The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. Her best friend has left for college, she just broke up with her boyfriend, and she’s working at a farm stand all summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby from being kidnapped. A video of the rescue goes viral and she’s an overnight internet celebrity. Which results in a last minute invite to a luncheon celebrating young “hometown heroes.” The group ends up being five very different teens that form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs. They decide to name themselves The Unlikelies. They start off battling internet bullies and trolls, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads. Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact? This thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, mystery, and wisdom.
ROBEN SAYS: I loved this book. It’s a super quick read that has a little bit of everything. There’s romance as Sadie discovers that one of the Unlikelies is an old crush that she had given up on. And there’s a mysterious suitcase bequeathed to Sadie by one of her farm stand customers. There’s the pain of losing old friends and the joy of finding new ones. And ultimately, it’s inspiring. You will be encouraged to follow Sadie’s example of “If you see something, say something!” Or – in Sadie’s case – DO something.
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Girl in Pieces is a seriously heavy book. At the young age of 17, Charlotte “Charlie” Davis is dealing with self-harm, drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, and homelessness- among other issues that teenage girls are faced with. But Charlie is a survivor. No matter what has been thrown her way, she has learned to adjust to her new normal, even when it means cutting herself to purge the agony that accompanies her life. Until her new life proves to be tougher than she is.
Charlie wakes up to find herself in a psychiatric hospital with other teenage girls. She soon learns that every girl in Creeley Centre shares a desire for self-harm in one way or another. The short time she spends there makes a big impact on her and she tries to use some positive behaviors she learned at Creeley to make a new life in a new city.
I feel if I indulge in the review anymore I will give away some spoilers, and there is still a lot of stuff that happens. I loved this book so much. The approach to this story feels very authentic. Kathleen Glasgow is a master at writing about raw, painful topics while remaining truthful about the intricacies or girlhood. Read this book in its entirety. The author’s note at the end is amazing,
Reviewed by Stephanie
I Believe In a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
About: A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten.
What I Liked: I super love K-Dramas! So when this book came out I definitely had to read it. It is everything I hoped for and more. Desi is good on the soccer field as well as everything in the academic field. However, when it comes to love she is clueless. When Luca the artsy handsome guy shows up at school she is attracted to him, but makes a fool of herself in front of him. She decides to take matters into her own hands. She binge watches K-Dramas and emerges with the determination that she will get the boy. This can only happen if she follows the steps of a K-Drama heroine. Thus the craziness starts! I never knew what was going to happen next. This was super funny and I totally recommend it!
Reviewed by Yentl!
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
About- Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
Anna’s thoughts- This book is insanely intense. McGinnis goes into such detail about rape and sexual assault that it can be uncomfortable to read…and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, Alex forms relationships through the story that are real and normal. I was actually surprised by the love story within this book and how prevalent it was throughout the narrative. I appreciated how McGinnis would just drop the murders on the reader and walk away- like BOOM!, but now I’m changing the topic before you even have time to comprehend what happened. This book is definitely not for everyone although it is an eye-opener about rape culture and how rampant sexual assault is in our culture.
Reviewed by Anna
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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Julia begins her summer vacation by waking up in a hospital with no hair and a terrible headache. Initially anonymous, nurses quickly discover that she is Julia Beaufort-Stuart, 15-year-old granddaughter of the Earl of Strathfearn. Her late grandfather’s estate is being sold to pay debts and Julia was planning to spend her summer packing up the house. Instead she had her head bashed in while spending a lazy afternoon by the river.
Julia remembers little about the attack, and in an effort to discover what happened, she befriends Euan and Ellen McEwen, the Scottish Travellers who found her after she was injured. Her sleuthing leads her to believe that her assault is connected with the disappearance of an archivist who is cataloging the estate’s antiquities. When a body is discovered in the river, her new friends become immediate suspects, victims of long-held local biases against the Travellers. With the stakes suddenly higher, Julia must unravel the mystery in order to uncover the true criminals and vindicate her friends.
Set in 1938, the book is mostly a murder mystery with a dollop of historical fiction and a touch of romance. It is also a prequel to one of my all-time favorite books, Code Name Verity. In just a few short years, the young Julia of this book grows up to become a spy in World War Two whose code name is – you guessed it – Verity. So I knew I had to read this book to revisit one of my favorite characters. I was not disappointed. In addition to uncovering the identity of the person who bashed Julia’s head, there are other discoveries – a search for lost treasure; unexpected romance; and learning about the culture of the Scottish Travellers and the prejudice against them. If you haven’t read Code Name Verity, that’s OK – this book can stand on its own. But I think you will want to read all three of the books in this series. Once you’ve started, you will just want to know more about Wein’s wonderful characters.
Reviewed by Roben
Women Heroes of the American Revolution: 20 stories of espionage, sabotage, defiance, and rescue by Susan Casey
Part of the Women in Action series this book gives readers a chance to learn about the amazing service and sacrifice of women from all backgrounds who served the cause of independence. Some of the women will be familiar but as this is not information included in most American History courses most of these amazing women’s stories will be a revelation.
Wealthy planter’s wives and daughters, poor women, and women slaves all did their part in achieving independence from Great Britain. Without even the right to vote (and for some not the right to freedom) they risked their lives for a cause and young country they believed in.
Many photos, source notes, letters, newspaper advertisements and political cartoons of the day are included.
Reviewed by Debbie
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
About: Six kindergarteners were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been. No one remembers the sixth victim, Max. Avery, Max’s sister, needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This book is so well paced and the storyline is so intriguing, I had a hard time putting it down. On one level, it is a very straight forward mystery—who took these kids? Why can’t they remember where they were? Where is Max? On another level, it is a book that asks really difficult philosophical questions—who are you when you can’t remember the past 11 years of your life? What defines a life? A person? What happens when you return “home” but don’t really fit in there? Altebrando’s imaginative plot takes all of these elements and interweaves a fascinating story that switches viewpoints with every chapter. You really get inside the minds of the characters and get to experience how this tragedy affected an entire community. The ending is a bit tidy, but the original plot and fascinating questions make that easy to overcome. Plus, you get answers—no cliffhangers! A truly fascinating novel.