Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: LGBTQ

Heartstopper: Volume Four book jacket
Oseman, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every time I think, "Alice Oseman can't possibly outshine previous Heartstopper books," she proves me wrong! This graphic novel had beautiful art and great representation. Heartstopper: Volume Four follows Charlie and Nick as they deal with separation anxiety, saying "I love you", and working through Charlie's declining mental health. There are some really important themes introduced, the biggest being Charlie's anorexia and OCD diagnosis. This was a really emotional part of the book, but it is also crucial for more young adult books like this to spread awareness about how common mental illnesses are. Charlie and Nick's relationship is strong, but it was also cool that they discussed how spending time with other loved ones instead will strengthen their relationship. Plus, their friends are diverse, endlessly kind, and could easily be real people. It is always a joy to read this series, and I can't wait for Volume Five!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
The Perks of Being a Wallflower book jacket
Chbosky, Stephan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book because I had watched the movie and was curious as to how the book was in comparison. I found that both were great overall and I don't dislike one more than the other, but the book felt more mature than the movie. Overall I really did enjoy this book, the detail in the book was a great touch, as well as was relatable. Personally, I felt a connection to some of the characters having to leave for college and trying to get the best possible score on the SAT. There is only one thing I did not enjoy about this book though, which is that there is a lot of smoking. The smoking feels a bit excessive, especially when the book follows a freshman in high school, so the amount of smoking I feel like does not portray a true aspect of what that would look like in real life. I would recommend this book to an upper teenage audience since there are mature topics such as brief sexual scenes and smoking. I gave this book 4 stars since I felt like it was very well written and an enjoyable book to read; the deduction of one star was due to the portrayal of smoking. This is honestly a great read that I personally love, I would definitely recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead book jacket
Austin, Emily
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a story about Gilda, who is an atheist, twenty-something years old, highly anxious, and gay. When she goes to a church after hearing about free therapy and assumed to be applying for the receptionist position, Gilda can't bring herself to correct anyone. Over her term as a Catholic receptionist, Gilda will have to lie about a dead woman, learn the lines for mass, hide her new girlfriend, and discover the hope that can come with the truth.
This book is the type of realistic fiction I usually call "a day in the life." It isn't about extraordinary circumstances or new love or changing lives. It's just someone struggling to survive the way that they always have, perhaps while working to get themselves out of it. Gilda's life is terrifying and constrictive. She's constantly afraid of what other's think of her, of people's disapproval, and yet is often so exhausted that she can barely communicate with the people she cares about. She's also, as the title foreshadows, constantly obsessing over death. Seeing the world through Gilda's eyes is strange and sad and scary. But it's also extremely enlightening. Even though Gilda is definitely an neurotic anomaly, her quirks and struggles are extraordinary relatable. The author really forces the reader to stare in the mirror, to see the fears and embarrassments that hold us back on a daily basis. One example could be Gilda's focus on death, which is almost paradoxical since her fixation on the end of her life keeps her living the life she has right now. I know that when I finished this book, it filled me with the desire to live my life to the fullest. The book also stands out with great prose, memorable characters, and vivid atmosphere!
All in all, this book might be unpleasant to read sometimes due to the depressing subject matter, but it's so educational and important that I'd recommend everyone read this at least once!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
King of Scars book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war -- and he intends to keep it that way. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried -- and some wounds aren't meant to heal. This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Leigh Bardugo pours into her characters -- into their failures and successes, and their responses to trauma, threats, and uncertainties. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays their hearts open to the reader, which is easily perceived through the multiple different point-of-views. As a result, there is a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all of their glassy fragility and heartfelt vulnerability. Fantasy, politics, inner-demons, and romance -- all used to support this novel through character development and unexpected turns in the story. The King of Scars duology is my favorite out of the entire Grishaverse series -- combining storylines and characters from both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I absolutely loved this book, and would definitely recommend the series.

