All Book Reviews by Genre: Realistic

Nowhere Boy
Marsh, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Fourteen year-old Ahmed is hiding in the basement. No one in the house above knows he is there. His family is dead. He has no one to stay with and nowhere to go. He is stuck, in Belgium, in this basement, all alone. Then Max, the boy upstairs, discovers him. Will he tell the police? Will Ahmed be sent back to Syria? What happens next is a fast paced adventure about compassion, hope and doing the right thing. Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh is great for suspense lovers age 10 to 16.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Genres:
The Crossover
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This phenomenon of a book has great detail and a mix of drama, sadness, and love. Kwame Alexander has really proven his expertise in his book "Crossover." This book is a great source of human literature for all ages. This book was "Cross" of drama, brotherly love, and loss. The recipe for a great book.

Reviewer's Name: Haegan
Windfall
Smith, Jennifer E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Windfall" of Jennifer E. Smith, a beautiful story of love and wonder, shows that one million dollars can not always buy happiness. I loved how easy this book was to read--it had a quick rhythm and flow that made it nearly impossible to put down. Though I found this book to be predictable, I loved the writing and plot of this story. Though I knew what was going to happen, Smith's writing made it worth it to read cover to cover. I also liked the theme of this story: kindness. It also made clear the many emotions and events that would occur in real life in this situation, making this story feel like it did happen in real life. If you like happy endings, love stories, and seeing life from a new and engaging perspective, then this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Love and Gelato
Welch, Jenna Evans
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Love and Gelato" of Jenna Evans Welch, and inspiring story of love and question, shows that life is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Though I don't usually like romance and "lovey dovey" reads, I really liked "Love and Gelato". It was written with a purpose and kept me engaged from the first page to the last. I loved how I felt like I was strolling through cobblestone paths of Italy along with the characters of this story. I also enjoyed how this story was not only about finding who the characters were and discovering love among the others, but learning about the culture and environment of a whole new country. If you like happy endings, romance, and stories that are hard to put down, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
The Haters
Andrews, Jesse
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Haters" of Jesse Andrews, a down-to-earth novel about lust and dreams, depicts that life does not always go as planned. This book is by the author who also wrote "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". "The Haters" is a book about two best friends who sneak away from band camp with a girl they met there. This book is both immature and wise... it has a moral and lessons throughout, but the way this story is written lightens the mood and makes it seem as if written by a teenager. I really liked how smooth and easy of a read this book is. It was clear and easy to understand, and entertaining and nearly impossible to put down. This book does include some PG-13 themes, so if you are of a younger audience, this book is not for you. However, if you liked "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" or you just want a fun and engaging read, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Book Review: She's Come Undone
Lamb, Wally
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Goodreads synopsis for this book says the main character is the "most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years." That's a bunch of crap. The main character is flawed but not funny, just sad and hard to root for. Some parts of the book I loved, other parts I didn't. But overall the good parts won out.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Pop

Pop

Korman, Gordon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pop is about a boy named Marcus. In his second year of high school, he moves to a new city and a new school. In his old town, he was a Junior Varsity football player and he wants to try out for varsity this year. After he trains all summer, he shows up to tryouts to discover that he is unwanted on the team. The last season, they went 11-0 and won the championship, so they don’t want to risk losing another perfect season. He barely makes the cut but knows he will be sitting on the bench a lot.

One day while he is practicing, a strange middle aged man appears. Besides being able to catch, throw, and hit like a truck, he has an impeccable sense of balance. While Marcus is getting better at football, he wonders who the mysterious guy he practices with is and his oddities. Meanwhile, the team is headed for its second perfect season and, with Marcus’s monster blocking, they are unstoppable. Marcus finds out that the guy who has been helping him is really a ex-NFL player, but doesn’t remember because he has Alzheimer’s Disease. The family is hard at work keeping the disease a secret but it is getting Marcus in trouble. Will Marcus be able to get himself and Charlie out of trouble without spilling the big secret?

I loved this book! While I enjoy Gordon Korman’s books, I don’t usually enjoy books about sports, but this one was really great. It touched me how Alzheimer’s Disease affects not just people’s everyday lives, but how it affects the person themselves. I don’t know how you keep living when the truth is revealed to you and you are so confused.

Reviewer's Name: Ben D.
Awards:
Book Review: The Serpent King
Zentner, Jeff
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dillard Early is the son of a snake handling preacher that is in prison for child pornography. He and his two best friends, Travis and Lydia, struggle to survive in small town Tennessee, where they clearly don't belong.

