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Reviews and Recommendations

The Unlikelies

A Book Review by Vanassa Lafluer, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer  

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone 

What do a mixed Iranian-Irish girl, a rich and extremely intelligent white boy, a Haitian artist with a full grown beard, a Hispanic girl who donates school supplies, and a rebellious puppy photographer have in common? They all share the common mission of making the world a better place, one good deed at a time. Sadie, Gordie, Jean, Val, and Alice are The Unlikelies, a group of anonymous cyber vigilantes working to stop online bullying and trolling. Together, they faced countless problems head on. However, this never would have happened if Sadie never had her tragic “incident” that summer. “In a summer where nothing was supposed to happen...everything did.”

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone is a realistic fiction novel following Sadie Sullivan’s summer after junior year, one that was due to be lonely due to her college-bound friends. Nevertheless, it ended up being one of the most eventful summers she had ever experienced. This book was a blend of multiple genres like mystery, drama, and romance. It is a definite page turner, leaving readers intrigued as they follow the actions of Sadie and the rest of The Unlikelies as they become just the thing the internet (and the world) needed. I recommend this novel for ages 13 and older as it deals with some mature subject matter. For those who do read it, it is sure to be an interesting one.

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A Season of Daring Greatly

A Season of Daring Greatly by Jill Cafferty

A Book Review by Josh Baker, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Baseball stands as one of the most culturally diverse sports in America. It includes players from countries all over the world, but ever since its creation, one aspect has never changed; not a single woman has played Major League Baseball. However, in Ellen Emerson White’s new novel A Season of Daring Greatly, Jill Cafferty becomes the first female drafted into the MLB. Cafferty’s journey strongly resembles (some might even say duplicates) that of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the baseball color barrier in 1947. If you enjoy stories about huge changes in society or standing up against the norm, then you may enjoy this book. You may also enjoy books about Jackie Robinson, particularly Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman. If you are looking for a book on baseball in general, check out novels by Mike Lupica and Tim Green (featuring Derek Jeter in his latest publication Baseball Genius).

Personally, I found this story pretty bland. Since I know the story of Jackie Robinson, and I’ve read plenty of other stories like it, I correctly predicted all the motions that Jill Cafferty was going to go through. She’s verbally assaulted, people tell her to quit, she’s harassed by teammates, etc. Her father is dead too, but White does manage to have it somewhat contribute to the plot. There are not many surprises in the story, but in all honesty, it would be pretty hard to put surprises in a story that has been done several times already. Although the book was well written with good intentions, I feel the story was a bit cliche.

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Be True to Me

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin

A Book Review by Mariana Simpson, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Adele’s Griffin’s Book Be True To Me is an intriguing story of young romance. In Sunken Haven, Jean meets Gil first and instantly falls in love with Gil. Since Jean had the advantage of meeting Gil first in New York, they went out for dinner and dancing, and at the end of the night, Jean receives a kiss from Gil.  Of course, Jean thinks that there is an instant connection between the two. But, when Gil comes to Sunken Haven and is introduced as Carpies, Sunken Haven’s own town celebrity nephew, everyone thinks he is cute and would kill to date him.

Out of all the girls, Gil could've chosen, he chose Fritz, Jean’s very own arch nemesis. Fritz, is worried that something is going on between Fritz and Gil. Could it be that Gil would turn his back on Fritz and secretly date Jean? Or is Fritz just worrying over nothing? This book is all about love and rivalries and filled with a lot of drama. It is well detailed and very fast paced.

I would recommend Be True to Me for people who love drama and romance books. 

