Read & Review: Rules for being a girl by Candance Bushnell


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It’s Marin’s senior year, and she’s got it in the bag to Brown University. She’s a great student and is co-editor with her best friend of the school paper. Her grandmother, who is very important to her, is why Marin wants to get into Brown University – to make her proud. However, her English teacher Mr. Beckett or “Bex,” as students call him, makes a move on her which causes her to think about a lot – was what happened her fault? Is she overthinking it? She also realizes that there are tons of rules for girls that stem from society and are incorporated in the school’s dress code and ends up writing about it in the school newspaper and starts a feminist book club. Although she went through a lot, in the end, things begin to look up for her.

This book was good. It shows what girls go through regarding sexual harassment and when many don’t believe them about it. It brought light to how the school administration doesn’t always care about sexual harassment and how it doesn’t always help the students. It talked a bit about how feminism isn’t always intersectional, and there’s a group discussion about it during a book club meeting. Marin was okay. I felt like she was naive in the beginning. I also wondered why she didn’t think Bex was weird due to his behavior towards her, but she trusted Bex, and he betrayed that trust/abused his power when he made a move on her. Chloe, Marin’s best friend, was okay. I didn’t like her after what she did, but there was a reason behind it. I liked Gray due to his awareness of many things, plus he was there for Marin through it all. I loved the book club with its meetings and discussions and wished there were more. I hated Bex, the English teacher, so much. It was obvious what he did to Marin he did to other students. I thought he was weird, and there were tons of red flags about him in the beginning. The book overall was good, and I didn’t want to put it down.

One memorable moment was when she talked to her parents about what Bex did. They never blamed her for what happened because it was Bex’s fault and attempted to chase any doubt Marin had about it being her fault.

Reviewed by Roopa, Tuckahoe library


Read & Review: The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

For most people, the start of World War 2 symbolized death and destruction. However, for some, it meant the beginning of a new life, a life with adventure and hope. That was how Louisa’s journey began in England, in a world full of secrecy, code, and warfare. She embarks on a magnificent journey with her elderly accomplice, Jane, and gets entangled in all sorts of affairs in hopes of proving her value in the war effort against Germany. Along with the help of the Royal Air Force, she relays messages decoded by an intricate machine from a Nazi defector. Enter a world full of excitement, mystery, and stealth in this captivating and inspiring novel.

This was quite different from other books I’ve read because it started out slow-paced, and gradually escalated things and made them interesting. The three central characters, Jamie, Louisa, and Ellen had a great connection with each other that was beautifully played out in the first few chapters of the book, and this bond got even stronger as the novel progressed. I enjoyed how different the writing style was from each different perspective of a character, and how that fits into their individual personalities. Although some characters were blander than others, the overarching plot of the novel worked out in a way that made up for that.

One memorable thing was how, instead of progressing chapters, the book simply switched viewpoints to the first-person perspective of another main character, and cycled through characters strategically in a certain situation. I also enjoyed the metaphorical comparisons made between characters who were different from the rest of the majority of England like Louisa and Ellen.

Reviewed by, Arnav, Glen Allen Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse

Strange Exit
You can place a hold a print copy of this book.

Everyone is stuck in a post-apocalyptic simulation, but Lake is the only one who realizes it. When someone leaves the simulation, they come aboard a ship along with everyone else aware of the sim. The rule is that no one, even if they are awake, should go into the simulation and that the people stuck in the sim must come out on their own. However, no one can leave the ship until every last person is out of the simulation, and Lake wants to help speed that up. She often goes into the simulation and tries to wake up people that are stuck there. One of the people she wakes up is named Taren. He quickly figures out what Lake is doing and offers to help. Together, they take on the post-apocalyptic virtual reality and try to get everyone out before the ship breaks down and they are stuck there forever.

I found this book to be very enjoyable and I really liked that everything about the simulation was well explained and made sense. The concept was really cool and wasn’t like anything I had read before. It was very fast-paced, and the description made it easy to picture the landscape. One thing that I disliked about this book was the fact that there wasn’t much character development. Lake and Taren themselves aren’t often talked about, and what is going on in the sim is the main focus. I like that the story is told from different point of view because it shows how different the characters are, and a better sense of the world they live in. The plot twist at the end was very surprising but it felt a little rushed.

The most memorable part of this book is that it is very high stakes, and that if everyone doesn’t get out of the sim, they are stuck. It made the book much more suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

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War can be a powerful motivator for bringing its inhabitants closer together or dividing them farther apart. In this breathtaking novel, the latter occurs, and Japanese residents within a certain area of Pearl Harbor are forced to leave their homes behind in a flurry of crushed hopes and dreams. However, they all reunite again in the camps and remain steadfast in the face of uncertainty. From naive to suspicious and timid to brave, children all around the various different factions band together while simultaneously being asked to make tough decisions a child isn’t capable of answering. The gang is forced to embark on a life-changing journey that enlightens them about the cruel truth of the world and how sometimes, their right is your wrong and vice versa.

This book was so engaging for many reasons, and it was a shock for me that a book detailing the events of a different time period altogether could be so captivating. One interesting aspect of the novel was how each character was mentioned only once, in a chapter dedicated just for them; it made the novel feel original and unforgettable. I also enjoyed the modern words that the writer used, although the events in the novel occurred during World War 2. However, one chapter in the book that had just poems was a little confusing and hard to take in. I especially enjoyed the humor and relatable moments throughout the rage periods of certain characters.

One memorable thing would definitely be the interaction between Japanese characters and American characters. I felt as though I was literally there, feeling the tension and animosity in the air while reading those sections of the novel. It made the novel seem authentic and lively.

Reviewed by Arnav, Glen Allen Branch Library


Read & Review: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Ash Bowman is just a normal high school student who lives in an average house with an average family and goes to an average school. His passion for football has led him to be the defensive tackle on his school’s football team, the Tibbetsville Tsunamis. However, as the football season starts, Ash notices that his tackles seem to change the world. Soon, he learns that he has become the center of the universe and that he can control events in the past and even shift time. Through his transformations between parallel universes, he becomes humbled and gains awareness of many societal issues when the societal opinion on segregation, his sexuality, and even his gender changes. However, his clueless and reckless utilization of his power at first leads to a possibility of a correction by the universe, which would result in a cleansing of life from Earth. With interdimensional beings and his friends, whose proximity effect allows them to retain some memories of what had happened in previous universes, he must return the universe to its original state and revert his blind mistakes.

The book created a good mix of moods, being hilarious at some points, while also being very intriguing at other points. The details that patched up the switches between the universes was excellently written and appealed to me the most. Ash’s narration made him sound like a friend, which draws in the reader further. Most of all, I thought that Neal Shusterman had a very original concept for the book, which had a huge potential. I personally feel that such a short book does not and could not possibly encapsulate so many controversial social issues that Neal Shusterman was trying to create awareness of, though the attempt was admirable. Despite this, the book is entertaining nonetheless and I strongly suggest this book!

For me, this book is memorable due to its one-of-a-kind idea of alternate universes. While this idea might seem elementary to this book as science fiction, the author did a splendid job designing details that all connect together like an intricate web. Most of all, the book provoked thought, and readers were encouraged to take away important lessons from the book.

Reviewed by Qingyuan, Twin Hickory Library