Read + Review: Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal

Amazon.com: Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive  Rights (9781626721654): Blumenthal, Karen: Books

You can reserve a print copy here, an eBook copy here, or an eAudiobook copy here!

Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal discusses how reproductive rights came to be. The book informs the reader of the history of contraceptives and abortion, starting from the 1800s to the present. It also addresses the women and men who’ve supported or opposed contraceptives and abortion, why they supported or opposed them, and what they did for and about women’s reproductive rights. It provides statistics and facts about abortion and tidbits of information previously provided to give the reader more insight.

This book was informative for me, seeing as I didn’t know much about abortion or Roe v. Wade until I read it. This book informed me about the history of reproductive rights, Roe v. Wade, and what women had to go through back in the day. While reading, I felt many emotions, especially sadness and anger. I liked that the book was in four parts with subsections in each, and after a subsection, there would be a page or two examining a specific topic that was in a subsection, which helps readers, and me, to understand that topic.

The most memorable thing about the book is that it details what went on in the courtroom during Roe v. Wade. It showed me how each side presented their case and how they defended it. It also showed me how the justices asked questions and how they came to a decision after the hearings. Blumenthal gives the insight of not only the advocates for abortion but also the opposers of abortion. It helped me to understand why they were opposed to it, whether it was a moral or religious reason. Furthermore, this book also helped me to understand why the topic of abortion and contraceptives is so controversial.

Reviewed by Roopa, Tuckahoe Library


Read + Review: The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich

Amazon.com: The Friend Scheme (9781250186997): Dietrich, Cale: Books

You can reserve a print copy here and an eBook copy here!

Matt Miller is a high-school student with a big secret: his father is the head of one of the biggest mobster families in the city. His secrets don’t stop there. Matt grapples with the fact that he will never live up to the son his father has raised him to be, a ruthless and cold killer who hates the Donavans’ his family has been fighting with for years. With these doubts in mind, he ends up meeting a boy named Jason who begins to see Matt as the person he really is. This connection between the two boys turns from romantic to dangerous as new plots and secrets reveal themselves and Matt must make a choice to stay loyal to his family or to reveal who he really is.

I found myself relating to the main character, Matt, a lot of times when reading the book. I think the author did a great job narrating his feelings and writing his journey. The book goes into detail the inner crisis he has within himself and the struggle between making his family proud or choosing his own path in life. The plot reminded me of Romeo and Juliet as it was about two boys from opposite sides of a war who fall in love with each other. I appreciated how Matt was able to finally find himself and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. I felt proud in the end when he realized that a life of crime wasn’t permanent for him and that he could stand up to his father and choose his own destiny.

A thing I found memorable about the book was the plot twists that had me gripping the edge of my seat. I also appreciated how the relationship between Jason and Matt wasn’t rushed at all and was taken slowly. One thing I did dislike though was that it felt as if it was too fast paced and lacked emotion at some point. Especially towards the end when the biggest conflict of the book gets quickly resolved, I wanted more detail going into that. I also wanted Matt to spend more time trying to fix his strained relationship with his father. The dialogue also seemed awkward in some parts, as it went over the same point multiple times.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez is the story of three teenagers who are growing up in the barrio in Guatemala. Although Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are not related, they say blood doesn’t matter – they’re family. Life is hard in the barrio, money is tight and crime is prevalent. Pulga says that in some places terrible news is unexpected but in the barrio, it is not. Pulga dreams of escaping to the United States to lead a better life. He has been researching and drawing maps of the route he will use to escape for years. Even though life is dangerous in his town, he knows escaping to the United States is a harrowing journey that not everyone survives. However, after Pulga and Chico witness a violent crime and Pequena is being forced into marriage with a criminal, they know the time has come to run. But will they be able to survive the journey to the United States? Without passports or much money, the harrowing journey to freedom will require Pulga, Chico, and Pequena to travel on buses, trains (La Bestia also known as the death train) and walk across a desert. They will also need to rely on the kindness of strangers when trusting people is frowned upon. Although this journey is dangerous; it is a risk they are willing to take for the possibility of a better life.

I thought this book was intense. The author did a great job of depicting the brutal reality of a dangerous journey. I liked that it was written in the first person perspective. Pulga and Pequena alternate narrating the chapters. I thought it was a great way of telling two sides of the same story.

