The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Bibliographic Citation:
Thomas, Angie. (2017). The Hate U Give. New York, NY: Balzer + Bray. 978-0062498533.

the hate u giveSynopsis:
A sixteen-year-old girl, Starr Carter, witnesses the death of her best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a biased police officer. This is the second of her friends to be murdered in front of her. Before the murder, Starr lived as two people. Two versions of herself. One in the poor urban setting where she is raised, and the other at her affluent suburban private school.  The already delicate balance between the two is destroyed after the shooting, and she is torn between speaking out in the name of justice for her friend, and maintaining anonymity for her and her family’s safety.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I can not say enough good things about this novel. It moved me to tears often, many times I actually had to stop reading to regain my composure. However, when I wasn’t crying, many times I was laughing. I loved how relatable these characters are here. As a teacher, someone who is surrounded by young people day in and day out — Angie Thomas GETS them. This book is so real. I felt like I had behind the scenes access to a documentary or a personal narrative. I felt like I really knew this family. Starr is so real, and while I love her, it is gut-wrenching how real she truly is in our society. How many Starrs we have, how many Khalils. Real in a sense that this is too common place. It is sad how familiar this story has become in headline news. A young, unarmed black man gunned down because a peace officer was too quick to shoot.

For anyone who knows me, they know that social justice, race relations, and civil rights are things I am passionate about and are very close to my heart. Honestly, what really drew me into this book is that I had a really good friend named Khalil for years. While he hasn’t been murdered, he too chose a very dangerous path for his life. Since I started reading this book, he has weighed heavier on my heart than usual. A few years ago I read a list of books entitled “Books About Race Every White Person in America Should Read” or something to that effect. This book needs to go on the list. This is an absolute must read.

I love this book.
You’ll love this book.

I can’t wait for the movie.

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23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

Bibliographic Citation:
Velde, Vivian Vande. (2016). 23 Minutes. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. 978-1629794419.

Plot Summary:
Zoe is a teenage girl with a complicated past and an ability to sort-of time travel. She can relive events she wants to change, but only 23 minutes of them & it rarely changes things for the better. One day Zoe happens upon a bank robbery and knows she has to do whatever she can to help.

23minutes

Image from Amazon.com

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I am a lover of realistic fiction. You generally won’t find me with my nose in a fantasy or science fiction book. No wizards or vampires for me. But this book, though far from realistic, sucked me in. True crime is perhaps my favorite genre of all time, so it is likely that the crime scene tape reflected in the eye of the person on the cover is what got me, but nonetheless I read AND enjoyed the book. It sat on my desk for well over a month before I picked it up and then I read it cover to cover in about 2 hours. I genuinely liked both Zoe & Daniel, the main characters in the story. Zoe is a little bit different, but you like it probably because the story is told from her point of view. I don’t know if it is possible to hate a main character in a YA novel because you’re inside their heads basically, but moving on. Daniel is likable because he is just so darn nice, and always wants to help. They’re both heroes in this story for their unwavering desire to put other people before themselves. Zoe has the ability to walk away, and just can’t do it. She puts herself in harms way over and over again to try to save Daniel. She could’ve played it back that one time and just left it at that, but she didn’t. Daniel trusts a total stranger who sounds like a lunatic, and in a way sacrifices himself and his own safety for these other people. It would’ve been easy for both of them to just distance themselves from it all, and they can’t just do it. It is noble of them. Stupid at times, but admirable. The only thing I didn’t like was that I felt like the ending was a little cheesy. I don’t think Daniel would’ve bought Zoe a phone in real life, maybe a watch but not a prepaid phone. But then again, this isn’t real life because there aren’t 23 minute time travelers just popping in and out of certain events. Or are there?

Nominations:

  • Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) Quick Picks
  • 2016 Cybil (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) — Young Adult Speculative Fiction division

Author Info:

Vivian Vande Velde is the author of over 30 books ranging from picture books to books for adults. Her work has won several awards including School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (Never Trust a Dead Man), the Edgar for best young adult mystery (Never Trust a Dead Man) and the Anne Spencer Linbergh Prize for fantasy ( Heir Apparent).

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Bibliographic Citation:
Schmidt, Gary D. (2015). Orbiting Jupiter. New York, NY: Clarion Books. ISBN 978-0544462229.

jupiter

Image from Amazon.com

Plot Summary:
Orbiting Jupiter tells story of Joseph, a young, troubled teenage father, who has never seen his daughter. After being placed with a foster family he learns what he’ll do for the people he cares about and what it really means to be a family.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
Orbiting Jupiter is a short, easy read that will move you to tears. This book was recommended to me because it is sad and it definitely delivers the emotions. The story is told by Jack, Joseph’s foster brother and he is the perfect narrator because he roots for him from day one. As I’ve mentioned before, literature for children and young adults tends to always have a happy ending, this story does too — which I like — but it felt very predictable to me. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it ends the way you probably think it will once you start reading. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, but it is what it is. I’ll recommend this book to my students who are specifically seeking out a book that will make them cry.

Awards and Honors:
Capitol Choices 2016
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of 2015, Middle Grade
Booklist Best Young Adult Books of 2015
ALA Notable Books for Children 2016, Older Readers
VOYA’s Perfect Tens 2015; 2016 Winner, Notable Books for a Global Society
CCBC Choices 2016, Fiction for Young Adults
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Young Adult Fiction
ILA Young Adults’ Choices, 2016 Reading List

Author Info:

Gary D. Schmidt is the author of more than 15 books and the recipient of several awards. His book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys won both a Newbery Honor Award and a Printz Honor in 2005.  Additionally, in 2008 his book The Wednesday Wars was also a Newbery Honor Award winner.

 

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I’m back!

Sorry for the delay. New posts are on the horizon!

Reviews coming soon (probably not in this order):