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Noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

A Book Review by Vanassa LaFleur, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Jordan Sun, a junior theatre major at Kensington-Blaine Boarding School, hasn’t landed any auditions since she first arrived at the school, and it was becoming critical. It didn’t help that she had an alto voice, when most parts were for sopranos. She almost gave up until she had an idea; it was so crazy it just might work. The Sharpshooters, the elite all-male a cappella group, had an opening available. With that opportunity and her low voice, Jordan Sun became Julian Zhang and a roller coaster of events ensued.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate is a relatable novel that deals with many real, teen issues like gender identity, sexuality, relationships, and many more that appeal to much of the young adult audience. I personally really enjoyed this book because of how it broke so many norms in regards to society. It is an example of coming to terms with oneself through difficult situations that many teens experience. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books relating to music, theater, or just a very relevant realistic-fiction novel

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When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

A Book Review by Mariana S., West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

When Dimple Met Rishi is a story of young love between two young adults who just graduated high school written by Sandhya Menon. Dimple just wants to go to her dream college, Stanford University; but, her old-fashioned Indian parents want her to get married to a guy they already picked, Rishi. When Dimple first found out that her parents picked out Rishi, someone she doesn’t know, to be her husband she totally freaked out. The last thing on her mind was marriage and she didn’t want to even date this Rishi guy. Dimple had a hard time agreeing with her parent's views, she wanted to find a man on her own time, and of her own choice. Rishi, on the other hand also had Indian parents and was the complete opposite of Dimple, he agreed on everything his parents wanted for him. He believed that his parents knew what was best for him. Even though deep down, he didn’t want to do what he was told to do. When Rishi first found out about how his parents agreed on him dating Dimple, he was ready to date her. How will Dimple and Rishi handle the situation at hand? Is it possible for them to at least become friends? Will Dimple and Rishi ever date?

This book shows how love can happen in the least expected ways. I would highly recommend this book for readers who love stories based off of romance, friendship, and diversity.

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The Odds of Lightning

The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies

A Book Review by Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Three years ago, Tiny, Luella, Will, and Nathaniel were the best of friends for as long as they could remember. However, after one fateful summer, this all changed, high school began and they all went their separate ways.

Believing she is unremarkable and unimportant, shy Tiny has dove deeper into her shell. Luella and her large personality have taken to the stage of the school theater. After reinventing himself, Will is almost unrecognizable as the popular co-captain of the soccer team. And Nathaniel has kept complete focus on his studies, trying hard to live up to the near impossible standards his brother has already set.

Now, the night before the SATs, they cross paths once again at a party during one of the worst storms the city has ever seen. Though they are reluctant to dig up the memories of that one all but forgotten summer, fate sends them on an all-night adventure through the streets of New York City teaching them that sometimes you need to look to the past to make way for the future.

Jocelyn Davies vividly writes fully developed characters whose flaws make them relatable to teen readers. The text switches from the present to the past to reveal aspects of the story and characters as the main plot progresses, this keeps the readers interested while still preserving key events until they are relevant to the plot to have them make a bigger impact. In addition to the past and present text, each chapter is narrated from the perspective of one of the four protagonists. This allows the readers to understand the characters on a deeper level in order to empathize with them and become invested in their journey. Davies intertwines magic and science to create a wonderful reading experience. I would highly recommend The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies for teens who enjoy well written, magical stories about the strength of friendship.

 

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When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 

A Book Review by Emma, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

When the Moon Was Ours is a peculiar book about a girl and a guy who are trying to find their identity in life. Although many people find this book inspiring, I found it a bit hard to get through. I usually like my books to be fast paced, so a slower paced book is a change for me. The author also used symbolism throughout the novel which I found difficult to understand at times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to complete this book, but if you enjoy symbolism and slower paced books, I’m sure you would like this book. When the Moon Was Ours was not the perfect match for me, but it could be yours.

