Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
Kate enjoys her acting job until the series is cancelled due to an inappropriate relationship with the producer and another teen actress on the show. Since Kate is only 17, she takes a competency test letting her continue acting without having to attend school. Her parents make her get a job and pay some bills because she took the test without their knowledge and they want her to see how much responsibility adults have to deal with on a daily basis. While Kate’s working, she witnesses a double murder but no one, not even the police, believe her. She enlists Ty, her best friend’s brother, to help find evidence. The danger multiplies and Kate and Ty do everything they can to stay alive.
Likes/dislikes: Kate’s friend Rowan is self-centered which builds Kate’s independence. The mystery becomes intense and suspenseful. I enjoyed Ty’s upbeat and loyal personality. Mature Content: PG-13 for the mention of sexual assault, underage drinking, relationship between a 17 year old teen actress and her 38 year old boss mentioned. Implied sex, intense quick kiss. Implied kiss. Language: R for 105 swears and 27 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for three undescribed fatal shootings, bloody shot wound. Ethnicity: Kate is White and Ty and Rowan are Asian. Mexican American, Latino and Black police officers are also mentioned.
Chase, 17, is an overachieving senior in Meadowlark who struggles with depression to the point that she’s suppressing memories. She misses her ex-best friend and girlfriend, Lia, and she’s confused about why they’re not together or talking anymore. Little by little, as she’s looking to understand, she discovers that she’s been through trauma. Chase also learns that she does need to rely on others and she needs their help and support. The truth will help her heal or completely break her. This story is a mystery tied into the trauma and overwhelming stress of two high school students, 4 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The unraveling of the mystery surrounding Chase and Lia is very interesting. The author includes a resource list for anyone needing help or knowing someone who needs help for suicide or mental health struggles. I appreciate Chase’s honesty and the sisterly bond she has with her younger sister.
Mature Content: PG-13 for underage prescription drug addiction (Focentra/Adderall), thoughts of suicide, lingering kiss, suicide by drowning. Language: R for 43 swears and 84 f-bombs. Violence: PG for suicide by drowning. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with Korean, Italian American, White, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Dutch and French.
Best friends, Cam and Blair, are making a podcast about the twenty-year-old cold case of Clarissa Campbell, who’s been missing since the night of a senior graduation party in the local woods of Oreville, Washington in 1999. Clarissa was a popular cheerleader dating a popular football player and her life seemed perfect to outsiders. Mr. Park, journalism teacher, has assigned a project to his students and that’s why Cam came up with the cold case podcast idea. Blair and Cam are dealing with their own personal struggles but become devoted to figuring out Clarissa’s story. They soon realize they’re in over their heads and that they’re in danger themselves. 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The story is so interesting that I didn’t want to put the book down. Overly political statements are a bit confusing when Cam’s friend Sophie blurts them out. I enjoyed the character development throughout the story. Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of sexual assault on a high school student by the teacher, off page sex, nondescript brief kissing, underage drinking and underage drinking and driving undescribed. Language: R for 51 swears and 4 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody gunshot wound, and purposely run off the road by another vehicle. Ethnicity: mixed and includes Black, Mexican American, Korean American, white, and Filipino.
Metaphorically beautiful verse! Two depressed teens, Whimsy and Faerry, meet at a mental hospital and then become neighbors and attend high school together. They’re both suffering from depression and memory loss from when they were young children. They’re not sure what they’re not remembering but it’s bothering both of them to the point of despair. They become friends that want to help each other and understand each other’s problems. They need each other to process the trauma they’ve been through and to help the lost information resurface.
Likes/dislikes: The writing is metaphorical and beautiful. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the story. I like Whimsy and Faerry, the two main characters. Language: G for no swears and no f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for suicidal thoughts (nondescriptive) and clinical depression. Violence: PG for talk of cutting, undescribed. Ethnicity: The two main characters are black and they attend a predominantly white school.
Declan hurts his shoulder by climbing where there’s a “no climbing” sign and it takes his future away. He needs surgery and physical therapy to heal and in the meantime he has an angry attitude. He pushes his friends away and joins a hate group that promotes propaganda and conspiracy theories about cultures that aren’t predominantly white, focusing especially on Jewish people. He’s happily blaming others for his problems and being fed propaganda by his “new friends” and he’s taking it too far by willingly participating in hate crimes. When Declan’s lifelong friend is threatened, he has to make the choice to harm or protect.
Likes/dislikes: Declan was whiny and ungrateful even though the accident was because he made the choice to do something negligent. I enjoyed the history class discussion about different cultures and evaluating online sources. The author approached hate groups from an insider’s perspective from both sides. Mature content: G for nondescriptive kissing Violence: PG for undescribed phone threats from a hate group, vandalism, bomb threat. Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs. Ethnicity: mixed
Quirks, romance, and high school antics alongside heartbreak and tragedy!
Cam is still devastated and heartbroken from Allison (Ally) breaking up with him months ago. Now he’s worried she won’t come out of the coma that was the result of a car accident she was in. He’s been injured during sports so he’s out of commission and is prescribed medication for the pain. He starts his pain meds and soon sees Ally. She talks to him. He thinks he must be hallucinating. The conversations began to occur frequently and Ally becomes more real and can physically move things. Cameron’s personality and sense of humor made me laugh. He’s endearing and learns a lot about himself through his hallucinatory conversations with Ally. I enjoyed reading this young adult realistic fiction story full of quirks, romance, and high school antics that also deals with more serious issues like heartbreak and tragedy, 5 stars!
Em wakes up on Valentine’s Day excited to celebrate with her boyfriend Josh. Her day goes horribly in so many ways that she’s relieved to have it end but she wakes up the next morning and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. This happens several times and she finally decides to not care about anything and has a great day doing whatever she feels like. She pulls her chemistry lab partner along for the day and they have such a great time that she doesn’t want this Valentine’s Day to end. When she wakes up the next morning expecting to have to relive another Valentine’s Day, she has a lot of repercussions to deal with! 5 stars for a thoroughly entertaining story!
Spencer wakes up in the hospital after being injured in a car crash that involved her and three other students from Armstrong but she only remembers a few details. One of the students, Chris, died in the crash and another passenger, Tabby, won’t talk to Spencer but only glares at her. Ethan was driving and speeding and says he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t stop and they hit a tree. Ethan is on house arrest, Tabby seems fine but angry, Chris died and Spencer has broken some bones and has stitches from her jaw to her cheekbone. Jackson, Ethan’s best friend, helps Spencer get around and with her schoolwork, as well as helping her piece the details from the night of the accident together because she’s extremely frustrated that she can’t remember. The more she digs into the details, the more in danger she becomes. Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I like the intense, poetic opening that reveals the story. I like Spencer’s strength and integrity and Jackson’s personality. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery and how a mental health therapy dog helped a trauma victim. Matue content: PG-13 for prescription drug addiction, drinking, vaping Language: PG-13 for 24 swears and 5 f-bombs Violence: PG for brakes being cut to cause an accident, hit and run, being held at gunpoint and being hit in the head with a gun.