“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is separated into two parts: one centers around the Atticus’ children’s point of view and their childhood and the other centers around the case of Tom Robinson still in the eyes of the children. The novel examines racism in the 1930’s through the eyes of innocent children and raises several questions about the nature of prejudice and its effects on behavior such as “Are people naturally evil or are they products of societal norms?” and “is our current judicial system flawed so that justice is in the hands of mob rule?” To Kill a Mockingbird is a great read for anyone who likes literature about the 1930’s and the great depression. This may also interest readers who would like to understand the nature of prejudice, especially during the Jim Crow Era of American history.

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-Tyler M.

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

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Following the events of the original hunger games, catching fire brings more action, story, and plot to the expanding universe of the hunger games franchise. Katniss, after surviving the 74th hunger games, enter into a special 75th game in which all of the previous winners participate. Catching fire again examines the class difference between the elites in the capital and the lower class’ that live in the 13 districts except this time the resistance within the districts are struggling to fight against the government. The themes in this novel consist of societal analysis on the social economic divide between these two types of people and the actions necessary to balance back the scales of justice. I would suggest this book to those who read the first book and enjoyed it. I would also suggest this book and the previous book in the series to those who are interested in dystopian societies.

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-Tyler M.

“The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley

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Although not your typical teen read The Millionaire Next Door is a classic and a must read for anyone who hopes to achieve financial security and independence. It was written by two business professors in the 1970’s who set out to catalogue the behavior and characteristics of millionaires.  Initially they sought these “millionaires” from residents of affluent neighborhoods who drove expensive cars and had all the external trappings of wealth only to discover that mats of these people had no actual financial assets. They then looked at people with large investment capital and found that they did not live the lifestyles one normally associates with the wealthy. These were people who made reasonable income but achieved their financial success by being frugal and responsible with their money.  I read this book because I am interested in finance and in learning how to manage money once I start making it.  I found the book extremely enlightening and full of practical advice that I can actually apply to my own life. I recommend it for all teens since we are not taught in high school or even college how to manage our money well and we live in a society where the motto seems to be spend now and worry later.

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-Tyler M.

“Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games follows the story of a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen living in a dystopic society that was once North America. This society is sharply divided between those who live in the capital and rule, thus enjoying all the comforts and benefits society has to offer and those who live in the districts and are ruled, living in abject poverty and fear. Once a year the capital selects a boy and a girl ages 12-18 from each district to compete in a fight to the death called the Hunger Games from which there can be only one victor. When Katniss’ sister is chosen Katniss volunteers in her place setting up a cascade of events which eventually lead to her becoming a symbol of hope for the people of the Districts and the leader of a resistance movement. I chose this book because I enjoy science fiction and books about dystopic societies.  The book was interesting to me because it explored the idea of social classes. It highlights how the ruling class reaps the benefits from the labor of the working class and why it is imperative for them to maintain the current class structure to ensure the continuation of their comfortable way of life. I would recommend this book for people who enjoy works of fiction and those who enjoy books that are critical of current social structures.

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-Tyler M.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald, depicts the culture and atmosphere of the 1920s in the most accurate way, according to some historians. The classic tale of Nick Caraway, his neighbors Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom Buchanan encompasses the careless nature of the wealthy at that time, which led to the economic bubble of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The story’s centers around Nick Caraway and his point of view on the love between Gatsby and Daisy who both knew each other before World War 1. For five years after the war, Gatsby pursued the American dream, which included gaining wealth and maintaining his love for Daisy. Fast forward to the time when Nick moves to New York and he soon discovers that Gatsby is in love with his cousin, Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy eventually meet again and fall back in love although Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan, who is cheating on Daisy. The drama expressed in these characters makeup the style and prestige of the 1920’s. The themes of class status, the American Dream, and the carelessness of that era. I recommend The Great Gatsby for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and is curious about the culture of the 1920’s.

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-Tyler M.

“1984” by George Orwell

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The novel 1984, written by George Orwell, explores the concept of authoritarianism and its effects on the individual in society. The protagonist Winston Smith attempts to express himself against a society that ultimately determines his thoughts, actions, and role in this fictional society. As I cheered on Winston to overcome Big Brother and the oppressive regime, Orwell raised some thought provoking questions about society and its danger against the sovereignty of the individual. How can we trust “the truth”? Is “the truth” absolute when all evidence is skewed towards that absolute? Is our society comparative to the nightmare scenario of 1984? Readers that can appreciate philosophical concepts encompassed within an intriguing narrative and enjoy novels that leave them asking for more will enjoy this novel. At least that’s what I felt when I read Orwell’s 1984 and I’m sure that you will as well.

