themes such as love, heartbreak, self-doubt, fear of aging, and sexuality. In Less's journey, he discovers that he can't run from his fears by traveling across oceans, he must face them. A Pulitzer prize winner, the language in the book is mature and riddled with literary references spanning throughout history. The author uses many intricate metaphors to describe Less's situation, and then book ends with an incredible twist that will make your jaw drop. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary literature and wants a meaningful, yet entertaining read.
Romance, thriller, and horror all wrapped into one. Natalie D Richards does it once a great with a book you won't be able to put down until the final page. When two best friends in love have a falling out over a fight at a party it seems nothing could bring them together again. Except for the bridge that is. Strange things keep bringing them back to the place of the party and back to each other. Lock on bridges and hearts hold mystery but the views of both parties is being clouded by their own mental struggles. This is a very emotional book and capitating one that I can't wait to read again. Readers enjoy and beware of the bridge.
Back to the beautiful family of Sinclairs, still liars. Family of Liars, the prequel to We Were Liars, takes readers back to the private island of the Sinclairs. What really happened in that tragedy two years ago? Or was it even one tragedy at all? This E Lockhart book will leave you captivated once again. The book may even cause you to return to E. Lochart's first Liars book to realign all the pieces of the mystery. Will the dots be connected or will more mystery unravel?
We Were Liars is a young adult mystery by E Lockhart that will grab your attention from the first page. The story describes a beautiful, rich, and perfect (as seen from the outside), family, the Sinclairs. But the Sinclairs have things to hide. When Cadence Sinclair shows up with her cousins on the Sinclair's private island they expect a summer of fun. However, a tragedy of two years ago comes back to haunt and Cadence's migraine pills aren't helping her keep the facts of the incident straight. This story leaves you wondering as new mystery is continuously added. With still more mystery at the end, the book will make you question even more than just the Sinclairs.
This book suffered from a lot of major flaws, ranging from one-dimensional characters to confusing (and silly at times) plotlines. Mafi not only leans into harmful stereotypes, but she further exaggerates them and emphasizes them as the norm. The relationships between chatacters are largely shallow, their development rushed, and their personalities bland. I remember next to nothing about these unremarkable characters. This book is an infuriatingly simple tale of stereotypical people following a messy and illogical story, and I advise readers to avoid it whenever possible. The greatest strength of this book is its relatively short reading time.
We Are Okay is a beautifully written novel about depression and trauma from the perspective of Marin, a girl who ran off to college shortly after her grandfather's death. It's also about Mabel, her childhood best friend, and the evolution of their relationship. The book explores these themes through artful language, flawless dialogue, and many small acts of service; where it falls short, however, is the plot itself. I adore the book, but the big reveal of the grandfather's secret falls painfully flat. What should have been the climax of the novel, as foreshadowed from the very first page, is reduced to a few vague sentences alluding to greater truths. Marin claims to have "never known her grandfather," yet as a reader, I don't understand why she feels that way. Due to its design, the novel simply demands for a clearer climax without messy time-jumps. I was disappointed that a near-perfect book couldn't pack a punch with its climax, but the well-written characters and relationships make it worth the read anyway.
I absolutely love John Green and The Fault In Our Stars, so what inspired me to read Turtles All The Way Down, was just wanting to read all of his books. It was so worth it. I really had no idea what to expect when I opened up the book. Aza is sweet, but also struggles with alot, and it was sad, but cool to see the world from her perspective with her anxieties. The plot about Aza and Daisy investigating Russell Pickett's disappearance was entrancing. I was in disbelief when I found out what Pickett left his inheritance to, instead of his sons. The romance between Aza and Davis is bittersweet, and navigates the rocky road of distrust, and understanding. I am so excited that this book is going to be made into a movie, but it's story in paper form will always be special to me.
This book left me stunned. It has a plot twist that no one could see coming. I was amazed by the character development of Sam, and by how her relationship with her new friend Caroline turned out. Learning about Sam's pure obsessional OCD was really cool and eye opening to what could be going on in someone's mind without us ever knowing. Sam was in many ways also very relatable, and I loved her. She shows the audience that they are not alone in wanting to find a place where the fit in, or find friends they feel safe around. Every Last Word also has a sweet hint of romance, but it is great because it doesn't overpower the main story of Sam's struggle with her OCD and how she found healing in poet's corner.
