Must Read Books

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. 

If you click on the cover or title of a book, you will be

directly linked to our catalog to see if it is available.

If you're interested writing reviews for Must Read Books,

send us an email at teen@scarsdalelibrary.org. 

             Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

pink bacground with girl on bed

To All the Boys I Loved Before - Jenny Han (Romance)

Imagine a life without a mom, the person who guides you through life, comforts you when you're sad, and provides the love no other person can. In To All the Boys I Loved Before, Lara Jean and her sisters, Margot and Kitty, grew up with their dad who tries his hardest for the family to take the position of both parents. Margot has a boyfriend named Josh, whom the whole family absolutely adores and treats like a part of the family. However, right before going off to college, Margot breaks it off with him to start a new chapter in her life. Lara Jean has been best friends with Josh since childhood and has had the biggest crush on him since then. However, she knew she could never have him because she could never do that to Margot. So instead, she wrote a letter. Actually, she wrote five letters to five boys:Josh, Kenny, Lucas, John Ambrose, and Peter Kavinsky. Whenever Lara Jean loved a boy so much she couldn’t contain herself, she let all her emotions out onto paper and kept all the letters she had written in a box locked up in her closet. She could never send them though, she is scared to let more people into her life because the more she lets people in, the more people leave. Kitty is worried about her sister’s happiness because she's never been in a relationship. She ends up finding the box and sending out all the letters. This causes many issues, especially with Josh. Peter gets the letter and decides to take advantage of it by creating a fake relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. The plan works, but he doesn’t seem to want to break it off quite yet. Is he developing real feelings for Lara Jean?

If you are a fan of teen romance and family drama, this book is for you. It is well written by Jenny Han, who is also the author of The Summer I Turned Pretty and XO Kitty, a tv show that involves the same characters as this book. In this book, you can expect mention of underage alcohol use, bullying, death of a parent, and profanity. It is amazing to watch Lara Jean open up and learn to have relationships and experiences. She will always have memories of her mom who follows her with whatever she does in her heart. (Maddy N.)

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Immortal Longings - Chloe Gong (Adult Fantasy)

The games have begun in the twin cities, San-Er, in the kingdom of Talin. These games are held yearly, and thousands from all over Talin come to San-Er to watch the games…or participate in them themselves. Those who are confident in their ability to jump between random bodies must fight other competitors to the death to win the enormous amount of riches that await the winner at the end of the games. 

Five years ago, Princess Calla Tuoleimi started a massacre, leaving both her parents and the whole castle of Er dead. Now, she must disguise herself and participate in the games to take down the rest of the monarchy. If Calla manages to win these games, King Kasa, who is also her uncle, will greet her himself, giving Calla a chance to end it once and for all. 

Exiled aristocrat Anton Makusa lies in deep trying to keep his childhood love, who has lain in a coma ever since they both were kicked out of the palace. Luckily, he is one of the best jumpers Talin has ever seen. Anton’s last chance of saving his childhood love is entering and winning the games. 

Calla finds herself in unexpected alliances with Anton and August, King Kasa’s adopted son, who wants to fix the flaws of Talin. However, all three of them have extremely different goals. While Calla and Anton’s relationship changes throughout the games, Calla must decide what she plays for. 

Immortal Longings has a world that is well-built and unique. The characters’ goals are clear and well thought out, and each relationship between characters is special. The book starts slow but quickly picks up speed once the games start. When reading this book, I was reminded of The Hunger Games, so readers who enjoyed that book will also enjoy this one. With its well-developed world and amazing character dynamics, Immortal Longings is a page-turner that everyone deserves to enjoy. (Victoria R.)

 

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Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo (Fantasy)

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered an impossible, dangerous, and hazardous job that will make him wealthier than he could ever imagine. However, to pull off this job, he recruits five others around Ketterdam, the city of international trade and crime, to help him…  Kaz and his crew have the world's fate in their hands, and whether the world falls into chaos, or if they kill each other first, is all up to them.

Six of Crows is a book that has everything: compelling characters, an enticing plot, and descriptive imagery. Leigh Bardugo does an excellent job of including representation in all of her characters and giving them all captivating backstories that make readers attached. The plot is well thought out and captivating, which makes Six of Crows a page-turner. The imagery of the locations makes the settings of this book easy to picture and be drawn into. 

Six of Crows is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. The characters and the dynamics that they have with each other add so much depth and life to this book, and these things are honestly my favorite parts of this book. Good character interactions and well-written backstories are things that are not easily found, but Six of Crows has all of those things. Six of Crows is a thrilling book that will draw in any reader who decides to pick it up. (Victoria R.)

