Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: Tradition

Tradition Tradition by Brendan Kiely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jules has attended Fullbrook Prep since she was a freshman. She knows first-hand the expectations and chains that hold her in "her place" and she just can't wait to get away from this place and the "good old boy" codes that permeate it.

Jamie is a scholarship kid and this is his last chance, so he better not blow it. His past holds secrets, but his natural hockey talent might be his ticket out if he can figure out how to navigate this new world he's suddenly been thrown in to.

Jules and Jamie something in each other, and their close but small circle of friends see it too. They know they can't keep quiet about the violent and demeaning "traditions" that have permeated this institution for far too long.

Tradition is a timely and powerful story that illustrates how the word "no" holds little power in worlds where privilege and tradition reign. It's a story of consent and empowerment that needs to be told.

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sasha - an agender teen with Asperberger's Syndrome, from a middle class family, and has a tight knit group of friends from their small private school

Richard - a troubled teen who's goofy and impressionable, has first-hand experience with the juvenile justice system, from an economically disadvantaged community, and is searching for support at his large public school.

The 57 Bus is a powerful story of love, acceptance, identity, violence, juvenile incarceration, and pain. It's an emotional story told through simple words. When Sasha's and Richard's lives intersected one average afternoon as they rode the bus home from their respective high schools in Oakland, California, no one knew just how life-changing the experience would be for them, their friends and families, and for the public that rallied to support both the victim and perpetrator. Slater's account draws from the lives of both of these teens to uncover the harsh realities faced as they grow up in one community but with life experiences that are vastly different.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cora's life as a slave on the Randall plantation is filled with violence and fear. She is beaten, raped, and worked to exhaustion on a regular basis. Yet when she and Caesar, a fellow slave, decide to run, their journey north takes turns that are not expected. They are ferried from terminal to terminal via the Underground Railroad (literally on train cars) to find that each state has its own methods of dealing with them.

I wanted to love this book. Its narrative was disjointed - but I attributed this to the slave experience. But I just couldn't accept the alternate histories and liberties taken with other historical experiences from different eras. Reading Terry Gross' interview with the author after completing the book did help (a bit), but this one was truly all hype.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: The Poet X

The Poet X The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I simply couldn't stop reading this book - Acevedo's words are powerful, lyrical, and unputdownable!

Xiomara tells her story of identity, family, faith, and love in a series of poems that roll from the pages. Readers will cheer for the Poet X as a modern-day heroine.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope

I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope by Chessy Prout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chessy is a survivor of a sexual assault that happened when she was a 15-year-old student at a prestigious boarding school. Her story is powerful and heartbreaking, and all too real for so many girls and women.

Hers is more than a story of sexual assault. It is a glimpse into the horrors that victims and their families and friends face in the aftermath of reporting such crimes. It is an exploration of the organizational structures that turn a blind eye to the rape culture that permeates so many academic (and business) environments. It is a movement to support victims/survivors of assault and educate the world about what consent really means.

Not all readers will relate to Chessy's privileged upbringing, but they should come to understand to rape and sexual assault are not socioeconomic, racial, or even gender-specific crimes. They are crimes against humans - siblings, children, parents, friends, family members, and strangers.

Regardless of our age, gender, or upbringing, we should all read, share, and talk about Chessy's story. #IHavetheRightTo

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Riley Cavanaugh is smart, witty, and troubled. With a father who is a congressman running for re-election and a recent transfer from a Catholic school to a large public school, Riley has a lot going on in life, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Riley is genderfluid - some days identifying as female and others as male, but the only person who knows this truth is Riley's therapist. Juggling this secret takes its toll, but Riley's recent attempts to anonymously blog the truth are a welcome distraction until things get out of hand. When a classmate finds out Riley's true identity, the already fragile facade of Riley's life reaches a breaking point.

A welcome addition to the lgbtq+ genre!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: The Nix

The Nix The Nix by Nathan Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How does one summarize "The Nix" in a short paragraph? I don't know that it's possible. Hill's tale is about so many things: politics, online gaming, relationships, social media, resistance...and the list goes on. Ultimately, Samuel Andresen-Anderson is the heart of this epic story. Samuel, a washed-up writer and disgruntled college professor, finds his life turned upside down when his mother, who walked out of his life twenty years earlier, becomes a viral news sensation.

Memories, flashbacks, and a zany cast of secondary characters proceed to unearth a past that has haunted Samuel for decades.

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