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Teen SRC 2020 – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Hey guys! I’ll be reviewing Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys today, a YA historical fiction book.

This story takes place during the Holocaust, in Lithuania, also known as the Baltic genocide. A 15-year-old girl, Lina Vilkas, is arrested alongside her mother, Elena, and her little brother, Jonas. They are shoved onto a train by the Soviet Secret Police (The NKVD) alongside many other Jews, heading towards a concentration camp. To document what is happening to her, Lina draws pictures detailing everything she goes through in hopes of later showing the world.

I really, really enjoyed this book. To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a historical fiction, it’s just an extremely good genre. I appreciate the effort Sepetys puts into researching each of her books and it really reflects when one reads them. This story is definitely not a light read and it will probably make you cry at some point but I would still recommend it to anyone. I think reading about the terrible things that have happened in history is a key part of never repeating it in the future, and if you happen to like reading, historical fiction is a great way to educate yourself.

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Teen SRC 2020- Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence

The year is 1957, and Spain is under the iron-fist rule of General Francisco Franco. Daniel Matheson, a Texan teen, is visiting Spain with his family. With his passion for photography, he hopes to take the perfect picture for his portfolio, a picture that will also somehow convince his dad to let him pursue his dreams.

But Spain isn’t the perfect tropical paradise it seems for its American tourists and soon, Daniel finds himself falling– for his maid, Ana, and for the secrets some people would do anything to keep buried. Ana herself is enchanted by the American freedom promised by the hotel magazines. She dreams for a life for herself and her family away from Franco’s tyrannical rule.

Daniel and Ana are the main characters, but we are also given glimpses into other people’s lives. For example: Julia, who is Ana’s older sister, and a new mother, is drowning in secrets and fear. Her brother, Rafael, who works both at a slaughterhouse and a cemetery is fighting with the past and his memories. Fuga, Rafael’s friend wants to bullfight more than anything, and Daniel’s mother is struggling to find out where she belongs.

As any Ruta Sepetys book, Fountains of Silence is as rich in history as it is in humanity. This book brought to light an injustice often overlooked in history: Spanish babies were stolen from their families, proclaimed dead, but instead given to other families of a higher creed. I loved the historical accuracy of the book, but sometimes grew bored with the many first-hand documents.

A beautiful romance, a suspenseful historical fiction, and everything I search for in a novel. 9.5/10, only because I didn’t like the large skip in time (it throws me off) and some parts felt dragged on. Otherwise, STRONGLY RECOMMEND!!

Teen SRC 2020 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 

Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Off the Shelf

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is about a young girl known as Liesel Meminger who grows up in Germany amidst World War II who lives with her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Throughout the story, Liesel steals various pieces of literature, even though she is oblivious to what the words and paragraphs within them mean and how to read them. At first, she doesn’t even know how to comprehend the words and letters within the books, but she knows that the books themselves hold significant values and ideas. Hans notices and teaches her how to make sense of the letters, in which Liesel slowly progresses in her journey to become a more literate person. Eventually, Liesel realizes that Hans and Rosa are secretly in defiance with the Nazi regime by hiding a Jewish boy known as Max in their basement. 

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Teen Book Review – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner - Hosseini, Khaled

I have returned from the dead to bring forth a review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book was recommended to me by a friend in passing conversation. I came upon it by chance at my school library, and decided to check it out. I devoured the book in a day, and do not regret the sleep I missed because of it. But, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Amir is the son of a wealthy merchant in Kabul, Afghanistan. His mother died giving birth to him, and he has continued to disappoint his father after the fact. His father wants a son that is into sports and one that can stand up for himself. Amir loves literature and is a self-proclaimed coward. Other than his unsteady father-son relationship, and his dead mother, Amir has everything going for him. Him and Hassan ( servant, best friend, and from the ethnic minority in Afghanistan) spend their days kite fighting.

Everything is perfect. Until the day it isn’t.

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TeenTober 2019 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The first time I tried reading this book, I got to about page 7 before I gave up and returned it. My 12-year-old self just did not like the perspective the story was written from, she found it too boring and not action-filled enough. In Grade 9, I tried it again and now it’s one of my favourite books, ever.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak takes place during the Holocaust, centred around a girl named Liesel, who has just lost her brother and is now living with foster parents. What sets the story apart immediately is that it’s told from Death’s perspective, who meets Liesel just 3 times in her life but finds her incredibly intriguing. Liesel’s story is one of laughter and one of tears but it’s also one that everyone should read.

I would recommend The Book Thief to absolutely everyone and anyone. Although it’s definitely not a light read, you won’t regret taking some time to fully process it. This is one of those rare books that made me truly cry. Cry with tears streaming down. Death really does have a way with words… The plot, the world, the characters, everything is so well written that you just can’t help but fall in love with it all. The final rating is a 100000000000/10, read it and then comment on this post, we’ll cry together :’)

Teen SRC 2019- The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

The Pearl Thief - Wein, Elizabeth

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein is a mystery, historical fiction and romance novel all in one.

