Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Biography/Memoir

Food: A Love Story book jacket
Gaffigan. Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a light and hilarious read, though probably not a good choice if you are looking for something more informational. Jim Gaffigan is a great comedian, and the care he put into organizing this book about food is evident. It was nice that Gaffigan didn't take himself too seriously in each chapter. Since most autobiographies that mention food discuss more negative pressures of food culture, this book turned it around into a positive ode to food, a reminder to never feel bad about fueling your body with good food. Unexpectedly, it was also a reoccurring theme for Gaffigan to discuss the fear of not being a good enough parent and other anxieties about social norms that relate to food. Pick up this book if you are already a Jim Gaffigan fan or you just need a comforting book.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood book jacket
Noah, Trevor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Each page of this book was a joy to read, as it gives readers a glimpse into how different cultures affect the children who grow up within them. Trevor Noah is a talented comedian and an even better storyteller. Each narrative in the book felt like I was experiencing the moment with him, as he struggles with his identity in the boundaries of apartheid. The way Noah describes his mother- strong, resilient, yet strict from a place of love- is a very realistic concept that many people don't discuss. Parents aren't perfect and grow with their children, but it's their true intentions that determine whether or not they are really doing what's best for their child. I also found it fascinating how Noah communicates having to choose between two races that he isn't truly apart of. I highly recommend reading Born a Crime because of the lesson that everyone is more connected than they realize, and where you grow up shouldn't restrict who you grow to be.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
My Nonidentical Twin
Evie, Meg
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I enjoyed this nonfiction book a lot. This book was very informative of what Tourette’s Syndrome is. The author, Evie, walked the readers through the pros and cons of having Tourette’s Syndrome.
I follow Evie on social media platforms and see this journey documented through there too. However, her channel is not as informative as this book. I love how this book brings awareness to Tourette’s Syndrome and the people who suffer from it.
If any reader wants to be more aware of this condition, I recommend reading this well written autobiography by Evie Meg.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
Into the Wild book jacket
Krakauer, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a nonfiction story about a young man named Cris McCandless. After graduating college in 1991, McCandless left without a trace hitchhiking around the United States. During his travels, McCandless goes by the name Alex Supertramp wanting to reinvent his life. He meets and changes countless people's lives. McCandless had his sights set religiously on Alaska, thinking it his last grand odyssey. McCandless wanted to fend for himself in the Alaskan wilderness, which inevitably proved fatal. This beautifully written book is full of adventure and life lessons. Overall, I would rate this book four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom
Johnson, Alice Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book was pretty good. The main reason I picked to read it was because I thought it was crazy that Kim K took such an interest in the author. So, the lady that wrote the book got arrested for drugs and in was in the 90s. She got sentenced to life in prison. She served 20 years and then Kim K heard wanted to help her get out since she was a non violent criminal. She literally contacted the president to get her out. I did find the story interesting because not many celebrities do things like that. She literally fought for the author who was a stranger to her. It was pretty good.

Reviewer's Name: Sophia V
Soul Surfer
Hamilton, Bethan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Soul Surfer" was very interesting to read. Sometimes it takes me forever to get into a story, but with this book I liked it from the first chapter. It is the story of a 13 year old ( I'm only 14) that loved surfing and when she was surfing one day, she was attacked by a shark and the shark bit her arm off! The main story line talks about how she dealt with her new life without an arm. I liked how she wasn't negative and she didn't give up on anything. I also liked how she changed so much, like all of the different stages she went through to get to the end of the story. I am going into the 9th grade.

Reviewer's Name: Sophia
High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life
Jenkins, Tiffany
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I picked this book because I follow the author on Instagram, her page is called Juggling the Jenkins. She is very real and down to earth and talks about her book online. The book is her real life story of her adult life. She talks about how hard her life became after she went to jail for being a drug addict. The stories of the things that happened to her while she was in jail, made me cry! I think she is a very strong woman and reading her story made me want to be better. I am going into the 9th grade.

