Thursday, August 1, 2019

Review: With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emoni's story will make you cry, smile, and laugh. This is one girl who truly has a lot going on in her life but who tackles each and every day with style! With graduation approaching, a toddler to care for, her abuela trying to make ends meet, a father who visits once a year, a bff who is there no matter what, a potential budding romance, and her dream of sharing her love of food and cooking with the world, how can anything go wrong?

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Review: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dear Evan Hansen,
Today is going to be a good day, and here's why...

What starts out as an "assignment" from his therapist turns Evan's life upside-down in ways he can never imagine. Evan's story is one about isolation, mental illness, and growing up in a digital age where talking to others' face-to-face is not necessarily a part of many people's lives. Filled with heartbreaking truth, wit, and honesty, Emmich paints a picture that could be about many of today's teens (and adults too!).

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Review: Internment

Internment Internment by Samira Ahmed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A powerful and timely look at the rampant hate that is infiltrating our country. Internment is about isolating in order to overpower, but Ahmed shows how it can do quite the opposite.

* Be sure to read the author's note

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Review: Beartown

Beartown Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Backman's Beartown tells a story of community above all else. Yes, Beartown is a hockeytown, but it's so much more than the sport that has defined it for decades. Each resident has a story, many of which have been hidden from their friends, neighbors, and even themselves.

Another great read from a favorite author.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ward's lyrical novel chronicles multiple generations of one family through its highs and lows. Told primarily through the voices of thirteen-year-old Jojo and his mother, Leonie, their story is filled with hope and heartbreak.

Jojo is on the cusp of manhood, and in looking at the male figures in his life, he is confused about what comes next. His black grandfather, Pop, is his stability in life. While his absent white father, Michael, has spent the last few years in prison and even before that was more focused on himself and Jojo's mother Leonie.

Leonie, who is so focused on her own problems that her children are secondary to most of her decisions, is in continual turmoil. As a black woman involved with a white man in the deep south, she knows life will never be easy. Drugs are often her escape, but also her torment, as when she's high she is often visited by the ghost of her dead brother.

When the family makes the trip to Parchman prison to pick up Michael, conflicts, past and present, arise to force each of them to face a truth. For Jojo - it's the truth of the violence of the past and just how far love will push a person. Leonie's truth is in knowing that she's failed her children, and the legacy that her dying mother has tried to pass on to her.

This is a powerful and difficult read that will leave readers exhausted from the journey.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Blended

Blended Blended by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mom's week / Dad's week
Izzy / Isabella
Mixed / Black

11 year old Isabella has to switch homes (and identities) every week as she goes back and forth between her divorced parents' homes. She makes it work, they love here deeply, and so do each of their new partners, but as Isabella becomes more aware of the world around her, she sees that being blended isn't as simple as she once thought. Life is just different when she's with her white mom versus when she's with her black dad. Sometimes it feels like she's being torn in half, but when a catastrophic event happens, she soon realizes that blended doesn't have to mean divided.

Draper deals with mature and complicated themes through the innocent eyes of a young girl. A great way to launch some difficult conversations.

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