Categories

Instructions for a Broken Heart 

by Kim Culbertson

Instructions coverThis book is about how a performing arts high school student named Jessa weaves her way through a trip to Italy with some unsavory people, unexpected interfering from an America-based friend, and a lot on her mind.

Instructions for a Broken Heart is quite the page turner, because it really signifies how high school students sometimes get caught up in everything around them, yet miss what's right in front of them. Also, aside from that; it's very realistic.

If you enjoy stories with twists and the occasional bit of revenge, I'd definitely recommend it. People who like to explore situations and experiences through books would find a great plot here in Instructions for a Broken Heart.

Tabitha, 14

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That Wedding 

by Jillian Dodd
07/03/2012 Categories: funny realistic fiction romance

Image resultThat Wedding is the sequel to That Boy and was honestly just as fun to read! I absolutely loved reading about JJ plan her dream wedding and have a fun time! She did go through some hard times but just as before her best friend helped her through!

This book was so good about really explaining the wedding planning with precise detail so everyone would know what everything was!

I would most definitely recommend this book to others because, if you read the That Boy, you are going to want to know how her wedding turns out! I hope that Mrs. Dodd will come out with a third book!

Chanel, 13

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That Boy 

by Jillian Dodd

Image result for that boyThat Boy follows the life of JJ Reynolds and her relationship (BFFs) with Phillip and Danny. One of them will kiss her, one will  make-out with her, one will ask her to prom, and eventually, one will ask her to marry him! 

I loved this book! It's is a fun and lively story that had me hooked from the first page! I read it in one day, and the sequel had the same affect on me!

I would definitely recommend this book to others who love romance as much as I do! It was a very fun book, and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do!

Chanel, 13

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If I Grow Up 

by Todd Strasser
06/18/2012 Categories: gangs realistic fiction suspense

If I Grow Up coverTo children everywhere, the question of what they want to do with their lives is always when I grow up, but with DeShawn and the other children from the gang-run projects, it is a question of IF I grow up. If I Grow Up explores the life of DeShawn, a young boy who was raised and lived in the Projects, a run-down part of town and home to the Disciples, a gang. DeShawn is a young, bright boy and everyone sees him as the type to grow up and make something of himself and DeShawn promised himself that he would never become one of the gangbangers and get involved in the mess of the projects. Yet, under harsh conditions and with want of money in order to feed his family, the gangs are his only answer. Joining the Disciples and learning the ropes, DeShawn's life slowly goes downhill.

If I Grow Up is a book that will leave all readers speechless and wondering. It opens the readers' eyes and shows them what is going on in the dark side of town and gives the story of those who live with broken families in broken towns. Yet, it does more than just make the reader hope for change; it forces the reader to want to get up and do whatever is humanly possible to help those that need it, to help save innocent children before they turn to the dark path.

I would beyond a doubt recommend this book to everyone and anyone who wants to make a change. Those of you who want to see how the world really works and what goes on in the broken parts of town, what forces innocent kids join gangs and go to jail, will love this book. Trust me, it will get you thinking not only about what is going on, but about what you can do to help.

Jana, 16

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A Separate Peace 

by John Knowles

A Separate Peace is a novel that takes place during WWII, and talks about two best friends. Finny and Gene seem to be unlikely friends, because Finny is really into sports and having fun, while Gene focuses on his studies and being number one in his class. Gene becomes extremely jealous of Finny' s popularity, and becomes paranoid that Finny doesn't want Gene to be number one in the class. Gene's jealousy controls him and gets the better of him and starts the main conflict in this novel.

This book teaches the life lessons of friendship and loyalty. A true friend should not feel jealous and want to bring down a friend, but should be happy and support his or her friend. A true friend will acknowledge and accept their wrong doings toward their friend, and finally his or her friend will accept the apology. Another life lesson I learned was that you should always think before acting because you might regret it until your death.

This book is more than two covers filled with printed pages. The words and story itself come to life with each turned page. The characters become a friend you yourself will not want to say good bye to. The whole book was amazing, because the book starts out as a comedy but becomes and ends as a tragedy. If you are a strong reader and can withstand a sad ending like this one, I strongly recommend this book. A Separate Peace is more than a book , it's a soul that keeps living.

Lauren, 16

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Love & Leftovers 

by Sarah Tregay

Love and Leftovers coverThis book was about a teenage girl named Marcie who moved for a brief period of time to New Hampshire. She felt lonely and hooked up with a boy from her new school and did not tell her boyfriend back at home.

I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to relate to, fun to read, and had a good storyline.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. People who like realistic fiction, love stories, and novels written in verse would love this book.

Jennifer, 16

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The Color Purple 

by Alice Walker

The Color Purple might be a violent and challenging book; however, it has a very rich and deep meaning. Celie has become one of my favorite woman characters because of all she has endured in her life. Having to suffer seeing her two children taken from her at a young age and seen as subordinates, Celie still has hope in God. Woman are just as strong as men.

This book is an inspiration to a lot of woman who are suppressed by men. Celie is one of those characters you get very close and by the end of the book I was wishing it wouldn't end. Celie assumes her sister is dead after not hearing from her for years. The Color Purple has many twists and a very shocking ending.

I would recommend this book to older readers who want a challenge - it's an amazing book but is very explicit and has a lot of violent scenes. This book also has many racial and gender arguments and ventures into an era when women didn't wear pants and were looked upon as a man's property. The tile can be seen as a symbol throughout the story and is told like if you were reading through an old journal. Remember the reason this book is a challenge is because the speaker, Celie was learning how to write.

