February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Book Reviews from Young Adults

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You’ve heard of the Follett Challenge, right? The grand-prize winner will receive $60,000 in Follett products and services. More than 100 educators have applied and sent in their three- to five-minute videos, and voting is now officially open. And here’s a shameless plug: the home of our teen reviewers, Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, is one of the applicants, and it sure would love to have you vote for its video submission. The video with the most votes is up for a $5,000 prize; voting closes on March 18, and you can vote every day.

SMITH, Jennifer. This Is What Happy Looks Like. Poppy. April 2013. Tr $17.99 ISBN 9780316212823.

This Is What Happy Looks LikeGr 9 Up—This book is about a small town girl and a hot superstar sensation. I know it sounds like the typical tale of the most popular guy falling for the not-so-popular girl, but there’s actually more to the story. Unlike most stories, Ellie and Graham meet through an emailing mistake, not some random encounter on the streets. Unbeknownst to Ellie, she becomes pen pals with a heartthrob actor, and they send their deepest thoughts back and forth. However, Ellie isn’t all too excited to find out that the most wanted guy in America is in love with her, and she even seems to try to hold back from returning his feelings. But why? This novel depicts the complications of love and the trouble the media always causes for celebrities in love.

Overall, I loved this book because of the chemistry between Ellie and Graham. Despite their differences, I felt like they were meant for each other. Plus, Ellie seemed to be a more independent heroine compared to others in a similar situation. Instead of immediately accepting Graham, she thinks about the effect it’ll have on her life. She also tries to reason with herself about the whole idea of it before deciding whether to be with Graham. Another thing that was an interesting touch was the whole conflict with the media and paparazzi. In all, I really enjoyed this book despite the fact that I’m not usually fond of romance novels.—Vy M. age 14

LAWSON, Shandy. The Loop. Hyperion. April 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423160892.

Gr 9 Up—Ben and Maggie are stuck in a time loop that’s like a scratched record. They’re forced to live out the same events each time around, hoping that this time they’ll escape, or die trying. Yet even if they die, they just restart the two-day period again. No matter how hard they try, it seems fate just wants them to die. But not everything is bad—throughout the course of their journey, they fall in love over and over again, making these days the worst, and yet the best ones of their The Looplives. If only they can bend fate to their will.

This book is as good as I hoped it would be. The story of their two-day journey through Louisiana is excellently told. The author tells a story of a loop without a single bit of repetitiveness. Using this concept, the story could be expanded in different ways, allowing parallels or sequels to be made from it. I would reread this story as often as Ben and Maggie relived those two days.—Dylan V. age 14

WILLIAMS, Katie. Absent. Chronicle. May 2013. Tr. $16.99. ISBN 9780811871501.

AbsentGr 9 Up—Absent is about a girl named Paige, who falls off the roof of her school during a physics class and dies. Now she’s a ghost, confined to the high school campus. She isn’t alone though. Brooke and Evan are two students who also died at the school. They spend their days walking the halls and sitting in on different classes. But soon, Paige hears an awful rumor before her best friend and parents hear about it—she did not commit suicide! But what can a ghost do? Paige discovers her amazing ability to possess people and uses this to her advantage. The outcome, however, isn’t so successful.

This author’s creativity with her version of the afterlife was interesting. The background and emotions of the ghosts were a great mystery and are what allowed for an aha! moment toward the end of the book. Readers who like a story to unravel will enjoy this short read.—Paris E. age 16

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