Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

One of the most famous journeys taken by humankind was Apollo 11’s trip to the moon, and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the lunar surface. But the less commonly known story is that of Apollo 8, and the daring risks that were taken in order to win the space race. When Nasa is tipped off that the Soviet Union might be attempting an early mission to the moon, they realize that they have to act big, and they have to act now. Instead of having years to put an operation together, they have just four months to rewrite their plans into a mission that will change the world. The powerful Saturn V rocket needed to make the voyage has only been tested twice, the Russians are making incredible progress with their space program, and the moon is almost a quarter million miles away. The odds are crushing, but success will mean finally proving that the United States has won the race to the moon. Robert Kurson’s new book, Rocket Men, describes the legendary mission in which Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders must become the first humans to orbit another celestial body by the end of 1968, or the decade-long race to the moon will be lost.

Review by Lucas, Teen Reviewer

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

17 year old Yahaira is devastated after becoming aware of the plane that her father was on fell to the ground after liftoff rocking her entire NY community. High school student Camino was eagerly awaiting her fathers return to the Dominican Republic but then learned that his plane crashed after takeoff, leaving her an orphan. Soon both girls, thousands of miles apart, uncover the secrets about the father they thought they knew. This beautifully lyrical story explores that when things seem to fall apart that they actually may be falling into place. Author Elizabeth Acevedo never disappoints readers.

Review by KC

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped book cover

In this cleverly constructed “not history” history book, authors Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi has us travel trough time revealing the conceptions and continuing practices of racism and racist ideology, while dissecting and understanding the terms assimilation as well as “uplift suation”, a phrase formulated by Kendi himself. This book is a must read with its gripping narrative and its eye-opening study of the other side of the coin. For those who enjoyed This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell.

– K.C.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

never let me go

This dystopian novel follows Kathy and her friends Ruth and Tommy, who were all students at the exclusive boarding school, Hailsham. They are controlled by mystery rules and teachers who constantly reminded them of how special they are. Kathy is now a young woman, looking back at her time at Hailsham. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and Kathy is beginning to understand what makes them so special and how that will change their lives forever. Even though I read this book for school, it is one of my all time favorites because it is so powerful in the way it discusses what it truly means to be human and have a soul. This book is appropriate for mature teenagers, as it discusses death and other sophisticated topics, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in dystopian novels.

-Freya, Teen Reviewer

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

a separate peace

Gene is a hardworking, lonely intellectual. Phineas is an outgoing, confident, handsome athlete. The two best friends board at the Devon School in New England during the early years of World War II. Gene begins to envy Phineas and his glowing way of being, until one summer day where his envy takes over him. What happens completely destroys the innocence of these two best friends and turns their worlds upside down. This novel is appropriate for high school students, and it does a great job of capturing the essence of war versus peace while illustrating the story of two best friends and all of the obstacles and changes they face in their lives. While this was a book I had to read for school, I actually enjoyed it and I would encourage others to read it, as it conveys many powerful messages about friendship and jealousy that are worth learning.

-Freya (Teen Reviewer)

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish

Kiko Himura is a half-Japanese teen who struggles with social anxiety and living with her narcissistic, racist mother. When she doesn’t get into her dream art school, Prism, she feels like she will be stuck with her mother forever. However, when her childhood best friend, Jamie, comes to town and gives her a new opportunity to explore the California coast, she jumps at the chance to be free from her family, despite her social anxieties and fears that seem to always hold her back. Now that she is free to be her own person away from her mom, she learns shocking truths about her past and present that could change her future. This book is appropriate for teenagers who can handle mature topics such as racism and social anxiety.

-Freya, Teen Reviewer