Showing posts with label Young Adult Realistic Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult Realistic Fiction. Show all posts

Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Snow Games by Darren Greninger


Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I absolutely loved the premise of this story and the characters.  Francesca’s school has sent out a message they are going to vote on having year-round school to battle the learning slump. Francesca and her friends decide to find a way to keep this from happening. When her brother Liam tells her about the Snow Games, she sees a way she may be able to save the day.

Tyler Young is the billionaire creator of the games.  Using snowballs and their wits, the contestants must capture a flag and then cross the finish lines.  In exchange he will provided support for the teams school.  Unfortunately, no school has ever won. That doesn’t deter Francesca. She agrees to be on her brother’s team. The team consists of her brother Liam, who suffers from severe asthma. Then there is Priya, her best friend. The only way she can get Ethan, the school’s hockey player, and who she’s had a crush on forever to join the team is to convince the new girl Lindsay to join. Each member has their own reason for being on this team and working to win. Their chaperone on this televised event is none other than Claire, the school psychologist.  Throughout the book we get a deeper look at each of these characters, their motives, and what truly drives them.

This book is a book of hope, of going for the brass ring, and not listening to those who would put you down. Most importantly it is about believing in yourself and your strengths and learning that sometimes what you think you know about yourself and what you think you want is just a small part of what you actually want and who you are. 

Friday, December 29, 2023

Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner


Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Source: I won a copy for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Katie McCabe is a rebellious teen. Her father is the town sheriff. She loves him dearly. She lost her mother at a very young age. He is all she has. She and her best friend Tommy accidently set a shed on fire. When she gets home she explains to her father it was an accident. She is made to pay for the damages. Then the next morning she is put on a bus and shipped to her uncle’s house. Her dad tells her it is because he has been sick lately and the doctors want to do some tests. Her beginnings with her uncle and cousins is rocky. She meets  a young man named Logan who seems to have her back even when she is trying to sabotage herself.  When her father dies and they pack up her former house and move her into her uncle’s house permanently she really rebels.  She has convinced herself that they have taken her in out of obligation and not out of love. What will it take to prove her wrong?  What happens when she makes enemies with someone who believes  they are powerful because of their family name? What will it take to survive?

I read this book in just a few hours. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I have read other books by this author and highly recommend this book and all her others.  I will tell you that you will need a box of tissues all through this book.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Student Saturday: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


Student Reviewer – Madison

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

The book “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is about a girl named Betty and her mom and brother, Lauel and Steven. They go to cousins Beach every summer with their family friends, Jeremiah and Conrad. Belly has liked Conrad since she  was little but this summer was different for her with many plot twists. Belly has always been the girl that hasn’t really grown up yet, until this summer when “everything changed”. This book is really good for anybody above the age of twelve who likes to read about teenage life. Jenny Han wrote this book very well and I really recommend reading it.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker

Genre: Young Adult, Christian, Realistic Fiction
Source: I own a copy

There is nothing better in my opinion than a book with a great story line that also promotes Christianity.

Tim Shoemaker is a master at crafting such books.  The characters are always relatable.  As a teacher I have seen many homeschooled kids begin regular middle school. For many it is not much of a social jump as they attend church or other activities that have them fitting in socially. Then we have those who have been out of the loop socially and struggle with going to a regular school.

Hudson Sutton is one of the first types of kids. He was homeschooled, raised as a Christian and adjusted fairly well in the school. That is until the bullying starts. He tries to protect his new friends from the bullying going on.  He comes up with a wonderful plan only to realize that he himself has become a bully. Since he is so open about his faith he is like many teens who think they are doing the right thing, only to discover that what they are actually doing is not what God would have us do.  One thing that kept going through my mind was the scripture, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.”  I guess a part of me remembers a time that I was so fed up with something that I thought I could help handle it. I then discovered that I had become a part of the same bad decisions. I justified my actions “because I prayed about it.”  There is a difference between praying and actually listening to what God is trying to tell us.  

All of the characters are well developed.  The setting was nicely done. The messages are clear. It is great that Hudson wanted to help his friends with the bullying issue. How far is too far? What happens when the bullied become the bullies?  A great question to end on and a recommendation to read this book. It is so worth is.


