Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Contemporary

Menon, Sandhya
4 stars = Really Good

Sweetie Nair is fat. She doesn’t care, but her mom cares. Like, a lot. A lot a lot. Definitely too much. So much that so when Ashish, a hot local boy from a good (and crazy rich!) Indian family tries to date Sweetie, Sweetie’s mom shuts it down. But Sweetie won’t give up without a fight, and so she, Ashish and Ashish’s parents hatch a plan in which the kids will go on four dates. If it works out, they’ll tell Sweetie’s parents. If not, no harm done. Plus, what can happen in four dates? Turns out, a lot.

If you’ve read any of Menon’s other books, this one is completely on brand. I’ve read her other two books, and this one might be my favorite? It’s up there with Dimple, for sure. It’s a funny romantic comedy with endearing, mostly believable characters from a culture that’s different from mine. In addition to reading an adorable book, I get to learn a little bit about Indian Americans. This one has an added element of pointing out our society’s horrible ways of treating fat people. The way a folks react to Sweetie will have you seeing red – but you know it’s unfortunately totally realistic. Luckily, Sweetie is a self-confident young lady, and it was a joy to see her grow throughout the book. Ashish isn’t too bad himself! He has a very believable journey through the course of the book, and was a male lead you could root for even as he made a few terrible decisions.

TLDR: If you’re looking for a light, funny and very swoony read, this one will do it for you. I know it put a smile on my face.

Sandhya Menon is coming to PPLD to be the keynote speaker for Mountain of Authors! Meet her, listen to her give a talk and get a book signed on 27 April at 21c. More information about the event can be found here:

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for the advance copy, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. There’s Something About Sweetie will be available for purchase on 14 May – don’t forget to put your copy on hold!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Foolish Hearts
Mills, Emma
3 stars = Pretty Good

Foolish Hearts is your typical YA high school drama. With a mean girl, break ups, friendships, and broken friendships, this book is not a new story. I thought the storytelling and the characters were interesting and it is a well executed book but I've read this story before. Another critique that you can't get away from when writing high school fiction is that the characters are not very believable. I know that if the characters aren't dramatic and larger than life then it wouldn't be an interesting story, but as a high school student the situations are just so unbelievable and dramatized. I did enjoy the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and it just being a casual thing but this book is not one I would read again.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Everything Everything
Yoon, Nicola
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The book "Everything Everything" by Nicola Yoon is about a girl named Maddy. All she wants is to go outside and see the world, but sadly, the only 'outside world' she will ever be apart of is her colorful sun room. Madeline has Bubble Baby Syndrome, a condition where anything could cause her allergies to go crazy. However, when she notices a new neighbor named Olly, she can’t wait to talk to him…. through iMessage. However, texting isn’t enough, she needs to see him in person and be next to him. As the story unfolds, Madeline will find out a secret that will change her world forever.

"Everything Everything" was such a good book and I would love to read it again. Each and every character has their own unique personality, which make them more relatable to different people. I am so thrilled to be able to read more of Nicola Yoon's books and hope that they are just as good as "Everything Everything"

Reviewer's Name: Kaylei F
Out of My Mind
Draper, Sharon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

In this amazing story of young Melody, who was born with with Cerebral Palsey (CP), must face the hardships of mean girls and people who underestimate her abilities. You will always be found caught in Melody’s mind. Defiantly a must read.

Reviewer's Name: PigPerson
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
4 stars = Really Good

This book is about a complicated relationship between two boys, in which one finds it difficult to accept himself and his family, which translates into him bring unable to understand or accept love from the other boy. It develops the ideas of self-criticism and self-acceptance, as well as the multiple forms that love can take on. Aristotle and Dante are the two main characters, who begin as friends and slowly fall in love. Aristotle, Ari for short, deals with a father with PTSD and a delinquent brother who is the black sheep of the family. Dante has a peaceful and accepting family, which causes tension between the boys; while Ari has learned to speak with his fists or remain silent, dante has learned to be diplomatic and express himself at all times.
The fact that they are total opposites is very interesting, because the plot then revolves around a complicated process of trying to understand each other. It is a good read if you are looking for something that is about mental health, love, and how relationships require compromise. It is also written in a nice style, in a sort of blocky, thought-like manner. I would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good

Wonder by R. J Palacio tells the story of a young boy, Auggie, that was born differently from others. Born with different facial features than others, he has not been able to be a mainstream and average student. After a series of captivating events, he becomes the most popular and inspiring of heroes once he becomes a fifth grader.

Wonder was an extremely unique story that took the point of view from a young boy different from others. The story was original and interesting to the reader based upon the course of events that took place. After Auggie is faced with demeaning names and suggesting he is mentally deficient, goodness becomes the better of this situation. The story becomes uplifting and inspiring. Taking place in many different viewpoints, the dialogue is well written and is able to describe each character with a unique tone of writing/speaking. In addition to the story itself, the book demonstrated morals that each reader could decipher for themselves. However, most prominently, the moral that I found when reading the book was the inner character of everybody is the determination of their personality.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T