by Adina Gewirtz Year Published: 2013 Realistic Fiction
Annie and Rew are two young siblings that live with their Grandma out in the country. Annie is eleven while the younger brother Rew is just seven. They are both homeschooled originally, as Grandma does not believe in sending them to the “rotten” school. When they finally have to go to school, Annie receives a prompt for the end of the year essay on, “What I want to accomplish over the summer.” Annie writes down fake things, but really she wants to grow taller, go on an adventure, and meet her father. However, there is only one problem. Grandma tells the children their father is dead. One day, the small family is visited by an unknown guest from the nearby county jail.
I would recommend this book to people that don’t like reading very much, but will read on occasion or if assigned. This is not a very slow book like most others so you are on the edge of your seat right off the bat. If you like cliff-hangers, this book is definitely for you.
Review by: Gavin Neils
by George Orwell Year Published: 1984 Science Fiction
George Orwell's 1984 takes place in a dystopian society set in Oceania. The story focuses on the protagonist, Winston Smith, and his struggles under a totalitarian government. The “Party” or “Big Brother” (the government of Oceania) constantly work to brainwash and suppress their own citizens to remain in power. Many methods like censorship, constant surveillance, executions, and other fear tactics are used by the Party. They have even gone so far as to have the “thought police”, a force intent solely on vaporizing those with opposing thoughts. The Party also tries to disenfranchise basic human instincts like sex and rebellion. Winston himself, works for the ministry of truth, a branch of government devoted propaganda. More specifically, Winston works for the fiction department. A branch devoted to falsifying documents and changing the truth. Of course, most people would want to work against this oppression. So, people will naturally grow a common disdain for the party and commit small acts of rebellion. What will this lead to? Find out and read the book. 1984 still to this day provides an account of very topical issues through great writing and deep thought exercises presented by the book. If you are looking for an interesting story and a heavy topic, 1984 is great for you.
by J.K. Rowling Year Published: 2007 Science Fiction
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books ever. It’s a wonderfully crafted book, full of action, drama, and magic. It’s tells a story of a boy, orphaned, a wizard, and the only person to stop one of the most malevolent forces ever. It shows that people have motives that others could never understand, unrelenting greed, revenge, and most importantly the power of love. I would recommend it to people with big imaginations who love to go to far off places while reading. It’s very descriptive and easy to picture, even if the content is crazy- sounding. It’s a very fun read for those of all ages and easy to start.
Review by:Skye Mahlburg
by Erich Maria Remarque Year Published: 1929 Historical Fiction
Often called the best war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of a young German infantryman fighting in the First World War, and the life he lives alongside his comrades in the trenches. First published in 1929, this is one of the first books to accurately describe the horror of war from the point of view of a soldier, illustrating the damage done to the soldiers of any conflict. The defiance of the book’s characters in the face of almost certain death is inspiring, if not sad. The horror of World War One will shock any reader. The novel is not an adventure story, but is never boring. All Quiet on the Western Front is a masterpiece that should be read by everyone.
Review by: Luka Bassnett
by Erich Remarque Year Published: 1987 Historical Fiction
All Quiet On The Western Front is narrated by Paul Baumer, a nineteen year old man who fights for the German army on the French front in World War I. Paul and many of his friends from school joined the army after listening to their teacher’s many patriotic speeches. Then they had 10 weeks of brutal training with their corporal. They learned how bad it was on the front. Paul and his friends realize war is not honorable. Anyone who likes war books and sad books would love this book. It starts off really slow but if you get through that, the rest of the book is great, People who like sad books about war will like this.
Review by: Quinn Connolly
by Kristen Simmons Year Published: 2013
Imagine you walk home with your friends. Life is going normally, nothing new. You walk up to your room with your friends and start doing your homework, but then you hear banging on your front door. You walk downstairs, your mother in the doorway talking to the soldiers. They look over her shoulder at you, you stare at them and they stare back. Your mother is quickly and roughly grabbed and is immediately being dragged outside by one of them. She starts screaming, yelling, and waking your neighbors up. You run after her, trying to stop them, but they just throw you down. You look up into the captivating green eyes of one of them, begging him to let her go. You look at your mother, you look into her pleading eyes. Once you look back up at him, you realize it is Chase Jennings. Your first love… the only boy you have ever loved. I personally loved the book. Everything was very detailed, and explained. I would recommend this book to people who like a sort of romance dystopian novel, which is also a thriller and a mystery. I would rate this book four and a half stars out of five.
Review by: Ildiko Kinter
by Ruta Sepetys Year Published: 2011 Historical FIction
“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”
Lina is just an ordinary teenage girl in 1941,Lithuania when suddenly one night she is ripped away from her home and is placed in a filthy, soviet union train with her mother, little brother, and other fellow lithuanians. separated from her father, Lina uses her artistic talents to try to send clues in her drawings to where she is and what’s happening. it doesn’t take long for them to soon figure out that they are headed to the coldest depths of siberia,and under stalin’s orders where they are forced to do back breaking jobs like dig giant pits or plant beets in the snow from dawn to dusk. and each day of struggle Lina is given the same question: is life still worth living? Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray shows us that the jews weren’t the only ones with a heart-wrenching story to tell during the war.