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-Tyler M.

 

“The Problem with Forever” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout is an amazing book that takes your emotions on a wild ride. The book is based around the story of a girl name Mallory who has a past that ends up coming back to haunt her. For most of her life, Mallory was living in different foster homes, but when she was 13, a terrible incident got her out of the system. For years, Mallory had been living in the same home with another boy who was always there to protect her when she needed him. He was the biggest hero in her eyes. But then, she was adopted by a family and had to move away from her hero and hasn’t seen him since. From the scars that her past left, it was hard for Mallory to speak at all. She had been home schooled ever since she was adopted, but by the time she was a senior in high school, she thought she was ready to experience the world again. As she steps foot in the first school she has been inside for years, she sees someone way too familiar. Mallory is now forced to learn how to live with her past and with the way people change. I chose to read this book because just by reading a summary I knew it would be interesting. This book is truly fascinating and leaves you wanting to read more and more. Even through all the difficult parts of the book, the way it is written made me want to know everything going on and get through the book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the dark truth of what life could be like in the Young Adult genre.

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-Vanessa F.

 

“Extraordinary Means” by Robyn Schneider

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For most of his life now, Lane has lived inside his boundaries in an almost “boring” lifestyle. He has excellent grades, a great girlfriend, and is ready to head off to the college of his dreams. It all seems perfect to him, until he is diagnosed with an incurable case of tuberculosis.  Lane’s parents have no choice but to send him away to part hospital, part boarding school, The Latham House. Here, Lane finds a girl from his past who is not at all what he remembers. He is intrigued by the way her and her friends live such adventurous lives at a place with such harsh rules. As he starts to get more used to his life at The Latham House, it’s hard to notice how much sicker everybody around him is getting until it happens to the person he cares about the most. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider provides such a tragic love story that only can be shared through the power of words. The main reason I chose to get through the entire book was because the story line was constantly progressing in the best way possible. Extraordinary Means is a great book for people who have an interest in living with a medical condition and still trying to love in the Young Adult genre.

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-Vanessa F.

“Every Last Word” By Tamara Ireland Stone

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The saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” has never related to a story better. Sam, presents   herself like the rest of the popular girls in her class, but that’s not the truth. Inside her brain, Sam is struggling with OCD and haunting thoughts. Sam has her family to depend on, but if the girls she is considered to be “friends” with knew of any of this, they would be the quickest people to judge. Sam is tortured by the way she is living and who she is spending her time with. That is, until a girl named Caroline introduces Sam to a place of safety for outcasts who have been ignored. The people in the place slowly help Sam to feel “normal” for once and she is the happiest she has been for a long time. Until reality hits her and she is struck with a fact that is unbelievable. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone is one of the most beautiful stories ever. It deals with struggles everyone goes through and also some struggles only some people deal with. I chose to read this book because I thought the concept of the story was different than anything I’ve seen. It was easy to get through because the story line of this book is incredible and leaves you surprised with every page you turn. I would recommend this book to people struggling with friendships and being who they are in the Young Adult genre.

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-Vanessa F.

“All the Bright Places” By Jennifer Niven

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This is the story of a boy and girl who you would never expect to have anything in common. Theodore Finch is known as the “weird” boy who has a very strong interest in death and fascinates himself by thinking of ways to commit suicide. Violet Markey blame’s herself for her sister’s death, and is constantly waiting for the future to come faster so she can get out of the small town that reminds her of her sister at every turn. Theodore and Violet have never really crossed paths until the day they both end up on top of the bell tower. That is where Violet saves Theodore, or is it the other way around? Violet and Theodore end up working together on a project where they explore their boring town. Theodore shows Violet the best places around, and they become adventurers. Unfortunately, while Violet begins to enjoy her life, Theodore’s life crumbles into pieces. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven takes you on a wild journey of heartbreak and the sadder parts of life. I chose to read this book because it was easy to see it would be a beautiful story between an unlikely match. The main reason I finished this book was because it was a unique story with a tragic twist. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a tragic but fascinating story in the Young Adult genre.

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-Vanessa F.