The Secret Language of Sisters – Review by Mia Brown

0Mia is kind and funny and perceptive. She’s in my one of my biggest class of the day and still finds positive ways to stand out, making insightful comments and adding to the learning. Great to have her her to share her thoughts on a book she loves!

 

The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice51GoUvG1CeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Teenage Roo (Ruth) McCabe has everything; a great boyfriend, a loyal sister, and a great photography skills, but when Roo answers a text from her sister Tilly while she is driving, her whole world turns upside down as she hits a dog which sends her car flying into a marsh. She wakes up in a hospital bed not able to move or talk, but she can see and hear everything and everyone around her.  Only Tilly, Roo’s best friend and sister, and Newton, Roo’s boyfriend can solve the mystery of what is happening to her.

The Secret Language of Sisters is a beautiful novel with awesome characters that you just have to love. The book sucks you into the story and you won’t want to put it down. Not only is it a great book, but it teaches you the importance of not texting and driving. I recommend this book for people ages 11 and up. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you enjoy the book!

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Review by George Chang AND Lillian Dow Paterson

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This week we have the SAME book independently reviewed by TWO different students. The book was recently made into a movie called Love, Simon, which I saw with my daughter and her friend, and we all loved it. It’s  everything I loved about 80s teen movies with more diversity/true representation of the world they’re growing up in (and none of the creepily questionable depictions of women, which I didn’t notice as a teen). Great acting, great writing, great message, and now I need to check out the book!

Anyhow, the two students writing here today are George and Lillian. Lillian is a returning reviewer (her last one was for Every Last Word), and she’s still great fun and super energetic. George is new to this book review party, and he is a kind, thoughtful, determined guy with a smile that lights up a room. As we fly through the last quarter of the school year, I’m pondering how much I’ll miss then and their classmates come summer.

Everyone deserves a love story.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. -Amazon

George writes: When you read Becky Albertalli Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, there will certainly be tears, laughter, and, most importantly, realness. Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is still ‘in the closet’, is just trying to define himself, and trying to love himself for who he really is, while life just keeps on throwing obstacles in his way. How the book depicts Simon as just a normal high-schooler going through life, makes me so happy. Most times, books with a LBGTQ+ protagonist goes out of the way to center the plot about the difficulties about coming out, and coming to terms about your sexuality, but not this one. It’s a genuinely heart-warming novel, a simple and sweet romance, one that makes you smile when you think of it, one that makes you feel so happy, as if you just ate a rainbow and there’s now flowers growing within your bones. The book really stands for the rights in the community, firmly stating that only you can come out, on your own accords, and that in the end, being gay really isn’t that special. Simon asks, “Why is straight the default?” It’s so sad that even in 2018, people are still homophobic and acts viciously cruel towards gay people. Everybody, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever; this novel is truly a must-read, one that will make you think about it months after you finished it.

 

Lillian writes: Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda is a book by Becky Albertalli. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about a “Not so openly gay” teenager Simon. This is the one secret that Simon is hiding from everyone, his friends, and his family… except for one person, “Blue”, the one person who Simon trusts with everything, his sexuality, his life, and his thoughts. But… one day . . .  [note from M. Ray – I cut spoilers] Now, what will happen next in this story? Find out by reading this amazing book by Becky Albertalli. This is in my top five favorite books, and it can easily become yours, for this book is a work of art. Out of ten (one being AWFUL and ten being BEST BOOK EVER), I would rate this a 9, it’s an inspiring, funny, heartfelt book that definitely needs to go on your reading list. I definitely recommend this book to kids ages 10 and up.

Wonder – Review by Samantha Wu

-2What one notices first about Samantha is her smile. She always smiles! Having her in my final class of the day is truly energizing. Whether talking about books or serious moments in history, she is insightful and thrives on sharing her words on paper and aloud. A terrific kid recommending a terrific book – a book I resisted reading for no good reason but loved once I did.
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August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, a #1 New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.  – Amazon

 

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio is a deep, funny, and sometimes sad story that really makes you think.Wonder_Cover_Art It is a story about trying to fit in when people try to single you out, self acceptance, bullying, friendship, and forgiving. The protagonist, August, was born with what he calls “mandibulofacial dysostosis”- a facial deformity. He has been kept out of school for his entire life- until 5th grade when his parents decide it is time to put him out into the real world. He is bullied and followed everywhere by stares, and when he thinks that he is finally making friends, he overhears a conversation that he is not supposed to hear, and is crushed. School turns his life upside down, and flips it inside out. Over ups and downs, this is a story full of resilience and friendship- told by August, his friends, and his family, as they realize that “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind”. It is wonderfully written, and deserves 5 stars.