Reviewer's Name: Nataleigh
Last Night at the Telegraph Club book jacket
Lo, Malinda
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Last Night at the Telegraph club is set in the 1950's and follows Lily Hu a student in her final year of high school, and follows her life. During a dangerous time for Chinese Americans. It progresses slowly the struggles of Lily slowly begin adding up putting pressure on the characters, in multiple moments you can feel the pressure yourself, and feel the struggles. It confronts multiple stereotypes of the time this book it set women in stem, and the lesbian community. The characters in this book feel like their real, the characters have multiple layers to their personality. It immerses you in the story that you can perfectly picture and see yourself in the settings. The ending it leaves you wanting more, I would love to see a sequel of the following events that happened afterwards.

Reviewer's Name: Hana
Radio Silence
Oseman, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If I had to convince you to read this book in one sentence it would be this. Multiple times I had to stop reading, set down my book, and contemplate if Alice Oseman was in my head. If there is one thing Alice Oseman can do it is write relatable characters. This book follows Frances, a straight-A student whose heart is set on getting into Cambridge, and Aled, a quiet boy who is secretly the creator of a hit fantasy podcast. Brought together through art/media, Frances and Aled become close friends and tackle life changes, emotionally abusive people, mental health, censorship, and just being teenagers. This book perfectly describes the life of a teen going through high school and showed pure friendships based on a mutual love for something. This was extremely captivating and it helped me get out of a reading slump instantly. If you are looking for a book with characters you can relate to, diversity, true depictions of mental health, or just something exciting to read, I would recommend this over and over.
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Keira
Awards:
Me Myself and Him
Tebbetts, Christopher
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Me Myself & Him follows Chris Schweitzer, a graduated high school senior ready for his last summer in small town Ohio. But when he does whippets in an alley, passes out, and ends up in the hospital, his life splits down two paths. The story follows both these possibilities: one where his parents find out and ship him off to spend the summer with his distant father, and a second one where his parents remain in the dark, and he stays in town with his slightly distant friends. No matter which path taken in this multiversal tale, both sides end with Chris' life changed forever.
This book was very solid. I say this meaning no offense: it wasn't boring, slow, tangential, or otherwise hard to read. It was easy to read, and if I recall correctly, I finished it in under two days. I call this a solid story because that's what it is: a story that is very easy to enjoy. The characters are fun and witting and exciting; it's very easy to get invested in them and their choices. Even antagonistic characters (often including the main character) are likable and relatable, despite their horrible choices. The dual story structure stays interesting and fresh, exploring the characters from many different angles. I like how the story expands on its dual universe origin, including science and research to solidify the basis of the premise.
There were a couple things that threw me off. One storyline became, to me, far more intriguing because it delved further into the protagonists relationship with his father, which really helped flesh out both characters. The other side of the story had its merits in evolving the protagonist and his relationship with his friends, but it wasn't nearly as compelling for me. The only other issue was that the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I don't disagree with how the ending turned out, since it resolved both sides of the story, but the ending just felt a bit abrupt.
Still, these are my opinions, and one of the reasons I called this a solid story is because I think anyone could enjoy it. This book is fun, clear-cut despite a complex premise, relatable, and heartwarming. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a story about goodbyes and new beginnings, with some bittersweet laughter along the way!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

They Both Die at the End is a perfect book for both tweens and teens! Set in a futuristic time where the "Death-Cast" can predict your death, two teenage boys, Mateo and Rufus, meet through an app that leads you to your last friend. Both of them are on their death day, wanting to live memories they never got to and they learn how much of a gift it is to find love, even in your last hours. Though Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, they connect in a way they never could with anyone else and live the short life they wanted together.
I loved this book because it was deep and meaningful. It gave thought to so many things and made a day last an eternity. I stayed up all night reading this book because I just couldn't put it down, it was entrapping how the author put down their last moments together as a story with so many lessons to learn from. I picked this book because it was different than what I normally read and because I wondered how the author would put it together, knowing that the title gave it all away. I was not disappointed at all! If anything, I was only sad and disappointed about how it ended, otherwise, the book was fantastic. Even though the title of the book is a complete spoiler, by the end you never see it coming and it is so sad when you realize the book is over. The ending was very predictable but it will surprise you even though you know it will happen. It was an amazing book about their story of gay love and I ended up crying at the end because it was so beautiful. The author made the boys very relatable and emotional in a way that truly hooked you into the book. This is one of the best books I've read this year and I would certainly recommend that you read it too!

Reviewer's Name: Ella R.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Vuong, Ocean
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a fictional autobiography written by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong. It is written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese-American son to his illiterate mother.

