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Teen SRC 2019 – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Ever since I saw this beautiful minimalistic cover at Costco, I knew I had to read it and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to.

Dumplin’ is about a girl named Willow who’s fat, obese, overweight, whatever you want to call it. And she knows, and she’s come to terms with it. She’s never had a problem with it… until she meets Bo, the star football player. Desperate to get her “spunk” back, Willow joins a beauty pageant, shocking just about everyone around…

I loved this book so so much and found myself laughing throughout because Willow’s charisma and humour just really made it relatable. A toxic body image is something that’s enforced upon us every time we go on social media, read a magazine or see a poster up in the mall. It’s a very prominent problem in our world that needs to be talked about. This book was an amazing and inspirational story that made my heart sing (ok maybe that’s an exaggeration but you get the point) and gave me a lot of hope and confidence.

My final rating is an 8.5/10 because I feel like the “wanting to change for a guy” is quite downgrading in my book but the fact that Willow overcomes that is an amazing feat to me. Would definitely recommend!

Teen SRC 2019- American Street by Ibi Zoboi

American Street

After reading her work in Black Enough (read my review here), I wanted to read more of Ibi Zoboi’s writing. American Street is a National Book Award Finalist and I totally understand why. It’s an emotional, riveting, and powerful read that discusses important issues head on.

Fabiola Toussaint and her mother leave Haiti in hope of a better life in America with her aunt and cousins. When her mother is detained in New Jersey, though, Fabiola watches their dreams crumble down to the ground. She is sent ahead to Detroit, being told her mother will join, later. But America is nothing like she imagined. She doesn’t understand her cousins, and her aunt doesn’t seem to even want her here. Little by little, Fabiola learns to live in this new country. Her cousins warm up to her, she befriends a cute boy— except her mother is still being detained and Fabiola can’t truly be home without her.

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Teen SRC 2019- Liberty by Andrea Portes

Liberty - Portes, Andrea

Funny, refreshing, and brilliant. Liberty by Andrea Portes is a spy story unlike any other.

Paige Nolan’s journalist parents went missing, and were presumably captured by terrorists. No one has told Paige whether they’re dead or alive, and there is nothing she can do to help them. Nothing, that is, until she is approached by Madden Carter, a spy from an obscure government agency called RAITH. If Paige goes to Russia disguised as a foreign exchange student and gets the government secrets from a government traitor, she can get the case on her missing parents reopened.

The problem? That foreign traitor she has to wrangle the secrets out of? He’s kind of her hero. He revealed the unconstitutional and privacy-invading spying techniques of the American government to the world, and that is just awesome. The second problem? He is actually, kind of, really… cute.

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Teen SRC 2019 – Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

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TL;DR at the bottom because I’m apparently incapable of writing shorter reviews now.

Gabi is a book that tackles a multitude of subjects, including body positivity/self image, race, gender, rape, drug addiction, grief, religion, and sex without being too preachy, stretching itself too thin, or cramming anything down your throat, so I applaud it for that alone. (The aforementioned issues also serve as a trigger warning for the book, in case you are sensitive to any of them.)

Beyond these abstract issues, we get the story of Gabi, as told through her diary. A Mexican-American girl in her last year of high school, Gabi’s going through some shi—crap. Her best friend, Cindy, gets pregnant, her other best friend, Sebastian, is trying to come out to his homophobic parents, her father is a meth addict, and she’s constantly told by the people around her that she’s too fat, too white, and never going to be good enough. So yeah. There’s a lot on her plate. But Gabi discovers poetry as a means of self-expression, and she has plenty of humour, cheer, and love to lean on.

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Teen SRC 2019 – Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward

Deep, heartbreaking, and honest. Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu was a wonderful book that explored the kind of tragic event we only read about in the news.

Caroline’s brother, Dylan was kidnapped when she was supposed to be watching him. He is gone for a few horrifying days before he is found, alive and apparently unharmed. With him in the kidnapper’s apartment is Ethan Jorgensen, a boy who was kidnapped four years ago, and was presumed dead.

Caroline is elated to have found Dylan but when her brother is having trouble sleeping, and can’t adjust to life back at home, she wants to find out what happened to him while he was kidnapped. After all, Dylan has nonverbal autism, and can’t speak for himself, and if she had been watching him that day like she was supposed to be doing, he wouldn’t have been taken. Her parents, though, seem happy with pretending nothing happened to Dylan at all. The only place she thinks she can find answers on how to help her brother is with Ethan Jorgensen. And maybe Caroline is the friend that Ethan needs, all along.

