Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Violets are Blue by Barbara Dee 

Click here to learn more about this book and to place a hold!

Twelve-year-old Wren’s life is changing by the minute. With her parents’ divorce, her dad’s remarriage, and her big move with her mom to a new town, she turns towards the only constant in her life, her new obsession with special effects makeup by her favorite artist CAT FX. She especially loves that she can create different versions of herself and escape reality. She gets so caught up in her life with her new best friend and the school play that she doesn’t realize her mom’s new and sudden behavior. Will Wren finally try to find the answers she is looking for? 

In this book, Wren seems like she’s lost and is trying to find herself which is something I can deeply relate to and I think that when you are able to connect with a character in a story it makes the reading experience and the plot a lot better. One thing that I would change about this book is the fact that some of the messages displayed in this book had good and bad meanings. For example, when Wren was having problems, she didn’t open up to anyone and although this contributes heavily to the plot, it could convey the wrong message to the people who might be dealing with these kinds of issues in real life. In the book, characters have connections with each other or share the same experiences/character traits even if they don’t know each other. 

One memorable thing that really stood out to me in this book is Wren’s friendships. In her old town, she had a friend who wasn’t really her friend whereas now in her new town she has a new best friend who actually accepts her and her interests. Although she has new friends in her new town, the characteristics of her old friend is carried out through another character who is one of Wren’s new friends. She holds some of the character traits that are resembled in her toxic ex-best friend. I find it very interesting that the author decided to this because it doesn’t happen very often in books. 

Reviewed by Samhita M., Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

What the Fact by Dr. Seema Yasmin

Click here to learn more about this book and to place a hold!

What The Fact is about how to get correct and accurate information in the modern world and stay safe from fake news. The first part of the book goes into interesting, fact-filled detail about the different kinds of false information on the internet, how to recognize it, and how to prevent yourself from falling prey to it. The second section, in my opinion, is the most interesting part of the book. It talks about the bias and how your brain works when hearing stories vs. facts. This part also talks about how your brain and biases can fall prey to false information. The third part was a bit repetitive, and it talked too much about politics, which I as an eleven-year-old found boring. It talks about the history of American news and how news is created. The fourth section talks about social media and its effects on you. The fifth and last section talks about different types of reasoning and how to persuade someone.

I think the book is a very important one to read and can help you protect yourself from predatory information. It explains the problem of fake news in great detail and it can help you spot fake news on the internet. After reading, it also helps you figure out where you can be biased and what biases you may have. It is very helpful in the modern world and it could really come in handy many times in life. The book makes you more aware of yourself and surroundings. However, it can get a bit boring because it is mostly just a compilation of facts on facts. It also isn’t helpful if you want a concise text for the topics it discusses or if you just want to just dive a little bit into a subject. The examples given in the book are helpful to understanding it, but in my opinion, the author put in too many examples in some places which felt unnecessary.

A memorable part of the book is when they talked about biases. It is very interesting to learn the biases you can have when you check news or are in a debate with a friend. It also can give a glimpse into human psychology.

Reviewed by Eshaan, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review

Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt

Click here to learn more about this book and to place a hold!

“Does My Body Offend You?” is a realistic fiction novel written by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt. It tackles multiple mature topics, such as sexual trauma, racism, sexism, and homophobia/transphobia with a confident handle on how it should be represented as it is in real life. The book features two main protagonists and their friend groups; Malena Malavé Rosario, a Latina high schooler who was forced to move to Florida after Hurricane Maria hit her home of Puerto Rico, and Ruby McAlister, a passionate feminist and all-round activist who moved from Seattle to Florida to look after her recovering Nana. At the beginning of the story, Malena is sent to the nurse’s office for not wearing a bra under her shirt and is forced to tape pantyliners over her nipples. Ruby convinces her to try to fight back and helps her start a long journey down the rabbit hole of activism. Malena learns to stand up for herself and her beliefs and Ruby learns to understand that everyone’s struggles are valid, no matter how different they are from yourself and what you’ve been through.

My first impression of this novel was already quite positive. As a queer person of color myself, I heavily related to the themes expressed in this book. Even then, as I started to get much more invested in how far the protagonists had grown, the plot twists, and the overall morals that were themed in the story, I was taken on an absolute emotional rollercoaster. The story features a cast of diverse and multi-faceted characters, allowing their flaws and strengths not to overtake each other, but complement them.