Reviewers Grade: 11
“Every Soul has a Star” by Wendy Mass is a lighthearted novel about three main characters that must learn to adapt to new surroundings. 13-year-old Ally’s parents have owned Moon Shadow campground all her life. She grew up there with her little brother Kenny. Ally’s grandfather was always fascinated by stars and comets, when he passed Ally inherited his meteorite chunk along with his love for space. Bree on the other hand is another 13-year-old girl, however, she has a love for shopping and style. She has been nothing but excited to go to high school during the fall and climb the social ladder within her school. She wants nothing but to be popular when her life flips upside down and her parents (scientists) purchase Moon Shadow campground. Jack, a boy who has always stood out by being overweight and an avid gamer who feels most comfortable alone, must attend summer school because he failed science in his previous year. He is offered the chance to attend Moon Shadow campground for a week to study an eclipse as a substitute. When Ally and Bree meet up their plan falls into action, they must convince their parents to cancel their plans. When they meet Jack as well, they must all work together to fulfill the mission Jack’s teacher sent him on.
I love this book! The fault in our stars is a book that really tugs at the reader’s heart strings. The book starts off with a 16 year old named Hazel Grace meets a cancer survivor, Augustus Waters. Hazel and Augustus begin to fall in love, but they don’t want to share their feelings with one another. Throughout the novel, Hazel and Augustus share many similarities (an example being their favorite book and favorite author). This romance story is on another level. It’s heartbreaking and astonishing at the same time. Every time I turned the page, I did not want the story to end. The entire story is so well composed and the writing is absolutely breathtaking. John Green did such and amazing job writing this beautiful tale, you really feel like you’re in the story. The challenges and hardships Hazel and Augustus face lead them to new and better horizons. The Fault in Our Stars is an incredible romance novel that everyone should read one day. From the storyline to the imagery, this story is the best romance novel in my book.
Tiny Pretty Things surrounds an exclusive ballet school in Manhattan, where three prima ballerinas struggle for the top. There's Bette, whos been the star of the studio ever since one of her competitors had a mysterious fall. There's June, a half-Korean dancer that struggles to keep her weight down and head high as her mother threatens to pull her out of the studio. And finally, there's Gigi, a newcomer and the only black dancer in her level. When Gigi lands the star role, the jealousies and insecurities of these girls will pull them deeper and deeper into corruption and rage, until one of them crosses a line they can't return from.
The writing of this book is really what propels it to the top. I have never had that much passion or interest for ballet, but this book seems to seep love for it. The description of dancing from many of the girls make it seem as though they are dancing in your room. You can almost feel the lightness of the steps, the satisfaction in perfect movements. The prose makes you feel as if you are flying alongside the dancers. However, it isn't a blind adoration, which only makes the book more interesting. The girls are told to keep their weight up but pressured by their instructor to stay as low as possible. They are sexualized by the people around them and by themselves in attempts to be the perfectly beautiful ballerina. There are racial stigmas, as the book describes how ballet adores the completely white stage, "ballet blanc", which includes the dancers themselves. The Asian girls are often shoved into roles that are "Oriental," and Gigi worries about how she stands out on the stage. In short, the story shows all the beauty of ballet, while acknowledging the harmful obsession with beauty and whiteness that has plagued ballet for centuries. The characters of the book are also fantastic. I love how so many of them are deeply unlikeable, but we get to see the reasons that they fight so hard for ballet. No one is completely perfect. Absolutely no one is blameless. Their actions impact each other in so many different directions, and the levels of miscommunication and tragedy make the drama nearly Shakespearean. In particular, I love the attention given to June, and how she was allowed to devolve despite sympathetic beginnings. Over and over the reader believes that she is going to be redeemed, but she just gets worst, and it tears you apart. I also enjoyed how the author went in-depth to the imposter syndrome that June experiences as a mixed Asian, which is very accurate.
However, this book does have a lot of problems. For one, the girls in this book are sixteen. That doesn't come through at all. I could see how the book is trying to show how ballet's sexualization and pressure causes these girls to mature before their time, but its just really weird reading about kids that are younger than me going clubbing and sleeping around and trying to destroy each other via psychological warfare. Again, this might be intentional, but it makes these girls seem like even worse people. I could see adults in careers doing this, but I don't thing juniors in high school would go this insane over one role. Furthermore, while the main three get excellent backstory and reflection, a lot of the other kids do not. One girls whole motivation for hating and horrifically bullying another girl is that the bully tried to kiss the girl once and now the bully is worried that the other girl will out her. This is stupid for a lot of reasons, mostly because I don't know why someone would antagonize someone that has potential black mail on them. A lot of the margin characters in this book are pretty underdeveloped and have bad motivations for doing pretty horrible things, which makes them look pretty stupid at best and plain cruel at worst. Finally, I wish Gigi had been a bit of a worse person. It would've rounded out the three girls as all being flawed people, and it would've given catharsis for a lot of the horrible things Gigi endures because of the other girls. Instead, she doesn't do anything wrong, and I spend the entire book being so mad at what was happening to her to the point where I lost a lot of sympathy for the other girls and their problems. I think it would've been amazing if Gigi had been allowed to become more corrupted by all the jealousy and cruelties around her, and had to fight her way back to the good person that she's always been. Instead, she barely changes besides becoming more and more beaten down by the things that are done to her, which gets frustrating.