Review by Rachel Liang, 7th grader at Wydown Middle School
by Kwame Alexander Year Published: 2016 Sports
I thought that Booked, by Kwame Alexander was a fantastic book. I liked how the story was told through poems. This book is about a kid named Nick Hall who is the star of his soccer team. Nick’s life is going so well, he is doing great in school and his soccer team is doing amazing. But then the worst thing happens. His parents split up. Now Nick has to deal with living with his dad who loves words. The only thing that’s actually good in Nick’s life right now is soccer. He lives and breathes soccer. Then Nick’s team is asked to play in the biggest soccer tournament for his age group, The Dallas Cup. While playing his team’s biggest rival, and also the team his best friend Coby is on, Nick suffers an injury that might make him miss the most important soccer tournament in his life. While in the hospital, Nick’s parents realize how much Nick loves them and decide to get back together. In the end, Nick realizes that everything that had happened in the last few months wasn’t that bad at all and that he can keep on enjoying life. The strengths of this book are that the story starts out like the best life ever then turns terrible, only to have the final outcome turn out great in the end. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like soccer.
Review by: Ben Levine
by Laurie Halse Anderson Year Published: 2003 Realistic Fiction
Catalyst is about a high school girl Kate Malone who is trying to get into her dream college, MIT, but her plan for the future doesn’t go as she wished. Kate has a younger brother and a minister father, and cares for the both of them. Her “enemy” Teri Litch lives next door and there was a fire at their house. Of course Kate’s dad lets the Litch family stay with them, which causes some complications. Kate has to share her room, lifestyle and freedom with the girl who steals and lies. When an incident with Teri’s brother occurs, the only person there for her is Kate. These girls must try to become friends and understand each other as times get tough. Kate learns more about others and herself throughout this story of humor, sadness, and hope. Laurie Halse Anderson did a fantastic job writing this book, but she has some areas that definitely stand out. In Catalyst, the connections between characters are very distinct. You can tell when they are mad at each other or sad or happy. This was a really good book and I recommend it to people who like to read about situations that are rare but can happen, and who like realistic fiction. This is a book that deserves 5 stars.
Review by: Abby Wallach
by Amy Reed Year Published: 2012 Realistic Fiction
Crazy is about two characters, Connor and Isabel who met at a camp over the summer and became close. Since they live in different states, they only communicate through email. The emails are talking about what's going on in their lives and sometimes they're needing advice from each other. It can be hard for the other to help at times. When they don't get the response they were wanting, they tend to get frustrated with the other. Isabel tends to struggle socially and mentally way more than Conner. This is a partly why she easily gets angry with him. Isabel's family seems to be falling apart and she struggles with trusting that her boyfriend actually loves her and trust in general. Connor, on the other hand, is somewhat newly single after a breakup with his girlfriend after she came out.
Review by: Nora Mitchell
by Brandon Mull Year Published: 2015 Science Fiction
Crystal Keepers is the third book in the series Five Kingdoms, it takes place in the kingdom Zeropolis. Cole is trying to find the five daughters of the queen, because the king stole their shaping powers and faked their deaths. Zeropolis is basically the high-tech kingdom of the kingdoms, using crystals as energy. When Cole finds out about the new and different kind of shaping, he also finds about the robot aeronomatron, who was a villain before, but is now locked up. Roxy, the grand shaper of Zeropolises assistant, becomes self-serving and tries to steal the daughters shaping powers again, and in the end she gets destroyed and Cole finds the daughters.
If you like adventure and fantasy, then this would be a great book for you. It is well written and has many different kinds of action in it. It has a great story with good transitions to different parts. Even adult readers can read this book and enjoy it.
Review by: Rohan Riswadkar
by Nicola Yoon Year Published: 2015 Realistic Fiction
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is about a girl named Madeline, who has a disease that prevents her from going outside. She has been inside her whole life, and her dream is to go outside. She then gets some new neighbors, specifically a boy named Olly, who introduces her to many different new things, and changes her life forever. Some of the book’s strengths are that there are different ways of communicating the story. For example, there are messages between Olly and Madeline. There’s also Madeline’s definitions of things and her book “spoilers”. The book is interesting, because it’s written like Madeline’s diary. People who like to read coming-of-age books might enjoy this book, because throughout the book Madeline discovers things about herself that affect her deeply and change her life.
Review by: Neleh Hopper
by Rainbow Rowell Year Published: 2013 Realistic Fiction
Fangirl is about a girl named Cather. She, along with her twin sister Wren, is a dedicated fan of a popular book series, Simon Snow. Simon Snow has been a huge part of her life and the twins had relied on it to comfort them. This year she is leaving home to go to college along with her twin. Except this time, she won’t be with her twin sister. Unfortunately, Cather has always been shy and relied on her sister to help her. Now she has to balance all of the new stress. Whether it is finishing a huge fan fiction project that she was working on for two years, or handling living with an intimidating stranger, Cather struggles with being without her twin for the first time. Fangirl is a book for any dedicated fan who understands what it’s like to balance the fandom with a social life. It gives the perspective on the life of a dedicated fan that is usually portrayed negatively or missed entirely. You won’t regret reading it.