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats by Jenny Kalahar


Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I own a copy

This is a wonderful book. I love cats and books and thought, why not.?  Mr. and Mr. O'Malley own and run a used bookstore. They buy and sell used books. With no children of their own they welcome orphaned cats into their bookstore. These aren't just any cat's. They work with the local animal shelter and foster cats where they would have a great chance of interacting with the public and then become adopted. This bookstore has two cats ready for adoption. Stomper who reminded me in personality of Garfield.  He was grumpy, wanted to be left alone and learned how to steal food from the small fridge inn the front room.  Buglit is the most recent addition. She had belonged to an older lady who had passed away. She hated the shelter. When brought to the shelter, she felt a connection to Mrs. O'Malley. Both cats have their own personality.  There are a variety of humans who play a big part in this book as well. You have the man who owns the music store down the street. There is young Kris who loves spending time in the bookstore. His love of books is obvious. It seems to go beyond the normal love of reading. He and Mr. O'Malley become very close. Like Buglit and Stomper he is a foster kid. Read this book to see how the three of them, Stomper, Buglit, and Stomper help each other through the ups and downs of everyday life.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Run Girl Run by Ellen Y. Mueller


Genre:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This is a wonderful yet heart wrenching story. Tracie is a sixteen-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to survive another day without her father beating her.  After escaping her father’s wrath she meets up with her friend. He lets her stay with him. She learns he has some of his own issues. When he suggests they pack up  and he takes her out of state to his mom’s place, she learns just how messed up he is. She has exchanged one bad situation for another. 

This is a story about beating the odds. Tracie learns how much strength she really has and learns she must find a way back home. But, how do you define home? Why is she unable to contact her mom? As I read this emotional roller coaster of a read I kept thinking about students I have had over the years. How many of them were like Tracie and hid it well? Where were the people they knew that could have helped them. I then wondered, how far are most people willing to go to help those they don’t’ know real well? Who are the heroes who will help save a life or turn it around.  Definitely a book I would love to have on my shelves at school if allowed. However, I will definitely recommend it, especially to the counsellors at school to have in their arsenal to help kids.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Stoneway by Christopher Francis


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Supernatural, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased

For the first time reading a book by Christopher Francis, I found myself crying. This was probably one of my favorites of all of his books. Maybe it is because I am a teacher and see the effects of bullying at school. This last year was particularly hard on a couple of students. I tried really hard to be there for some of them. It is one thing to have a teacher in your corner and another to have true friends stand up for you. That is what this book is truly about. Yes there is a ghost in this story. He is there because his ties the bullied to the bully. He makes an appearance to get help. This is not a ghost story. I have read reviews about this book that thought the "ghost story" was lacking. Because a ghost appears it doesn't mean it is a scary ghost story.

The author did a great job of keeping the story flowing and letting us see how the characters changed over time. Does everyone change? No, just like in real life not everyone changes. I read this as an ebook. I have since purchased it for my classroom. That is how good I feel this book and its message is. Well don Mr. Francis, Well done!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Student Saturday: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


Student Reviewer: Andrea J
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Jean, a young girl has loved lots of people. I'm not going to lie. She reminds me of myself. There's one part of the book where she wrote notes to the boys. One of the lines was "I miss you. It's only been five days, but I miss you like it's been five years."
I know I might be young and all but boys are dumb. I've only dated two people and I haven been able to get over one. Then we stopped talking. I felt like one week of talking felt like a month and the month kept getting longer and longer. I think this is important ot the book because there coul dbe lots of girls out there that felt the same way so this book is a great example o to show how Lara Jean dealt with it.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Before You Go by James Preller


Genre:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I purchased a copy

This is the third book I’ve read this week that had a drowning in it. This is another story where the sibling feels the drowning is his fault and where the parents deal with grief in different ways. Jude’s dad jogs to try to forget and his mom self-medicates.  At the end of the school year Jude gets a job and meets Becca. She is easy to talk to and so he shares his grief with her.  Then he is hit with another tragedy when he loses a close friend in a car accident.  Once again this is a story about dealing with grief. So many times people shut themselves up to grief. This story is divided into two parts: Before and After. I felt like the second half was better, stronger than the first half. Would I recommend this to my students? You bet. Can they get it from my shelves? No. This is another one that had to be pulled due to district guidelines.  I still recommend it.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Student Saturday: Seventy Times Seven by Sandra Stiles

Student Reviewer:  Genesis L.