To me, it was a surprise to hear that this novel was a work of fiction. The scenes constructed were so raw and real and written with so much emotion, that I automatically figured that this was a memoir. However, I later discovered that this book was fiction, with a couple of truths sprinkled in. I really loved the format that Vuong decided to use in this book because the letter format felt very lyrical and poetic at times. The book was refreshing and easy to follow, as opposed to the topics discussed in the book. As an Asian-American myself, there were many topics addressed in the novel that I could really sympathize and relate with, and while the subjects addressed could get pretty heavy and difficult to read through at times, I was grateful that Vuong took it upon himself to shed some light to many real issues and experiences. While I personally enjoyed the lyrical writing and could sympathize with the difficult subjects, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. There are many scenes in the novel that could be triggering and too much to handle, and even I felt like I had to put down the book a few times to get a break. I would recommend that before anyone decides to read this book, they should look up the content and trigger warnings. However, those that do decide to start this novel will definitely not be disappointed.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle Y.
They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you aren't prepared for a soul-crushingly beautiful read, don't pick up this book. In a world where everyones' death day is predicted with absolute accuracy, two teenage boys meet for one last day of life together. I admit to throwing this book across the room several times due to the intense, sorrowful nature of the story and feel that I am justified in doing so. Silvera writes a compelling love story with a melancholy twist; I feel that the plot is worth the tears that leaked from my eyes for days after finishing this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a sob-worthy, artfully written story.

Reviewer's Name: Katherine
Legendary Children
Fitzgerald, Tom (Thomas)
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're looking to get educated on LGBTQ+ history, this is a great book to try. I loved hearing about some of the most influential figures of the LGBTQ+ movement and their impact on others. They persevered even through backlash from events like the AIDS epidemic and built a community where everyone is welcome to be themselves. Some parts can get slow to read, but the authors use modern language and humor to appeal to a variety of audiences and make history more entertaining. This book is so empowering, give it a try!

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Heartstopper
Oseman, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I'm not a huge graphic novel fan because previous ones I've read have been too complicated to get hooked on. This series totally changed my mind! Heartstopper is a wholesome story of two schoolboys who fall in love and deal with all sorts of backlash from it. Even through the pain and sadness that bullying can cause, Charlie and Nick have a lovely way of persevering and having great communication with their diverse support system. It teaches that no matter how alien you might feel, there is always someone ready to listen and accept you. Plus, if you like this series already, try out the Netflix series for a beautiful adaptation of it.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
This Is Where It Ends
Nijkamp, Marieke
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This Is Where It Ends follows four students who recount their perspectives going through a school shooting at Opportunity High. Initially, I was intrigued to read this book since it covers a very sensitive topic and is a topic that I was interested in learning more about. However, the novel completely missed all my expectations. Instead of a thoughtful, heavily researched, realistic story, I got a novel that seemed to be an insult to any school shooting victim. The novel was way too action-packed, in such a way that every single plot point in the book seemed wildly exaggerated. Making it worse, the school shooter in the novel was way too villainized. With cheesy lines and no real reasoning behind his actions, the author made it seem like the shooter was some kind of superhero comic villain, with no other drive for his actions besides to incite fear in others. There was no psychological deep dive into why the shooter, a previous student in the school, ended up in the way he did, and why he thought his only solution to his problems was to murder his classmates. It was a shame to read such a novel meant to address a major problem in America, but was instead contorted and desensitized in a way to appeal to the entertainment industry, and failed to have any educational value at all. To put it shortly, This Is Where It Ends seems more of an action-thriller novel, not one that is meant to be taken seriously at all.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
She Drives Me Crazy book cover
Quindlen, Kelly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