Review by: Olivia Dinsmore
by Harper Lee Year Published: 2015 Historical Fiction
In Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, we see how Scout has matured into a strong independent woman who goes by Jean Louise Finch. As she returns home from her new life in mid-1950s New York, an aged Atticus greets us. We meet new characters and revisit old memories that will warm your heart. In the midst of all this family secrets are revealed that will make you want to throw the book across the room.
I think Harper Lee exceeds in her way of discreetly mentioning details that become vital in the future. Part of writing is building up layers but Harper Lee’s way is perfection. However, Go Set A Watchman is quite rough around the edges. Harper Lee shoved it aside after To Kill A Mockingbird because she didn’t like the way is was written. Some things are unfinished and don’t correlate with To Kill A Mockingbird. This is a book that is meant for those who are wondering what happens to Jean Louise Finch in her later life. Read with caution, this book could change your views on some beloved characters.
Review by: Jane Kalina
by Jennifer Brown Year Published: 2009 Realistic Fiction
Hate List is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing books I have read. After every page you just want to keep reading. Do not let the thickness of the book intimidate you because the book will fly by thanks to its constant flow of stirring events. That would be a major strength of this book. The book is about the aftermath of Valerie’s boyfriend (Nick) shooting students during school, and what events led up to it. Valerie has a hard time regaining the respect and trust of her fellow students, along with having to deal with the bullying. Someone, however, opens up to her, who she never expected, and changes everything. I would suggest this book to all students above 6th grade because I think they will find it most relatable and it may contain some sensitive content for younger readers.
Review by: Julian Hanon
by Charles J. Shields Year Published: 2008 Biography
I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird and feeling so confused and curious as to, how did Harper Lee create such wonderful and, well, sometimes horrible characters? However, they were almost true based on real people. If you have read To Kill a Mockingbird I recommend this book for you. This book is about Harper Lee and how she made her life into a fictional and non- fictional book. This book also tells you about her life when she was young and before and after writing the book. This book was certainly hard to read if you’re not good at sitting still for long periods of time like me. It is a good book but can get a little boring and factual for some chapters of the book. I did love how this book revealed things about Finch's landing and about Atticus. I would say this book is three and a half stars and recommend it for anyone who has read To Kill a Mockingbird.
Review by: Lauren Sheets
by Jandy Nelson Year Published: 2014 Realistic Fiction
This book is set in California. The main characters are the twins Noah and Jude. Noah is an incredible artist. Jude is an okay artist, which makes her jealous of Noah. Noah and Jude are quite opposite from each other. Jude is the fun, popular and flirty girl while Noah is more antisocial and isolated. Noah has a secret; he’s gay. The bullies at his school make fun of him for being the way he is. Nobody really sticks up for him. He hears about an art school from his mother, who also is an art fan. He wants to go to this school so badly because he feels like he will finally fit in somewhere. This book is a little confusing at first because it hops around from the perspective of old Jude to young Noah. This book is sort of like a ball of string. As you get closer to unwrapping the ball, the closer you are to figuring everything about the story that you want to know. I have not read other books like this book before, but after reading this I would like to go find other books by this author. The only thing that sort of bothered me about the book were the superstitions that Jude has about certain moments in her life. I guess it added to Jude’s character, but I did not like that very much. This book is great for anybody looking for a drama-filled story.
by Bryan Stevenson Year Published: 2014 Realistic Fiction
Just Mercy is a compelling tale about redemption and the importance of having mercy. This book follows Bryan Stevenson, the author of this book, as he works with prisoners on death row. He is a lawyer who is dedicated to serve people who have been wrongly condemned, and have to pay a heavy price for crimes they often haven’t committed. This book circles around Walter McMillan, one of Stevenson’s first cases. He has been sentenced to capital punishment for a crime he didn’t commit. The story follows Stevenson’s journey to get McMillan home from death row, while pausing to tell the stories of other cases along the way. Stevenson helps people from all walks of life, and a wide array of ages, from 13 to 63. This book really opens eyes to the injustice in our justice systems, and the horror inmates have to go through in prison. These people often get raped and abused in jail, and nothing is done about it. They waste their lives away in prison because of mistake they made, or for nothing at all. The reader will also learn that our justice system can be extremely racially prejudiced. Judges in this book have illegally selected all white juries to help them win a case, and have not abided by laws that have made things fair for all races. This book also touched my emotional side. I can’t imagine, being stuck in death row for years, wondering when you will be released, especially if it was for something you didn’t do. How do these people not hate the world? This book really made me think through what it’s like to be trapped for so long, and how terrible our prisons can be. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13. It was a powerful and intriguing read.