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

The main character in this story is Frankie. We see his struggles and what he goes through . This story starts out with seeing how Frankie releases his stress in an unhealthy way. The reason behind it is because he’s having a rough time at school. His math teacher Mr. Fugate is picking on Frankie because he is Hispanic. We see later how far Mr. Fugate will go just to make Frankie suffer. Then a new kid moves to town. Jacob Wingate and his family move to town and meet the Bonitas. They get along great. Jacob has never really had someone to talk to or any real friends because being a pastor’s kid, people tend to distance themselves from him. With Frankie and Tanya it was different. Jacob could be himself. When Mr. Bonita and Mr. Wingate start talking more it gets rough for Frankie and his family. In the past Frankie has had a lot of problems, but no matter what it will always be okay because he will always have his sister Tanya and Jacob.  What will he do when all of a sudden they both go missing?

I would definitely recommend this book to kids who have problems at home or who have strict parents. Frankie and Jacob’s characters are just so relatable. It really shows that teens can be going through something at a young age that they shouldn’t be dealing with at all. I honestly did not expect the book to show such overlooked but real topics. It definitely exceeded my expectations. Overall I rate the book a 10/10 or 5 stars!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Ravens by Jackie Jacobi


Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing

Warning: This book is about speaking up about sexual abuse.

This is probably one of the hardest books I have read in a long time. Charley, Brynn and Joss are best friends. They have formed a group called "The Ravens". They had two other friends who have been banished from the group. Charley has them dabbling in witchcraft to try to help Brynn's mom who has cancer. But friendships are tested when Brynn tells something to Charley that she doesn't believe. Brynn is scared she will be banished from the group like their two former friends so she recants what she has said. Joss knows deep in her heart that Brynn did not lie to Charley the first time. She has decided she must try to make things right not to hurt Charley but to help her.  Her actions almost have catastrophic consequences. Her stupid, yet brave attempt to fix things open Charlie's eyes to the truth. But can knowing the truth fix things between her and her friends?    One of the best, yet painful books I have read. I could identify with Brynn. I was that shy girl who like Brynn recanted a statement out of fear of losing the love of those around me.  This is a must read book about speaking up when you don't feel strong enough to speak up.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter


Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy

    This is actually a reread for me. I purchased this book when it first came out. A friend at school told me about it because the author was a friend and she knew I reviewed books.  I absolutely loved it. However, I somehow forgot to write my review. To do it justice I reread the book. It was just as painful the second time around. 
    Cassie doesn't trust anyone to love her. Her mother is abusive both physically and mentally. She finally has Cassie put in a mental institute until she is eighteen. Cassie leaves there and heads off to college where she tries to rebuild relationships and make new ones. Sometimes the past just won't let go and like powerful waves will continue to drag you under.
    Unlike many books that start out like this, Cassies gives us hope things can change for the better. She gives us hope that relationships can be renewed. You can never go back and undo the damage that has been done. You can choose to move forward and forge new relationships, even with those who broke up that relationship. Cassie is a courageous character. What you read is raw and make you evaluate the realtionships in your own life.  This should be a must read for teens everywhere.


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Student Saturday: Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally


Student Reviewer: Amati
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction (some mature themes)

Lulu and Alex are enemies I high school and at the end of each of their high school years they go to a big field trip. In their freshman year they go to a science museum. They get stuck together in a room. Do they work together to get out? In their sophomore year they go to Six Flags and Lulu falls in the water causing her top to come off  and Alex is the only one around. Does he help her or leaver her to save herself? I their junior year they have a choice to go watch a football game or go to an art museum. Lulu goes to the museum and Alex goes to watch the game. The game gets boring so he goes and talks to Lulu. They begin flirting. In their senior year London is their last trip and there is so much going on in both of their lives. Will this brin them closer or will they remain enemies.