The most memorable part of this book was when I read the author’s note at the end of the story. Although I knew this was a realistic fiction book, reading about the real life details the author uses makes the plight and escape of three teenage immigrants much more harrowing and heartbreaking.


Submitted by James, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

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The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden is the story of a seventh grade girl named Zoey. Zoey’s life is not easy; she has a lot on her plate. Not only is she trying to survive middle school, but she also must take care of her three siblings. Zoey’s family doesn’t have a lot of money and they are living in a trailer with her mom’s current boyfriend. One of Zoey’s jobs is to keep her siblings quiet and keep everything neat, so her mom’s boyfriend doesn’t get upset. Zoey thinks her life would be so much easier if she was an octopus. Not only would she have eight arms, but she could camouflage herself and blend into the background. Zoey can’t always get her homework done because she is busy taking care of her brothers and sister. She never has the right clothes because her mother buys everything too big, so she can grow into them. The washing machine is broken, so sometimes Zoey’s clothes are dirty, and kids refer to her as grimy. Zoey’s life is hard, but her debate teacher takes a special interest in Zoey. She thinks that Zoey’s voice is valuable. This gives Zoey the confidence she needs to stand up for herself and others.

I think this book has an important message and is a must read for all middle school students. It addresses current issues such as abuse, bullying, poverty and gun control. I believe the author does a great job of breaking down stereotypes and gives the audience a look into the window of poverty. I think that this book inspires people to speak up for what’s right, even when it’s hard to do. I liked the author’s writing style because the dialogue really made it seem like middle school students were talking. I thought Zoey was a very relatable character and it was easy to root for her. Although Zoey made some questionable choices; she was never doing anything for selfish reasons. All of Zoey’s actions were driven by her desire to help and take care of the people in her life.

The most memorable part of the book was when Zoey showed up for the debate about gun control. She has strong opinions but has been holding her thoughts and feelings in for so long. Will she finally speak up? You find yourself holding your breath to see what she will do.


Submitted by James, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

link to eBook here.

link to no wait eAudiobook here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel based 64 years before the original Hunger Games series. Coriolanus Snow, an eighteen-year-old capital citizen, whose family name is on the verge of being diminished, has an opportunity to change his family’s fate. For the first time in the history of the Hunger Games students from a prestigious capital school, known as the Academy, will have the chance to mentor one of the twenty-four tributes for the 10th Hunger Games. Not only is the Snow family name in jeopardy, but also the opportunity for Coriolanus to make a name for himself. To Coriolanus’ surprise, he has been given the daunting task of being the mentor to the female district 12 tribute, but he quickly realizes that someone else is in charge of his fate.

As a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, I was very excited to read Suzanne’s prequel and what we would entail while reading. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place in the Capital from the viewpoint of Coriolanus Snow. Since the viewpoint of Coriolanus is one as a viewer of the Hunger Games, rather than a tribute fighting for their life, you get more depth of the horror that goes around the games that was not achieved in the first books. The plot is rather interesting going deep into Coriolanus’ thoughts and mindset. Since the first books show how evil Coriolanus Snow is, we as readers already know what he becomes, but it is the path that gets him there that is the most interesting. Throughout the book, there will be many unexpected happenings, but there are also some dry spots that make the book a bit dull.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has many memorable moments throughout the book, but the ones that stand out the most to me are the connections made to the previous books. Suzanne found truly amazing ways to connect the books through her ways of writing. Not all of the connections may be clear to the reader, but the more you dig into the book the more you will find. I really enjoyed the new perspective of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, while many were skeptical about reading about Snow, who we all despise from the previous Hunger Games books, it happily surprised me by how quickly I forgot about what I already knew about him. Throughout the book, I also enjoyed how it was separated into three parts which truly have different plots and characters throughout. There are a couple of things that I disliked about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, one of them being the somewhat dry parts of the book. Since this book is 517 pages, a lot occurs with Snow and the surrounding characters, but there are some times where it feels like the book is at a standstill and not much is happening. Although The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cannot compare to the first Hunger Games books, it exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait for the movie!


Reviewed by Kaitlyn, Gayton Library