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The Weight of Water 

by Anita Shreve
12/07/2017 Categories: death horror murder older teens

This book took place during the year 1873. Two women lived on the Isles of Shoals, a group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire. One of the women was brutally murdered. The other, survive.

It’s a good book because it took place during the 1873 so it’s a different type of book from ones that i would normally pick up. It’s like a journey that takes you to the farthest extremes of emotion.

I would recommend this book to people that like to read action books with horrific consequences.

Yessica, 16

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How Dare The Sun Rise 

by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
11/15/2017 Categories: inspirational non-fiction older teens war

This book is a war memoir of Sandra Uwiringiyimana. It describes the vivid memories that Sandra endured in Africa. War was raging, and people died along with it. Sandra's story is sure to horrify. Horrify you in the means of presenting to you a different point of view as the victim of war, and to explain what it is like not having the rights we have in the U.S.

It was really good. Some parts were very hard to read through(well, it is a war memoir) because I am reading about someone's real life. It was definitely interesting because I learn what it is like outside of the United States. I think everyone has the potential to learn a different point of view, but only a few try.

Like I said in the earlier paragraph, I think everyone should read this book, and I hope many do. This is a story of people who are not really known, who rise up to become a national beacon of hope.

Priscilla, 12

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A Long Way Gone 

by Ishmael Beah
10/25/2017 Categories: non-fiction older teens true stories war

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a very stirring autobiography about Ishmael Beah and his journey to becoming a boy soldier and how he recovers from it. Beah takes the reader through his painful journey of loss and pain, but also a journey of discovery and growing up. Beah takes the reader deep into his thoughts and heart, describing the devastating disappointment and pain of his family's death, the hatred that fueled his drive in being a boy soldier in the Sierra Leone civil war, and finally how he reconciles with his past and how he finally regains his childhood and humanity. 

This novel was very good because Beah is very honest about his experiences and pain. It's interesting to read about how he learned to cope with the memories of his painful past and losses. But it's also interesting to see him grow and recover from his past.

I would recommend this book to all people. It's a good book about culture, war around the world, recovery from grief, and the loss of childhood. It also questions the role of the idea of 'Humanity' and what happens to people who have lost it.

Keila, 14

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The Poisonwood Bible 

by Barbara Kingsolver

Nathan Price, an arrogant Baptist missionary, settles his wife and four daughters in a Congolese village determined to spread the word of God. During a time of tumultuous politics, racism, and Congolese independence, Nathan forces the family to stay, despite the risk of increasing danger. The family endures life-altering hardship and battles with feelings of guilt, grief and loneliness. The events that take place during their time in the Congo will haunt them for years to come.

I loved this book. It was definitely one of the best books I've read because of its depiction of historical events, racism, and portrayal of real, raw emotion.

I would recommend this book to others because of its dynamic plot line, important message, and its awesome portrayal of life in the Congo. If you like historical fiction and stories with a powerful message, The Poisonwood Bible would be the perfect book for you.

Bethany, 15

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Wintergirls 

by Laurie Halse Anderson
09/28/2017 Categories: death older teens realistic fiction

Lia's friend died of anorexia and she had a difficult time with accepting her life without her best friend. Lia later on, try's to move on with her life, but she feels like the more days past, the more she feels like life woun't be the same without her.

This book was a good book because this it is similar to other teenagers in life. A lot of people suffer from anorexia and very little survive.

I would recommend this book for teenagers ages 14 and up. It’s a really good book to learn life lessons from. 

Yessica, 15

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The Overachievers: The Secret Life of Driven Kids 

by Alexandra Robbins

Image result for The Overachievers: The Secret Life of Driven KidsThis book is a thrilling non-fictional piece that highlights the lives of nine upperclassmen at Walt Whitman High School. We journey with these students through the stress of their hectic academic schedules, their equally ambitious parents, and their internal struggles. The college admissions process is always present, and it makes you feel just as trapped as the students that go through it. See what it is like to be the Superstar, the Perfectionist, the Workhorse, the Teacher's Pet, the Slacker, the Meathead, the Flirt, the Popular Girl, and the Stealth Overachiever as they give us a glimpse of their overachieving lives.

This book is very interesting because it gives the reader a behind-the-scenes perspective on the overachieving culture that many high school students across America are a part of today. I like the fact that instead of seeing this world from one perspective, you get perspective from nine different people that are well-trained in the field.