 

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin (Contemporary Fiction)

The story Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin, takes place in Tarrytown, New York. In this story, an adopted tennis player named Naomi Porter, loses her memory after an accident on the stairs. She forgets everything about herself and is stuck in an identity crisis. The only thing she remembers after the accident is her memories from sixth grade. Because of this, she struggles with her life without critical pieces of information about her parents, best friend, and boyfriend. She then goes on a journey to find these missing pieces of her identity and learns some hard truths about her parents. In addition to this, she discovers how much she despises her boyfriend, Ace, and all of her friends at school. Instead, she falls in love with a boy named James who she develops a romantic relationship and bonds with as she finds more and more pieces of her identity. Throughout the book, she is working to learn about the person she was and to become a better person that is truer to her new self.

Gabrielle Zevin uses a less dramatic way to go over themes like memory, loss, and love. One may want to be aware of the swearing and romantic scenes included in this novel. It is a mature, intriguing book that has you on the edge of your seat. It is written very well and has mature language and violence. This book offers a great opportunity for young adult readers to get to know a teen character as she forges a new identity. She is an inspiring and interesting character. She takes the reader on her journey of discovering her true self. (Maddy N.)

 

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Sam and Ilsa's Last Hurrah, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (Contemporary Fiction)

Imagine a dinner party filled with the worst possible people with unlimited ways things can go wrong. In Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann throw a big, chaotic party, just before they graduate. They have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties at their grandmother’s New York apartment, and now they plan their grand and final party. Each twin gets to invite three guests of their choice and the other twin doesn’t get to know who they invited until they show up. Things go down in the most unexpected, pleasantly surprising ways. This book explores sibling rivalry and family issues. For instance, Sam has always been the musically talented, chef, and favorite twin to their grandmother, Czarina. Ilsa has always been more rebellious and second to Sam. Sam and Ilsa go on a journey to discover their identity and come to terms with their plans for the future and for what might have been from the past. Sam debates over leaving the city to pursue his musical dreams. Ilsa debates over her chance at college. They both make difficult decisions in an attempt to discover the best versions of themselves and their abilities.

If you are a reader who enjoys the ups and downs and rollercoaster of conflicts and plots this book is definitely for you. Reading about dinner and wondering how it will unfold really hooks you into it. This book focuses on the difficulties of approaching adulthood, sibling rivalry, love, breakups, and LGBTQ+ inclusion. When reading this, you can expect sensitive topics such as mention of throwing up and self harm. It teaches about important life experiences and decision making. It is a good read for dramedy lovers.  (Maddy N.)

 

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The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (Science Fiction)

The Midnight Library is a tale of middle-aged Nora struggling with a bout of depression. Not feeling needed by anyone and losing her job, she commits suicide. Instead of winding up in heaven or hell, Nora lands in the titular Midnight Library where she can explore the different paths that were once open to her during life. Not just providing adventure and detailed storytelling to audiences, the book deals with regret, guilt, and gratitude. The way Nora grapples with her relationships with family and the public resembles real-life situations. By the end of the book, not only has Nora earned a new perspective on life, but so has the reader. The supplied ideas about the decisions we make, and their effect on those around us, elevate the book from simple to complex. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and would give it an 8/10. While it would not be considered a “light-read”, not long in length, it makes for a quick and thoughtful piece of literature. (Elliot E.)

 

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Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus (Historical Fiction)

Lessons in Chemistry follows driven and brilliant, chemist Elizabeth Zott who’s faced with the excessive and blatant sexism of her time. Her tight community consisting of her daughter, neighbor, dog, and almost singular friend all become characters the reader wants to root for. Garmus’ writing makes the feelings of frustration, connection, and admiration spill out of the pages. The way that the book made me feel sympathy and fondness for Zott’s dog, Six-Thirty, as someone who is not a dog person was wholly impressive. The route of the plot is filled with ups and downs making the book a full page-turner with a never dull moment. I genuinely think that whoever reads this book–especially rowers–will like it. It is one of the most well-written books I’ve read, with a storyline that is both enjoyable and important. When the sexist actions of characters cause the most utter irritation, it highlights the progressive and positive change of today’s world. Since the book’s release, a show based on the story, starring Brie Larson, has been released. While also probably an engaging watch, there’s doubt in my mind that it would ever be able to top the quality of the book. The quirks, characters, and originality of a first-time reading experience make Lessons in Chemistry a 10/10. (Elliot E.)

 

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Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, by Rachel Solomon (Romance)

“With starry eyes, we kiss and we watch the sky”. Imagine falling in love with the person you’ve hated all your life. In the Book, Today Tonight Tomorrow, by Rachel Lynn Solomon, Rowan, the main character, is enemies with her academic rival, Neil. They spend all of high school competing and hating each other and one silly high school game brings them to confess their love to each other along with other secrets, all in 24 hours. While on the hunt to eliminate her target, she discovers that some of her classmates are plotting to take her and Neil out of the game. She decides to tell Neil and they team up. As much as she hated the thought of ever being on the same side as Neil, she hated the idea of someone other than herself destroying him in their final game of Howl even more. As they go on an adventure killing their enemies, they bond and end up becoming friends, or even more. They open up to each other and confess their deepest darkest secrets. Neil reveals that his father is in prison and Rowan confesses her dream about becoming a romance novelist. They even almost have a moment where they kiss, this shocks both of them. As they become even more flirty and intimate with each other, a fight gets in the way of their relationship. Rowan finds out something about Neil when she thought she could trust him as her teammate. They decide to split up and win the game on their own. This changes when Rowan reads the message Neil has left in her yearbook. He has been in love with her since the very beginning. They make up and share a passionate kiss. 

