2015 by Greenwillow Books
Genre – Novel in Verse
Age – Middle School, High School
Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins, two separate people, always together. Their life has always been complicated and fragile to say the least. And now they have to go to real school after years of homeschooling. We all know that high school is hard enough, when you are “normal” much less when your situation is a bit more unusual. The two begin experiencing a so called normal life. They make friends, have crushes, and get made fun of. Everything seems to be going well until they get sick, and the only way to have a chance to save them is to separate them. Not only is the procedure extremely dangerous, but do they even really want to be apart after all these years?
This book made me think. Things that I would never imagine having to think about are common place for Tippi and Grace. I applaud this book for making me look at life with a new perspective. Everyone has challenges in life, but this book goes to show how vastly different those challenges can be. I thought it was interesting that Crossan chose to make Tippi and Grace so vastly different, almost opposite. I understand the point that just because they are literally connected, does not mean they are the same person. However, I wonder if she overdid their stark personality differences. At times it really made one or the other twin seem very selfish and mean. This book is written in verse, which usually I am not a fan of, to be honest. I just feel like most of them are not super poetic, its just a gimmick to be different. And although I didn’t feel like this book was very poetic, the format didn’t bother me. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of poetry to begin with, so it probably works better for me this way. It does make for a fast read!
“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
James L. Swanson
2013 by Scholastic Press
ISBN – 9780545490078
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – Middle School
This nonfiction book describes briefly the early life and presidency on John F. Kennedy. It also talks about Lee Harvey Oswald’s tumultuous life before the assassination of JFK. It goes into great detail about the day of the assassination including the hours after he was pronounced dead in which Johnson was sworn into office on Air Force One.
This is a good account of what may have lead up to JFK’s death, but what I found most interesting was the reactions of Jackie Kennedy. The obvious shock and horror that she felt was proved by how she carried herself in the hours and days following the assassination. overall, I thought the book could have used a bit more…oomph? I listened to the audio book, and I found the narrator dry at best. He seemed to make something so interesting feel very blah. I think this book would have been better to read in book format, as I am sure there must be lots of interesting pictures that would help add to the story, and give a feeling of place and setting. For me the audio book fell a bit flat.
These Shallow Graves
2015 by Random House Delacorte
ISBN – 9780385737654
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School
Jo Monfort Lives a life of luxury. Her family has plenty of money, she will marry one of the best young men in New York City, and she will never want for anything. Except, this isn’t the life she wants. She dreams of being a writer, one who uncovers inequalities and injustices in the world of the lower classes of New York. This is not something she can hope to achieve, as this is not what women of her standing do. When she finds out that her father had an accident while cleaning her gun, her whole world changes in an instant. Not only has she lost her father, but she has also discovered that something is fishy about the situation. The whole thing doesn’t add up. Just like a journalist, she decides to look a little deeper into the accident. But can she handle all of the information she finds? Will she be able to accept that once she has gone so far, she will not be able to turn back?
I enjoyed reading this book, it had a little bit of everything, mystery, romance, feminism, suspense, violence, and more. I liked that Jo bucked the system, that she refused to fit into the mold of every other young woman in her social circle. She fought for what she believed in despite the fact that her entire world was at risk. I can image that that would have been a whole lot harder than it seems. In my mind, it was just old fashioned traditions set in place by society, but to Jo, and many other women in this time, it must have been quite the struggle. I did at times find the writing and the examples used as quite cliche, but then again those are the things that people remember. I liked Jo’s character, I thought she was brave, and strong, despite the fact that she made mistakes and had weaknesses. It made her realistic. Reading this book also made me appreciative that I did not live in these times. My biggest complaint is that Donnelly made everything seem so black and white. No one had any middle ground emotions, or actions, there was no middle class, everything was so dire, or so luxurious. I don’t believe that the world works this way, although it would be much more interesting if it did, as demonstrated here.
This is Where it Ends
2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN – 9781492622468
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
It was the first day of a new semester at Opportunity High School. Most of the kids were gathered in the auditorium for the principal’s assembly. Just after 10AM the students were dismissed, but the doors to the auditorium wouldn’t open. Then Tyler walked in and began shooting. With the doors locked, the students were trapped. There was no way to escape Tyler’s wrath.
This book made my feelers feel something extra. It was so gripping and so full of horror and grief. I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t stop feeling so very sad. We always have the idea that this couldn’t possibly happen to us, but in reality it has happened to many people who shared the same thought. The issues in this book go even deeper than school and other mass shootings. It speaks to me of reckless violence across the spectrum including gang violence. It begs questions to be asked, for which I am afraid we just don’t have good answers. Although most of this book took place over a very short time period, I felt connected to each character. I felt the sadness and loss of those in the book. I felt no relief when it was over, as those who live through these ordeals do not just get to close the book. I just felt. A lot. This story will stay with me for a long time.