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Alex and Eliza

 Alex & Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz 

A Book Review by Vanassa Lafleur, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz is a historical fiction novel that follows the lives of founding father Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler on their journey to love during the Revolutionary War.  Elizabeth, also known as Eliza, is the middle sister of the Schuyler family, one of the most prestigious at the time. She is a modest woman who is passionate about fair rights for all and winning the war, unlike her sisters, Angelica (who is sharp-tongued and witty)  and Peggy (a belle whose beauty can’t be beat). Alexander is a colonel and an aide-de-camp to General George Washington who grew up on the island of St. Croix with a tough childhood. When they first meet at a ball thrown by Mrs. Schuyler, they could never have imagined what was to come in the future. Of course it would come with its fair share of trials and tribulations along the way. Together, they would eventually become one of the most influential couples in American history. 

This book is perfect for lovers of historical fiction, romance, and the Broadway show, Hamilton: An American Musical,much like myself. The author herself was inspired to write the book after seeing it in New York City. The novel is full of tiny references and nods to the play through both chapter titles and dialogue. In addition, there is a little bit of everything. Some action takes place as well as moments of suspense. The way that their unique but beautiful love story is told will make your heart swoon and keep you glued to the book. I personally finished this book really quickly as I found myself continuously wanting to know what would happen next. You can find out more by picking up the book in the library today! I highly recommend it. - Vanassa Lafleur    

 
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Pushing Perfect

Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

A Book Review by Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Kara Snow has always been known for being perfect in every aspect of her life. From being at the top of her class and having a seemingly picturesque family, no one could imagine Kara as anything other that perfect. Unfortunately, Kara is not as perfect as she seems. Inside, she is crumbling under all of the pressure, whether it comes in the form of her social life or academic woes. Having gotten used to throwing up as many walls as possible to avoid people finding out the truth, Kara is terrified at the prospect of anyone seeing that she is anything but perfect.

The problem with everyone thinking you’re perfect is that it becomes so much harder to keep up the act. Soon, Kara gives in to her overwhelming anxiety and does the unthinkable: she breaks the law. Her out-of-character actions land her in a completely new and exciting world with unlikely friends. However, Kara finds out this new world comes at a price. Kara is surprised to find herself being blackmailed by an anonymous person who somehow knows all of her secrets. Scared and confused, Kara and her new friends grow closer as they work together to uncover an intricate drug-plot lying under the surface of their pristine city streets all while trying to keep their own wrongdoings under wraps.

The high-stakes atmosphere of the novel will keep the readers intrigued as to what happens next and the mysterious blackmailer will leave them wondering who they can trust. The pacing is fast enough to be interesting, especially when the main conflict of the story arises. In addition to the text’s action-driven plot, fellow teens will be able to identify with Kara’s insecurities and stress associated with being a high school student. Kara learns to deal with these relatable feelings through the strong bonds she creates with her friends, which is an important lesson for any young reader. Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff takes its reader on a fun adventure as Kara learns that maybe being perfect is not all it is cracked up to be. 

This book is recommended for any teen who enjoys realistic fiction with some added suspense and adventure. 

 
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The Sun is Also a Star

 

Review written by Emma, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Review of: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

   The Sun is Also a Star is a deeply inspiring book that is absolutely breathtaking. Nicola Yoon, the author, takes the reader into what seems like an ordinary day in New York City. Although, this day is anything but ordinary. To be more precise, this day consists of 12 hours filled with intense emotion. What heightens the book to another level is that the author tells the story from two different points of view. The first is told from a girl, Natasha, whose life revolves around logic and facts. Her life takes a dramatic turn because she finds out that she is hours away from being deported to Jamaica. The second point of view is from Daniel, a guy whose life is filled with passion for poetry and love. He’s grown up to be the son that makes his parents proud, after all, his parents do hold high expectations. When the two bump into each other on the crowded streets of New York City, Natasha never expects to fall in love with Daniel, a person who seems like he has grown up in a completely different world.

Nicola Yoon has easily become my new favorite author because of this unforgettable book. I can promise you, this book will be extremely hard to put down, as I know from completing it within a couple of days. This book is for those who are the looking for a spectacular book that seems like it is based on reality, not a sappy romance novel with a predictable ending.

Emma

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