Significant Others III: Feature High School Reviews

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Rissi, Anica Mrose. 2020. Nobody Knows But You. HarperCollins (Quill Tree Books). 224pp.  $17.99.  ISBN 978-0-06-268531-5.

Kayla Martin is a shy teenage girl who goes insane over her best friend Lainie at an 1980’s style summer camp. The whole summer is supposed to be for them, until Jackson Winters comes and ruins it all. Through a series of letters from Kayla to Lainie she describes the life she had before meeting Lainie and after. Chapters are “news reports” and Camper and Counselor Reports which switch perspectives. The book catches the reader’s attention immediately with a news story describing a death at the camp. Then, the focus goes to Kayla writing letters to Lainie– letters she knows Lainie won’t be able to read. It is a great homage to other “whodunit” pieces. One second you think you figured out the mystery before the book ends, but then Kayla gives you a new story with different information. Overall, the book is well written and has a great style throughout that will keep readers invested in the mystery. (GA)  

 

Aceves, Fred. 2020. The New David Espinoza. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 336pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-248988-3.

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When people think of gaining weight and muscle, they usually think of putting a lot of hours in the gym and also eating well; there is a faster way to gain muscle and weight, but is it worth it? David is a teenage boy who has been getting bullied and wants to gain more weight and muscle. David meets a body builder named Alpha who hooks him up with steroids. This story is all in the first person of David Espinoza. David goes through heartbreak, depression, and all sorts of other life chaos because of these steroids. This book is realistic fiction and is really good for a reader who wants to gain more muscle and is thinking about taking steroids. The harmful reality of steroid use is distinct to the reader. (JE)  

 

Dao, Julie C. 2020. The Mirror: Broken Wish. Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney- Hyperion). 320pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-36-804638-1.

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When people think of magic, they usually think of what magic gives to them– whether casting a spell or making a potion. But have you ever thought about what it takes to do magic? Elva, a child born with magic, hasn’t. From a young age, she was forced to hide away her magical abilities, for her family’s sake, after an incident. Normally magic is good, but it isn’t when Elva is in a town that hates magical people. She later makes a mistake to revisit her magical abilities and foretells of a deadly storm destroying her village. Elva digs deeper into thinking how she can save her village, or merely even tell anyone. She then finds her answers from her mom’s old letters sent from the Witch of the North. Elva secretly goes behind everyone’s back to see this witch. The witch teaches Elva magic and its abilities to help people, but warns her that magic needs to take something in return. The witch also warns her that the greater the magic, the more she has to give. How far will Elva go to save the village? The story is set in an older German countryside area with vivid detail. This book is for young adult readers looking for magical fantasy with a dark twist. This book, even though it is a fantasy book, hits close to home, since it is so relatable, too. No matter how hard people try, they can’t change the inevitable future. (EF) 

 

Portes, Andrea. 2020. This is Not a Ghost Story. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-242244-6. x

Daffodil Turner is a teenage girl about to go off to college. For the summer, she wants to have a peaceful summer job such as house sitting. Daffodil happens to find the perfect place. The house is huge and extremely pretty. The house is owned by a professor of a college. When Daffodil is talking to the professor before he leaves, he seems really on edge. He asks Daffodil if she has heard any rumors about the house and then continues to tell her the rumors are not true. She should not worry. He also tells her that nobody should disturb her besides the construction workers who are working on the guest house out back. Once the professor tells her everything, he is out of the house fast. She looks around the house herself and sees two very luxurious rooms: both have bathrooms connected to them. Daffodil feels she isn’t deserving enough for these rooms, so she looks around some more and proceeds to the attic. There she feels at home, and she knows this is where she is going to sleep. Then, after Daffodil falls asleep that night, strange things start to happen. The incidents grow weirder and creepier as the story goes on. The story is very compelling. Daffodil has never been the type of person to talk to people, so she really is trying to keep her distance from anyone who tries to get close to her. A lot happens that the reader does not expect! This is a recommended read to anyone who likes supernatural or paranormal books and doesn’t get spooked out too easily. (JF)  

 

Collins, Suzanne. 2020. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 528pp.  $27.99. ISBN 978-1-33-863517-1. x

The newest book in the Hunger Games series, this book will turn Cornelius Snow into one of the reader’s favorite characters, and will also sympathize with him. A whole new past is revealed in which a teenage Snow not only pioneered the games but got to mentor the District 12 tribute. Cornelius is no doubt spoiled and self-centered, being from such a rich family; however, as the story progresses, he is a bit more humble, though still using his family name to his advantage after the fall of his family– when his parents die and his family loses all their money. Readers who enjoyed The Hunger Games series are sure to enjoy its companion.  (MG)  

 

Jackson, Tiffany D. 2020. Grown. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 384pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-284035-6.

