Tradition by Brendan Kiely

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Realistic fiction with food for thought!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Tradition by Brendan Kiely!
The book opens as Jules is recovering from an attack that she’s trying to wrap her head around. She decides she needs to get up and walk home. Next, James is helping a teen girl to her dorm after he found her unconscious in the woods. Part One: Before- introduces James to Fullbrook, his new school, his dorm and fellow sports players, then Jules as she is trying to hand out women’s health pamphlets to students, since it’s move-in day. Mothers are extremely offended and some are angry about this. As school begins for the year, inequality is apparent in many ways and it’s the way things are and always have been at Fullbrook. James is trying to fit in and mentally recover from a football accident last year that had his Iowa hometown reeling and Jules wants to change the inequality to help more people feel comfortable and accepted. Jules becomes friends with Aileen, a loner, and Javi, who has been her friend throughout high school. The three of them hang out with James and realize they have a lot in common because none of them are snobby, rude, bullies or pushy people. They are relaxed around each other and completely accepting of each other’s differences and they have a great time sneaking out of their dorms and into a college party together. Part Two: The Night at Horn Rock- tells us about Jules’ attack and the girl that James helped get to her dorm and brings the inequality to light in so many ways. Part Three: After- shows the aftermath of the attack and how Fullbrook sweeps problems under the rug for certain people. Part Four: The Winter Ball- brings a new group of freshmen girls into the Senior Send-Off Tradition with all of their naivety and innocence. Tradition addresses many controversial issues intelligently and without being too graphic about any of them. 5 stars for a realistic fiction book and its food for thought!

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

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Touching realistic fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 5 stars!

The Year of Living Awkwardly by Emma Chastain

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Charming and funny!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Year of Living Awkwardly: Sophomore Year by Emma Chastain!
Chloe shares her daily experiences through diary entries. She lives with her single father after her mother left them. Chloe’s mother went to Mexico with her much younger boyfriend. Needless to say, Chloe is angry at her mother. Chloe and her co-worker Grady have an entertaining relationship. Once school starts, so does the worrying and the drama of high school life. Friendships, dating, the musical and family spin Chloe out of control and she learns about herself in the process. Charming and funny, this realistic fiction is a blast to read with dynamic characters, drama and humor, 5 stars

 

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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A young adult mean girl mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review People Like Us by Dana Mele!
Kay and her group of friends find a body floating in the water when they go on their annual Halloween night jump in the lake. They realize that it’s a classmate and it looks like she’s slashed her wrists. Kay and her group of friends act entitled and insensitive. They also seem to be untrusting and possibly untrustworthy. They are the embodiment of mean girls. Kay is the main character dealing with death in her recent past and guilt about those deaths. Since she started attending the Bates boarding school, she’s truly become spiteful and petty, making decisions from bad to worse. When murder occurs, Kay is forced to step back and evaluate her actions, who she is and who she wants to become. There’s a bit of a twist and the bulk of the book deals with Kay’s background and her relationships with everyone, from family to friends to acquaintances. A young adult mean girl mystery, 4 stars!

Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

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A must read for anyone who enjoys suspense!
Thanks to Razorbill and Bookish First for the ARC of Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson!
Gabe and Elyse alternate in telling the story. Gabe is tired of his toxic girlfriend and finally breaks off their relationship, but she vows to make him pay. Elyse surprises herself by landing the part of Juliet in the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Gabe is reeling from Sasha’s, his ex-girlfriend’s, actions while Elyse is struggling with her home life. The two main characters both end up feeling defeated and alone. Jennifer Donaldson weaves a mysterious story with pure intensity around interesting characters! I don’t want to give anything away. I will just say this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys suspenseful young adult realistic fiction and it earns a riveting 5 stars from me!

