February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review New Historical Fiction, “The Sun Is Also a Star,” and More

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The Kitsap YA reviewers take on heart-pounding fantasy, dynamic historical fiction, and Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star, a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature finalist.

 bone-sparrowFRAILLON, Zana. The Bone Sparrow. Disney/Hyperion. Nov. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484781517.

Gr 5 Up–Subhi’s life in a detention camp with his sister, mother, and best friend is basically the same thing, day after day. But when he meets a girl who lives on the other side of the fence, his life is changed forever.

I think the cover was simple and beautiful. This was a very good book. I liked how it addressed the life of someone in a detention camp, which I think a lot of people don’t know much about. The point of view is from a child, and I think it was written very well, with language that a child might actually use, which was creative and perfect for the story. Sometimes, I almost wish things had been a little clearer, like at the very end of the story, but not everything would be clear or understood to a little boy like Subhi.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It even had me crying at some points. The story was very well written!–Zoe D., 14

nerdy-and-dirtyGOTTFRED, B.T. The Nerdy and the Dirty. Holt. Nov. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627798501.

Gr 10 Up–This book embodies what we strive for as teens—to be loved for who we are by our peers. I can think of no other message I desire to be represented in a book more than that.

The cover was intriguing. However, the author’s name in cursive made it harder to read.

The fact that something so sexual could be offered to middle schoolers is very intriguing. At the same time, it was very cool to see the characters change drastically over the course of the book.

This is a great book—good enough for me to finish it in one day. But it may be for a selected audience. I may be wrong, but the book had mature content that some teens cannot handle. This mature content also makes the book unique and somewhat relatable.–David B., 13

midnight-hourHUNTER, C.C. Midnight Hour: A Shadow Falls Novel. St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2016. Tr $10.99. ISBN 9781250035882.

Gr 9 Up–I do like the cover; it is attractive and makes readers want to pick it up. However, it does not reflect the story at all. The cover just shows a pretty girl in a blue dress. That’s it.

I really loved the story. It is really interesting, and I really didn’t want to put it down. I liked the characters as well. They seemed like they could be real people.

The author wrote it with way too much swearing. I might just be sensitive, because I don’t think that there should be any swearing whatsoever.  It mentioned sex a lot. So for my age, that was super inappropriate.–Sonja C., 13

heartlessMEYER, Marissa. Heartless.  Feiwel & Friends. Nov. 2016. Tr 19.99. ISBN 9781250044655.

Gr 8 Up–Heartless is another great book written by Meyer. It follows with the fairy-tale theme of her books and will captivate you.

I like the simplicity of the cover. The red was definitely a good choice.

The characters were my favorite. Catherine has a great personality, struggling with her dreams and her parents’ dreams. Jest is so mysterious and kind, and the king seems like a child. The bonds they all form really shape the story into the wonderful book it is.–Kaitlyn H., 14

MOSS, Marissa. Caravaggio, Painter on the Run. Creston. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781939547293.

caravaggioGr 8 Up–The cover is a renaissance-style piece of art, which initially drew me to it. It is of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, a painting done by the main character. My only criticism is that it may lead people to believe the book is more violently themed than it really is, which could affect the audience.

I really enjoyed the descriptive scenes in which the main character is painting. I felt as if I were in Rome admiring Caravaggio’s art myself. I also liked the journal entries and police reports between chapters, some pulled from actual Roman archives. They give interesting insight into how other characters and communities view Caravaggio.

Initially, the book felt difficult to read, but as I continued, I was very sucked into the world created before me.

Anybody with an interest in art and/or history would likely enjoy this book. Any teenager who likes to read would find this book a nice change of topic and scenery from most books marketed toward us.–Pierce S.V., 18

YOON, Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. Delacorte. Nov. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780553496680.

Gr 8 Up–Natasha is an immigrant from Jamaica, living in New York illegally. Her quest for the day is to find the right people who can help her stay, which means traveling all over to undo her father’s mistake. David, however, is a Korean immigrant living in New York legally. His quest for the day is to be interviewed by a Yale representative so he can get into a school like his “perfect” older brother.

Natasha’s and Dsun-is-also-a-staravid’s worlds don’t clash right away. David is the romantic, and Natasha likes to look at things logically and scientifically. She believes there is no such thing as fate, and since she’s going to be deported back to Jamaica, what’s the point? Their quests for the day shift slowly from that of logic, to those of love, and I assure you that the ending will make you cry a little (out of happiness, I promise that, too).

I thought the cover was cute and clever, although it didn’t have as much to do with the plot, but I still loved it. I also really liked the smooth and matte texture of it. That was fun to feel (but not in a weird way, I promise).

I would say that as much as the book had the stories of the two main teens, Natasha and David, there were also a few other stories about people they ran into. Sometimes, I felt that was a nice background to have, and sometimes I felt that they were maybe unnecessary. And they swore a couple times, saying “Jesus,” and I’m the kind of person who’s bothered by that.

The book had a very interesting plot and at least one lovable character. I liked following along with the two teens on their main goals: one is to find love, and the other is to try and stay in America. This is the same author of Everything, Everything we’re talking about. Of course the book was excellent overall.–Sam G., 15

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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