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Growing up to an abusive father, Enchanted experiences much more than high school drama. She participates in many community clubs and attends an upper class high school. Eager to practice her dream of becoming a pop singer, Enchanted attends many auditions. Enchanted soon makes a name for herself. This captivating story tells how a high school girl becomes the nation's idol due to her relationship with a more superior singer, Korey Fields. Her idol, Korey Fields, teaches her how to perform and gives her his tips in singing. Offstage much more is happening to Enchanted than others know, such as non-consentiual sex, abuse, and acts of being tortured by an American celebrity. Quick to act, Enchanted soon finds herself with a murder on her hands. Now gaining help from the community and several other victims coming out about the abusive idol, Korey Fields, Enchanted is able to successfully escape the trial. The author indicates that this book is completely fiction but wants to embrace the grip power has on others and its abuse from people. Tiffany Jackson says, “It's about the pattern of excusing grown men for their actions and behaviors while taking advantage of young girls for their missteps.” (JK)  

 

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Sylvester, Natalia. 2020. Running. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 336pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-35-812345-1. 

It’s election season in the United States, and this Florida family is struggling to comply with each other. Mari is a teenage girl that is always busy with her dad's campaign rallies, as he hopes to be the next president of the United States. Mari and her dad's relationship struggles to stay on the same page. While attending school, Mari has friends who bring her dad's policies and past voting records to her attention. Mari quickly disagrees with his actions. She joins a school activist group, which is planning a protest about the water crisis that is happening in their home city of Miami. As her dad’s poll numbers continue to rise, Mari’s voice is also rising, and she soon makes news headlines. The poll numbers soon drop drastically because of Mari’s impact on the community and nation. On the night of the election, her father lost the Florida Primary by a two digit margin. Winning Florida was the only hope for him to become the next president. The family continues to be in a haze as fingers are pointed to blame for the loss. This book makes a statement that expressing your voice within is a must, even if it’s against your own family, such as Mari did. The author says, “to anyone reading this who’s ever felt their voice deep within, wanting to come out: you are an inspiration and a force.” This book was fun to read, as it made me think about the recent protests this country witnessed over the summer of 2020. (JK)  

 

Urban, Diana. 2020. All Your Twisted Secrets. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 400pp $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-290821-6. x

When Amber received an invitation in the mail to attend a scholarship dinner with the mayor, she couldn’t wait. She arrived at the restaurant to find some of her other classmates there waiting for the mayor to arrive. Then, the door to the room they are standing in slams shut, leaving all six of them trapped inside. Impatient and hungry, they dig into the food set out for them– revealing a bomb and a syringe full of poison. A note informs them of their two options: kill one person with the poison, or everyone can die when the bomb explodes. The group desperately tries everything to escape the room to save everyone. They begin to dig through their lives, trying to find how they all connect and figure out who wants them all to die. As the timer counts down, they become more desperate, longing for a way to all get out safely or make the horrid decision to take one of their own lives and live with the decision for the rest of their lives. This reader is hooked as the plot propels forward. The perspectives switch between what is happening in the room and what has happened to the characters in the past year. This change in time enhances the book and draws the reader in as he or she learns more and more details. This book maintains the reader's engagement and is a highly recommended thriller. (AM) 

 

Bliss, Bryan. 2020. Thoughts and Prayers. HarperCollins (Green Willow Books). 448pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-79-994232-0. x

After witnessing a school shooting Clair, Eleanor, and Brendan all struggle with the trauma in their own way. Claire and her brother move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she is hyper aware of everything going on around her. As her and her new friend Dark start to share their past, she realizes she needs help if she is going to heal. Right after the shooting, Eleanor starts a protest at school that gets picked up in the national news. When t-shirts are made about her, everyone who is close to her tries to get her to stay home from school, but Elanor does not want to. She fears that if she takes time away from school and quits playing basketball, everyone else will win. So, she does not let the haters around her affect her and shows up on the basketball court, earning a scholarship to play in college. After the shooting, Brendan begins homeschooling, but his parents and therapist decide he needs to return back to school. With the help of his friend and the video game Wizards and Witches, Brendan gets through the day. When he experiences a nightmare, his parents and therapist think maybe they were wrong, and Brendan should stay home. However, Brendan decides school is safe, and he will be ok. This book is told in three individual parts, and each one left me wanting more. The storytelling is phenomenal. The author depicts the characters thoughts and feelings so well. A mature High School aged reader is required due to the explicit language used and seriousness of the topic covered. (JM) 

 

Konigsberg, Bill. 2020. The Bridge. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press).  400pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-33-832503-4.

