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Read + Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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The book is from Rachel and Henry’s points of views. They were best friends in school, until Rachel moved to Sea Ridge, a town by the ocean. She, her mother, and her brother Cal lived there happily; until one day, Cal mysteriously drowned in the ocean. Rachel couldn’t stand the ocean anymore, and her mother sent her to live with her aunt in the town that she had previously lived in. At the same time, Henry has had an on-off relationship with his girlfriend Amy, and every time they break up, he thinks it would be the last time, but he always wants her back. Also, his family is considering to sell the bookstore, which is his only happiness. Once Rachel moved back, they tried to bring each other back to the ways things used to be, but so much had happened since then.

The book was absolutely amazing. There was so much description and there were so many emotional twists and turns. The book really drew me in, and there were times that I wanted to stop reading because the book was so sad, but at the same time I wanted to keep going. There really was no main conflict; it was simply normal problems of everyday life. The book really gets you thinking about the small things in life and that we have to appreciate everything and everyone in our lives.

In the novel, Henry and his family own a bookstore, and there is a section called the Letter Library. Filled with books that cannot be bought, there are classics and favorites lining the shelves. People are allowed to write in the margins about parts of the book, and you can meet people that share similar interests. There were certain books that shared a deep connection between two characters, and entire letters and conversations were passed back and forth. The Letter Library added a whole new facet to this novel.

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Reviewed by Heer, Grade 7, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

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Daria is an Iranian American girl who is proud of who she is. Her former friend Heidi who is in a clique called the “Nose Jobs,” while Daria’s friends are called the Authentics. The Authentics included her, Kurt, Caroline, and Joy. One day in their English class, Mr. Farrell assigns a project about what brought them to this point in their life. Daria decides to draw up a little family tree, including her brother Amir and his husband Andrew, and her parents Sheila and Baba. She then decides that she should do a DNA test on herself. She finds out shocking news that will test her family and the Authentics. She is on the road of self-discovery and secrets.

I like how her friends and family were tested throughout the story. You also get to learn about her culture at the same time. The friendship that Daria, Kurt, Caroline, and Joy had was one of a kind. I loved how her mom was so party crazy, while the dad just went along with everything so the mom wouldn’t be mad at him. It really showed their relationship clear and how they are as parents. The author being the same race as the character that he wrote made you feel better because you know the culture is truthful. There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like. If I had to really choose it would be Heidi’s attitude.

The most memorable thing was when her niece was born. I understood how she felt because I’m currently having a niece too, so I felt like I could relate with the character.

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Reviewed by Alanda, Grade 11, Libbie Mill Library

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Read + Review: The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

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Daria Esfandyar’s life revolves around being an authentic Iranian-American. She is vehemently proud of her heritage and culture and looks down upon those who shy away from their identities. Her life suddenly changed when her research led to the truth about her past. Conflicted, Daria goes out on a mission to find out who she really is. However, lies, mishaps, and consequences follow her along the trail. She begins to doubt if she’ll ever solve her identity crisis.

In The Authentics, there were several diverse and controversial topics that deemed interesting. The beginning of the novel had made it somewhat difficult to read. I wasn’t well-informed about Iranian culture. However, I was determined to finish, and I genuinely enjoyed reading about astrology, Daria’s relatives, and other cultures.

The most memorable thing about The Authentics was that the protagonist was an Iranian-American. I’ve read numerous books throughout my life, and not one had a protagonist with such an interesting background and culture as Daria.

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Reviewed by Jessica, Grade 9, Glen Allen Library

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Read + Review: Falcon Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

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Born in a family that runs a raptor education center, 13-year-old Karma is determined to become a falconer. But after she gets bitten by her favorite falcon, Stark, her family decides to return Stark to his original owner. On the road to return Stark, they get into a car accident in rural backcountry Montana. Now, Karma and her new survival partner Cooper must try to get help for Karma’s father who is stuck in the van. Lost, they must survive in the harshness of the wild. Along the way, Karma trains Stark to hunt for them. Will the team of three survive? Will Karma’s father be saved?

I liked the twists in the cunning plot and also the strong portrayal of the connections between Karma, Cooper, and Stark. Karma and Cooper who started as antagonists ended up needing each other to survive. Cooper started off calling Karma crazy for talking to birds but ended up getting along with Karma and even accepting Stark. The connection between Karma and Stark is evident when Stark finds Karma down in the crevice and provides comfort. The suspense kept me reading the whole day. The book also teaches the themes of teamwork, survival, and to always have hope.

One very memorable part of this book was the description of how Karma felt when she was starving, hopeless, and despairing. Because of the way the author expressed Karma’s emotions, I could almost feel them in myself. This is one exceptional way the author used her writing to make you feel the story and be wrapped into it.

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Reviewed by Lawrence, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: Pawns by Willo Davis Roberts

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Recently orphaned, Teddi Stuart has spent the past four months in the comforting shade of her kind next door neighbor, Mamie. Teddi treasures her time with Mamie, and the bond between them grows stronger in the few months she spends with her foster mother. When an obviously pregnant girl knocks on their door, claiming to be the wife of Mamie’s son, Ricky, temporary shock overwhelms the duo. Especially because Ricky Thrane died in a plane crash from San Diego not so long ago, and he did not send letters or any other form of communication that he had a wife or was expecting a son. Despite the mixed feelings, Teddi and Mamie bring the girl, Dora, into their home, where she explains that she is close to delivering her child, adding some type of protective layer Mamie has for her, since Dora was bearing her first grandson. Soon after Dora’s arrival, Teddi meets the next door neighbor’s son, and a new friendship begins to build, followed by shopping, tennis lessons, and a later suspicion of Dora. Late at night, Teddi observes Dora walking briskly outside, even though she just gave birth to a child. Dora should be resting and taking care of her baby who was alone in his mother’s room, crying. Mysterious acts carried out by Dora throughout the pages increase Jason and Teddi’s suspicions about something not adding up about this woman. As the pages of the book continued, Teddi discovers more about Dora and what could be an unsettling truth about the wife of Ricky Thrane.

I believe that Pawns was an amazing story with some humor, suspense, and overall mystery and suspicion between the characters. This gave the reader a hunger to keep reading the next chapter, for anything could happen between one page and the next. The fact that the characters in different scenes were portrayed in a different angle each time, seemed to intrigue me into finding more about each of the characters. This blossomed a thirst of knowledge for what each character was really feeling and what secrets they were hiding behind their expressions. One aspect of this book I disliked was toward the end, where I could tell what would be the ending and what “secrets” would be revealed. Even toward the rear of this story, I wish the author added a bit more of a mysterious element, so the reader could not guess what would follow up as the end of the book. Overall, I think that the writing style, hints of humor, plot, and characters all fit together in a perfect puzzle, and that all the loose ends were tied up when I finished reading the last page.

The most memorable thing I think about this book was Dora’s strength. The first impression I had of her was when she rang the doorbell to the house and when I read that she was clearly pregnant and would be delivering soon. I appreciated how strong her character was when even when she seemed so fragile. Admiring how she held her ground in the beginning, even if her actions were sketchy, I thought she was a girl of steel. Though she was doubling over in pain, she ordered Teddi to help her with delivering the baby, and I thought it was not so much tough but bold and strong to hold her ground like that in such strain.

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Reviewed by Sruthi, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library