Reviewer's Name: Sophia
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Angelou, Maya
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, written by Maya Angelou, is an autobiographical account of Angelou's childhood. When Maya is a young child, her parents divorce. After the divorce her parents send her and her brother, Baily to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their Grandmother, where her Grandmother, affectionately referred to as "Momma", runs a convenience store. Angelou, despite her self-consciousness, appears to have had a great childhood growing up in the store. After about five years, Angelou's dad unexpectedly comes in and takes Bailey and her to their mother, who was living in St. Louis. While there, Angelou is molested by her mother's boyfriend. The boyfriend is quickly murdered and Angelou feels responsible for the death.
I liked to book because Angelou highlights how anyone can do what they set their mind to, and even in bad situations a human can grow immensely.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
You're the Only One I've Told: The Stories Behind Abortion
Shah, Meera, Dr.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

With all that goes on in the world, politically and socially, it is important to seek out resources and educate yourself on the topics you care about. This book was that for me. I like how the author used her credibility as a doctor to share facts about abortion while also opening up a platform for individuals to tell their deeply personal stories. This book is heavy and heartbreaking and empowering. I can't recommend it enough.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
When Breath Becomes Air
Kalanithi, Paul
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Breath Becomes Air is an autobiographical, nonfiction, story of Paul Kalanithi, a man who has worked his whole life to pursue his dreams. Kalanithi is a top neurosurgeon-neuroscientist a couple years away from graduating medical school. Even before graduating, million dollar offers pour in for Kalanithi to head new, top research facilities. However, disaster strikes: lung cancer. Kalanithi talks about his progression from seeing people in the patient's chair to being the one in the chair. Throughout his journey, Kalanithi informs the reader of the life cycle, the importance of hard work, and most importantly, family and love.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Jewish Transport to Auschwitz
Macadam, Heather Dune
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I wavered between a 4 and 5 star review here, but my reviews are based on storytelling ability, not necessarily how little I enjoyed hearing about the details of Auschwitz. This author did a fantastic job of telling the stories of nearly 1,000 women while letting some of their personal accounts lead the pace and tone. Though the characters were hard to keep track of at some points, there was constant clarification of individuals to develop empathy for the girls in the Holocaust. There was also some groundbreaking information on the sexist disparities between records of the female experience in Auschwitz- as soon as you think life couldn't have been worse for these prisoners, it is revealed that women were treated the absolute worst. Definitely worth the read if you can stomach the tragedy.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Diary of a Young Girl book cover
Frank, Anne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Diary of a Young Girl is a series of diary entries written by Anne Frank, a young girl who recounts her experiences during the Holocaust. Anne writes her experiences using memorable quotes, and even through her tough experiences, still manages to write with a sense of hopeful optimism, and Anne's belief in the world and humanity are both inspiring and tear-jerking. Anne writes in the voice of a young girl but also writes in an astonishingly real and mature way. Reading her diary entries will educate all readers on what it was truly like to live through the Holocaust, and will help those who want to be informed to be more educated on the event. The Diary of a Young Girl carries out the message of hope and teaches readers the horrors of history. All age groups should most definitely read this novel, as it holds majorly valuable lessons and will hopefully teach all audiences not to repeat our past mistakes.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle Y
Winning Balance book jacket
Johnson, Shawn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I rate this book five stars. The book is an autobiography written by Shawn Johnson about her experience growing up as a gymnast. Beginning with her experience in school and ending with her experience at the 2008 Olympics, the book is both motivating and inspiring. I can relate to Shawn Johnson in her determination and the in the way she dreams big. I would recommend this book to anyone, and it is in my top ten books of all time.

Reviewer's Name: Katie
Born A Crime
Noah, Trevor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Born A Crime is the story of comedian Trevor Noah's childhood in South Africa. Each chapter follows a certain theme and features a lesson which Noah learns and takes with him as he grows up. Noah confronts darker, more serious topics with an endearing sense of humor and a resilient perspective, making the autobiography wise, poignant, funny, and heartfelt.

Trevor Noah's mother was the most influential person in his life. Being born to a black mother and white father during South Africa's apartheid, he was a "crime" under the law, but his mother made sure that he still had all the opportunities that other children did, and even more. She gave him knowledge and experiences, taught him how to respect women, and never stopped laughing. As Noah vividly portrays his mother, she comes alive on the pages of his autobiography. His story is also her story--of love, loss, pain, and joy.

