Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale

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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

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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
Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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

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