This is not your typical young adult book. The story defies the genre by containing minimal (although some) naval gazing and overt attempts at being angsty and hip. The story is real and the subject matter interesting. Who doesn't want to hear about snake handlers in the deep south? The twist in the middle was surprising, but I was a bit disappointed by how it occurred. Overall, darn good for young adult fiction. I listened to it on audio and it was fantastically well done.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is about a student named Simon who is 17 and is closeted. He emails his unknown friend that goes by the fake name Blue frequently and also goes the fake name Jacques. Everything is fine, until Martin sees Simon's email one day in the library. Martin uses the emails as a way to blackmail him. Simon is forced to do everything Martin asks in order to keep his sexual orientation a secret from the outside world. Martin does terrible things to get what he wants which is a chance with Simon's friend Abby. While this is happening Simon becomes closer with Blue and eventually develops a crush on the unknown boy who goes to the same school. Many things happen between Martin and Simon but everything ends when Martin takes things too far. As a result of Martin's extreme act, he is forced to come out to everyone. Simon becomes even closer with Blue and things escalate to them knowing each other's identity. Blue and Simon end up dating in real life and everything ends happily despite the many issues Simon had to face with coming out and Martin.

I read this book because I had heard good things about the movie Love, Simon and wanted to read the book it was based off of. "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" was an amazing book. I loved the LGBT+ representation. Simon's feelings were very real and relatable. I finished the book in a day because I enjoyed it that much. I would definitely recommend to anyone and I would definitely classify it as one of the top three books I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ebo is a boy from Ghana with a tough life. First his parents have died and he has to live with his alcoholic uncle. Then his sister left Africa for the nearly impossible journey to Europe, seeking a better life. Then Ebo’s brother does the same thing. Ebo refuses to be left behind, so he too embarks on the dangerous journey. He travels across his country, then through a desert, and then across something even more dangerous the ocean. Can Ebo find his brother and overcome the dangers of his journey?

With tons of adventures in this past and present story, readers will find out what it was like for refugees to try and get to Europe. Millions of people attempt the journey, but only some survive. People died of many things--sickness, dehydration, old age, drowning, and even getting killed by others are just some of problems they face.

This is a stand alone graphic novel with a great story and wonderful illustrations. It really showed me how hard it was to live in Ghana and how difficult it was to make the journey to Europe. Besides all the ways a person might die, they also could be sent back for not having the proper immigration paperwork.

This is one of my favorite books that I have read in the last few months. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of graphic novels, I would recommend reading it to gain insight about the migrant crisis around the world.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Have you ever felt out of place? Felt that you were hiding who you really were, or a big part of you? Incorporated with themes of self acceptance as well as humor, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is for you. This book tells the story of Simon, a junior growing up in a small, conservative town. He is gay, and has not shared it with anyone and is not ready to yet. Keeping up a relationship via email with a boy with the pen name Blue, he accidentally leaves his email logged on in the school they both go to. When a boy named Martin finds this email, he blackmails him. Help Martin win over his crush (one of Simon's closest friends), or get revealed on one of the most personal things a human can have, their identity and sexuality. Keeping up this correspondence with his crush, turning more flirtatious daily, while hiding from a close group of friends, is sure to cause all kinds of trouble.

I love this book, because it is full of heavy topics, along with humor and adorable romance. This is recommended to anyone learning about such controversial themes, and to a lower reading level audience, because it is a very easy read. However, the more mature the better, because many cuss words and descriptions of romance are used in this book along with imagery on underage drinking and more. If you have ever felt like you don't fit the description of the normal human being, check out simon vs the homo sapiens agenda today.