This is a book that everyone should read. It speaks to the complexity of racism and its lasting consequences, but it is also entertaining and engaging. Noah tells stories of sadness and hardship alongside funny anecdotes that will make readers laugh out loud.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Skloot, Rebecca
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, is a book detailing the life of Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks unknowingly donated her cells to one of the most important fields of research, cancer cures. Her tumor cells, also known as “HeLa”, are extraordinary in that they replicate fast enough to create a whole new human in under 48 hours. This book is fascinating in more than one way: it explores the history of her and her cells, and it explores some gray areas in rights to cells and parts of dead entities. Instead of focusing just on one topic and one family, it expands to include many that have had to deal with bio material rights. I personally found this an interesting but slightly disturbing read. I recommend reading this one to learn about the history of cell rights and their gray areas.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Free Lunch
Ogle, Rex
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Free Lunch" by Rex Ogle was one of the best books I've read all year. A true story, this book follows a 6th grade boy living in poverty. Both his mom and dad are unemployed, and he is forced to babysit his two-year-old brother, rather than hang out with friends. He doesn't even have time to complete his homework. Rex is determined to succeed, but struggles to focus in class because of his constant hunger - all his family can afford us cheap junk food. I liked his character development throughout the story, and how he gradually grew to be a better and more mature person. I'd recommend this for anyone interested in nonfiction and coming-of-age stories. It's a fairly easy read with simple language, best for younger tweens and teens. Just a warning, though: the story deals with heavy topics which may be triggering to some, so if you are sensitive to this sort of material, it might be best to avoid.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Audrey
I Am Malala
Yousafzai, Malala
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I Am Malala is a moving story about a young girl and how she not only fought death from a bullet, but also fought for her rights to education. The main character in our story, Malala, was a strong young girl who stood up for herself and fought for her rights to education, and many other rights for women and girls. In 2012, Malala was shot point-blank on her head on her way back from school, and somehow survived. Even after almost dying, she continued to spread her message of hope, truth, and miracles, and even became the youngest person ever to earn a Nobel Peace Prize. I loved this book because Malala's words and actions were very inspirational, especially for a young women, and made anyone feel that if they try hard enough and stand their ground, they can inspire thousands. If I were to give this book a grade out of 10, I would give it a 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: Lilleah
The Glass Castle
Walls, Jeanette
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book The Glass Castle is an autobiography by Jeanette Walls, going through her hectic life and how she handled everything. I liked this book, but it's about a really sensitive topic, and it could go through a lot of overwhelming and gross details towards the middle of the book, so I recommend for more sensitive readers not to read this. I picked this book because I saw that we had to read it in school, so of course, I wanted a little peek of what it was about. The start of the book was more calm, but readers could start to tell that her family isn't the way it's supposed to be. Throughout the book, there will be a lot of surprising and unexpected events, most not very wanted. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" the book because that would sound wrong, but I felt the need to keep reading, seeing what happens next. I feel like a lot of students could relate to Jeanette. Maybe our conditions might not be as bad as hers, but readers could feel luckier and safe to be living a better life. But overall, I do recommend this book to less sensitive readers.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Born A Crime
Noah, Trevor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This story explains what it was like to be born a crime. Trevor Noah is the child of a South African mother and a European father, which in South Africa, was illegal. Trevor has to learn how to stay positive with a racist government in control. This book does an excellent job explaining what it was like to grow up during Apartheid. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book because despite the bad circumstances, this book made me laugh a lot.

Reviewer's Name: Lotus
Profiles in Courage
Kennedy, John F
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book contained a lot of wisdom from a president’s point of view and was a very useful insight into his perspective. I appreciated the many different stories about many different historical figures and their trials, however, i did notice a strong bias against others and their perspectives. If i was to recommend this book to someone else, I would advise them to be careful about taking every word he says to heart, as he doesn’t phrase things from a neutral perspective. Overall i enjoyed the book, but it should be read by people looking for insight, not as an entertaining or exciting book. Though it may not have been thrilling or suspenseful, overall it was really good.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey