Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan and Jennifer Niven

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Bea Ahern has a tendency of running away from her problems, and this time is no different: except it is. This time she’s gone for good, leaving nothing but an email address and a hole in the life of those who knew her. Ezra Ahern has the honor of being on the receiving end of his sister’s secret emails, and it doesn’t take long for him to realize that it wasn’t just about their terrible childhoods, Bea left for something more. She wasn’t running away; she was running towards something, or someone. She’s begun her own journey in the real world; one that could uncover the truth about both her and her brother. Meanwhile, Ezra’s left dealing with their sorry excuses for a mom and stepdad, all while uncovering the skeletons of their past with Bea. Told in a series of email exchanges, Bea and Ezra’s individual journeys find a way to both parallel and intersect in unimaginable ways, making for a breathtaking story about family and finding yourself.

I really enjoyed this book because it was a lot different than I expected. I thought that most of the book’s focus would go to trying to figure out what happened to Bea, but there was more to it than that. It went very deep into each character’s fears and desires which made it easier to understand them. Also, the emails from Bea and the ones from Ezra and completely different writing styles and tones which made it much more believable that they were written by two different people. The descriptions in the book made it possible to vividly imagine the characters and different places that are described throughout. I really liked that a lot of attention was put towards this because so much of the book’s focus is on the characters themselves. Finally, I found the plot to be engaging with quite a few twists and turns that made this an interesting read.

Something memorable about this book was the dynamic between Bea and Ezra. Even while the world around them was crumbling, their relationship stayed the same. Their love for each other stayed strong no matter what came their way.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

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After spending multiple years at boarding school, Eleanor Zarrin is coming back to a home filled with family members she used to understand but doesn’t anymore. She never fit in with any of them, as all of them appear to be monsters when she was just normal. At least, she doesn’t think she’s a monster. As Eleanor sorts through family secrets and feelings, the questions are raised: Does she trust their version of reality? Or does she trust herself more? In this novel, fantasy and horror are combined to reveal a story about a young woman learning to understand the people she once loved.

I adored the puzzle aspect of the story. Eleanor was clearly an anxious character that couldn’t even admit her actions to herself, so she uncovered secrets slowly and carefully. I wasn’t able to figure anything out before it was revealed. The character dynamics were enjoyable and I loved the way they interacted with each other. Eleanor, as a character, was frustrating, but understandable. She made incorrect decisions without question, but no one can get upset with her after seeing her reasons. Character development is essential to the plot as well, which explains all the annoying scenes where Eleanor refused to believe her family members. The book itself was a bit dark, and I admit that I felt a bit depressed after reading it. I still really liked the writing style though. It was descriptive and painted an effective picture.
What Big Teeth caught me off guard. You would expect the story to be scary in a way that makes you afraid to be alone at night, but it doesn’t do that at all. The book is scary in a melancholy way. It displays the supernatural, but it’s the supernatural portraying something much more commonly seen: a family broken apart by misunderstandings.

One thing about the story that will stay with me was the family’s behaviors. They were unapologetically outlandish and demonstrated violent acts without a second thought. That’s quite different from any boarding school environment, so I can see why it affected Eleanor so much. But they were also kind in their own way, so you can see the love behind their actions.

Reviewed by Annabel, Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee

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Savannah thought things would be different in college, especially after sacrificing so much to go to Wooddale University. Her mother worked constantly and she completely gave up her social life to get perfect grades, all for her future. She thought being the first in her family to go to college, especially one as prestigious as Wooddale, would be one of the best experiences of her life. However, her excitement quickly turns sour when she realizes she is one of the only Black people on campus. On it’s own this may not be a huge problem, but when the statue of Wooddale’s first Black president gets vandalized and no one does anything about it, Savannah can’t stay silent. Her mama told her to keep her head down, but Savannah is willing to sacrifice her future to uncover the secrets and scandals of Wooddale’s past.

This book did a good job of navigating difficult topics in an informative way, while also moving the plot forward. The obvious racism directed towards Savannah and other Black characters happens more often than it seems, and this book brings that to light. Savannah is also a well written main character and her determination and boldness enhance the story. She has a strong moral compass and which dictates her choices throughout the book. I think that the diversity of the characters added another layer to the story. Within all the characters, socioeconomic status affected the way they were perceived by others on campus. I also liked that there were quite a few twists, and that the supporting characters were shrouded in mystery, making it so that it was hard to know who to trust. The only thing I disliked was that all the racism Savannah faced was very obvious, when in reality it can be more nuanced and come in the form of microaggressions. Overall, I think this book had a good concept and a meaningful message.

Something memorable about this book was the juxtaposition between Savannah’s neighborhood at home and her life at Wooddale. Her mostly Black neighborhood can’t even have pizza delivered to them after seven, while Wooddale has a female Black president. Savannah calls both these places home, but watching these two separate worlds collide was intriguing.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

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Fresh from weight loss camp, Georgie finally feels seen. Where she used to be invisible at school, she’s now followed by stares wherever she goes. With her neighbor and newfound friend Bryn by her side, Georgie is ready for a fresh start. But not everyone is fond of the new Georgie. Cheer captain Cora has a distaste for Georgie’s sudden popularity and a sizzling hatred for her former friend Bryn. As unresolved issues from the previous year unfold, it’s clear that manipulation is in the cards. When rumors concerning the three of them sweep the school, the girls must put aside their differences to make things right, and not get sucked into a tornado of lies in the process.

I really enjoyed the formatting of this book. Instead of just being written in traditional narrative style, the story is told from alternating perspectives of the three girls, and also includes social media posts and texts. I liked that the authors mixed it up a little because the story has a lot to do with social media and these posts gave insight into the rumors around the girls. I think telling the story in alternating perspectives was also beneficial to the plot because each girl has a very unique personality and it allows the reader to see events through different eyes. I also liked how readers are given glimpses into past events and how they shape the perception of each girl today because it allows for a lot of speculation from the reader. I think that parts of the book were a bit predictable, but other than that it kept me engaged.

Something memorable about The Rumor Game is the change in writing style from chapter to chapter. Each girl has a different personality, and the different writing styles for each chapter reflects that. It also made it easier for me to notice character development, because the way the chapter was written would change either in tone or description.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Bluebird by Sharon Cameron

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After the brutality of World War II, Eva, a German girl, and her friend Brigit have a dangerous mission they need to accomplish. When Germany was defeated in the war, Eva realized the cruelty of her own country and found herself talking with the US government about a deal. It was a dangerous deal because the government wanted her to find her father and bring him to the US government so they could make use his dangerous knowledge. However, Eva has a different plan and she will do whatever it takes to break her deal with the US government to stop her father from escaping justice, even if it means killing him. With gentle romance and breathtaking thrills, this historical fiction book is one-of-a-kind that makes you keep reading!

I thought this book was one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read. The author did an excellent job of describing the characters in the book. She made me feel like the characters were right beside me! The book also went from the present to the past and repeated this format throughout. I would ask myself, “What do these clues mean?” and try to solve the mystery and figure things out. There were also so many plot twists in this book that made my jaw drop and scream into my pillow because it was so unexpected!

I think the whole structure of this book was very memorable. It has been a long time since I have ever read a book that went back and forth between the past and the present and making the book seem like a whole box of puzzles that were waiting to be solved. I really enjoyed reading about the characters and the plot itself was so attractive and interesting that you never got bored! I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction, thrillers, HUGE plot twists, and romance.

Reviewed by GC, Twin Hickory Library