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Zebra Forest
Gewirtz, Adina Rishe
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The book Zebra Forest, by Adrina Gewirtz, tells a story of four lives that are held captive by their father and... the book is essentially just that. The plot is incredibly dull and basic, the characters have no real life to them, the book just seems ramble on and on, and here, everything that can be wrong with a book is present. The title doesn't even have any real importance in the book! I get how maybe a few people might like this book, but from a writing perspective, this book lacks in everything. The book tries so hard to address a somewhat difficult-to-cover topic but forgets that it's meant for older audiences and fails at both. Overall, I would only recommend this book only to the most desperate of readers, or a younger kid.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
Nothing But Trouble
Davies, Jacqueline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the small town of Odawahaka, nothing ever happens. Maggie, however, likes to make things happen. Read along as Maggie, and town newcomer, Lena, make mischief all over town. A great book for girls who like cleverness and determination.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Anderson, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ms. Bixby is a special teacher. She makes a difference in the lives of her students including Topher, Steve, and Brand. As each boy narrates the story, we realize what she means to each of them and we understand the lengths they go to to tell her this.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Wish Girl
Loftin, Nikki
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Peter Stone needs a reason to live. Annie Blythe doesn't want to die.
When Peter's parents find the notes he hid, they move the family to Texas Hill County. But he still can't escape their swelling noise... until he sneaks off and discovers a seemingly magic valley, bursting with simply beautiful wildlife and nature. He meets the mysterious girl, Annie. She's a budding artist with terminal cancer, and in less than tow weeks, she's undergoing an extremely dangerous treatment to stop it before it spreads. Her eccentric and dreamy 'live-art' creates a haven for both of them, an escape from chaotic lives.
This book was pretty good, because I felt like the style of writing was meant for a slightly younger audience, which is interesting, because the topics it handled were mature and tough. -Jordan, Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
The Serpent King
Zentner, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Wonder" is about a boy with face abnormalities named August who goes to public school for the first time as a middle school student. While going to school he makes friends, enemies, and faces hardships most students don't face. The source of his bullying throughout the year is Julian. Auggie deals with Julian and his gang with his own new friends until something unexpected happens.

I picked this book because the description seemed interesting and "Wonder" is a battle book. I enjoyed the deep meaningful lesson that the book teaches. There is actually not a part I did not enjoy. "Wonder" was not at all predictable. I could relate to August because likes Star Wars and I do too. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend reading "Wonder" for a heartwarming story with many ups and downs.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Where the Watermelons Grow
Baldwin, Cindy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Rules for reading:

1) Never ever buy a book. The library has thousands for free.
2) Never ever write in a book, especially if you followed rule 1.
3. Never let more than 5 days pass without reading more of your current book.
Stories don't feel slow if you read them quickly.

Where the Watermelons Grow broke all my rules.

When it finally arrived in the mail, I was very very tempted to devour it all in one night. However, it only took a few pages for me to see that this book needed to be a whole different experience. Like Della, my mama suffers from mental illness. I was 20 instead of 12 when my mama's meds suddenly and tremendously stopped working, and I felt just like Della-- wondering why daddy couldn't take care of it, thinking that I was old enough now that I could fix it if I worked hard enough, and wondering in what ways I had caused or contributed to breaking my mother.

So many times I had to put Watermelons down for a few days (even weeks) to just soak up all my thoughts about a certain chapter or section. It also gave the story more weight to kind of experience it in real time instead of having everything resolve by the end of my week.

One passage that struck me the most was where Della's congregation notices Mama isn't at church and are asking Daddy if he needs any help, but he just sheepishly thanks them for their generosity and assures them everything is fine while Della's mind replays all the things that were not fine about Mama that week and she can't believe Daddy thinks it's fine. I've lived that scene so many times about my mama, and in my adult life when so much is not going great. It's not that help isnt necessary, but more that you dont even know what kind of help to ask for, or if it even exists.

Through it all, Della learns that she has many other women in her life to help mother her when Mama isn't at her best. I know my mom kind of resented my sister and I having additional role models because she didn't want to be replaced, but I don't know how we would have gotten by without having such a community of women willing to take loose chicks under their wing from time to time.

One last thing, I'm a little jealous that Della made peace with her situation at 12. It's a long road, and maybe I haven't mastered it yet either, but it would have been good to have this kind of assurance at 12. ;)

Reviewer's Name: Natalie M.
Genres:
Fish in a Tree
Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Fish in a Tree" is about a girl named Ally Nickerson who has dyslexia and faces the struggles of not being able to read and everyday struggles any student can relate to. Ally experiences the school hardships of being alone, bullying, and not wanting to work. Despite these struggles she manages to get through the year while succeeding with her new friends. Throughout the story Ally learns valuable traits that the reader can relate to and apply to their own life. The novel "Fish in a Tree" not only inspires the reader, but teaches that things do get better. I personally liked the book because it was inspiring and had a great plot.

I picked this book for multiple reasons and was not at all disappointed. My first reason for picking the book was because it is a new battle book. My second reason for picking "Fish in a Tree" was the fact the reviews states fans of R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" would enjoy it and "Wonder" is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed the amazing character development the most. I actually enjoyed enjoyed all parts of "Fish in a Tree" and can honestly can not find a part I did not enjoy. This book did surprise me. I expected it to end in a sad, depressing way but it was in fact the exact opposite. I related the most to the main character Ally and her friends Keisha and Albert. This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. I would 100% recommend reading "Fish in a Tree".

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:

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