Review by: Siddhi Narayan
by Mal Peet Year Published: 2003 Sports Fiction
The book I have recently read was Keeper by Mal Peet. This book was published in 2003. In Keeper, the story is set in a small room with a veteran soccer reporter, Paul Faustino and the World Cup winning goalie, El Gato. The book is about El Gato’s life from a little boy to a great goalie. Gato grew up in a jungle town where his life was pretty quiet and calm. But all of this changed when he wandered into the jungle and found a mysterious field and a ghostly, but very real mentor, the Keeper. It is a strange tale that has many twists and surprises that are scattered throughout the entire book..
Throughout the book Keeper, there are many occasions where El Gato has to play goalie for a soccer game. One of the greatest strengths in this book is how the author gives the impression that you are actually in the goalmouth playing goalie instead of Gato. The vivid and accurate description of the game from the eyes of a goalie brings the game to life and makes every shot and save all the more real. This is especially seen in Gato’s first game where you are able to read his thoughts and every analysis he makes of the soccer game. It is entertaining to see Gato’s description on how each striker shoots at the goal and how Gato can predict where the ball will go. These small details add even more suspense to each game. Another strong characteristic in the book is the slow, but steady rise in tension and the urge to know what happens next. The book beautifully describes El Gato’s simple childhood without being boring and illustrates important events in the book such as the last save El Gato made to win the World Cup. Mal Peet uses all of the five senses to describe scenes throughout the length of the book. Keeper is truly an amazing book to read.
Review by: Jack Hansell
by John Green Year Published: 2005 Realistic Fiction
As I read this book I was constantly thinking back to the title and the meaning of the book. The book was an explosion of emotion, love, depression, happiness, friendship, rivalries and even death keeping me on my toes and my eyes on the paper, not knowing what was going to happen next. The book also had a couple instances of subtle comedy, which were a nice touch in a somewhat sad book. The story is great and somewhat relatable about a teenage boy going to boarding school. He faces some social troubles and along the way is trying to figure out Alaska, whom he likes, from her personality and her past. The great plot kept me thinking about the meaning of the text and kept me reading until my eyes hurt. This book receives my full recommendation and my solid 4.5/5 star review.
Review by: Tomasz Lawrence
by Viktor E Frankl's Year Published: 1946 Realistic Fiction
In Man's Search for Meaning, we see how people change due to the lack of humanization they experience due to the capos, inmates who enforced the directives of the Nazi leaders. We see through Victor's perspective what he thought and how other people felt. He also elaborated on the physiological phases of the inmates and what caused the inmates’ demise. I like how the book gives background about what it was like to be in a concentration camp before going into detail about the things camp inmates suffered. He also explained how he changed while he was at the camp and what changed him.
Review by: Jaden Wells
by Ransom Riggs Year Published: 2011 Fantasy
Jacob Portman is not crazy. He knows what he sees when he finds his grandfather dying in the woods, he was killed by the creature of his nightmares. It was the monster that Grandpa Portman had told him about in countless stories when Jacob was young. Of course, nobody believes Jacob when he tells everyone what he’d seen. Eventually, even Jacob manages to convince himself that the monster was a figment of his imagination and that it really was a pack of wild dogs that had killed Grandpa Portman. But a while later, Jacob gets a book that his grandfather had meant to give him with a letter inside that was sent from the orphanage that Grandpa Portman had lived in in Wales. Jacob wants to investigate, and persuades his parents to take him with the help of his psychiatrist, who says it will help him realize that the stories weren’t real and the orphanage is gone. In Wales, Jacob does discover the blackened ruins of the orphanage, and realizes that the kids that used to live here might just still be alive. Miss Peregrine’s is well written with lots of rich details. Creepy antique pictures are incorporated into the story, but the actual story isn’t a horror story. I’d recommend this book to readers that like fantasy and time travel because it is about people with special powers that call themselves ‘peculiars’ that have to hide from the evil wights, who are former peculiars who abused their powers.
Review by: Saida Robles-Razzaq
by Gerald Durrell Year Published: 1956 Realistic Fiction
This story is about a dysfunctional British family who decides to move to the Greek island of Corfu. The family needed a break from their hectic lifestyles, but soon realizes that life is crazy no matter where you live. The rest of the book is about one of the family member’s adventures on the island. Each chapter is a new story. I liked this format because I didn’t have to follow a confusing plotline, and each chapter brings a new surprise. The author has a British sense of humor, so I chuckled throughout the book. My Family and Other Animals is a quick, but interesting read.
Review by:Ravi Cohen
by Fredrik Backman Year Published: 2015 Realistic Fiction
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is a book about a young girl named Elsa whose best friend is her grandmother. Elsa is 7 year old, who is incredibly smart for her age, and has always just felt different. Her grandmother is 77 and extremely rebellious. She takes Elsa on adventures to help her forget her problems at school and at home. For example, they break into the zoo in the middle of the night to see the monkeys. Elsa’s grandmother also tells Elsa incredible stories about an imaginary land called the Land of Almost Awake. Elsa’s favorite kingdom in the Land Of Almost Awake is called Miamas. Elsa’s grandmother has even crowned Elsa as an official knight of Miamas. In Miamas, everyone is different and proud of it. When Elsa’s grandmother dies, she leaves Elsa with a series of letters filled with apologies to those who she feels she has wronged in her life. Elsa’s most important adventure as a knight of Miamas is to deliver these letters. During the adventure, the fairy tales start to become real stories about real people. Along the way, Elsa also makes some friends that are just as different as her. Elsa’s witty thoughts, comments, and memories of her granny lighten the mood of the book, even when the setting is very serious. You will like this book, if you like stories that are sweet and charming with a hint of sadness.
