• YA Contemporary Book Review

    Bad Romance

    Warnings: Gaslighting My Thoughts Bad Romance is a heartbreaking story about relationship abuse and self-loathing, and one of the most accurate portrayals that I’ve ever read. The book is exceptionally well-written, with developed characters that talked and acted like typical teenagers. It shows how trouble at home can drive a young woman into the arms an abuser, trapped in a relationship because of dependency. One of the things that worked really well for this novel is that it starts from the beginning when Grace met Gavin and how they fell in love. Too often with stories about abusive relationships the story takes place when things are already bad and nearing…

  • YA Contemporary Book Review

    Looking for Alaska

    Warnings: Drug Use, Drunk Driving, Sexually Explicit Content My Thoughts If our early years are our Spring then adolescence is an invincible summer that feels like it’ll never end. Being a teenager, everything seems so much bigger, more life-changing, everything feels like a big deal. Miles goes to a boarding school seeking his great perhaps, the great unknown that will upend his boring life. At school, Miles meets Alaska, a magnetic young woman with a bad reputation, and quickly falls head over heels. What made this book special to me was that I just found it so relatable, I was reminded so much of how my high school experience had…

  • YA Contemporary Book Review

    A Step from Heaven

    Warnings: Domestic Abuse, Alcohol Abuse, Animal Death My Thoughts A Step from Heaven is not an easy book to address. It follows the life of Young Ju Park and her family; they are Korean immigrants pursuing the American dream. The book takes place over a wide span of time from the age of four to graduating high school. The story focuses not on the everyday events of the narrator, but instead on the major events that impacted her and her family as they struggle to acclimate to American culture. It is a classic immigrant story that is deeply heartfelt and inspirational, but it’s also a story about motherhood, and the…

  • YA Contemporary Book Review

    Thirteen Reasons Why

    Warnings: Suicide, Bullying, Rape, Sexual Assault My Thoughts This is a difficult story to unpack and process. The book tackles suicide and a number of other incredibly heavy themes that are not easy to approach and talk about even though they are topics that do need to be talked about, and badly. The story is paced like a suspense novel and it made the book incredibly readable, but I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing. On one end it’s good, it allows Hannah to talk about the different life events that impacted her and sent her spiraling into depression while simultaneously showing the effect that her…

  • YA Contemporary Book Review

    The Place Between Breaths

    Warnings: Child Abuse My Thoughts The Place Between Breaths is an emotionally raw story about mental illness and the ways that it can weigh heavily on our lives. Schizophrenia is a serious illness wherein those that have it experience severe delusions. Its causes are unknown and require lifelong treatment to keep symptoms under control. The plot for this novel is difficult to pin down and there are a lot of questionable holes in the plot that won’t be wrapped up nicely, which was oddly fitting given the subject matter. The research and lab portion of the book had potential but it was left largely unexplored. Everything about Gnentium and the…

  • YA Contemporary Book Review

    Girls Like Me

    Warnings: Bullying, Miscarriage, Sexual Assault My Thoughts Girls Like Me is a startling novel about rape and slut-shaming in high school. The pacing of this book moves like a runaway train and never slows down at any point, it is a very easy book to read in a single sitting. The book is aimed at younger readers and uses simple language that is easier to follow, it will definitely appeal to its target audience. “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to girls like me. Except that it did.” The subject matter presented in this story is troubling, and I wonder if it sacrifices believably in exchange for a dramatic plot.…