She Drives Me Crazy opens with Scottie Zajac horrendously losing the first basketball game of the season to her ex-girlfriend. And it keeps going downhill after that. After a horrendous fender-bender in the parking lot after the game, Scottie is forced to carpool with Irene Abraham, the beautiful head cheerleader with a heart of stone. But after a few twists and turns, Scottie comes up with a perfect way to get back at her ex: fake date Irene until their next basketball battle. But within their fake relationship, Scottie finds that maybe feelings, relationships, and exes aren't as simple as she thought.
This book was fairly simple. It was a standard rivalry turned forced cooperation turned love story, with lots of shenanigans along the way. The things that made this book stand out from the simplistic romances of its peers was surprisingly not how the main love story was handled, but rather how the previous one was. Scottie had been in a nasty breakup caused by a nasty relationship, and it shows. She's torn about her ex and is constantly conflicted over whether ending the relationship was a good idea or not, something that's sadly very common for victims of toxic relationships. Her self esteem is noticeably impacted, and she has to struggle with this throughout the rest of the book. The book also handles a lot of other difficult subjects really well, like the demonization and trivialization of cheerleading, and the criticisms given to gay athletes. Despite these heavy topics, the book still delivers the fun romance it promises, with a few interesting twists thrown in that complement the themes of toxic relationships and moving on. The characters of the book were also surprisingly endearing. Scottie was loveable despite her flaws, Irene was one of the coolest female characters I've read in years, and even the side characters each shone and grew in really unique ways.
All in all, this was a great book, which I'd definitely recommend for lovers of romance, rivalry, character growth, and some 90's era romantic gestures!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Baby & Solo book jacket
Posthuma, Lisabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Baby & Solo is a story about friendship, heartbreak, movies, and The Things That Are Wrong with us. It follows Joel, fresh out of treatment for years of mental illness and ready to begin his life. He applies for a job at the local ROYO video, and finds himself thriving with a clean slate, especially around the enigmatic and acerbic Nicole "Baby" Palmer, someone who might be his first real friend. But as life begins to spiral out of control (as it usually does) he finds that he might need to face his past if he ever stands a chance of moving forward.
This book was brilliant. I have no other words for it. From the first chapter, the startling humor and charm of our protagonist kept me turning pages. And as the cast emerged, with Baby especially being a breath of fresh air in a world so choked with mediocre or boring female characters, I found myself unable to put it down. This book is around 400 pages, and I sped through almost all of it in one night, it was that gripping. The first thing I have to commend this book for is its heady sense of life. Some books merely create the illusion of life in its characters and story, but this one felt more like a movie (ironically) where I could almost see the character's faces, hear their voices, and bask in their triumphs or tremble before their struggles. Something about the rawness of the characters made me more attached to a book about teenagers from the 90s who worked in the equivalent of a blockbuster than any contemporary iPhone using, slang abusing teenage stereotype from the 21st century. Another thing that's amazing about this book is the prose. For one, I didn't expect it at all. It was a funny book, a sort of dark-comedy, with a loving attachment to Star Wars and laughable hatred of Dirty Dancing. I didn't think there'd be some parts of this books with absolutely gorgeous writing, that could take you from laughing to nearly crying with a few well-placed, beautiful lines and startling deep writing. Another thing: this book is really sad. But not a cheap, overworked kind of sad. It's the sadness that seeps through the snarky lines and hilarious antics. There's a melancholy to this book that soaks into almost every page, and genuinely makes you realize that life is a tragedy for these characters, and that their triumph is being able to smile through it. The ending nearly broke my heart, but the promise of moving forward, the promise of getting better, kept me smiling through my tears.
I could rave about this book for hours, but I don't want to give a single thing away, because I desperately want the very few people who read this review to read this book. All in all, this book is astounding. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, but especially those that like quick humor, fantastic characters, 90s nostalgia, and books that tears your heart apart while putting it back together.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Gracefully Grayson
Polonsky, Ami
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Gracefully Grayson is about a boy in sixth grade who is forced to go through the struggles of transfering to a girl. In the middle of sixth grade, Grayson has the opportunity to try out for a school play. He has not done any after school, but he decided to go out on a limb and try out, but for the lead girl part. He ends up getting the part, but word spreads fast around his school, and him and his teacher, who is the play director, both get hate. While he rehearses for the play, he has to deal with bullies, the weight of thinking that he might get his teacher fired, and his aunt not supporting him fully. He also has to figure out whether he wants to show off everything he wants to wear, or stick to the boring ways boys act and what they wear.
This book was ok. It showed the pressure that LGBTQ people go through every day, but there were no huge plots. The book was boring at parts, but overall, it was a good story and book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy read.

