The 9:09 Project by Mark H. Parsons
Any teenager knows growing up isn’t easy. The roads to success are paved with both pure joy and deep heartache, and the 9:09 Project captures the very essence of this idea. Throughout times of joy, sadness, uncertainty and grief, Jamison manages to stay grounded by one element – love. Love of photography, love of his family and friends, and the comfort that he finds in the grief of losing a loved one. Although this book centers around the death of a parent, the 9:09 Project takes us through a life of a boy and his realization that despite any obstacles he faces, it is possible to overcome anything with a bit of love. I recommend this book to anyone who feels like diving into a good story about growing up. It’s a heart-warming tale that will stir up emotions inside all of us. Reviewed by Sofija F, age 13
Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima
Set in a time long after Ragnarok, a great war that doomed the gods, they -and magic- have been forgotten. However it still lives on in small secrets and folktales and the few gifted with the ability to access it. This book follows three different characters: Reginn, a musician and rune caster desperate to escape her master- a fire demon from Muspelheim, Eiric, a Viking, and his half-sister Liv, a secret spellscastor, as they try to save their home- and themselves. Their lives are all suddenly changed by a mythical place with witches descended from the gods who want to bring magic back into the world. This first book in the Runestone Saga is a fast paced plot with many unexpected twists and turns that will leave you at the end of every chapter wanting more. An exiting blend of mystery, action, unique magic, and authentic Nordic culture, this book will take you back to the time where Vikings were feared on every shore.
Reviewed by Emma K, age 17
The Do-Over by Lynn Painter
The Do-Over is a romance/coming-of-age story, good for middle school age. The characters aren’t entirely relatable, but rather people you get to vicariously live through.
Emilie Hornby, the protagonist, finds herself in a time loop (think Groundhog Day) where she has to relive Valentines Day. This also happens to be the day her boyfriend cheats on her, she loses a scholarship, and generally has a pretty horrific Hallmark holiday. With every repeat of the day, she gradually learns to embrace living life “in the moment” and starts to take risks, slowly getting closer to Nick, her crush. It’s a sweet story of two lonely people, and the plot is easy to follow. Does it play into some teenage romance cliches? Yes. But sometimes a little cute predictability is a nice comfort.
Reviewed by Donya D, age 17
I’m The Girl by Courtney Summers
I’m The Girl is a gut-wrenching story of familiar teen angst in extreme circumstances. The plot is deeply engaging, with complex twists and surprises. Center to the mystery is Aspera, the nearby resort that Georgia and many other girls seek out in naive pursuit of the glory that accompanies the wealthy institution. On her way to the resort, with a plan to become a famed “Aspera Girl” through the use of her body, Georgia discovers the body of Ashley, a victim of a sexual murder. Nora, Ashely’s older sister, desperately seeks Georgia out in hopes of information, but Georgia remains consumed in the mystery of Aspera, intentionally turning a blind eye to the increased connections between the resort and Ashely’s murder.
The lasting discomfort this novel leaves is the result of observing Georgia’s descent into the realities of sex and manipulation. Courtney Summers’ skills in both mystery and emotion combine to immerse the reader in the suspense of the plot and Georgia’s unfamiliarity with the dangers of the men at Aspera. Georgia as a protagonist is deeply frustrating for readers. It is easy to sympathize with her desire for the power that comes with beauty, especially since she is reeling in the wake of her mother’s death. Georgia’s confidence and her discovery of the power of sex is a painfully familiar cautionary tale that grows increasingly difficult for the reader to stomach. However, as this rebellion brings Georgia closer and closer to danger, the audience’s sympathy dissolves into distress with Georgia’s lack of self-preservation. I’m The Girl is an emotional and engaging story of the realities of a cruel world. Readers will be constantly on the edge of their seats while reading, and then left thinking about Georgia long after the book’s conclusion.
Reviewed by Greta R, age 17
The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao
Crossed between a romance and a thriller, The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao offers a riveting reading experience. After being a victim of her own threats, Anna, and her childhood enemy, Chris, team up to answer the town’s most pressing mystery: an unsolved murder. The Lies We Tell is captivating and exciting from page one, and was very easy to grow interested in. The chapters leave you wanting more and the plot is very easy to follow. Anna, a true activist, is both relatable and inspiring. This book is perfect for anyone who wishes to get back into reading and is looking for an engaging read!! Reviewed by Sophie D, Age 17
Life of Pi by Yann MartelSome people say that you choose your destiny while others argue that your fate is in the hands of someone bigger. Life of Pi is a story about chance, hope, pure luck, and the mysterious bond between a boy and a Bengal tiger. We follow Pi as he travels aimlessly and alone across the ocean in a small boat. He knows nothing of the future, only the happy memories of his family, and the tragedy that befell them. As the sole survivor of a ship wreck, Pi and a vicious tiger must learn to get along and look out for one another, if they are to have any chance of surviving. This book was absolutely beautiful and I recommend it to anyone who is up for a good read. Reviewed by Sofija F, age 13
The Truth About Everything by Bridget Farr
This is a quick and easy, yet insightful read. The protagonist, Lark, is someone that readers can relate to, as she begins to explore her identity and sense of self in her teenage years. Her parents are anti-government conspiracy theorists, who prohibit her from attending school, along with other means of staying “off the grid.” She never had any reason to question her parents’ radical views until she began to realize what she was missing out on by not attending school, and decided to take matters into her own hands.This book, although set in an extreme and uncommon situation, showcases the way in which we as young people must find our own truths, rather than those our parents might tell us. The plot is easy to follow, and although her parents are unlikeable characters, Lark provides them with grace and understanding in her narration, reflecting the often complicated relationships we have with our parents. This is a worthwhile read, which most teenagers will be able to relate to in our journey to discover our identities as distinct individuals, rather than merely an extension of our parents.
Reviewed by Sofia R, age 17