Before Verity, there was Julie. (The Pearl Thief is the prequel to Code Name Verity, a best-selling book by Elizabeth Wein which you should totally read right now if you haven’t 0_0 i’m serious) Julia Beaufort-Stuart comes home to her grandfather’s estate from boarding school, expecting one last summer of relaxation, of appreciating grandfather’s large estate grounds before it, and all of her grandfather’s possessions are sold off.

What she didn’t expect is waking up in the hospital her beautiful hair cut off because of an injury on her head that made her unconscious for almost three days. Julie is unsettled, especially when she starts to realize that her having hit her head might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees has disappeared, and the last day he was seen was the same day she was injured.

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Teen SRC 2019- Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin

Someday We Will Fly - DeWoskin, Rachel

Stunning, compelling, and heartwrenching. Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin is the story of a Polish-Jewish refugee escaping the Nazis in Poland for Shanghai, China, inspired by true stories of the past.

After her mother vanishes from Warsaw, Lillia, her father, and baby sister Naomi escape Nazi-occupied Poland and arrive in Shanghai, China. With little money for even food, and no mother to look after them, Lillia knows she will never feel at home in this city. As the weeks go by without sign of her mother, Lillia sees herself grow into a woman she doesn’t recognize. She feels like she’s been broken into pieces that can never join to make her whole again.

But despite all of that, she’s not alone. Lillia finds herself in a small community of rag-tag friends and neighbours, and with their help, Lillia can’t make herself whole again, but maybe she can learn to survive and keep Papa and Naomi safe until her mother comes home.

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Teen SRC 2019 – My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane is a historical fiction book with a fantasy twist, and it’s one of my favourite book (of course I don’t have just ONE favourite book.)

Edward is dying. He is the king. He shouldn’t be dying. But he is, and he will die, never even having gotten his first kiss. Life’s no fair.

Lady Jane Grey would rather spend her days curled up with a book than have to go to any of the social gatherings her mother is so keen on making her go to. But when she is told that her beloved cousin is dying and she must marry in order to save the throne, she decides she must do her duty and agrees to the marriage. But there’s something off about her intended, and she’s determined to find out what.

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Teen SRC 2019- Under The Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Powerful, brilliant and captivating. Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples tells the story of two powerful Muslim heroines, one named Star and one named Helper (or one who helps), and it’s a story full of courage, hope, and strength.

In the rural mountains of Afghanistan, Najmah lives a simple but happy life with her parents and elder brother. But when the Taliban takes her father and brother prisoner to fight against the rebel forces, Najmah and her pregnant mother are left alone to look after the farm. Despite the days her mother wouldn’t get out of bed, and her Uncle who is trying to steal their land, Najmah is convinced that they can survive on the farm themselves until her father and brother come back, and is determined to keep going. When Najmah’s brother gives birth to a beautiful baby boy they name Habib, Najmah and her mother are elated. Her newfound happiness is shattered, though, when one day, while Najmah is herding the cattle into the far hills to the fresh grass, there is an air raid strike on her house. Najmah runs back just in time to see her mother point towards the airplanes in the sky before the bombs drop, killing the only family Najmah had left.

Nusrat, née Elaine, was born an American but never felt at home until she converted to Islam and met her husband, Faiz. When they hear of the American bomb attacks on Afghanistan, Nusrat’s natural instinct to help kicks in, and the married couple soon find themselves in Peshawar, Pakistan, Nusrat running a school for poor and orphaned children, and Faiz running an emergency clinic in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif. Nusrat loves her new family of in-laws, and teaching the eager children at the Persimmon Tree School, she finally feels like she belongs. But when the letters from Faiz stop coming, and the Taliban threaten to take her students away from her, Nusrat realizes she will have to keep her faith strong if she wants to keep the hope of her husband’s return.

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Teen SRC 2019- The Hidden Memory Of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

The Hidden Memory of Objects

The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato is a book that encompasses loss, grief, friendship, and learning to heal in a beautiful story that will leave readers speechless and wanting for more.

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler died, but no one understands how — or why. When the police tell her that he died from a drug overdose, and potentially a suicide, Megan is crushed. The brother she had known and loved — was it possible that she didn’t know him at all?

Heartbroken, she starts sifting through his old things, hoping to find some answers. But when she stumbles upon an old cigar box, one that was found on Tyler’s body after his death, intense pain fills her head at its touch. Confused, Megan starts touching other belongings of Tyler’s and realizes that when she touches some objects, she has visions of what happened in the past to the owners of the objects. Desperate for answers, she teams up with an charming friend of Tyler’s, and an old friend of her own to find out what happened that fateful day.

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