Every high school student should pick up this book at some point, as well as parents, counselors, high schools, and colleges. If you are involved in any educational environment at all, or even if you just like to read for pleasure, this book is for you.

Anna, 14

Rating: 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

by Mark Haddon
08/23/2017 Categories: mystery older teens

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the narrator is a young boy named Christopher Boone who has an unspecified mental condition where he lacks social skills. When Christopher discovers his neighbor's dog murdered with a pitchfork, he tries to find the person responsible.

In the book, there were parts that made me feel frustrated because he didn't understand the gravity of the situations that he was placed in. His character was very hard to sympathize with because of his inability to understand human emotions. That's why in many cases throughout the book, Christopher was rather hurtful to the people around him, and maybe even selfish. Despite Christopher's disability, he was really passionate about mathematics. I really liked that he had a dream of being an astronaut, and how in the end, he realized his potential to become anything he wanted.

This is a mystery novel that I would recommend to middle school students and up. Haddon wrote with very simple language but because he wrote it in the style of the book's protagonist, Christopher, the sentences seem detached and almost monotone, which makes it harder to read. I think the content about Christopher's disorder and the secrets that his father kept from him may be difficult for younger readers to understand as well.

Heejeong, 18

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake 

by Aimee Bender
08/19/2017 Categories: family secrets older teens

On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein takes a bite out of her mom's homemade lemon cake. On her birthday, however, she is given a gift - or a curse - to be able to taste the emotions of the person through their food. Despite her mother's cheerful attitude, Rose discovers that her mother is unhappy and disappointed, and that the rest of her family is keeping secrets from each other. 

Aimee Bender has a creative style of writing. I was really confused at first because of the way she wrote her dialogues; they're italicized. She also had an original plot. I thought that tasting emotions through taste buds was a brilliant idea! I felt that the book was very disorganized and all over the place. She introduced her mother and father's problems but she didn't elaborate on them. I was left very confused over WHY some things happened in this novel. I also felt the same way about Rose's brother who seemed to be slipping away from reality. Overall, I felt like this book was unfinished and that there were too many details that were missing. 

I would not recommend this book to young readers. I first picked this book up in seventh grade and it was a very difficult read. I don't think the characters in the book are developed well enough for the readers to understand them, and because I couldn't understand these characters, I didn't feel the need to care about what happened to them in the books. I felt really detached from the plot. If I had nothing else to read, I would read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, but I didn't feel like it was worth trying to understand Bender's writings. 

Heejeong, 18

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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science 

by Atul Gawande
08/19/2017 Categories: non-fiction older teens

Image result for Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect ScienceIn Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science, Atul Gawande, a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, describes all the problems that surgeons in training and even professionals face in the emergency rooms. He argues throughout his book that there are always complications during surgeries and treatments of patients, but that those complications are what allows those practicing medicine to learn and fix their mistakes.

Atul Gawande is a surgeon but I really liked that he admitted in this book that he as a surgeon and his practices are all imperfect. It might be hard to simply say these things because the public expects doctors and especially surgeons to be perfect beings. His message was very clear throughout the book: the world of medicine is constantly evolving and the only way to advance is to make mistakes. I think this book brings awareness to the public that doctors are not omniscient, and that the readers need to understand that doctors cannot promise anything. 

I would recommend this book to older teens because some of the anecdotes that Gawande shares may not appeal to younger readers. However, I think after reading this book, older readers will appreciate the world of medicine and all that we know in that field so far. Again, complications may seem like a negative thing in this this field of science but I think it's important for others to understand that they are necessary for the advancement of medicinal knowledge.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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The Time Traveler's Wife 

by Audrey Niffenegger
08/12/2017 Categories: fantasy older teens time travel

In Niffenegger's novel, a young man named Henry has the ability to time travel involuntarily. His trips into the past as well as the future happens spontaneously, but most of the time, they lead him to his wife. Through these trips, Henry learns more about his love for Clare since she was a young child until her old age.

This book has a complex story line. It may be difficult to understand at first but as you keep reading, it starts making sense. It's a love story but it's not the typical one that one would see on the shelves. I liked the book because of the originality but I was also captivated by Clare. I thought that Clare's unconditional love for Henry despite his sudden absences was the sweetest thing.

This is romantic story of two people so this definitely will appeal more to readers who like love stories. However, it's also a sci-fi novel, so that's an added bonus. Initially, I started reading it because of the "time traveling" description of the book but I was pleasantly surprised with the romantic plotline.