As for the main idea of the book, the theme of, “standing up for your right to be comfortable and confident” was expressed very well. Typically around the age that puberty is rampant, such as middle or high school, lots of hormones as well as outside media can rain into your mind and hit you all at once. It’s not always easy to see what you truly feel like. Often, it mixes you up so much your thoughts, emotions, and actions all become affected by it. The protagonists were bystanders, confused and in turmoil amongst multitudes of other things throughout the events of the story. Once they communicated that to one another, it became much easier for them to understand what their real message was.

The writing was in an attention-grabbing style as well, a seamless format that made connecting with the characters much easier. The flow of action from one point of view or event to another like pieces of a mismatched puzzle coming together was truly stunning to me. All of the characters’ experiences came together to form a full understanding of their perspectives and how that influenced their actions. They were able to show more depth to their characters, making them infinitely more realistic and enjoyable.

The most memorable part of the book was the central theme in and of itself. It wasn’t only what drew me to the book in the first place, but also what made me stick till the end and want to keep flipping the pages whilst I was still reading it. It’s a true, well-spoken message that was handled extremely realistically, and overall is just absolutely mind-blowing.

Reviewed by Aeon V., Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale

Click here to learn more about this book and to place a hold!

Kavya Joshi is competitive, to say the least. There’s a word she’s always been called- besharam. Her relatives and classmates, especially the ones that don’t speak Hindi, describe her with some intricate spin on the word. Brazen, bold, brash, or shameless- anything that indicates that she tries a bit too hard and talks a bit too much. Kavya knows what people think about her, but she’s determined to achieve much more than anyone ever expected her to. More than anything, she’s steadfast in beating her childhood rival and once friend, Ian Jun. He’s the only one who can defeat her in everything (including AP Stats), and she’s not going to give up anytime soon. However, due to an unexpected turn of events, a long coming break-up with her boyfriend, and a twisted game of truth-or-dare, she ends up kissing Ian. That’s right- kissing her arch nemesis. Kavya continues to treat Ian like a rival, but she can’t shake the feeling that something is different. Sick of the never-ending bickering between the two, their respective friend groups decide to create a series of challenges for Ian and Kavya to complete over the course of summer break. Along the way, Kavya navigates a difficult relationship with her sister, cracks in the Moon Girls, and of course, her painfully expanding feelings for Ian Jun.

I loved all the characters in the book because of their apparent flaws. The most prevalent example of this is the main character, Kavya Joshi. Kavya makes some poor choices throughout the story. However, she never hesitates to help her friends and family, making her a good person regardless of her mistakes. The duality of her personality is what makes her an interesting character. This description can also be used for many characters in the story, like Simran (Kavya’s sister) and Ian. One thing I slightly disliked was the writing style of the book. I feel like some sentences were structured a bit awkwardly. However, this didn’t detract from the overall message of the story. The trope “rivals to lover” is often overused, but this book incorporates it in a way that doesn’t feel cliché. The side characters feel like real people instead of props to push along the plot. Overall, this book is great!

One memorable thing about this book was the pop culture allusions. The book cleverly references relatively modern-day franchises like Pokémon, Sailor Moon, and Schitt’s Creek. Also, the title is an incredible pun. I might be a bit biased because of the awesome Desi representation.

Reviewed by Vaidehi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman

Click here to learn more about this book and to place a hold!

Hayley is one step closer to her dream of becoming a renowned animation director when she makes it into the summer internship held by her animation hero, Bryan Beckett. Inspired by the well-known film Beckett directed based on his son, A Boy Named Bear, Hayley has loved animation for her entire life. She will do anything to become a director on one of the four short films her and the other interns will be making. However, when Bear himself shows up as one of the 41 interns, and Bryan Beckett isn’t the type of man she thought he would be, Hayley’s well-thought-out future plans begin to crumble.

I loved Drawn That Way because of the powerful narrative of representation and inclusion. Within Hayley’s internship group and the employees at the studio, the vast majority of people are white males. The girls in the internship learn from their own experiences and the retellings from their female advisors that the world of animation is often sexist and cruel. While Hayley has a real, authentic talent, she has to fight harder than any of the boys in the internship to make herself be seen, and she doesn’t always win the battle. Reading Hayley’s story is empowering and will show young girls and people of color that even when it may seem like the world is against you, you have the strength to continue fighting and achieve the recognition you deserve.

It may seem like this book would only be relatable to teenagers who love art and animation, but that is not the case. Drawn That Way is a story of making and losing friends, failure and recovery, healing broken relationships, and realizing that what you wanted wasn’t what you thought it would be. Hayley learns many valuable lessons about her own self worth and relationships with others that will be remembered by anyone who reads her story.

Reviewed by Kayla, Glen Allen Library