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

”Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”
A quote from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Saenz has truly mastered the art of poetic prose. This novel is filled with countless more beautiful lines, and I have to say that this story exceeded my expectations.
Aristotle (Ari) is a Mexican-American boy who lives with his PTSD racked Father and loving Mother. Dante is the opposite of Ari. Instead of being a "traditionally" boyish boy, Dante enjoys art and poetry. Dante is emotional and sensitive, while Ari tends to deflect the same feelings.
I really enjoyed this book for countless reasons.
For one, the POC main characters and LGBT romance. I consider diversity to be an important factor in novels, and the author of this story did a good job of illustrating these topics.
Secondly, I liked the pacing of this story. It was pretty relaxed and slow. Reading this story felt mellow and personal, like we were just watching Ari and Dante discover themselves and each other, all in the slow hum of everyday life.
Last, the realism of this novel was something I appreciated. We saw Ari and Dante act like the teenagers they are, and tackle common everyday problems most teenagers face. I liked how nothing was overly dramatized, and while that may seem "boring," I thought this calm, slow, and realistic take on a typical Coming of Age novel was very enjoyable.
Overall, although Aristotle and Dante don't follow much of a plot, I enjoyed watching the novel unfold at its own pace.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Gearbreakers
Mikuta, Zoe Hana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Gearbreakers is a story with two subjects. First, there's Eris, a revolutionary with a burning hatred for Godolia, the all powerful government that killed her parents and regulates her home with the giant mechas known as Windups. She has dedicated her life to destroying these Windups, and any who dare pilot them. Second, there's Sona, a Windup pilot that is scheming to destroy Godolia from the inside. When the two of them meet after one of Eris' destructive escapades goes sideways, their clashing backgrounds and mirrored desires forges an unlikely friendship, one that will change both of their lives as they know it.
This book is unusual for its genre from the get go. It's clearly a YA dystopia, with its young, child soldier protagonists with appropriately angsty personalities set against a terrifying yet monolithic totalitarian government. I've read plenty of these in my time, like most of my generation, and I'm very familiar with the elements. In this book, the usual elements are subverted immediately. Instead of starting out with a bland everyman that, despite having a hard life, isn't usually directly opposed to the system they're in, this book cuts to the chase. The first voice of the story, Sona, is introduced already chock-full of rage. The entire first chapter begins in medias res, completely skipping the usual revelations and training montages and directing us straight to a character who has just been transformed and is very ticked about this. This is something the book does very well: it trusts its audience to grasp the situation at hand, without needing the exposition many books like this are heavy in, often using heavy and lyrical prose to do so. This is another thing: the prose. The book is unexpectedly poetic in many places, which is also generally strange for the genre. I'm not talking about clunky metaphors about birds and technology, although there is a lot of stuff about technology. Just the writing itself is beautiful, interweaving metaphors and similes and personification and all that fun stuff seamlessly with the literal. This also makes the novel seem older than its setting and genre, more like an old folk tale about ancient gods and classic heroes than a YA dystopia about robots and lasers. Another bright spot in the novel is its vibrant tone, especially with the characters. Every character is brimming with emotion and character and motivations. And they're all unspeakably angry. This author is younger than most, and this definitely shows in the portrayal of the younger characters in the novel. In many books written by older authors, the teenage characters often exhibit the cynicism and stoicism of that older generation in the face of social injustice. While this leads to cool-headed, logical heroes to aspire to, none of them have the same instant relatability with the younger generation as these angry characters do. Most teenagers, in the face of unfairness, get unreasonably angry. Its a fact of life, and having unabashedly angry female teen characters who scream and yell and blow stuff up in the face of their terrible circumstances instead of passing out or something is surprisingly refreshing. The two main characters, and their deep seated anger in the face of trauma and injustice, as well as their different ways of reacting to their similar demons, makes for some great chemistry and explorations of their characters. I will admit, most other characters didn't get similar levels of development, but they were each memorable and likable in unique and fun ways.
All in all, I would simply describe this book as fun and refreshing. The action and characters and writing is all fun, and the way the author subverts typical expectations in unique and interesting ways is refreshing! I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for lots of robots, good emotional conflicts, lots of sadness, lots of laughs, and some cathartically angry female characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Harrow the Ninth