Review by: Emma Reim
by Jasmine Wanga Year Published: 2015 Realistic Fiction
Aysel is a 16-year-old depressed, girl with a disappointment of a father, a distant mother, no friends, and no will to live. One day, after browsing a website named Smooth Passages, where you can talk about anything suicide and depression, she found a potential suicide partner, FrozenRobot, or Roman, but it has to be done by April 7. This book shows depression for what it is, a painful mental illness. With colorful descriptions without over explaining, you get a clear image of what is happening. Overall, I do think this is a beautiful book and I would recommend this to a friend.
Review by: Phoebe Martinez-Bass
by Lynda Mallaly Hunt Year Published: 2013
One for the Murphys is about a young teenage girl, Carley, who has to go into foster care. Carley ends up joining a family that she feels she can never fit into. She misses her mother and wishes that she never joined this foster family. The family she joined has three young boys, a mother, and a father. I think this is a great book because it shows feelings and thoughts from a different perspective. One for the Murphys can teach readers much about how a foster child might think. Many foster parents should read this book because the book is told from the perspective of a foster child, so many parents can learn what kind of thoughts might be going through a foster child’s head. I recommend this book for all genders. I think that if you like books that are sad and funny and partly adventurous, you would really like this book. Carley finds out so many new things about herself that she never knew before. This book is so inspiring and interesting. As a reader, I learned a lot about what others might be going through and how I might be able to help. Overall this book was a great book and I recommend this to all people.
Review by: Kim Cheng
by Jenny Han Year Published: 2015 Realistic Fiction
This book is a sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The main character, Lara Jean Covey, created a fake relationship with a boy named Peter Kavinsky in the first novel. Their relationship was false because they “dated each other” in order to get who they liked jealous. Eventually, they fell in love, and that is where this book starts off. As this story progressed, Lara Jean became jealous of Genevieve, Peter’s ex-girlfriend. But, another boy from her past came back into her life, which made her get confused about who she loved. These problems caused some unhealthy feelings shared between the two were fought out throughout the book.
I liked the first story better than this one because it had a more complex story line to keep up with, which made me think. This novel was very repetitive, so it felt like Han stretched out unimportant parts. For example, the story is told in a first person point of view, Lara Jean’s thoughts were on the page at all times. She says on what seems like every page that she is jealous of Genevieve. This is important information, but I don’t need to be reminded every five seconds. Even though this book was not amazing, if you read the first book, I definitely recommend the second. It is worth the read because it fills in some plot holes you may have been wondering about after completing the first.
This book does fall on the “girly side” of literature, but books don’t apply to a specific gender. The titles are very cheesy, but the writing isn’t, so don’t let the titles stop you from reading the books! If you’re looking for a dramatic romance and a quick read, I highly recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. You will not regret reading them.
by Ronald Smith Year Published: 2007 Realistic Fiction/Sports
Peak is a book about a young, talented climber, who is trying to become the youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. His name is Peak. Peak lost his mom when he was a very young boy. His dad is pushing him the most to climb Mount Everest. Both of his parents were climbers and that's where Peak acquired his love of climbing. On Mount Everest, Peak is accompanied by a couple sherpas, who play a large roll in Peak’s life on the mountain. In this book, Peak experiences many hardships, good times, bad times, fear, love, hate, selfishness, selflessness and the struggles of growing up. On Mount Everest, Peak matures and grows up faster than he ever has in his entire life. As he adapts to the mountain, he also adapts to real outside life. Peak changes and adapts so much throughout the book that he almost becomes a different person.
Review by: Jake Schneider
by Mike Lupica Year Published: 2013 Realistic Fiction
Imagine yourself being the son of the most famous football player in Granger, Texas. Well, than you probably just thought of yourself as Jake Cullen, son of Troy Cullen, and brother to Wyatt Cullen. Wyatt, having just lead the Granger Cowboys to the state championship the season before, Jake was in the shadow of his brother to try and become the next star quarterback for Granger. But Jake had competition. Casey Lindel, the other quarterback is waiting for his turn to shine and wants to have nothing to do with Jake. There is another problem too. There is a girl that Jake likes but is too afraid to go and talk to her. What is Jake to do? Will he succeed. Read this book and find out how Jake overcomes the fear of being in his brother's shadow. I thought this was a great book and I think you will like it too if you like sports. Mike Lupica has written over 12 books for middle schoolers, so if you do decide to read this, be sure to check out some of his other books as well.