“I think that there should be a rule that everybody in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives… since we all overcometh the world”. – R.J. Palacio

Wonder definitely deserves a standing ovation.

 

Deep Blue – Review by Rifka

-1Rifka is funny, unique, and spirited, as I hope you can tell by the picture she decided to use for this post. She makes me laugh all the time, and she loves to talk as much as I do (and that’s saying something!). She makes me think and she brings up really good points that cause me to alter or add to my lessons, like when she pointed out that we hadn’t learned about women of the Civil Rights Movement, so we did. The book she picked is rather beloved by the kids in my class, so I think I need to check it out myself. 

 

Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly-2

“When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin’s arrow poisons Sera’s mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.” – The Book Smugglers

Deep Blue is not your average mermaid book and nor is Serafina your average mermaid. This book is for people who like fantasy and mermaids but are tired of the “brave prince saves princess, happy ending” cliche, as well as clueless and shallow mermaids. Sera and her friends have amazing powers that they must use to save the oceans from a terrible power that threatens. I like how each mermaid has a different character and weakness. Sera is royal and strong but has moments of uncertainty and is sometimes impulsive. Neela is first portrayed as shallow and frilly, but she can think fast and follows her dream, designing, even though it goes against the wishes of her family. Deep Blue is a moving and entertaining book, that will keep you hooked. The second one, Rogue Wave, has just come out and I just cannot wait for the third, Dark Tide!

Picture Perfect – Review by Julia A.

attachmentJulia A. is just a pleasant kid to be around. You might think that’s not the biggest of compliments, but in a middle school, that’s a huge deal. Julia is kind and thoughtful, and  funny. She has great ideas and makes strong connections in our literature class. The picture she chose for herself is pretty fitting, too, since she’s caring and protective of her friends. All that and she can write! I’m so glad she wanted to share this book review with the world.

 

Picture Perfect, by Elaine Marie Alphin

754348Picture Perfect depicts Ian, a 15-year-old, photography-loving boy, who tries to discover the truth behind the disappearance of his best friend, Teddy. While investigating Teddy’s disappearance, Ian begins to act strangely. He wonders about his role in the mystery and who he can trust to help him. Through his journey to find Teddy, Ian learns of secrets that change how he sees those closest to him. He discovers the pieces of the puzzle that have made up his life.

Picture Perfect is a phenomenal book; I have never read anything as intriguing and exciting. It is a story in which something is always going on. Sometimes the conflict is internal, like when Ian debates whether or not to confide in a counselor about the confusion going on in his life. Other times the conflict is external, like when the sheriff accuses Ian of withholding evidence that may be important in their efforts to find Teddy. Author Elaine Marie Alphin develops all of Ian’s conflicts by creating a compelling plot. Ian is trying to solve many small mysteries and piece them together to get the big picture. He must figure out why his best friend has disappeared and why he has mysterious gaps in his memory. He must also find out why his dad, the principal, seems to be a completely different person at school than he is at home. His dad compliments Ian on fabulous work one moment, but yells at him and locks him in the closet he next. Alphin also creates intrigue by following Ian during a time when he has many clashing thoughts and ideas. Ian is constantly arguing with himself about how to fix his problems. He wonders if he should rely on the sheriff and others to find Teddy or if he should venture out and find Teddy himself. He wonders if he should talk to someone about his dad’s changing personalities or if he should keep silent to avoid his dad’s wrath. I would recommend Picture Perfect to anyone who likes a good mystery, in which you can figure out what is going on along with the main character. Alphin drops small, subtle clues regarding the solutions to Ian’s problems, but doesn’t make anything too obvious. Picture Perfect is a beautifully written book, one that will have you turning pages until you learn how everything ties together.