November 20, 2017

Subscribe to SLJ

Teens Review ‘The Summer I Saved the World… in 65 Days’, and Three Debuts

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

Wow, what are the odds? Three debut novels, a sophomore effort, and all contemporary fiction. Shop these titles to your tween and teen readers that may be tiring of dystopian worlds and are looking for something a bit more “real.”

ANDREU, Marie.The Secret Side of Empty. Running Pr. March 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762451920.

Secret Side of EmptyGr 9 Up—M.T. seems like your normal American girl: she likes hanging out with her friends and even manages to get a boyfriend. Her secret: she is an illegal immigrant.

I really did like this book a lot. It was very bold of the author to bring up so many relevant topics in one book: illegal immigration, domestic abuse, and suicide. These topics,unfortunately, are not often explored within young adult lit. On top of that she includes a very realistic relationship between M.T. and Nate. It was so refreshing reading about them. I am so tired of all these stupid, fluffy, dramatic relationships that always appear in YA books. I liked how their relationship wasn’t the center of the novel. Also I was rather impressed with how developed the minor characters were. I have never seen an author put so much effort and back story into minor characters.

I would recommend this for ages 15 and up since there are violent scenes and a mention of sex. Also anyone who wants to read about a real teen relationship or who is interested in illegal immigration.—Rachel F., age 17

GEBHART, Ryan. There Will Be Bears. Candlewick. April 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763665210.

There Will be BearsGr 5-8—Tyson loves being with his grandpa, and he is ready for the annual elk hunt. He gets to go this year because he is turning 13. That is, until his dad tells him that there is a killer bear on the loose and his grandpa is being sent to a nursing home, so he won’t be going on the trip. But even after that, Tyson and Gramps sneak out and go hunting, only to encounter Sandy, the killer bear. And after a wild adventure, they are both content to live their lives, and end up with a great memory.

I thought the book was written very well, the action was great. It tied into what many kids my age experience daily and the sequence of events fit just right. I think fans of David Lubar would enjoy this book.—Prid, age 12

HURWITZ, Michele. The Summer I Saved the World… in 65 Days. Random. April 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385371063.

The Summer I Saved the WorldGr 5-8—During the summer, Nina Ross decides to do 65 anonymous good deeds in her neighborhood. Meanwhile, her parents never pay any attention to her and always seem to be working. Her brother Matt appears to be away from the house as much as he can. Nina just isn’t feeling any love from her family, not after her grandma died last year. That’s why when the neighbor’s sweet little boy is begging for attention, Nina’s willing to give it to him, and she notices the little boy’s brother who suddenly looks very attractive.

Nina’s supposed “best friend” is someone she can hardly to connect with anymore. Jorie is into shopping, makeup, and other unnecessary obsessions. Could it be time to look into having a different friend? Nina distracts herself by getting started on her good deeds for the summer. Throughout this process, she discovers her family and neighbors are full of shocking secrets. Although not everyone appreciates her efforts to make a difference, Nina does get insights on people’s lives and better understands how to comfort them.

The writing was well-paced with a good balance between dramatic and calming situations. There was a very simple story line and it was appropriate for maybe a fourth or fifth grader. I feel like the author was trying a little too hard to make it a book for teen. She has the book suitable for someone younger and then out of nowhere throws in a make-out section or suggestion of drug use. Some of the content makes the whole book more fitting for someone older when other parts are more for tweens, because teens can comprehend that something doesn’t actually occur in real life.

This book is very well written and kept me engaged. It was a book worth finishing but not a book I would probably read in one sitting or stay up a little later to finish. Often the plot would go a little off track but the author included just enough suspense to keep me wondering what would happen next. Someone who enjoys the outcome of performing good deeds and a teen encountering universal experiences would like this book.—Esther L., age 13

NOVAK, Ali. My LIfe With The Walter Boys. Sourcebooks. March 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781402297861.

My Life with the Walter BoysWhen Jackie loses her entire family in a car accident, she must move from her home in New York to Colorado to live with the Walter family. They have 12 kids, 11 of them boys. As Jackie tries to figure out her new life, each boy throws a new dynamic her way and changes her life forever.

I had only heard a bad review of this book, and I was pleasantly surprised when I read it myself. It was a quick and easy read that I really enjoyed. This book was a typical teen book but the family twist and all the different angles of love, family, loss and choice that were used gave it a refreshing voice. The most compelling aspect of this book was honestly just wanting to know which brother she would choose. All of them sounded wonderful and it was hard for me as a reader to pick a favorite, so I was excited to hear the character’s choice. I would recommend this for any girl looking to read a book to take her mind off life and give her someone else’s troubles and successes to fall into.—Emily L., age 18

SLJTeen header

This article was featured in our free SLJTeen enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month.

Share
A Day-Long Celebration of Fandom-Beloved Stories and Characters
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer this day-long virtual festival for book nerds, librarians, and fans of graphic novels, sci-fi, and fantasy. Network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.