The Rules of Rebellion by Amity Hope

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Rules of Rebellion by Amity Hope. Kylie gets teased by her younger sister, Allie, because of her complete lack of social fun, so Kylie decides to make a rebellion list of things she can do to expand her high school social experience. Kylie’s rebellion list contains rules also, such as attend a party (without drinking). With Kylie’s list and the help from her friend Leo, the adventures begin. This story turned out to be more complex than I expected and the foreshadowing was subtle and perfect. Kylie’s group of friends are supportive and fun and I enjoyed the prank that Leo planned for her list. Rules of Rebellion is a fun teen romance with the added maturity that makes it a perfect young adult realistic fiction book! Very adorable and worth 5 stars!

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer! Two teens that have each lost someone they love begin an ongoing anonymous conversation by adding to a letter left and then found next to a cemetery headstone. The conversation moves to email for convenience and these two strangers help each other grieve. Declan has lost his sister and his father is in prison and no longer part of their family. His mother has married Alan, who isn’t the nicest to Declan. Juliet has lost her journalist mother in a hit and run car accident and she lives with her father. Declan has an amazing best friend, Rev, that’s dealing with his own traumatic past and Juliet’s best friend, Rowan, is supportive and caring. The email relationship remains anonymous and grows deeper and more meaningful as their grief is dealt with together. Letters to the Lost melted my heart with the complicated storyline and endearing, real characters. I love everything about this story, from the caring, helpful teachers to the awkward friends to the dysfunctional family members. All of these components create a beautiful realistic fiction novel worth 5 stars!

The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato. Teddi’s summer vacation begins with a few options. She decides to spend time with Summerteens, the local library’s summer writing workshop. Before the workshop kicks off, Teddi has had a spooky encounter, a kiss and an argument with her single, downtrodden mother. I fell in love with The Precious Dreadful, Teddi’s personality and boldness and the variety of characters it holds in its pages! The more I read, the deeper the story took me. Teddi has pretty much raised herself since her mother, Brenda, tends to be drunk and partying with her friends instead of being available and sober for her daughter. Brenda is also keeping secrets from Teddi and has tried to, in her own dysfunctional way, protect her role as a mother. As Teddi’s summer rolls on, relationships become more complicated and drama-ridden and her subconscious is forcing her to remember a traumatic and horrible part of her childhood. The Precious Dreadful bends genres: mystery, horror, supernatural, romance and young adult realistic fiction; this book also pulls at your heartstrings through intense tragedy, awareness of bad choices and the bond of friendship and kindness of others and it’s well deserving of 5 stars!

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau. Six disgruntled, unhappy students are each planning something that will change their lives and help them to be free from their problems. Each of the teenagers are dealing with different types of problems, secrets, religion, being an orphan, bullying and pressure from peers and family, but they end up together inside the school after a bomb explodes. They help each other but with the air of distrust between them. Finally, they discover who’s responsible for the bombings and they struggle for their lives. Intense with an interesting array of characters and relevant subject matter-5 stars!

Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

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Chalk houses by Tracy Clark tells the story of Talon who lives with her single mother that always seems to have a new boyfriend, drinks and is involved with drugs. The story begins on Talon’s sixteenth birthday and her mother doesn’t even remember what day it is. Talon’s goals are to educate herself and receive a degree in psychology and child development so she will be equipped to help neglected children and never be like her mother. She begins receiving emails from Aunt T, who supposedly wants to get to know Talon. They create a circle journal of communication with their emails. Talon has one true friend, Karalyn, who always gives Talon moral support. Gabby, Talon’s younger next door neighbor that lives with an aunt and uncle and is pretty much neglected by them, is under Talon’s wing of protection. Talon spreads out and tests relationship waters with others as she expands her social circle. She makes some dumb decisions and struggles with the consequences and in the meantime she discovers much more about her mother than she could have ever guessed at before. Chalk Houses is a coming of age, coming into your own work of literary art with its beautiful, dynamic characters and other characters that are horrific in their actions. The story comes full circle and is a real tear-jerker full of disappointment, hurt and hope. 5 heart expanding stars!