Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

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The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden is the story of a seventh grade girl named Zoey. Zoey’s life is not easy; she has a lot on her plate. Not only is she trying to survive middle school, but she also must take care of her three siblings. Zoey’s family doesn’t have a lot of money and they are living in a trailer with her mom’s current boyfriend. One of Zoey’s jobs is to keep her siblings quiet and keep everything neat, so her mom’s boyfriend doesn’t get upset. Zoey thinks her life would be so much easier if she was an octopus. Not only would she have eight arms, but she could camouflage herself and blend into the background. Zoey can’t always get her homework done because she is busy taking care of her brothers and sister. She never has the right clothes because her mother buys everything too big, so she can grow into them. The washing machine is broken, so sometimes Zoey’s clothes are dirty, and kids refer to her as grimy. Zoey’s life is hard, but her debate teacher takes a special interest in Zoey. She thinks that Zoey’s voice is valuable. This gives Zoey the confidence she needs to stand up for herself and others.

I think this book has an important message and is a must read for all middle school students. It addresses current issues such as abuse, bullying, poverty and gun control. I believe the author does a great job of breaking down stereotypes and gives the audience a look into the window of poverty. I think that this book inspires people to speak up for what’s right, even when it’s hard to do. I liked the author’s writing style because the dialogue really made it seem like middle school students were talking. I thought Zoey was a very relatable character and it was easy to root for her. Although Zoey made some questionable choices; she was never doing anything for selfish reasons. All of Zoey’s actions were driven by her desire to help and take care of the people in her life.

The most memorable part of the book was when Zoey showed up for the debate about gun control. She has strong opinions but has been holding her thoughts and feelings in for so long. Will she finally speak up? You find yourself holding your breath to see what she will do.

4-stars-1

Submitted by James, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

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Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee is about a seventh grade girl named Mila. In addition to financial issues at home and altercations with her friends, she struggles with boys continuously wanting to hug her, sit close to her, and touch her. This made her feel insecure about her body. She was too scared to stand up to the boys until she could not hold it in any longer. Through ups and downs, Mila perseveres through hard times.

I loved the book because the author kept me interested. The details the author gave about the boys, friends, and struggles at home made me want to keep reading. Even though there was a big idea, the author added interesting side details, about different stuff going on in her life. It was fun to read about the school and home aspect of her life. From the introduction to the conclusion I really felt like I was Mila going through all the ups and downs, feeling sad with her, happy with her, and mad with her.

One memorable thing from the book was when Mila tried to keep her mom happy. Mila’s mom was going through many issues such as dealing with  a mean boss, living on a tight budget, and arguing with her ex-husband.  Mila didn’t want her mom to worry, so she kept her problems to herself. Although Mila wanted to keep her mom happy, she didn’t realize that keeping secrets hurt their relationship. I learned that it is important to tell your mom what is going on because keeping secrets can hurt a relationship.

5-stars-1

Review by Elise, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Somewhere We Only Know by Maurene Goo

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Who knew that the world’s famous K-pop star would fall in love with a normal teenage boy? It all begins with the desire to devour a hamburger. Lucky, known for her perfectionism on stage and for her luscious voice, decides one night to wander across the streets in Hong Kong for some delicious food (in her case, a hamburger). Meanwhile, Jack, a teenage boy, is on a secret “mission” for his so-called job, snapping never-seen-before pictures. When the two characters cross paths, love sparks in the air as they venture in the city. Around town, both Lucky and Jack experience the tasty food, wonderful showings, and freedom. However, there is a twist: Lucky puts on a fake identity known as “Fern” so she can live her life with Jack, but she doesn’t realize that Jack has already discovered the true her. How will this night end as secrets hang in the air?

Goo organizes the story in a fashion where the readers can peer into the thoughts of both characters, Jack and Lucky. I like how she describes each scene with detailed and vivid imagery, such as the landscape of Hong Kong and the hubbub in the streets. This story was on the cheesy side as I anticipated most situations. However, overall, Goo does an amazing job writing the story with a few interesting plot twists. If you are up for a cheesy, romantic novel, I would totally recommend reading this book!

The opening chapter was the most memorable scene of the book because I felt exactly like Lucky, running around the hotel frantically. The author opens the book by describing the hotel, Lucky’s emotions, and her role as a famous K-pop star in a way where the reader is sucked into the same world.

4-stars-1

Reviewed by Allyson, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment

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This book is about a 17-year-old girl named Layla Amin, who is a Muslim in a dystopian American society where members of that demographic are persecuted greatly. One day, government officials come to her house and tell her family that they must leave immediately to go to an internment camp in California. At the Camp Mobius, Layla, along with hundreds of other Muslim Americans, are contained in a confidential area surrounded by electric fences. Their rights are taken away as soon as they step through the doors, and the punishment for going disobeying the rules are extremely severe. These punishments do not waver the protagonists, as Layla and her new friends Ayesha and Soheil attempt to hatch a plan to escape from the facility.

I am in great awe about how well the plot of the novel was planned out. I believe that the story flowed very well, while the author also included a lot of twists and turns that were very unexpected, which left me unable to put the book down. There were no dull or boring moments; each chapter had a lot of action and dialogue that was very important for the development of the story. I also liked how the author incorporated humor into the novel, even though the main message of the story is very important to understand. Most of the main characters were teenagers, so the bickering they had with each other gave them a little bit of unique personality.

The most memorable thing about this book was the emotion that a lot of the characters had about the situation. Especially in a situation like this, it requires a lot of self-confidence to make a stand against something that is morally wrong. Throughout the whole novel, numerous characters showed so much in resilience and bravery in everything they did. This novel is extremely inspiring and will make any reader feel like they can accomplish anything.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Griffin G., Gayton Library

Books, Read + Review

Read + Review: Unpresidented by Martha Brockenbrough

Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump

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This book is a biography about Donald Trump, the 45th (and current) President of the United States. The novel started by following the life Friedrich Trump, who was the first member of his family to immigrate to the United States, as he attempted to make a name for himself in New York City. He eventually became very involved with restaurant business and had a son, Fred Trump, who fell in love with real estate, and eventually passed on this love to Donald. The rest of the novel details stories from Trump’s early life in military school and college and the first deals he made as a real estate mogul. Along the way, he gained a lot of popularity and a pedigree as one of the figureheads of business in New York City. He also became very involved in politics for the latter part of his life, which ultimately led to his decision to run for the election in 2016. After being elected on November 8, 2016, the rest is history.

I enjoyed that the novel was very thorough in terms of information on not only Donald Trump, but also his family members and other significant members of his campaign. I could tell that there was a lot of outside research that was compiled to make Trump’s life story complete. The one thing I didn’t like, however, was that there were some parts of the book that were relatively uninteresting and difficult to follow at times. When Brockenbrough wrote about various deals and lawsuits filed against him, there were a lot of monetary figures and financial terms that I had relatively little knowledge of. This novel requires a lot of knowledge and concentration to fully understand.

The most memorable aspect of this book is all the blasphemy that Trump told to reporters, stated online. The author decided to include dozens of quotes and Twitter posts from before and after his presidency to showcase his extremely aggressive nature and reluctance to accept basic facts. I already knew before reading this book that a lot of what he said was crazy, but the novel will truly show you an even crazier side to him that most have never seen before.

4-stars

Reviewed by Griffin G., Gayton Library