Heejeong, 18

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Because of Romek: A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir 

by David Faber, James D. Kitchen
08/10/2017 Categories: holocaust non-fiction older teens wwII

In this memoir, David Faber describes his experiences as a Jew living under Hitler's Third Reich during World War II. Faber recounts the terrible mistreatment of Jews in concentration camps as well as his multiple attempts to escape. Although he was a survivor, he explains that the terrors of those years still haunt him in forms of nightmares.

This was the first Holocaust book that I picked up in my entire life. I read it at an early age, way before I had actually known about the injustices against Jews during World War II. The book gives a vivid description of what Faber's life was like before, during, and after the Holocaust. It was a difficult read because of the content but it did happen and I'm glad that I was able to learn from this book as well.

I would recommend anyone to read Faber's memoir. The first time I read it, I was in fourth grade. I didn't understand it at first, but I was able to learn from it the second time. I really liked Elie Wiesel's books but Faber has a different style of writing that makes it feel like you're there with him. It's scary but I think that was one of the reasons why Faber's book had a much more lasting impact on me than Night did. I think it's important that we remember the Holocaust and that we never forget it because it was terrible crime against humanity. That's why I would really recommend this book to anyone.

Heejeong, 18

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Along Came a Spider 

by James Patterson
08/10/2017 Categories: kidnapping mystery older teens suspense

Image result for along came a spider

After the kidnapping of a young girl, detective Alex Cross undertakes the task of finding her. During his investigation, he comes across the murders of a family as well as a school-teacher. Ultimately, he connects all of these crimes to one psychopath who he must catch before time runs out.

I'm a sucker for mystery books and it had such a thrilling plot. I tried to work out the mystery while reading just like Detective Cross. The book made me very suspicious of pretty much everyone in the book except for the narrator because it's in his perspective, but Patterson placed a few plot twists that was surprising. However, those plot twists were what got me hooked to the book.

This book is a mystery novel, so naturally, I would recommend it people who like reading mystery. However, I don't think it should be just limited to mystery enthusiasts. Even though in the beginning, Patterson doesn't give away the criminal, the last half of the book is focused on catching the killer and finding his motive.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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America's First Daughter 

by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
06/28/2017 Categories: historical older teens

America's First Daughter is about the life of Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha (Patsy) Jefferson Randolph, and her influential role in her father's political views, presidency, and private life. The book begins when Martha was a child, and ends with her as an elderly woman. The storyline navigates Martha's travels, love interests, marriage, children, and her close relationship with her father.

This novel was very well-written and thoroughly researched. The authors did an amazing job of recounting the story of an influential, yet not well-known historical figure. I like the story a lot because I can relate to Martha during her teenage years.

I would recommend the book to others because it is very interesting and informative. It was very raw and realistic, which I think other people will appreciate. If you like history, this book would be great for you!

Bethany, 15

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A Child Called It 

by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It is the autobiography of Dave Pelzer, where he recounts of his childhood and endeavors child abuse by his mother through starvation, beatings, and mental abuse. Through out the whole novel he wonders why he is treated so badly by his mother, even though his oldest and youngest brothers don't receive this abuse. He as well seeks out the help of his father, however with no avail. Although, he goes through all this trauma, he manages to maintain his faith and survive through the abuse of his mother.

A Child Called It is an interesting yet unfortunate autobiography. It brings to a wider attention towards child abuse and how any little sign of abuse should be brought to attention not just pushed beside; because a parent made an excuse. I liked how specific each detail was written down and how the author uses pathos to invoke the emotion of sadness and depression. The autobiography makes it as if you were there and hearing the abuse and seeing it.

I would recommend this novel to those who like hearing true stories with explicit images in your head of what is going on. It may even leave you in tears just like me, however, it is worth reading even through the sadness. You won't even want to put the novel down and wish to want to know more.

Anahi, 17

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Nickel and Dimed 

by Barbara Ehrenreich
06/21/2017 Categories: non-fiction older teens

Nickel and Dimed is about the author who decides to work minimum wage jobs and live like someone would with that kind of job. She goes through different jobs and tells about her experiences.

I thought the book was okay, because it was interesting but I felt like the author should have tried living more like a person working with a minimum wage job. Also, I thought she should have included a more difficult situation.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn more about how hard life is working a minimum wage life. If you want to learn more about the life of an average American I suggest this book.

Sandra, 16

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