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harrow the Ninth is the second book in the Locked Tomb series, and it follows a necromancer, Harrow, as she learns to become a Lyctor to God himself, the emperor of the First House. But as the teaching progresses, the century-old secrets of God and his immortal Lyctors, the intangible death monsters hell-bent on destroying them, and Harrow's own crippled psyche threaten to crush her under their weight.
The first book in this series, Gideon the Ninth, is undoubtedly both bizarre and amazing from the very first page, all the way until the last. I read this book because I adored the first one, and I have to say it is even more bizarre and amazing, but there's an emphasis on the 'bizarre' part in the beginning and an abundance of 'amazing' in the end.
For the first thing, a good chunk of this book is told in second person. For another, the beginning is very confusing, mimicking the main characters confused state. For a third, much of the book seems to contradict the first book, or itself, giving a whole new meaning to the 'unreliable narrator'. Now, at the end, this all comes together and makes perfect sense and blows your head off in a fit of epiphany. And, having read the entire book cover to cover, I applaud the author for the bold choices and tantalizing ending. But for the beginning, it may be a bit more a struggle to push through, and the brilliance of the first book is really needed to help accomplish this.
So, the book is pretty confusing, but for the most part its understandable, and it maintains the first books commitment to levity. This book is pretty funny, even though it can be heart wrenching or gory in some bits. The main character, Harrow, is both very sad and very cool, like a skinny Batman, which I really like! She's also well developed, with understandable actions and motives. The supporting cast is fleshed out well, and highly entertaining, and very sad. All of this is very good. The plot, while confusing at first, is concluded nicely, and is well paced. The worldbuilding of this book does this thing I really like, where it never really sits down and fully explains anything, but still leaves you getting the gist of everything by passing remarks and impressions and vague implications. It did this better in the first book, but since the second book had a lot more complicated necromancy stuff to explain, I'll let it slide.
All in all, this was an extremely good book, which took risks with its material and just expected all of us to push through the bizarre for the amusing and sad characters and an unknown payoff, which we all did, and which was totally worth it! Highly recommend, but read the first book first, and if you've read the first book and you're looking for a reason to keep reading, definitely do so!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Sea is Salt and So Am I
Hartt, Cassandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I is a story about a girl, two brothers, and their Maine town that is collapsing around them. The powerful storms of the climate change era are destroying everything in the town they love, and while trying to save it, stories and secrets and tragedies tear them apart all while forcing them closer together. In a stunning novel about grief and loss and trust and home, Cassandra Hartt weaves a tale through the eyes of the three main characters, masterfully crafting a story that will break your heart and put it together at the same time.
I almost didn't pick up this book the first time I saw it at the library. When I saw the synopsis contained two brothers and one of the brothers best female friend, I immediately flashed back to the Kissing Booth, and all the other contrived dramas this storyline had spawned. But, I took a chance. While this book is full of drama, much of it resulting from the two brothers and the female best friend usual conflict, the story makes the characters so realistic and grounded and understandable that it's utterly incomparable to the Kissing Booth. Every main character is fully fleshed out and sympathetic, even though you'll hate almost all of them (minus Tommy) all of the time. I heard once that the hallmark of a great author is one who, when writing a character to make a horrible decision, doesn't make you despise them, but makes you fully despise the character. In other words, good writing comes from making the characters' motivations and traits so clear cut that any decision they make, no matter how horrible, makes sense for them. And the characters in this book make some horrible decisions. They're mostly terrible towards each other for the whole book, but since the author does a fantastic job of making you understand each character, you're just ticked at the characters for being terrible, which isn't fun, but it sure is captivating.
The book also has great prose, with lots of beautiful and striking imagery. Each character has a distinct voice, and you can almost see the half-drowned Maine town the story is centered on. The emotions of the characters in general are painted vividly by the prose, which is most evident with the way the author describes depression. There's a suicide attempt in this book, and the aftermath, as well as the attempts of the depressed character to recover, is well executed and genuine, and does a great job of showing the impact of the attempt on all characters involved.
All in all, this book kept me turning pages, and while it definitely wasn't a fun-hearted, it did tug at heart strings and fill my heart and break it and came from the heart and all that good stuff that can make you cry but still love it with all your heart. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who can read about depression and suicide safely and wants to feel something you can't fully explain!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve