Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: We Are the Ghosts by Vicky Skinner

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After the protagonist, Ellie, has her brother die in an accident on the road, she finds herself in a harrowing situation. Her brother, Luke, had left the family a few months ago in sheer disdain for her mother’s tendency to attempt to control things in the house. Furthermore, he especially despised the quiet suburban town of Eaton that he had lived in for all of his life. Luke wanted something different from life, an ambition that just hasn’t crossed to Ellie the same way it did to Luke. Left with no feelings and an inability to truly cope, she is left with emptiness and a feeling of unfulfillment. However, there was something left of Luke in the house other than his untouched room. Discovering an old letter left on her desk, she finds a map that was made when Luke was still with her. It was a map – not just any map, but the same map that Luke and Ellie marked their bucket list of locations to visit at least once. It was a dream road trip, planned by Ellie, Luke, and Wes, a childhood friend. However, the sender of the letter had no name, but what was there was an address in Michigan. Setting out to find whoever sent the map to her and learn what Luke did with his life after he left, she prepares for a long road trip. This does not prevent a few old friends from finding out including Cade, a former lover of hers, Wes, a childhood friend, and Gwen, the former girlfriend of Luke.

The story of Luke is sad, to say the least. Unlike the other parts of this book, Luke’s ambition is almost reminiscent of what a lot of rebellious teens have dreamed of at least once, which is something that intrigued me throughout the book. Luke wanted to live life differently, possessing an ambition that so many teens have, yet never follow through with.  However, unlike most teens, he went through with those ambitions. Leaving his home and his friends which he cherished so much, Luke left to find the life he wanted. Luke wanted to change, something that his life had never provided him throughout his childhood. The story explores this runaway style of a road trip when the main characters follow in Luke’s footsteps. That is what makes this story fun in a way beyond the words of its pages. It is a story exploring what most adults wanted to do when they were teens. Most of them never did, and in turn, abandoned their ambitions as their age placed them into the workforce. The story is about a bunch of teens being teens, and I like it that way.

The characters were not very memorable. I found myself unable to connect to them the same way many other stories manage to. However, I can’t say that it takes off from the themes. The book makes you think about the issues of life and your part of it more than any book that I have read before. It provokes a level of thought in the reader that makes them feel connected to the reader.

 

4-stars-1

 

Reviewed by Jaewon, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

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Rahul is about to start a new school year at Greenville Junior High. It’s the last day of summer, and Rahul is not prepared to go back to school. He is now a seventh grader, and things do not seem to be looking his way. At the end of the first week of school, he is already being bullied by his greatest enemy, Frank. However, he stays strong with the help of his best friend, Chelsea. He also has his most favorite person in the world to help him along the way, his grandfather, Bhai. Together, they help Rahul overcome the challenges that are thrown at them throughout the new school year.

 

I enjoyed this book because the author made me feel a connection to this book and to its main character. I understood what Rahul was going through, and it connected me more to the book because he was a middle schooler just like me. I also liked how Bhai knows Rahul like the back of his hand. He knows exactly what to do to cheer Rahul up whenever he is sad or lonely. However, I disliked how Rahul cared a lot about how people thought he looked and what he liked. I wish he would have more confidence in himself. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book.

 

One memorable thing about this book is how strong Rahul and Chelsea’s friendship is. They both support each other no matter what and share an everlasting friendship. Even though Rahul feels insecure about himself, Chelsea reassures him that he is a great person. I admire Chelsea for being a great friend and helping Rahul through the school year.
5-stars-3

Reviewed by Faribah, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Young Readers Edition) by Kamala Harris

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This story follows the early life and political career of current California senator Kamala Harris. Growing up in California as the oldest daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Kamala learned the importance of equality and justice from a very young age. Throughout the rest of her life, her goal has been to implement these two important virtues in communities across the country that greatly lack them. This motivation to make her community a better place has driven her farther up the political ladder, putting her into a position to assist even more citizens with every promotion. Throughout this entire process, she has also emphasized inspiring the next generation of empowered leaders in this country, with the possibility of spreading her influence if she is elected as the 46th U.S. President.

I really liked the way that this book was structured. Each chapter began with a short anecdote, usually describing an event that Kamala Harris encountered during her life. As the chapter progressed towards its end, she was very reflective about the event and connected it to her core beliefs about equality and justice. She also gave a lot of context about every situation so that those who are very unfamiliar with law would be able to understand what was going on. My favorite aspect of this novel, however, is likely the inspirational message that she aspires for every reader to understand.

I learned a lot of valuable lessons while reading this book that make me think about life in this country in a completely different way than I did previously. It made me a lot more aware of issues that significantly affect members of my community on a daily basis and how to go about solving these problems. Ultimately, this book taught me how to be a good citizen, and even more importantly, a better person.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Griffin, Gayton Branch Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

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This book is about a girl named Abbi Hope Goldstein. However, Abbi isn’t a normal girl – to the world, she is known as Baby Hope. All of her popularity is because of a quick snapshot on 9/11 that showed that Abbi was a miracle baby. Sixteen years later, Abbi is trying to hide from the fame, and she faces an issue that makes her enjoy the time she is in, not knowing if she will have a future. Abbi goes to a camp where she meets a boy named Noah, who wants to connect her past and learn more about that famous Baby Hope photo, along with their friend Jack. Noah and Abbi embark on an emotional journey to reconnect the pieces that they lost so long ago. Though, neither of them is ready for what they will need to face.

I enjoyed how the author made me connect to the story, emotionally. The author helped me connect by throwing in instances and situations that are relatable. I like how the author showed Abbi’s true feelings about that photo and even gave a reason for her to feel that way. However, I wish that the author had included more about the story of 9/11 and its connection to Abbi. I would have loved to read the entire story of Abbi and 9/11.

One memorable thing in the book is how Abbi and Noah stuck with each other, no matter how harsh the news was. They stood by each other and supported one another, in a way that their bold friendship continued to grow.
5-stars-3

Reviewed by Shraddha, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters

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Seventeen-year-old Edgar Allan Poe is set to leave his oppressive home in Richmond, Virginia, and achieve his dream of attending college at the distinguished university in Charlottesville. His foster father, the wealthy John Allan, wants to rid Edgar of his dark fantasies and fetter him to the family accounting business, but Edgar’s love for the grotesque only grows. Weeks before leaving for Charlottesville, his muse–the brooding Lenore–emerges, demanding to be seen. Torn between embracing his poetry and staying in his father’s good graces, Poe must either silence Lenore or risk being known as Richmond’s madman…forevermore.

The author made good use of imagery and described things vividly. I also felt a connection to the book, since the majority of it is set in Richmond. While the story is based around Poe’s life, it was not strictly a biography: it incorporated darker themes and an air of fantasy into his tragic life. I liked Lenore’s character development and her relationship with Poe. It was interesting to imagine the personification of everyone’s sources of inspiration. I loved the setting of 19th century Richmond. There was a kind of colonialism lingering, with secret lovers, family fortunes, and urban lore.

I loved how the author incorporated snippets of Poe’s actual work into the story and provided settings in which he could have written them. The author made sure to stay true to Poe’s writing style, and the entire book felt like an engrossing dark fantasy.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Gabby, Fairfield Area Library