Many decisions were made in the book. For example, Lulu was talking about how her ex-boyfriend had moved on so quickly and she said “how can he move on this easily? This quickly?” When she said that it made me wonder, how do people move on so quickly after things end so with the person they supposedly loved? I mean, if you really love someone, how would you be able to move on to a new person so quickly? When Lulu and Alex break up and get back together throughout the book, Lulu can’t get over the fact that he moves on fairly quickly while she is stuck, unable to move on from the heartbreak.

The book is similar to my life because just like Lulu, I learned that fallin in and out of love a a part of life. Not everyone’s perfect. Lulu learned to deal with her feelings for Alex and sometimes I’ve got to deal with my feelings too. Lulu got to travel a lot for school field trips and I’ve always thought that was pretty cool for students to do. I would like to travel as well. This book was similar to other books I’ve read because I enjoy reading enemies to lovers and love  the way the story ended.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Say Something by Jennifer Brown

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy.
This novella is a continuation of Jennifer Brown's Book "Hate List".  There have been so many school shootings in the news in recent years. Everyone is always wondering what the shooter's motive was. How many actually look at what happens to those who survived. What happens to those who were friends, girlfriends, boyfriends of those who perpetrate the crime?  In this story we see Val, who was Nick's girlfriend. If you've not read the book Nick was the shooter and he and Val had created a "Hate list". These were people who went out of their way to make life miserable for others. David was a friend to Nick and had a crush on Valerie. He himself carries a lot of guilt. While Valerie is trying to move on, she carries a lot of mixed feelings. Even though she saved someone's life and was shot by her boyfriend, she is blamed and accused of knowing about the shooting. David has mixed feelings because he is carrying information he should have given out earlier and now it is eating him up inside. Jennifer Brown gives us a look at what those who knew the shooter were going through. A must read book for all who have read "Hate List".

Monday, November 21, 2022

A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Novel in Verse
Source: I purchased a copy

This is one of those books that grabs you in the beginning and won't let go. Will is outside his apartment with his best friend when a shooting occurs. From the time he was young, he has been taught what to do. If you hear shots, you "eat the pavement." After a few minutes, he stands up to see who the unlucky person is, only to discover it is his brother. Another thing he is taught is you never cry. He takes his mother back inside, where she numbs herself the way she always does. Finally, he goes to the room he shared with his brother. He looks through his brother's drawer until he finds the gun his brother has. He slides it under his pillow. The third rule of the code he has grown up with is you kill the person who killed your loved one. The next morning Will puts the gun in the back of his pants and gets on the elevator to take care of business. When the elevator stops on each floor, someone from his past gets on and talks with him, his uncle, his dad, and others. They each have advice for him. All of these are people who have died. The question we read to find an answer to is, on this long way down, would he listen to them?

My heart broke for the character losing his brother the way he did. It broke even more, knowing that so many young people live this very life. I had a student many years ago who told me he had not done his homework because they had several drive-by shootings that night. He said his biggest fear was getting struck by a bullet while sitting in his room. This is a quick read since it is written in verse. I am not sure how I feel about the ending. If you want to know what I am referring to you need to read the book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Perchance to Dream by Tamara Belko

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions here are my own.


I read this book in a little under two hours. This is a story of characters who are broken. How can one broken person help another? We have four characters here who are working through some major issues. Grace has lost her mother to cancer. She is losing her father to alcohol, and she lost herself when she died. Xander lost himself and his music due to Becca, a very broken girlfriend. Mrs. Carter is broken, but few people know this. Music ties Xander, Grace and her father together. They say that music is healing and in this case it seems to be.

I grew up in a house of music. It has always been my go to when I was down or faced with a problem. It is what centered me during my trying physical therapy after double knee replacement. Unfortunately, I had a lot in common with Grace. Often kids aren’t willing to talk about cutting. When they talk with me and find out I truly do understand a door is open. This is a book I will definitely put on my shelves. It is very powerful. I don’t know who might need this book, but I thank the author for creating something so pure and raw. I highly recommend this gut wrenching, honest look at brokenness and healing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

My Name is Layla by Reyna Marder Gentin

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This last Friday was my last day at school. Our principal told us to make sure we took time for us. Then he called me out in front of everyone. He told me he had talked to my husband about finding a way to make me not focus on work. Yes I admit I have a problem letting school work go. However, after two years of covid teaching I needed a break. I told him I had a stack of books on my couch waiting for me.

