Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Everything Within and In Between by Nikki Barthelmess

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Maria Fernandez, who goes by Ri, is a seventeen-year-old Mexican American travelling a journey of self-discovery and cultural truth. One day, Ri uncovers a long-missing letter written by her mother, which declares her sought-after location and strong will to reconnect with her daughter. Due to her inability to read the letter written in Spanish without Google Translate, she decides to abandon the strict rules her grandmother has set (which bar her from learning about her culture and heritage) and transfers language classes at school from French to Spanish. This choice pushes her towards a path of recalcitrance and contemplation. These virtues, along with her consistent determination, lead up to Ri meeting with her mother in secret, dismissing her grandmother’s pushes to absorb the ways and culture of the “American Dream”, and leave her reassessing her dearest relationships. Along the way, Ri learns that some things are not as they seem. This suspenseful novel discusses self-identity, ethical actions and connections, and cultural importance through the eyes of Ri. Will she succeed in her desire to reunite with her mother and will her grandmother find out?

Nikki Barthelmess has created a strong character that taught me the importance of being myself and embracing my own culture. Ri kept me turning the pages till the very end of this book, and her journey also had a lot that enlightened me! I admire the powerful message behind the book and the meaningful theme led me to connect with this story in a deeper way, so that I could understand Ri better. Overall, I would say that this novel is fantastic and communicates many important morals. I highly suggest it to you due to its meaningful messages and quality writing style!

One memorable aspect of this book is how the author incorporates Latinx culture throughout the chapters. The genuine depiction of culture in this story enabled me to understand more of the story and connect with all of the events in this book easily. These references are sprinkled throughout the novel and definitely assist in understanding many of the characters’ motives, especially Nina’s and Grandma’s.

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

Read + Review: These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

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Crystal and her eSports team are getting ready to play a massive MortalDusk tournament, and the stakes are high. Without the prize money, Crystal’s family will be forced to move in with her Grandmother in Maine. Her team is competing to decide which five of them will be able to play, and Crystal’s suspicions about her friend Zoey cheating are clouding the team dynamic. But all her issues soon seem insignificant when she receives a message from a strange app showing her sister, Caelyn, bound to a chair and kidnapped. She’s forced to play this captor’s deadly games, picking off her friends one by one in order to keep her sister from harm. She’s brimming with suspicion, as this could be someone trying to take her team out of the tournament or it could be about something more sinister; a deadly secret that her friends have kept for years. She’s determined to discover this person’s identity and save her sister before everything goes down in flames.

The main character Zoey was well written and wasn’t shown as a perfect person. She had flaws which made her more relatable and developed her relationships with other characters. The plot was engaging and there were quite a few twists that really tied the story together. It’s woven together in a way that the clues are subtly there, but when the mystery is revealed it’s astonishing to see how much you may not have picked up on. There are multiple storylines occurring simultaneously: the game Crystal is forced to play, the tournament, and her past, which means that something is always going on. Overall, this book was thrilling and kept me on my toes trying to put the puzzle together.

These Deadly Games is written in an alternating timeline with the present and five years prior. It’s describing the incident that all her friends have been keeping in wraps for years. It was memorable because it showed how the characters changed over time and the secret’s significance came into play later on.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Knockout by Sajni Patel

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or to place a hold on it in our online catalog!

The Knockout is about the challenges that Kareena Thakkar faces. She is an Indian girl who practices Muay Thai, a martial art and combat sport. Kareena is very gifted in the sport, but people in the Indian community have made her feel isolated because it isn’t traditional for a girl to fight. Despite judgement, she chooses to continue Muay Thai and just avoid popular Indian events. Kareena’s dedication to the sport earned her a chance to fight in the US Muay Thai Open. This is a great opportunity for Kareena because doing well could potentially land her on the rumored Olympic team. Along with all of this, Kareena battles her growing feelings for Amit Patel, the perfect Indian boy.

I really enjoyed the realism of the book, since it stemmed from the author’s personal experiences. It was upbeat and fun, while also talking about the pressures of Indian culture. It was nice to read about a character that doesn’t fit the usual narrative of most books. Kareena not only develops feelings for Amit, she begins to work on her own self-love journey. At times, she would feel very conscious of her appearance because of her muscles and strength. However, towards the end of the book, she has more confidence to wear traditional Indian outfits that expose her muscles.

One memorable thing about the book was Amit’s character. It was very refreshing to read a story in which the guy is more adamant about his feelings. I also really loved how supportive Amit was with allowing Kareena the space she needed to focus on Muay Thai, while still showing her that he was in her corner. He also was very understanding of how Kareena feels about being judged by the Indian community. Amit goes as far as defending her against his own parents.

Reviewed by Maya, Fairfield Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Recommended by You by Laura Silverman

Recommended For You is about Shoshanna Greenberg, a young girl who has two moms. However, there is trouble in her mom’s relationship. To escape from all the fighting at home, Shoshanna works at Once Upon, a local bookshop. One day her boss sets forth a challenge for all the employees at Once Upon. The challenge is which employee can sell the most books for a holiday bonus. When Jake Kaplan, a new employee, starts working at Once Upon, Shoshanna starts to worry about the competition growing. As Shoshanna works hard to win the challenge, she grows closer with Jake Kaplan. Their friendship grows every day and they slowly start realizing that they might be more than friends.

I think that Recommended For You was overall a fantastic book. My favorite character was Shoshanna Greenberg because she is a total bookworm and has a strong personality. I liked the writing style of this book because each paragraph was easy to follow and it didn’t feel disconnected. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a realistic fiction book filled with a little bit of romance. 

A memorable thing about Recommended For You is when Jake Kaplan starts working at Once Upon. I feel that this is memorable because Jake’s arrival was the start of a lot of important events that take place in this book. After Jake starts working at Once Upon, it is easier to know how you, as a reader, would think about Shoshanna. Shoshanna worries about the competition growing after Jake starts working at the bookshop, which I think brings out her “true” self. Overall, I love how Laura Silverman, the author, was able to create such a character that can change the plot of the story. 

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

Read + Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Mildred Story’s invitation to her three grandkids to work at the resort she owns on Gull Cove Island for the summer is a risky proposition. Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah have never met, and they have never met their grandma. Mildred is wealthy, and her choice to disinherit her children has splintered and estranged the Story family. The cousins at the center of this mystery are tentatively curious to discover more about their family, and mysteries begin to surface once they arrive on the island.

This book was such a thriller! I loved how every time you solve one mystery, it just leads to another one, and every single page just leads to more questions. The story is narrated in the first person by three separate characters: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah for the most part. Several chapters are told in the third person by Allison, who is a teenager. Like myself, I think that many others will feel that Milly is their favorite character as she is intellectually smart and has lots of style!

The biggest thing that I will take away from this book is the change in perspective in each chapter. This writing style has been used in many other books (The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan), but I feel that McManus best incorporated this style of writing, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book!

Reviewed by Yash at Twin Hickory Library