If you are a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope, you’ll love this beautiful story. In this book, you will come across harsh language and mature topics like LGBTQ, feminism, and prison. Solomon writes this beautifully and light hearted, while still covering sensitive topics. She takes the reader on a lovesick journey as they read the rollercoaster of Rowan and Neil’s relationship. The way the writer describes the characters and their situations is so amazing that you feel like you are really in the book. Watching the two love birds fall deeper and deeper in love with each other really just warms your heart and is so romantic. This book is one big roller coaster of love and is perfect for romance book lovers. (Maddy N.)

 

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The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, by E.L. Konigsburg (Contemporary Fiction)

Have you ever felt personally connected to an inanimate object? In the book, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, by E. L Konigsburg, Margaret Rose Kane takes us on a mission to save three towers her uncles fondly constructed over a span of 45 years. Once Margaret turns 12, her parents go to Peru and her uncles refuse to take her in over the summer, so she goes to Camp Talequa. It being her first year at camp, she was an outsider from the other girls who have been going for many years. She gets bullied by them and gets into trouble. She decides to rebel and not participate in any camp activities. Unfortunately, this gets her sent home with her uncles to their home at 19 Schuyler Place, where the three towers they had constructed were. When Margaret returns home, she is upset to learn that the towers were going to be torn down. Margaret doesn’t give up and forms the Cultural Preservation Committee to save the towers. She experiences the difficulties of becoming a young adult as she strives to save the beloved towers.

This book is highly recommended for young adults who are as rebellious and independent as Margaret. It contains appropriate language and difficult vocabulary that well developed teenagers may enjoy and learn from. In this story, Margaret learns from her experience as an outsider and inspires many others who may read this book. She never gives up on her journey to save the towers her uncles built. It is an incredible and intense plot and keeps the readers invested to read more! Overall, this book is amazing, creative, well written, and captures the attention of young adults. (Maddy N.)

 

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These Violent Delights,Chloe Gong (Historical Fantasy)

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.)

 

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Foul Lady Fortune, by Chloe Gong (Historical Fantasy)

Rosalind Lang has been made into a weapon. In 1927, she was brought back from the brink of death. What saved her was an experiment that has now given Rosalind the ability to make her heal from any injury, stop her from aging, and relieve her need for sleep. Rosalind uses her abilities to save herself from her past and serve her country.

When the Japanese Imperial Army starts to invade her country, Rosalind is ordered to investigate the murders that have appeared throughout Shanghai. Rosalind is partnered with Orion Hong, a fellow Nationalist spy who drives her mad, and they must pose as a married couple to not draw attention to themselves. Even though Orion is unwilling to share what else he has planned, and Rosalind has secrets that she would like to keep hidden, both must work together to unravel the mysteries of Shanghai. 

Foul Lady Fortune takes place after Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights duology. I recommend that the These Violent Delights duology be read before Foul Lady Fortune, because the duology is sometimes referenced and provides good background information about the events that happened before Foul Lady Fortune. However, Foul Lady Fortune can still be read without reading the duology and it’s still just as enjoyable. 

This book is a page-turner with its enticing plot and loveable characters. The plot is easy to follow but sometimes gets a little complicated, yet it is still captivating. The characters have a lot of depth and mystery to them, and their development throughout the story is evident and well done. Foul Lady Fortune is a unique book that captivates the reader and makes them experience a whole new world (Victoria R).

 

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They Both Die At The End, by Adam Silvera (SciFi/Romance)

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)

 

pinlk book cover chopsticks and dumpling

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, by Wai Chim (Contemporary Fiction)

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.)

 

 

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Heiress Apparently , by Diana Ma (SciFi/Romance)

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.)

 

blue and pink book cover

Counting Down with You, Tashie Bhuiyan (Romance)

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.)

 

book cover house in mountains

Four Blind Mice, ( Alex Cross Series) by James Patterson (Mystery)

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.)

 

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See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon (SciFi/Romance)

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.)

book cover girl in red dress

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir (Fantasy)

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.)

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Gone Too Far, by Natalie D. Richards (Mystery)

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.)

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I’ll Be the One, by Lyla Lee (Contemporary Fiction)

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.)


Published by Jane Hennessy on September 21, 2023
Last Modified June 15, 2024
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