Welcome to Must Read Books, Scarsdale Public Library
Teen Advisory Board's Book Review Corner.
TAB members in grades 6 -12 are welcome to read and
write book reviews for fellow reading enthusiasts.
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I’ll Be the One by Layla Lee is 323 pages of a young girl trying to follow her dreams to become a K-pop star. When Skye auditions for a competition, she finds that her incredible singing and dancing skills are overshadowed by one thing- her weight. The world of K-pop has a fairly infamous attitude towards the physical appearances of their stars, and it is not uncommon to hear of K-pop performers developing eating disorders or harmful physical effects from the extreme diets they are put on. I’ll Be the One is a breath of fresh air compared to the toxic culture surrounding body image, and as it follows Skye through her journey to become a star there is never a point where she gives in and decides to lose weight. Skye reiterates through the book that comments on her body are commonplace for her, and despite trying before she just won’t lose weight. For a young reader, it is refreshing to see a character who, despite having second thoughts about their body, still perseveres in choosing to love themselves. The book itself is short, and doesn’t quite capitalize on suspenseful moments when it could have- but provides a welcome message to its readers. Skye has friends who never make her the butt of the joke, a father who loves her and although her relationship with her mother is tense, the reader sees resolution at the end of the book. Written so that a reader of any age can enjoy it, I’ll Be the One is the perfect book for anyone anywhere. The common experience of trying to love your body when the world is convincing you otherwise is reflected in this book, and as Skye rises above any doubt that she’s less than worthy- the reader will too. (Harri E.)
Suspenseful and full of drama, I would definitely recommend Gone too Far to other teens. The book was about a student named Piper Woods who finds a notebook on her way to school, but not just any school notebook. This notebook has information about other students. Soon, she starts to get anonymous texts asking her to choose students to punish. Piper tries to figure out who's name to select and who is sending her these texts. As the book goes on, it becomes not just a game, but something that can ruin people's life, including hers. (Ariel E.)
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. It is in this brutal world that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself. (Kaitlin P.)
Imagine reliving your terrible first day of college for 30 days straight with the person you despise most, or so it seems. In the Science Fiction book called See You Yesterday, by Rachel Lynn Solomon, On the first day of college, Barret Bloom wakes up to her high school ex-friend as her roommate. Which awakens a number of awful memories from her high school including being completely played by a guy who was supposed to be her first love. The horrendous day goes by in slow motion as she fails an interview and literally sets her life on fire. Little did she know, these mistakes wouldn’t last for long. Barret experiences an extreme freak out when she wakes up from a horrific night where she set a frat party that she wasn’t invited to on fire. This is the last thing Barret wanted as her supposedly life changing college experience, stuck in an insane time loop with the most obnoxious guy from her physics class, Miles. As they strive towards their increasingly fading goal of getting to Thursday, they have more fun than they had anticipated. The two search high and low for the mystical answer of getting home while getting to know each other a bit better.
The author’s use of humor makes the book entertaining and helps balance out the fearful and exhilarating journey the readers experience. This book contains some foul language hidden in sarcasm that really adds to the experience. It covers difficult issues like body image, drug addiction, LGBTQ+, and bullying, but manages to keep it light hearted and fun. You can expect romantic scenes that will make your heart melt, but it's more about bonding and the romantic scenes are subtle and lovely. This story is beautifully written and a wonderful romance for teens. It has funny, witty humor with a wild adventure to follow.(Maddy N.)
In this suspenseful and engaging novel, Alex Cross takes on one more case to help his friend Sampson, before he retires from the Police Force. Sampson, who Cross knows from his army days,has a price on his head for a murder he might not have committed. As the story progresses, more and more connections are made between army veterans Cross knows from his past who claim their innocence, yet are eventually found guilty of murder. Alex investigates the connections to see if Sampson can be saved, but will he be able to solve the case in time? (Ariel E.)
Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules- even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything. Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right-he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back. T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal-but what if Karina no longer wants it to?(Kaitlin P.)
Heiress Apparently follows 18 year old Gemma Huang as she lands the starring role in a movie. The only problem is, in order to be in the movie she needs to go to Beijing- the one place she has been forbidden to go to by her parents. Gemma is an easily relatable character as she is written with the emotional depth of a middle schooler. The plot starts off with a simple premise; however, in trying to introduce the main conflict,the simplicity is lost. The plot quickly becomes convoluted and incomprehensible. With short chapters that rarely delve into any real storytelling and a never ending monologue of an 18 year olds’ thought process, what could have been an interesting set-up quickly turns into a chore. In the author’s defence, it isn't easy growing up without seeing anyone like you reflected in the stories you read. Yet, Ma's attempts to portray the Asian American main character of her childhood comes across as poorly written self-promotion. Gemma lacks any substance, any real character besides being Chinese and a teenager. This isn't to say that Ma shouldn't describe her own culture or how ethnicity factors into her daily life, but in trying to create a character who is so blatantly Chinese, she forgets to give her an actual personality. The love interest is rushed and half-baked leaving little time to develop a proper foundation for their mutual attraction. The book has a good premise but the setup is brief, the conflict is lacking, and in the end, barely allows for the reader to enjoy the book at all.(Harri E.)
Wai Chim, a first-generation Chinese-American, who grew up speaking Cantonese shares her knowledge with others through her latest novel, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling. Chim’s storytelling is excellent and gives a unique perspective of the world and what we define as “normal”. The novel is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Anna Chiu, who lives in Australia with her parents, and two younger siblings. Her father owns a Chinese restaurant, and is barely ever home. Her mother suffers from a debilitating mental illness, and is often in bed, leaving Anna in charge of the family.
Anna’s narration shows readers what growing up in Chinese culture is like, and how her mother’s illness affects her and her siblings. She has very strict rules for her children: no friends, no boyfriends, no ear piercings, tank tops, short skirts, and many more. Anna struggled, she wanted to know what it would be like to be a “normal” teenager – not always having to be on edge around her mother, or when she couldn’t put food on the table for her family. When her mother finally gets out of bed, she becomes a force, one which damages her children. She walks into the kid's rooms in the middle of the night in a hallucinogenic state and breaks their belongings, yelling at them to respect her. She goes from extremely happy to bitter very quickly, and it is sad to see how much Anna, and her siblings suffer from it. Readers also observe their mother’s obvious need for help, and the myriad excuses the children make for her behavior.
Normalcy, family, and trust were the prevailing themes, and Chim hit each of them perfectly. She uses the symbol of dumplings, to convey the idea of joy being spread throughout a dark patch of clouds. Although Anna and her family must navigate many difficulties, Anna finally grasps that being “normal” isn’t about going out and partying, it’s a state of mind. Though the ending is bittersweet, that is what makes it ring true. (Lindsey L.)
Mateo and Rufus know they will die in the next 24 hours, they don't know how or when. They are determined to live this day to the fullest knowing that it will be there last. This book shows how much each day matters and how a friendship can be formed in only a few hours. They Both Die at the End will certainly make you think for yourself what is really important and what isn't. (Ariel.E)
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper of: a contagion, a madness, a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns and grudges aside. They must work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, there will be no city left for either to rule. (Kaitlin P.)