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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

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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

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Read + Review: Eyes of the Forest by April Henry

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The Eyes of the Forest is about a normal high school student, Bridget Shepherd, who loves reading and listening to the Swords and Shadows series by author R.M Haldon. After continuing to postpone the release of the last book of his series, R.M Haldon, also known as Bob, is threatened by a high school boy and brought to a cabin in the woods where he is trapped with only food, water, a treadmill, a typewriter, and a note threatening him to write the “Eyes of the Forest.” Noticing the disappearance of the author, Bridget believes that he has been kidnapped. She reports the case to the police, but they choose to not believe her, including her best friend, Ajay, who she had opened up to about the world of Swords and Shadows. Without any help, Bridget acts alone to solve the kidnapping of R.M Haldon.

I thought the book was very unique. It alternates the perspectives between each character, which really gives the reader an understanding as to what each character’s thoughts and motivations are. I also loved how the book introduced itself. The first chapter was like a bomb ticking, setting up the suspense that ultimately led to the major conflicts in the plot. I also really loved the evolution of Bridget and how she was able to take on such a responsibility despite being the outcast in school.

One memorable thing about this book is that it is very relatable. Many of the characters made decisions that most people would have made in real life, and the plot unwinds itself like it’s attached to real time. Also, a lot of the products and places used in this book exist in real life.

Reviewed by Jasmine, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions by Sheena Boekweg

Amazon.com: A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions: 9781250770981: Boekweg, Sheena:  Books
Click here to read more about this book in our catalog or to place a hold on it!

In this book, Elsie and her friends have been called by their secret society of women. They have spent their entire lives being taught how to get the society’s agenda accomplished by standing behind important (male) figures who could change the world. Now, they must compete with each other to win the heart and the ring of the man whom their society has decided will be the future president of the United States. They work hard to ensure fairness, inclusivity, and friendship during their competition even though their entire future depends on them beating the others to the top.

I thought it was a really interesting concept, and quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Boekweg really explored the idea that behind every man who changed the world, there was a woman who was really responsible. As a feminist, I loved that idea and I thoroughly enjoyed how inclusive and accepting the girls’ friendship was, even though they were essentially competing for a future. I thought the personalities of the main character, Elsie, and the love interest, Andrew, were extremely well-developed and they felt so real and relatable to me. Elsie was multidimensional and I could really understand her struggle to find the balance of friendship and future, and I could feel her desperate search for the answer between pride and doing what is right. I found myself contemplating the answers along with her. However, I thought that all of the other characters were very much stock characters and lacked the emotional depth that they needed to truly play their role in the story.

The author did a great job presenting the idea that if you want to make a difference, you can still be strong and fight for your beliefs if you do it discreetly. It gets just as much done if you were to start a riot and scream about what you want. I will always remember Elsie’s silent and relatable strength, resilience, persistence, and fighting spirit as she worked her way to her true self throughout the course of this novel.

Reviewed by Caitlin at Glen Allen Library

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Read & Review: Secrets of camp Whatever by Chris Grine

Volume one of the graphic novel series invites us to the mystical town of Nowhere, where Willow and her family have recently moved in. Willow, an eleven-year-old girl with a hearing disability, is sent off to a peculiar summer camp while her parents unpack. Despite the dark rumors and fantasy stories told about the place, she reluctantly agrees to go due to her father’s fond memories with the camp. Soon after she arrives, strange things start to happen, and she and her new friends, Violet, Emma, and Molly, stumble upon a thrilling adventure filled with stoned gnomes, vampires, and a menacing fog.

I love stories set in camps, which made this book irresistible to put down. The plot is very intriguing, and the colorful illustrations were a visual treat. I felt the book is suitable for any audience since the narration was easy to follow. I enjoyed the book’s version of Bigfoot (one of the characters) and how some of the villainous-looking ones turned out to be the dearest beings I have ever seen. Additionally, I loved hanging out with Willow. Despite having a hearing disability, she is surprisingly courageous. It’s rare to see a deaf person as a protagonist, and I appreciate that the author didn’t make it her identity

One memorable aspect of the book is when Willow learns the truth about one of her camp friends. There was a lot of foreshadowing that made me think about that character and her knowledge about the camp, but I couldn’t predict it till the end. Overall, this was a fulfilling read, and I am eager to read more of Willow’s adventures in the next volume. 

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library