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Teen SRC 2019 – P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. This is the continuation of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and it is just as amazing as the first book. Everything has gotten deeper into the story but when you read it, it makes you sink right in.

Lara Jean and Peter have been pretending to be together, just for personal benefits… until they actually fell in love. This is Lara Jean’s first relationship, and it all started with a dramatic make-believe. Things got complicated when another boy who received her letters came back for her. He was very charming, and he liked her too. Lara Jean was feeling the same way, but she also loves Peter. What will she do? Can she be in love with two boys at the same time?

P.S. I Still Love You is definitely some romance trouble again. It’s quite interesting and entertaining to see inexperienced Lara Jean slowly unravel her love life. I love this book just as much as the first, I would really recommend this series.

Teen SRC 2019 – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea - Mafi, Tahereh

Stark, honest, and beautiful. I devoured A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi in one day. The main character is a Muslim girl- a hijabi Muslim girl who also break-dances on her free time. I had high hopes when I started reading, but this book did end up disappointing me a little. Instead of taking Shirin (pronounced Shee-reen), who is a very well-written character and letting her break the stereotypes, learn to not be afraid of showing her true self to others, and generally be awesome, more than two-thirds of this book was spent on her romance; the cliché falling in love with a nice, yet ignorant white boy, a socially untouchable boy that she knows she cannot have.

Without the love story, this book would have received a solid 9.5/10. I give it an 8.5/10. Even with my complaints about the excessive romance, this book showed what life was and still is unfortunately, for Muslims after the horrific tragedy of 9/11. Shirin is abused on an almost daily basis, both verbally and physically, she has learned not to trust anyone other than her family, and she has put up walls around her in order to protect herself. Her personality is developed throughout the story as she gets the chance to examine the way she feels about others, and herself. The way the story is written, the characters and the setting came together for a beautiful result. All in all, it is a book I would recommend.

Teen SRC 2019 – That was Then, This is Now by S.E Hinton

Image result for That was Then, This is Now book cover

That was Then, This is Now by S.E Hinton

In the 1960’s, a small town in Oklahoma has had a lot of turmoil, with gang wars and teenage drama coated all over the streets. In the midst of all this chaos, Mark Douglas and Bryon Douglas, two close siblings, are starting to drift apart from each other. As Bryon matures, Mark becomes more hateful and violent, with Bryon trying to keep their relationship intact before it shatters away forever. Meanwhile, Bryon starts to develop a more complex understanding of the world, and where he fits among the beautiful hellfire of adolescent life.

The style in which “That Was Then, This is Now” was written gives a rather eloquent yet intriguing air of poise to this novel, using sophisticated language to transform the plight of the character’s conflicts and experiences into inquisitive expression through language. Even though the point of view in the novel belongs to Bryon Douglas, Mark’s older stepbrother, it brings a level of complexity and thoughtfulness that gives the story a heartfelt tone into this novel’s world.

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Teen SRC 2019 – How To Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo

How To Keep Rolling After a Fall is about a teenager with a really, REALLY, bad past. (Nikki) From the start, you’d think that she was a normal teenager…except for the fact that she was framed for a cyberbullying incident. Normally it wouldn’t have been so bad, but the victim attempted to commit suicide. People hate her, her reputation is tarnished, and she has to hide her identity in fear of being called out and recognized.

However, after a brutal breakup, Nikki’s luck turns around. She meets a guy named Pax, whose dreams of being a water polo player are ruined when a car accident cripples both his legs. Stuck in a wheelchair, Pax has to give up on scholarships that were available before everything happened. Miraculously, these two people meet and are involved in one another’s lives.

Can both Nikki and Pax have a second chance at life, or let the past get to them until their whole future is gone?

Out of a scale of 1-10, I’d rate this book 8.5. (Lost points for taking too long to get together)

Teen SRC 2019 – Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott

Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott

Summary:

Five feet apart is about two teens with diseases that keeps them from doing all the things that they want to do. They both have to live in a hospital. Stella is an organized control freak who plays everything by the rules. Will, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He brakes all the rules and never takes his medications that keep him alive. One night, Will is on the roof looking like he is going to jump. Stella runs up the stairs to save him and they make a deal to keep each other alive. They have to stay 6 feet apart from each at all times. But when their paths begin to cross more often the 6 feet distance that keeps them alive starts to shrink. Will they stay within 6 feet? Will the head nurse catch them? Find all the answers in this fantastically romantic book, Five feet apart.

My rating:

This book was so amazing I could hardly put it down! It was a bit of a sad book, but it was full of wonder and many small adventures. I would recommend this book to teens who are interested in romance books. Caution: There is quite a bit of swearing in this book.

Five stars out of five.