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Two teenagers arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, and they arrive there for the same reason. Throughout this book, Aaron and Tillie will use both of their perspectives, describing what life would be like if one would have lost the other. The first half of the book is how Aaron’s family, friends and Tillie would have reacted, and the second half is how Tillie’s family, friends and Aaron would have responded to Tillie’s death. This book is one of those books that a reader can get lost in–in someone else’s problems. Overall, The Bridge really shows it’s readers that everyone has baggage in their life, and it also shows that suicide doesn’t take the pain away. It passes it on to someone else. This read is recommended for any reader who has been impacted by suicide. (BN) 

 

Wiles, Deborah. 2020. Kent State. Scholastic Inc. 144pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-33-835628-1. x

Kent State is about a protest against the Vietnam war and draft on a college campus. During the book the military shows up to a protest where some people are burning down buildings so at first they tear gas them and push them back. But the protesters would not stop and at one point they set fire to the rotc building due to it being a drafting area. But they continue to clash with the military and some of them begin to start throwing rocks at the military. Major plot points continue to engage the reader and heighten their desire to finish. (TO) 

 

 

Nix, Garth. 2020. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 393 pgs. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-06-268325-0.

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In 1983-era London, art student Susan Arkshaw is in search of her father. She has never met her father and doesn’t know what he looks like. However, Susan is determined to find him. She moves to London to find her father, but soon finds herself entangled in a mess of magic and two different worlds. She is saved by a man, Merlin, a left-handed bookseller. These booksellers are in charge of keeping the Old and New World separated. However, Susan seems targeted by these supernatural attacks of magic. So, Merlin decides to help Susan with her quest in search of her father and shows her the Old World. Merlin quickly realizes that Susan’s father may be connected to the death of his mother six years ago. As Merlin and Susan continue their dangerous adventure, the dangers of the magical Old World begin to explode.Readers who enjoy magic and mystery may enjoy this piece of literature. (LR)  

 

Anderson, Chris and Oberweger, Lorin. 2020. Thank You For Coming To My TED Talk. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (HMH Books for Young Readers). 160pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-32-899507-0. x

Public speaking is a skill that will serve people always, but only as long as the speaker is proficient at it. This book is a guide to becoming a good public speaker no matter what environment a speaker’s in. The book addresses tips to giving a good speech, as well as advice to making sure it goes smoothly the day of the presentation. The book feels like a checklist that the reader can check his or her speech against– a great book for anyone to hone his or her speaking skills no matter where the speaker is located. (JR)

 

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McGinnis, Mindy. 2020. Be Not Far From Me. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 256pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256162-6.

This book starts out with a group of teenagers going on a camping trip. The main character, Ashley, is a fairly experienced hiker, so she leads her friends to the campsite. After a few too many beers, Ashley gets upset at her boyfriend and runs off into the woods. Ashley passes out, and when she comes to, she has no idea where she is or how far she has run. The rest of the book is about Ashley’s many struggles trying to survive and get back to civilization. Readers who enjoy survival books will encounter real-world issues and hurdles to break through before life gets back to normal. (DR)  

 

Oliver, Laura. 2019. Broken Things. HarperCollins. 432pp.  $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-22413-2. x

Since being accused of the murder of their best friend Summer, Mia and Brynn have parted ways until the five year anniversary of her death when Mia finds clues that could potentially solve the murder once and for all. The clues lie in a fanfiction the girls wrote as a sequel to their favorite book The Way into Lovelorn. They meet up with Mia’s childhood boyfriend; Mia’s friend, Abby; and Brynn’s cousin, Wade. Together they find out who the real murderer is, and they begin coming to terms that Summer wasn’t the person the media made her out to be. This book skips between four perspectives: Mia in the past, Mia in the present, Brynn in the past, and Brynn in the present. This way of writing made the book more mysterious and showed the true colors of Summer and the reasons why everyone was pointing fingers at them as the murderers. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy mystery. This text keeps the reader engaged through all of the twists and turns. (AT)

 

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Zarr, Sara. 2020. Goodbye from Nowhere. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray).  384pp. $18.99. IBSN 978-0-06-243468-5.

Kyle Baker is a teenage boy whose life gets turned upside down when on his way back from his grandparents beloved farm. His father tells Kyle to keep the affair a secret and not to tell anyone–to keep it in “the vault.” The secret eats Kyle alive, and he ends up ghosting his girlfriend, losing his friends, and being benched from varsity baseball. Once he has had enough, he tells his sister, Megan, and cousin, Emily, the secret. Megan tells him to go talk to his coach about being back on the team. As a way to get back on the team, Kyle has to help coach at the after school program at the local middle school. Kyle soon becomes close with the kids he is working with, especially one named Jacob. One day when he is driving Jacob home, Kyle figures out Jacob's dad is the one having an affair with his mom.  He puts that in the vault and moves on until a family event at his grandparents farm called farm week. During farm week Kyle’s mom sneaks off to meet her boyfriend, Troy, and the next day, Troy's wife tracks him down at the farm. Then things start to unravel there. This book is great for anyone who is into realistic fiction. It really digs down into what Kyle is feeling and how he is coping with his mom’s affair. (AT)