Review by Ben Levine, 7th Grader at Wydown Middle School
by Ji-li Jiang Year Published: 1997 Autobiography
JI-Li a normal girl whose life seemed to be perfect; good grades, lots of friends and she was even elected as the red successor! But all of that turned upside down when a chinese Communist Leader Chairman Mao’s Cultural revolution had started. Now, because Ji-Li’s grandfather was a Landlord(which was bad) Ji-li’s life turned upside down. Her father was taken somewhere for being a rightist even if it was a rumor. Now Ji-Li and her family need to live in fear and face lots of humiliation, bullying and unfair consequences. Would Ji-Li Jiang give up? Will she ever forgive her grandfather? And will she ever find out what happened to her dad?
This book, is good for the middle school students because JI-LI has lot’s of problems similar to the middle school student’s. And a lot of times, there are going to be some parts where the reader can connect their life with her’s for example: JI-Li get’s bullied because her family has a bad reputation or when JI-LI almost loses connection with her family by trying to change her name.
I loved this book because the author showed us how terrifying life was back then. She also convinced me that the family is the most important thing and that they are going to be with me no matter what and I have to value it.
RED SUCCESSOR: a semiformal organization in elementary schools formed in imitation of the RED GUARDS.
RED GUARD: Member of a Chinese Communist youth movement in the late 1960s, committed to the militant support of Mao Zedong.
Review by Tahmina Merderbek Kyzy, 7th grader at Wydown Middle School
by Ruta Sepetys Year Published: 2016 Historical Fiction
Salt to the Sea written by Ruta Sepetys, was full of emotional, action-packed scenes that makes you just want to read more. It was set during World War II and the four main characters were born in different homelands and each one is hunted, and haunted, by tragedies, lies and war. All of them meet up and are on a boat heading away from the war, trying to complete all of their different missions. One is just trying to make it home but another one of them used to work for a liar, Dr. Lange, and is trying to revenge. One of them is one of the ship's sailors just trying to be noticed by his work, trying to get some sort of a metal. The last one is trying to get noticed by the character who saved her from getting killed by a soldier.
If you like seeing different characters perspectives, then this book is perfect for you!
Review by: Trace Carroll
by D.J. MacHale Year Published: 2014 Science Fiction
D.J. MacHale has created an intense setting in which four teens, Tucker, Tori, Olivia, and Kent, have escaped from their invaded island, only left to see that almost no one is left and the terrible damage on the mainland. A flying machine they have never seen before is following them and carries a weapon powerful enough to disintegrate entire buildings in a city. The teens go on a perilous journey through the country, searching for the answers to why the whole ordeal started in the first place, who was really behind the invasion of their island, and who was controlling the mysterious aircraft that were above them nearly every step of the way. Each character has their own strengths to bring to the group in order to survive what they think is a war. The four quickly realize they can’t trust anyone else they find - even their closest acquaintances. The characters weren’t all friends before, but were forced together through the situation they were thrown into. Join the adventure and find out who was behind the destruction. This book is a little sci-fi fiction mixed in with action and adventure. D. J. MacHale does an excellent job of developing characters and describing the setting of each location. The author uses many descriptive details and dialogue throughout. This book has a thrilling and exciting plot that is unexpected and surprising. Readers who enjoy science fiction and action/adventure will like this book as it includes an adventurous plot.
Reviewed by: Joey Sparks
by Chesley B Sullenberger Year Published: 2009 Historial Fiction
The biography Sully by Chesley B. Sullenberger is about the life of a U.S. Airways pilot that is forced to land his plane in the Hudson river after a bird strike at low altitude. You may know this as flight 1549. The book takes you into the life of the captain and shows you how he grew up in rural Texas and learned to fly. Not only do you learn about Sully’s life, but you learn about what happened in the wake of flight 1549 and how it affected him and his family.
When I first started to read Sully, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the book looked into the personal life of the captain leading up to, during, and after flight 1549. Before reading Sully I never liked to read biographies. I found that they were very slow and I could not focus on the reading. However, Sully kept me entertained with the action of flight 1549 and the events that went on in the cockpit. At the same time, I was able to learn so much about Sully and who he is as a father and pilot. If you are into either the airline industry or like to read biographies I would strongly recommend Sully. I hope you enjoy Sully as much as I did!
Reviewed by:Adam Schmidt
by Mark Haddon Year Published: 2003 Realistic Fiction
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was written by Mark Haddon and published in 2003. The main character of this book is named Christopher John Francis Boone and the book is written from his point of view. He is a 15-year-old boy that struggles with autism. He lives with his father in Europe. He experiences a lot of change throughout this book, his thoughts, personality, and actions all change.The book starts off with him finding a dead dog in his neighbor's yard. During a serious adventure, he figures out that his mom is still alive. People who enjoy an adventure and a unique book will definitely like this book. This book will make you want to read it nonstop.
