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

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater

The 57 bus

Sasha and Richard are both high school students living in Oakland, California. Because of their hometown’s vast diversity, their worlds could not be more different. Sasha is a genderqueer, middle-class student attending a private high school. Richard lives in the lower class area and attends a large public school. Every day, their paths overlap while they ride the 57 bus. One afternoon, Richard commits a reckless act that leaves Sasha severely burned, and him charged with two hate crimes and possible life in prison. The simple matter of right and wrong becomes so much more complicated as both teenagers are thrust into the international spotlight. This true story is appropriate for high school students, as it contains some mature and possibly triggering topics. Slater does a great job of portraying the average life for a gender nonconforming student while still describing the different struggles that both teens face.

-Freya (Teen Reviewer)