“My Heart and Other Black Holes” By Jasmine Wanga

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For Aysel, nothing in her life seems worthy anymore, which is why she is contemplating taking her own life. Her mother thinks of her as a disgrace and her whole town is frightened by just the thought of her father. Along with her family life, she is constantly being mocked at school. She is fed up with her life so begins to plan for her suicide. After some research, Aysel realizes she needs someone to help her go through with her plan. This is why she goes to a website to find a “suicide partner”. Luckily, she finds the not-so-perfect perfect match. Her match, user FrozenRobot a.k.a. Roman, and Aysel begin to plan things out just the way they want them. As things start to get more serious, Aysel isn’t 100% she wants to go through with the plan. She is now left to make the decision of going through with it or convincing Roman not to. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is a heartbreaking take on a could-be love story. It stood out from many other books and is the perfect book for people who enjoy the darker parts in the Young Adult genre.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Vanessa F.

“Before I Fall” By Lauren Oliver

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Samantha Kingston is a popular senior with lots of friends and a great boyfriend. She enjoys life and is constantly partying. In fact, February 12th (“Cupid Day”) is one of her favorite times of the year. That is until she dies in a car accident on “Cupid Day.” However, she doesn’t really actually die. Instead, she wakes up the next morning and the morning after that, reliving “Cupid Day” over and over again. Samantha realizes that small decision or actions can change the whole day for her. She begins to find her voice and discover who she really wants to be. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver was one of the most suspenseful books I have ever read. Although it might’ve gotten frustrating, I was determined to finish the book to see what was going to happen to Samantha. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Young Adult books with a great sense of patience. 

Check this book out or put it on hold


-Vanessa F.

“Defending Taylor”by Miranda Kenneally

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Taylor Lukens is a star soccer player, a member of the debate team, and a candidate for valedictorian at her private high school in St. Andrews, in Tennessee. Her academic success, in addition to her father’s fame as senator, makes her a great candidate to be accepted into Yale, the school her family members have attended. When Taylor is caught with her boyfriend’s Adderall pills, she takes the fall for him and hopes that her family name will save her from punishment, but she gets expelled from St. Andrews instead. Taylor now has to attend the public high school, Hundred Oaks High, for her senior years because her parents and school administrators are convinced that she has a drug addiction problem. With her chances of getting into Yale slim, Taylor starts to realize that her lifelong dream of taking over her family’s finance company is not looking as appealing as she thought. When her brother’s old friend Ezra comes back to town, Taylor starts to realize that her expulsion opened her eyes to more possibilities than just Yale.

Fans of Kenneally’s work will be familiar with the setting and characters that have been featured in her other six novels, so Defending Taylor easily fits into the small, Tennessean community that Kenneally had previously established. This novel, however, does not require any prior knowledge about the characters or the setting. Those who have read Racing Savannah, also by Kenneally, will recognize Jack and Savannah when they make a guest appearance in Defending Taylor. This story heavily stresses the importance of hard work and how dropping a name is not always the way to success. Even when Taylor is expelled and it appears like she has no chance of getting into Yale, she is still determined to correct her mistakes so the admissions officers give her a chance. A love interest is a typical feature in Kenneally’s novels, and she does not disappoint her fans in Defending Taylor. Any teenage girl who has had a crush on one of her brother’s friends will be able to relate to the way Taylor feels about her brother’s friend Ezra. While Taylor has feelings for Ezra, she is also a strong, independent young woman who can hold her own without relying on a guy. She takes a stand against the mean girl on her soccer team, and she confronts her parents about her feelings about college. Any reader who has enjoyed Kenneally’s other novels should check out Defending Taylor as their next good read.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee P.

 

“The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things” by Ann Aguirre

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This is the first YA book I’ve read in which I wasn’t waiting to figure out what the problem is. Usually, I spend the first few chapters wishing the story would hurry up and get to the point already. That is not the case here.

The protagonist, Sage Czinsky, is a 16 year old doing her best to make high school a less-terrible experience for everyone. Sage is an environmentally active, “crunchy-granola” type who sticks to her principles even when it’s inconvenient. This girl is interesting and it’s nice to see anyone in high school, even a fictional character, work hard at trying to be a good person. But our heroine has a past, and as much as she does her best to stave off her darker side, it unexpectedly rears its ugly head.

Sage begins leaving kind words on post-it notes on the lockers of her classmates. Whenever she finds someone struggling or having a difficult day, she leaves a sticky note with small but kind observations of what she notices about them. She never really knows what kind of affect her post-its have, but figures from a few changes she’s noticed that they were overall positively perceived. It isn’t until her classmates learn of Sage’s tragedy that she’s able to see the overwhelming support from nearly the entire school when they leave post-its on her locker. Just as she did for them, they are able to return the hope that she always offered in dark times. In Sage’s case, we see that the good she has done nearly atones for the mistakes of her past, but since it will always be a part of her, she will probably be unable to see that for herself.

One of the messages that I took away from this book is that your past can catch up with you, but life is not about what you did in your past, not really. Life is about how you treat the present, and even though you may be flawed, you can still help and be good to others.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I love the fact that the protagonist is a flawed yet strong heroine, and her boyfriend (yep, she has a boyfriend, and that part of the story is something you shouldn’t miss) is a significant part of her life but not her entire life. I am tempted to write that this novel is well crafted and funny.  While it’s true that it is, I can’t say that because I fancy myself to be(come) a better writer than that. Plus, that saying is not too original.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Cicely D.