The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Our story takes place over 150 years ago in West Africa. The protagonist, Kofi, lives in a divided society after a great war split the Asante kingdom in half. Kofi’s uncle is the ruler of Upper Kwanta, and to his dismay, his arrogant cousin will soon reign over the land. The cousins always were in competition with each other, and Kofi’s cousin was always better than him. Whether it be running, wrestling, or even school. There was however, one thing that Kofi knew he was better at, swimming. Kofi always looked forward to swimming in the cool, refreshing waters of the Offin river. Kofi’s fun always came to an end as the night approached, and everyone hurried towards their homes. The elders warned the children of the monsters that swam after dark, but Kofi was never too concerned with his this. He would have to learn of the horrors the hard way.

I enjoyed how the author was able to translate the story into short, meaningful, poem-like texts. Additionally, I also liked Kofi’s teacher, Mr.Goodluck Phillip. His name was definitely amusing and is probably what caused all of school children to take his English lessons with a grain of salt. Even the elders found his teachings silly! Finally, I also found the relationship between Kofi and his cousin interesting. Their competitive spirit led them to disliking each other but also led to pointless arguments that got both of them in trouble. At the end, they both were able to put aside their differences. I enjoyed the arc of their relationship.

The most memorable thing about the book was probably Kofi’s love for swimming. The book tells me that Kofi feels free from reality when he swims. His stress seems to melt away whenever he is in the water. His love for swimming is something that’s unforgettable.

Reviewed by Rhea M. at Twin Hickory Library


The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao is an thrilling novel featuring racial violence, and twisted minds. Anna, a freshman at the prestigious Brooking University gets tied into finding the murderer of Melissa Hong- a student at Brookings that was murdered a few years prior. This book chronicles Brookings’ ugly history of secret organizations, racially motivated attacks, and cyber-stalking. As Anna gets more invested in finding the truth, the more she puts herself and her friends in danger.

I had a great time reading this gripping adventure. The mystery and character profiles are captivating. I liked how the many different clues and pieces of the puzzle all fit together at the end in a satisfying resolution. Something that I disliked was the romance between the main characters. It seemed like they rushed into the relationship without many romantic encounters. I really liked the book as a whole and would definitely suggest it, even though I would have preferred more of the romance.

The most memorable part of The Lies We Tell was certainly when Anna found the threats in the West Tower bathroom. This part was scary as it imposed a fear that the attacker was not only in the school, but also possibly in Anna’s dorm. This is when I started to question who the antagonist is, and if they are a someone I knew.

Reviewed by Aditi K. at Twin Hickory Library


Why Would I Lie by Adi Rule

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A student’s aspiration in becoming a school’s valedictorian is not a force to be reckoned with, especially when that student is Viveca North. For as long as she can remember, Viveca, a senior in high school, has been buried in her notes, books, and papers, hoping to become the ultimate student and gain admission at the esteemed Everett College. Even at Elton Prep, a high school known for its rigor, Viveca had little trouble climbing her way to the top, and it seemed like it would stay that way until Jamison Sharpe showed up at the beginning of the year. Jamison was perfect, not only in his academics, but he was talented, charming, kind, and most importantly, sociable. It was almost as if Jamison was identical to Viveca, but had somehow found a way to be better. Jamison was not a threat to Viveca at first; all she had to do was to keep acing her classes, just like she had always done. However, when Jamison made his way ahead of Viveca, claiming that sweet valedictorian spot in what seemed like no time, she knew something was wrong. How could a random kid, that no one had ever heard of before, find his way to the illustrious Elton Prep and almost immediately make it to the top? Determined to uncover the truth before her place at Everett College is taken, Why Would I Lie? illustrates the ambition of Viveca North, a student that somehow has to balance perfection, being a good person, and revealing the answer to a mystery that could change her life.

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be “wow.” It has been quite a long time since I have read a book that keeps me wanting to turn the pages before I finish reading, which made me wish that I could speed-read and absorb words with just one glance. There was never a dull moment in Why Would I Lie?, because Adi Rule perfectly captured what it is like to be an over-achieving student in an incredibly competitive, frustrating environment. Viveca was a beautifully written character that resembles what it means to be human. She was selfish, ambitious, and imperfect, despite she herself thinking she was flawless. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Viveca’s path to understanding herself, her peers, but also, seeing her dreams and desires come true. Viveca never gave up, even when the whole world seemed to be against her.

One memorable thing about the book was how immersive the story was. Throughout the book, I frequently found myself conversing with the book, trying to guide characters to their next decision. The dialogues seem to include the reader into the conversation, and it was almost as if the thoughts of the characters were spoken directly to the reader. Further, the book had a lot of imagery, sensory, and figurative language that transported me to the world of Elton Prep in the blink of an eye. Why Would I Lie? pulled me into its universe, making me want more and more of it as I read.

Five stars

Reviewed by Melody, Twin Hickory Area Library


Tough as Lace by Lexi Bruce

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Lace Stewart has at all, or so it seems. She’s star of the lacrosse team, straight A student, and uber-confident, but behind her carefully crafted façade, she’s crumbling. It starts with her slipping grades, and from there it only gets worse. The life she’s work so hard to create is being pulled from under her feet as she’s forced to watch. Worst of all, the brave face that she’s practiced her whole life may be what causes her anxiety to spiral and lose it all.

This was the first book I read in verse and I think it was written quite well. The book was beautifully written and it talked about struggles that so many people face. It perfectly captures the way that anxiety is often stuffed into a corner and ignored. The shortness of the book better emphasized the importance of the topic it was addressing, and it did a good job dealing with a heavy issue. Lace is developed as a complex character, as most real people are. This made the book seem more realistic and quickly allowed the reader to see that Lace has flaws like anyone else. This is an important part of creating a character and Lace proved to be a strong and determined protagonist. Overall, this book tackled a tough topic through a complex and compelling story.

Something memorable about this book is that it doesn’t just deal with anxiety. It talks about almost everything teens experience from sports to work, and it makes the book very relatable.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library


At The End Of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

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When the world doesn’t want you, you’re shoved into a corner with no one to turn to. That’s how the teens at Hope Juvenile Treatment Center feel, as if no one wants them, and really they don’t. But when the normally cruel guards begin acting strangely, they know this is their chance. They band together and make a break for it until they realize: the world outside is plagued by a mysterious disease, one that’s spreading rapidly. The place that was once their literal prison is now their only safe haven. There’s nowhere to go, and they only have each other.

Everyone in this book was developed well, even though there were quite a few characters. The book was truly written in a way that allowed the reader to see all of the characters’ complexities and true desires. This allowed me to feel a connection to the characters and get sucked into the story. Also, it was very unpredictable and it constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. There were many twists that I wasn’t expecting which is something I really liked. The execution of this book definitely lives up to the premise and it is everything I expected it to be. At The End Of Everything is a breathtaking story about those who are forgotten, and I loved every minute of it.

Something that I found memorable about this book is how all the characters are so different personality wise, yet the similarities between them are undeniable. The circumstances in this book are ones that bring forward so many of the same emotions in them, and it really highlights how at the end of the day, we’re all human.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library