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Teen SRC 2021 – Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

“Look on the bright side”, you hear them say. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially when life isn’t so encouraging. In Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata —the protagonist, Katie Takeshita, is a Japanese girl born in America. The word “kira-kira”means “glittering” in Japanese. Katie and her sister Lynn learn, through a tumbling turn of unexpected events and depressing changes, that even if situations get dire and stoop to their lowest, hope is the magic that allows them to see things from a very special perspective, the Kira-Kira way. This book is full of inspiration and shows young children a more creative way of thinking. 

When Katie’s family moves to Georgia, everything seems to change. This was a time when Americans looked down on the Japanese and all other people of colour. Katie even says that the townspeople believe the Japanese are worthless, “like doormats, or ants or something!” Racism, responsibility, and anger get thrown into Katie’s life, and sometimes she feels like she could shatter under the pressure. But amidst the hurling events and frequent financial struggles, Katie manages to grasp the strong bond of love that connects her with her sister Lynn. This bond makes Katie realize that no matter how bad her grades get, or how behind their family are on their bills, her sister’s love will always protect and guide her, and help her see things the Kira-Kira way. Oh, what would she do without Lynn! But when Lynn turns 14, she becomes friends with a popular girl at school called Amber, and suddenly doesn’t pay as much attention to Katie, or at least not in the way she used to. Katie suddenly senses a deep fear that she might lose the friendly, caring sister she’d always known, or worse, lose her altogether. Kira-Kira has won the Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 2005. 

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” – Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is genuinely one of the most influential novels speaking out against racism written in our time. Especially now, in the times of people using their voice to campaign for what’s right, this book brings a whole new light to the controversial issues that have existed for generations.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr Carter who lives in two different worlds- a poor neighbourhood where she lives, and a fancy prep school she attends. Starr navigates through many feelings of grief after seeing her childhood best friend, Khalil, murdered by the police. When his death makes national headlines, Starr faces a choice that can change the entire community that surrounds her- does she defend her friend when confronted by a horrendous amount of outside pressures?

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Teen SRC 2019 – Popular (a memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen

Popular (a memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen was probably one of the most inspirational reads I’ve tried in a long time. A huge plus, it’s also a quick one! I finished this in roughly 4 hours so “not having time” isn’t an excuse for not reading this. Also, since it’s a memoir, it’s a true story! Which made me relate to it even more.

Popular is written by 15-year-old sophomore, Maya, who recently moved from Brownsville, Texas to rural Georgia. The memoir begins with her cleaning out her house and finding an old book her dad picked up from the thrift store a while ago. The book, “Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide”, was written by teen model Betty Cornell in the 1950s!

Since Maya was a “social outcast” at her school, her mom suggested she follow the advice of a 50s teen during her 8th-grade year and see what happens. During the year, Maya documents her classmates’ reactions as well as how she feels after trying Betty’s tips. To give you a feel for things, Betty Cornell’s wardrobe staples were girdles, pantyhoses, several long skirts and a simple string of pearls. As Maya moves throughout the book’s chapters and progresses through the school year, she slowly transforms from an awkward geek to a confidant, happy, young woman. Of course, she figures out the real definition of popular along the way and to her shock, it was not at all what she expected it to be.

I honestly loved this book and related a lot to it. I know popularity is a major cause of self-esteem issues in a lot of teens so this book is super relevant. The fact that it was written by a 15-year-old, who uses words like “er” and “ew” also makes it so much more lighthearted and sweet. Maya’s commentary is very amusing and will never, ever bore you. I give this book 9.5/10 stars because I wish she could’ve gone into a bit more detail about Betty’s book’s content but other than that, I give it my highest recommendation to my fellow girlies who are going through that awkward phase. This book will make you laugh, groan, smile, cry, you name it. Have fun reading!!

Teen SRC 2018- Heart of a Champion by Ellen Schwartz

Will he ever be able to play?

Will they ever get out?

What will he do?

Heart of a Champion by Ellen Schwartz is an amazing book and one of my favourite books ever. It takes place in Vancouver during WWII. The Japanese are about to get sent to the internment camps. Things are slowly getting taken away from them. Kenny and his family is getting worried. Kenny’s dad Hiroshi gets sent away to work. “All male of the Japanese race between the ages of eighteen and forty-five are to be removed from a one-hundred-mile-wide ‘secure zone’ along the west coast of British Colombia” says the notice they get .The Sakamoto family couldn’t believe it. Then Kenny and the rest of his family get sent away somewhere else. Mickey, Kenny’s older brother plays baseball for the Asahi’s, now he’s to disappointed to even do anything because he can’t play. At he camp its just a lot of work for Kenny because Mickey got mad and he got sent away. Its all up to Kenny to save his family.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I think Ellen Schwartz is an amazing author and has a really good style of writing. I got the chance to meet Ellen Schwartz and she talked about how she got the inspiration to this book. She also talked about how much effort got put into writing and thinking of ideas. For this book she did a lot of research because she didn’t know a lot about the Asahi’s and where they came from. I would definitely read this book again and I think you should read it.


Teen SRC 2018- 365 Days of Wonder by R.J Palacio

365 Days of Wonder365 Days of Wonder by R.J Palacio

This isn’t a story book but a book of everyday of the year with a quote for each day. It is about different precepts that diverse people wrote and put into a book about friendship, kindness, courage and love. The quotes are from books, movie/book characters, famous people etc. Here is a few spoils of some of the quotes: “The best things in life are not things.”-Ginny Moore “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” -Anne Herbert

I personally like the book even there isn’t any story to it. There is a lot of inspirational words and quotes in the book that can actually help with real life. It really is amazing how the author found so many great precepts. This is a wonderful book for Wonder fans and people who need some inspiration and comfort. I would rate this book 5 stars. Hope this review is helpful!