Tag Archives: realistic fiction

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Panic: a game played by graduating seniors in the dead-end town of Carp, where all contestants must face their worst fears – and each other. Heather never thought she would participate in Panic, but when her broken heart finds a new cause to fight for, she readies herself for the ride of her life. Dodge, on the other hand, does not feel scared of Panic; he wants revenge, and that thirst will drive him throughout the game. Amidst the near-death experiences thrust upon them by the judges of Panic, both Heather and Dodge will discover new things about themselves, each other, and those around them. Even though Panic entails a cash prize, every contestant, including Heather and Dodge, wants something more.

Panic possesses a compelling concept and an enticing book jacket, but I found the content lacking. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under 2.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Is it every gay guy’s duty to get out of the closet? Rafe doesn’t want to deceive people, but he hates being “that one gay kid” back in his hometown. When he moves from Boulder, Colorado to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he keeps his homosexuality a secret and pretends to like girls – soon enough, he’s part of the jock pack, and he really likes it. But being openly straight isn’t as easy as Rafe thinks, and he feels the pressure when he develops feelings for his teammate Ben, who might be the only guy who really understands him. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As someone who wrote an entire research paper on the importance of YA fiction and the genius of Laurie Halse Anderson, I own up to my bias. The Impossible Knife of Memory captures so much of what I love about young-adult contemporary and realistic fiction. It possesses a witty and cynical narrator, it delves into a real and painful issue, and it offers a nuanced yet meaningful message of hope.

Hayley Kincaid divides the human race into two types of people: the freaks and the zombies. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

If books could reproduce – don’t ask me for visuals – Speechless by Hannah Harrington would be the child of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. All three are YA, contemporary books I would love to just shove at my future students and force them to read.

Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. She’s one of those girls. If you’ve read any young-adult realistic fiction or if you’ve watched Mean Girls, you know the archetype I’m talking about. The totally selfish, totally conceited, totally all-I-care-about-is-my-popularity girl who gossips about everyone and cares about no one. In this case our protagonist Chelsea is second-in-command to her best friend and utter b-word Kristen. But when Chelsea blabs at a party and almost ends someone’s life, her sheltered existence comes crashing down. She decides to take a vow of silence – but even with that, can she bring herself to forgive, to face the truth, and finally, to somehow speak up for herself? Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Queen Dessen, Empress Dessen, and Rock Star of YA Realistic Fiction Dessen – all titles I whispered while reading this book, usually after the words “bow down to…” After ten previously published novels, Sarah Dessen still has that signature prose style of hers – just enough telling and showing to suck you in while establishing back story, a setting that sits in the back of your mind when you close your eyes, and characters that you can believe in. Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Winger by Andrew Smith

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Unpopular opinion of the day: Winger wasn’t that wonderful.

Seeing all the glowing, five-star reviews of this book, I wonder if it’s me who went wrong. Andrew Smith did a lot of the little things right in this in Winger. He established a consistent narrative, incorporated rugby and its rules with ease, used a boarding school as the book’s setting, and featured a nice friendship between Winger, the main character, and his best friend, Joey.

But I wanted more from this 400+ page book. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Guys, I survived reading my first young-adult book as an adult! No English teachers or professors pelted me with stones and no one called me out in the middle of the street! Whew.

Anyway, Shine details the story of sixteen-year-old Cat and the hate crime against her former best friend Patrick. Cat stopped talking to Patrick – along with everyone else at her high school – after an incident involving another boy two years ago. But when Patrick is found brutally beaten to the point of comatose and the police blame it on out-of-town college students, Cat sets out to uncover the truth. On her journey she confronts small town gossip, dangerous drugs, a college boy named Jason, and a startling discovery concerning Patrick’s near-fatal encounter.

Lauren Myracle writes a mystery with Shine. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Astrid Jones sends her love to strangers. She gives it away to passengers in the sky, because that’s the only way she’ll be free. Her demanding, over-controlling mother talks at her, her dad does crack, and her sister worries too much about her reputation to be of any help. Living in a small town has its downsides, and Astrid realizes just how damaging those downsides are when she finds herself falling in love – with a girl. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Are you looking for a whimsical romance filled with love songs and fiery kisses? Are you searching for a story with constant adventure, brimming with beauty and overflowing with passion?

If so, stop. Just One Day is not one of those books. It is not shallow. It is not like Anna and the French Kiss. It is beautiful, but in a bittersweet, lyrical, and oftentimes melancholy way. This is a book for people who have ever felt lost, for those who know what it feels like to be unsure of who they are, or of who they want to be.

After her senior year of high school, good girl Allyson Healey embarks on a journey to Europe. Except it’s not really a journey at all, or even a trip – just a boring tour with her blond best friend Melanie. That is until she sees a magical performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and one of the actors flips her coin. By chance she encounters this actor – Willem – again on a train, but their relationship turns an entirely different direction when she decides to spend a day with him in Paris. There she becomes Lulu, an adventurous soul with no reservations, and she discovers a side of herself with Willem she comes to love in less than 24 hours. But the next day she wakes up and Willem is gone. Allyson spends the next year struggling to find herself, who she thought she was, and who she’s turning out to be. Continue reading

21 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

“It was one of those moments when you’re waiting on someone to say something important or funny or just do anything to break you away from the sad thoughts that overwhelm your mind. Thoughts like never having enough money to move away or not getting into college. Thoughts like having to come back to take care of a sick parent and getting stuck here all over again. That’s what happened in Lily. People dreamed. People left. And they all came back.”

Winner of the Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and the William C. Morris Debut Award, Where Things Come Back didn’t blow me away. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books