Lauren, 16

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 

by Jonathan Safran Foer
06/05/2012 Categories: 9/11 family drama realistic fiction

Oskar is a nine year old boy who has lost his father in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He "invents" things in his mind to cope with living with a secret he keeps from everyone. He finds a key in his father's room, and that leads to an adventure filled with meeting new people to find out more.

This book is definitely one of my favorites, because the way Oskar thinks is unlike anyone I've ever read of, but it gets sort of confusing because it tells from the point of view of several people.

I would recommend this book for everyone because it is just that good!

Alexis, 15

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White Oleander 

by Janet Fitch

White Oleander coverThis book takes the reader through the life of a teenage girl whose mother goes to prison for killing her ex-boyfriend. She is then sent to several foster homes, where she learns more about herself. 

White Oleander is an interesting book because it really brought into perspective that there are people living in these types of situations in the world.

I would recommend this book to high school age and older due to the mature content. There is also a movie with the same name based on the book!

Alexis, 15

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Night of Many Dreams 

by Gail Tsukiyama
02/29/2012 Categories: holocaust realistic fiction wwII

Image result for night of many dreamsNight of Many Dreams is centered around the lives of Hong Kong's socially elite Lew family. The novel focuses on the two daughters of the Lew family, Emma and Joan. We follow them as they evacuate Hong Kong in the face of a Japanese invasion. No matter the situation the Lew family always endures together.

I really liked this book because it's different than other novels about socialites. The women of the Lew family weren't just pretty, rich girls that got whatever they wanted. They had emotional depth, and were therefore more realistic.

I would recommend this book to others who enjoy historical fiction, particularly focusing on WWII. I also think that people who enjoy books focused on the bonds of a family would enjoy this, but I do warn that this book isn't sappy or sweet at all. It's more about tragedy and hardship, and the Lew family's endurance in the face of those obstacles. 

Gillyn, 15

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Sarah's Key 

by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Jewish Starzynski family had their lives turned upside down when they were taken away by French police in the long forgotten Vel d'Hiv' roundup that took place in Paris, France during WWII. Their daughter, Sarah, hides her 4-year old brother Michel in a secret cabinet, believing that she'll be able to return and find him. Sarah's hopes are in vain when she is torn away from her parents and sent to a concentration camp. A journalist by the name of Julia Jarmond works to uncover Sarah's story and remind others of the lives lost in the Vel d'Hiv'.

Sarah's Key was one of those books that I couldn't put down. It goes back and forth between Sarah's and Julia's points of view, slowly bringing their fates together.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers who are interested WWII stories and enjoyed The Diary of Anne Frank and David Faber's Because of Romek

Gillyn, 15

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For One More Day 

by Mitch Albom

For One More Day coverCharlie Benetto is a shadow of his once successful baseball star self. Yet even when everyone else turns their backs, there is still one person there for him; his mother.

For One More Day circles around Benetto's constant struggle to change his life and is a great book because we can relate Benetto's problems and regrets to our own; particularly his inability to thank his mother for all the good she's done for him. It really makes the reader think of how their own parents sacrifice so much for them. 

If you enjoy those a heartfelt family themed book you will definitely enjoy For One More Day by Mitch Albom.

Gillyn, 15

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Mozart Season 

by Virginia Euwer Wolff
12/05/2011 Categories: music realistic fiction

Mozart Season coverAllegra Shapiro is a twelve-year-old girl who is the youngest contestant in the Ernest Bloch Young Musicians' Competition. As she meets new people and struggles with her persistence for the violin and her concerto, she discovers a new meaning to herself and her background. 

I enjoyed the book's musical themes, which a lot of books rarely describe accurately. Some parts of the book were a little hasty and seemed to pop out of nowhere, but overall it was an enjoyable, easy-read book. 

This would be a great read for 8th graders and up, to anyone who likes reading about music, or a book about everyday life without the teen drama. :)

Erica, 16

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Fat Cat 

by Robin Brande
12/05/2011 Categories: identity realistic fiction

Fat Cat coverCat is a girl struggling with her weight as well as identity issues--one of which includes her long-broken friendship with smart, funny, rival/ex-best friend Matt. Her life only gets worse when she gets assigned a crazy school project, but she decides to put a spin on it by, essentially, going on a diet and becoming the girl she wants to be. 

I feel like it's supposed to be an uplifting story for girls with weight issues, and don't get me wrong: it is, and it's a great, light easy teen read, but at the same time I wonder about the image it portrays to the readers. Can girls only become accepted and loved if they're skinny and "hot"? I think that this is one of the flaws of the book, but it's overall a so-so read. 

I would recommend this book, just because it IS funny and enjoyable. Maybe if you're struggling with the same issues as Cat, you might relate to it, you might not, but generally teen girls from the age of 13-16 would enjoy this.

Erica, 16

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The Truth About Forever 

by Sarah Dessen
11/29/2011 Categories: death family drama realistic fiction romance

The Truth About Forever is about Macey Queen. Her father just passed away, and she has nothing to look forward to during the summer while her boyfriend is away and her mother painfully chooses to not acknowledge the death. It all changes when she joins the Wish catering crew and she finally learns to take risks and have fun.

I loved this book! It's one of my all-time favorite books! Macey finally learns to come out of her shell and experience life.

I would recommend this book to others if you have read any of Sarah Dessen's other books, and if you hadn't this would be a good book to start.

Audrey, 14

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