This book was one of them I had not been able to get to earlier due to covid teaching.  As a middle school teacher, this book really resonated with me. I see students like Layla every year.  A lot of them fall through the cracks and are never diagnosed with a learning disability. I try to be a teacher who works for each and every one of them.  Layla wants so hard to do better in school. She wants the approval of her mother who works the night shift as a nurse.  She has the support of her older brother Nick.  No matter how hard she tries her undiagnosed dyslexia makes her feel bad about herself. It is her English teacher who believes in her and recognizes her disability that turns things around.

This should be on every classroom shelf. It is true to life. Middle school students will be able to identify with the character and most importantly the events that take place in school and at home.  The fact that Layla is able to find help will give hope to those who struggle, and may just encourage those teachers who aren't real sure how to help a student.  I applaud this author for creating a book that needs to be read by teachers and students alike.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Source: My own shelves

I absolutely love April Henry's books.  In this book the first chapter grabs you and reels you in. A young girl comes to unsure where she is, who she is or what has happened. The only thing she knows for sure is she just overheard two men talking about how she knows nothing and they need to kill her.  From here on out the story unfolds in layers. From her escape at the beginning of the story to finally remembering who she is, what happened to her, and finally to its awesome ending, this book will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat.  I read it in about three hours. I knew there was no way I could not finish the book. This has been on my shelves at school and many of my students have read it. The only reason I finally got my hands on it was it was turned back in and I immediately put it in my own bag to read.  I highly recommend this book.  The events are so realistic I found myself worried for the main character.  The reader finds themselves identifying with the character and wondering what they would do in a situation like that.  Go ahead start with this one and see if you don't have to read her other books.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Beyond Invisible by Marjorie Jackson


Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own

Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Every now and then a book comes along at the perfect time. This is the sequel to the book "Being is Better". In the second book Missy is still trying to help her mother put her life back together. She is also crushing on her best friend's brother.  Her best friend Amber is still fighting to get her seizures under control.  Both of them have entered high school.  Missy is once again "strongly encouraged" to visit her father. She agrees to do this only if her best friend Amber can come with her. Her father agrees. Things are very tense between Missy and her father. Amber is there to help Missy keep her cool. This is especially important when they meet someone very important to her father; his girl friend.   While visiting her father they walk around town and stop into a yogurt shop. It is here that Amber meets the boy of her dreams, "Dev".

From this point forward you know as you read that things aren't quite what they seem.  Missy is still trying to find out what argument her brother Frankie had with her dad. This is the argument that sent her brother off into the military where he was killed.  Maybe with Amber, and her brother Mase's help they can solve this puzzle and figure where all of the other characters fit in.

This is a book of hope. We get a look at Missy's father and what a first class jerk he is. For kids who have gone through a family divorce and their life has been turned upside down, it shows them there can be a silver lining for them.  I am thrilled to put these two books on my shelves. May it reach out and touch so many lives.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Being is Better by Marjorie Jackson


Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Source: I received a copy to review

I absolutely loved this book.  The author has done a wonderful job of telling a story in alternating points of view. Not only will I put this book on my shelves at school, but will also use is to teach POV in a story. This author created two separate stories that merge into one.  Amber suffers from seizures. No one wants to be friends with her  so she remains invisible. Missy comes from a very dysfunctional family after the loss of her brother. She too has been invisible for so long. Her solution is to change herself to make herself noticed. Unfortunately she attacks the wrong type of friends.  Things change when the two meet and start talking. Friendship can heal so many hurts.  I have a sister and a niece who both suffer from the way Amber does.  I could sympathize with her family.  I have seen Missy's situation in the lives of so many of my students. Not all of them turn out the way Missy's does.  This is a book of raw pain, hope, and true friendship.  I am looking forward to reading the second book "Beyond Invisible" which comes out just a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  This is a definite must-read book.