Review by: Jadon Lin
by Dan Brown Year Published: 2003 Science Fiction
The Da Vinci Code is a fictional story based on real conspiracy theories surround religions, specifically concerning Christianity. These theories include the true nature of the holy grail, where it is located, Jesus’s divinity and his bloodline, Mary Magdalene, sacred feminism, Catholic groups, the Priory of Sion, and other secret societies. Only a handful of people in the world know the truth about any of these things. Those who know the truth are murdered in one night by a mentally, unsound Opus Dei member. The information is passed on through a series of encrypted codes and puzzles placed by a dying French curator with a fatal stomach wound. As events spiral out of control, a Harvard professor of religious symbology, Robert Langdon, who was supposed to meet the curator that night, was unintentionally framed. Fortunately, the curator's granddaughter, a cryptologist named Sophie Neveu is aware the professor’s innocence. She helps him escape from the French police and decode the secrets that her grandfather left for her and him. I enjoyed the way the author led the reader from code to code, each with an ingeniously hidden answer. While there were many slow paced moments that allowed the reader to stop and comprehend everything that was going on, there was also much action and ecstatic moments due to the police always on Robert’s and Sophie’s tail. Dan Brown’s writing was very detailed and covered many topics I found interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in religious conspiracies, cryptology, and/or adventure.
Review by:Gabriel Andolfatto
by Jeff Hirsch Year Published: 2013 Adventure
The United States is being quickly replaced by the Glorious Path, a militant group that already controls nearly half of the country. 16 year-old Callum Roe was captured by the Glorious path 6 years ago and offered the Choice, join, or die. Cal did not want to die, and so he joined. The story follows him, as he progresses through the ranks of the military, and makes new friends. Cal is never happy with The Glorious Path, and always wants to escape, but The Glorious Path is pulling Cal and his brother, James apart. Cal attempt to escape, and save his brother while at it. This book leaves you with many questions. Will he escape? Will he be able to save his brother? How well he escape? Will anyone help him escape?
Review by Koray Akduman, 7th Grader at Wydown Middle School
by Pittacus Lore Year Published: 2017 Science Fiction
This is definitely the book for young adult readers that like action packed, sci-fi novels that are about medium length (399 pages). The series has recurring themes of defying the odds, and writing your own destiny. Although, unlike the others in the seven book series, the Fate of Ten, the sixth book, starts out with with a tense, thrilling beginning, but then evens out with a stretched middle where the protagonists are doing seemingly uninteresting activities. Then towards the end, it starts to pick up pace again, and leaves you with a nice ending. In the first 10-15% of the book, one group of heroes is running around New York City for a few days with some action thrown in there. But then as it keeps going back and forth between the two groups in New York City and Mexico, the book becomes something that you have to make yourself read through. You know you have to get through it to get to the seventh book, and you don't even see the last part coming with an epic fight, and a shocking event that you never even thought could happen. It’s not personally my favorite, but it is still a must read for fans of the series.
Review by: Jackson Perlut
by Andy Weir Year Published: 2014 Science Fiction
Mark Watney is a man who gets trapped on Mars during a failed evacuation. He has to endure 400 Mars days until he can get rescued. He has to grow food on a planet where there is only 0.1% oxygen and no water. Thankfully he specialized in botany, so he can handle it. He uses his knowledge of science and his critical thinking skills to survive.
I admit I’m not the biggest reader. Usually I would rather do athletic activities in my free time instead of read. This book was different for me, when I was reading I really got attached. If you like survival or science books, this would be a great book for you. The reader gets to experience Mark Watney’s survival plan to escape Mars. It’s a really good book, and I hope whoever is reading this will give it a chance. You will be glad you did!
This book contains some adult language.
Review by Leo Singer, 8th grader at Wydown Middle School
by James Dashner Year Published: 2009 Science Fiction
The book, The Maze Runner is about a young teen boy along with a group of other people, who are stuck inside a square courtyard surrounded by four massive 200 feet tall walls of stone. These walls have gates that open up at certain times during the day. It would seem as if when the gates opened that you could just walk out and be free. But sadly for the main character, Thomas, and the rest of his group, that’s not the case. It’s what lies outside of the walls that is the problem. Outside of the walls is a massive maze for what seems to be never ending. All you really see from the ground is corridor after corridor. For years upon years people have come through the “black box” and have perished trying to get further in the progress of solving the maze and escaping. But when Thomas comes through the black box and is new to the rest of the people, things start to get weird. Things that never had happened before through the long history of the tiny society begin to occur. Thomas has a weird feeling that he must be a runner. He isn’t sure why he feels so strongly about this. Later, Thomas becomes a “runner”, someone that runs out through the Maze and discovers more of the maze”. As you read along, you discover the crazy story of Thomas and the society he lives with, who try to escape from the mysterious world they live in. This book really puts you in the place of Thomas and you pretty much can’t stop reading it. The book keeps you always wanting for more. That’s mainly why I liked the book so much.
Review by: Asher Gunn
by Sue Monk Kidd Year Published: 2001 Realistic Fiction
The Secret Life of Bees is a beautiful book about understanding others, as you learn to understand yourself. It’s the perfect novel for teen girls who want a book you just won’t be able to put down. I especially liked it because, even though it is about important issues such as abuse, racism and moral conflict, the book isn’t so heavy you struggle to read it. It has elements of romance, and even humor. Lilly starts off with an arrogant mindset, yet terrified of her abusive father, and wallowing in the guilt of accidentally murdering her mother. As new characters are introduced, she learns that to learn from the past, you don’t have to carry its shame every step of the way.