All in all, this was a very well written book with a tight plot and great characters. It just had problems with the side characters and some overwrought drama. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ballet, revenge, tragedy, and some excellent twists!
Reviewer Grade: 12
Until this book, I had not read anything that had impacted me this much. It was an absolutely heart wrenching book that was so beautifully written and was overall amazing. I love books that touch on the dark and uncomfortable parts of life and the human experience that aren't talked about very often and this is one of those types of books (check the trigger warnings before reading it because there are a lot of tough subjects in it).
A Little Life follows a man named Jude throughout his whole life. It focuses mainly on him and his friends when they met in college and follows them beyond, well into adulthood. It has flashbacks to Jude's childhood and the trauma he went through and how he coped with that trauma and how his relationships were affected. It has a strong message about friendship and has underlying themes of dealing with grief and abuse along with other tough subjects. This is hands down the best book I have read in a long time. The characters were incredibly developed and they felt real, it was one of those types of books that took me a long time to recover from after I finished it because I felt so close to the characters and the story. Even though some of the topics covered in this book are tough and uncomfortable, they are important to talk about and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys raw and slightly gut wrenching books.
Reviewer Grade: 11
The Virgin Suicides is the elegy of the Lisbon girls, from the perspectives of the neighbors that are still haunted by them. The Lisbon family lives on a quaint suburban street in the Sun Belt, drenched in sunlight and white-washed shingles. Then one year, every Lisbon girl, starting with Cecilia and ending with Mary, commits suicide. This book is the observations and meditations of the boys across the street, the ones who loved them, who obsessed over them, who objectified them, and who watched them die one by one. The girls are doomed from the opening lines. The only question that remains is why they did it, and why our narrators can't let them go.
I read this book because I was told it was a staple of dark academia. It is not, no one here likes school. In reality, it is a treatise on girlhood, in all its insubstantial suffering. The first thing that struck me was the way the author sets the mood immediately. The entire book is dripping with malaise, the suffocating nature of sisterhood and parenthood on full display whenever the Lisbon house is described. The brief gasps of outside life are bright and crisp, while the references to the current day, middle-age life of the narrators is sad and listless. I wouldn't say this book is pleasant to read, but it is gripping in its complete commitment to its mood and setting. On that note, the choice of the author to tell the story entirely from outside perspectives was fascinating. The narrator is only described as "we", as the group of neighborhood boys who obsess over the girls in both childhood and adulthood. One conflict in the book is wondering if we are meant to sympathize with the boys who are scarred from the suicides, or see them as a commentary on the ways that the world seeks to capture and define teenage girls. I ended up seeing it as the latter, which likely made me view this book in better light than many of my peers. The boys actions always have an air of perversion about them, and at the end they seem to realize that all their breaches of privacy and decency have brought them no closer to understanding the girls. Another thing I liked about this book is the way that the girls are given a kind of privacy of thought from the narrators and the readers. Every attempt at scrutinizing their reasoning or emotions or motivations is always followed by a caveat. Nothing is certain with the Lisbon sisters, just the way nothing is every certain when we view the actions of others. The unknowability of their tight knit group gives them a dignity that their neighbors and community seem to want to violate constantly. This book is also a clear censure of suburbia. The neighbors try to do their best to help when they can, but still grumble amongst themselves about the Lisbon family leaving the leaves in their yard the fall after their youngest commits suicide. The great debutante balls and dances of the south are in full swing, but there is an undercurrent of corruption and distortion to the dancing and dating. The sexualization of the girls is also rampant, which, again, makes the book a lot harder to enjoy if you don't see it as a choice by the author in order to comment on it. In short, the suicide of the girls seems like a catharsis, a response to the disgusting and decaying world around them. Everyone around them represses their emotions, from their parents to the boys enraptured by them to their teachers to their peers. They are the only ones who get to set something free. The juxtaposition of the wailing EMTs to the quaint, straining neighborhood further demonstrates their freedom, even in their death.
This book did have problems. A lot of stuff is uncomfortable to read, even if viewed as a deliberate choice. The story often takes winding tangents that serve little purpose besides demonstrating the boredom and trivialities of suburban life. Still, the book is still a fantastic meditation on what its like to be a teenage girl, in all the wonderful and ghastly ways. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for good setting, shocking stories, and a good mystery to carry with them!
Reviewer Grade: 12