Review by: Josie Gillette
by Sue Monk Kidd Year Published: 2001 Realistic Fiction
Many children, at least once, think of running away from their homes. They probably think not for a long time, just until their parent calls them to come back inside. Also, it's probably not for that good of a reason, like their dad didn't make grilled cheese for dinner, or their math teacher gave them a whole packet to do in one night of homework. Well, in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, a little girl does run away, and not only does she do it, but she does it with an adult that is not her legal parent. Lily Owens, the main character, is only cared for by her abusive father, T. Ray, who owns a peach farm and doesn't really care for her needs. Ever since Lily's mother, Deborah, died when she was little, they've had a housekeeper, Rosaleen. Rosaleen is black, while Lily's family is white. The setting is Sylvan, South Carolina in 1950, and race is a common subject in Sylvan’s conversations. One day, however, while Rosaleen takes Lily with her to register to vote, Rosaleen gets into some big trouble. Instead of dealing with the town and its government’s wrath, the two decide to run away and found out the truth about Deborah's whereabouts in a town written on a single picture that belonged to her.
Review by: Lulu Hawley
by Elisabeth Tova Bailey Year Published: 2010 Realistic Fiction
A woman plagued with a disease is bedridden. Simply rolling over makes her exhausted. When a friend visits, she brings a wild snail in from the woods outside. The woman takes interest in the snail, watching it travel around her flower pot. It is moved to a terrarium, to simulate its natural environment. Her interest in the snail grows, researching about it. This is a beautiful book with wonderful writing. The story, while not as exciting as others, is worth the read for the beauty.
Review by: Elise Friesen
by Cornelia Funke Year Published: 2000 Fantasy
This story is an adventure that focuses on two brothers who have run away from home and found shelter in an old theater with a group of other kids like them in Venice. Their gang survives on the streets by pick-pocketing tourists and stealing valuable items for selling. Scipio, also known as the Thief Lord, was the one in the group to steal items from houses. One day, the Thief Lord was offered a job to steal an item for a large amount of money. But what the gang didn’t know was that the item they were supposed to steal would change their lives. Soon, friendships were tested, secrets were revealed, and problems emerge for the gang. Cornelia Funke not only adds magic into the book, but she paints a picture of it too. Her beautifully written descriptions about the magic that is hidden in Venice, Italy is what makes this book strong. The statues that are lifelike, the way buildings lit the city at night, and the snow that falls to the ground. This book is most definitely for readers who would enjoy the descriptive and compelling tale of kid thieves on a magical adventure.
Review by: Whitney Le
by Susin Nielsen Year Published: 2015 Realistic Fiction
Stewart is a thirteen year old boy that does great in school, but is very socially awkward. Ashley is a very popular fourteen-year-old girl, whose grades stink. They have little in common, except one thing. Each of them only has one parent. It is decided that they should move in and function as one family, to the excitement of Stewart and the dismay of Ashley. I think the book was really strong in its realism, and creating a detailed picture of what is going on in your head. This book is mostly meant for a teen audience because it is less explicit and does not have some of the plot complexity that can be present in adult novels, but I think adults could still enjoy it.
Review by:Mason Petrofsky
by Gayle Forman Year Published: 2011 Realistic Fiction
Where She Went is the second book in the If I Stay duo. Mia Hall has walked out of Adam’s life 3 years before with no warning or justification. Mia is a soaring star at Juilliard, while Adam is a rising rock star. Adam is starting to feel the pressure from everyone. He is overwhelmed by his popularity that he needs a break from it all. Now when an opportunity strikes to meet again, Adam is reluctant of opening old wounds, while Mia is all for it. This book is inspiring to read. It tells a story of rekindled love and redemption. Readers might like this book because it is not overdone. It is a relatively short book that has a sweet story. Where She Went has reopened hearts that can make you feel the character’s emotions through their eyes. Readers who like intense emotions will find this book pleasing. Gayle Forman’s If I Stay was so heartbreaking and I wasn’t sure if she could match the intensity and the powerful story line in the second book, Where She Went, but she did. She captured a perfect story of two people that were coming to terms with losing others, and reopening their hearts to one another.
Review by: Emily Bruce
by Ryan Graudin Year Published: 2015 Historical Fiction
We are not all the same, especially Yael. Yael is a former death camp prisoner. She escaped but not before they experimented on her. She joined the resistance only a couple weeks after she escaped. The resistance gives Yael one mission: Win the race and kill Hitler. How is she going to do this? All she has to do is kill, shapeshift, cheat, and sabotage.
Wolf by Wolf is set around 1955. The setting is all across Europe and Asia. The book is written as though Germany actually won World War II and Japan and Germany are thriving post-war allies. The constant action in this book made me want to keep reading it. I just couldn’t put it down! Wolf by Wolf constantly keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
Review by Andrew Matheny, 8th grader at Wydown Middle School
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