Author: Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 17- December 5, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I have thought about how to review this novel for several days after finishing. I was admittedly nervous to read it due to the content and controversy of this novel, but felt I had to read it. This may be a review that not everyone will agree with, but it is MY opinion. I have debated on sharing it on social media as this review will go against the mainstream.
Yes, this is an important novel that will bring about many discussions, I just don’t agree with it. And yes, I see both sides of the issue.
A police officer shot an unarmed young man. BUT the young man didn’t do what he should have done. Starr is our narrator and she even tells us about ‘the talk’ her parents had with her if she were to ever be pulled over by a police officer. She tells us these rules and she tells us what is going on when she and her long time childhood friend Khalil are pulled over. Khalil does not follow these ‘rules’. Be respectful to the officer, Khalil mouths off and gives attitude. When the officer steps away Khalil goes back towards the car and opens the door! No sudden movements! You don’t do that! Yes, Khalil was checking on Starr to make sure she was ok, but the officer did not know that. Police officers are trained for certain situations and have to make sudden choices that mean life or death. I have taken classes with local police departments and part of that is FATS: Fire Arms Training Simulation. This is where a situation plays out in front of you on a screen and you have to face that sudden, unexpected choice of to shoot or not to shoot. That can be life changing for a police officer. Do they get killed or the person they are facing? Everyone should do this at least once. It gives you a different perspective of what police officers go through.
Back to the novel: Khalil is a black teenager and the officer happens to be white. So this becomes a racial issue. Khalil also did not have a weapon. Rumors begin to surface that Khalil was a drug dealer and gang member. Starr finds out things about her friend that she did not know. She and her family fear what could happen if it becomes known that she witnessed the shooting. I can’t help but wonder what the novel would have been like if the officer had been black.
Starr is also a black teenager and lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a suburban prep school that is mainly made up of white students. Some of her friends are stereotypical and you can’t believe some of these kids! Starr’s parents made the decision for her to attend that school. They want a better life for her. In some ways Starr seems bipolar- she is one person at home in the neighborhood and someone else while at school. Who is the real Starr? I don’t think she even knows.
She is also dating a white boy from her school and has for a year. Do her parents know this? No, and her dad would not be happy about this. At one point she says she can’t be with Chris as he is white. He also wouldn’t understand what she is going through because he is white. Really? Give the boy a chance!
As people are upset about Khalil’s death, they protest. They even protest at Starr’s school. Those students did not even know him- they were basically protesting to get out of class. There is also a difference between protesting and full out rioting. This occurs in the novel as well. I don’t understand this. Damaging people’s property, leaving clean up and more lives affected once protests are over.
Yes, there are good police officers and bad officers. I listened to the shooting a second time after I finished the novel. Khalil was shot three times in the back. Three times seems extreme.
Yes, I do see both sides of this controversial issue. This will be an issue for a while. That was the purpose of this novel: To bring out conversation and make you think. It made me think and still does. The novel is not really for me. There is foul language used, including the ‘N’ word and there are some sexual references. I would say parents read first before you let your kids read this novel. I would not let a young child read it but this would be for older teenagers. Teenagers are old enough to understand the issue and have that conversation.
Though not really a book for me, I do recommend it for the conversations it will bring.
Author: Dana I. Wolff
Published: July 5, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 Stars
Description from Amazon:
FOUR DECADES AFTER TYPHOID MARY WENT TO HER GRAVE, FIVE CURIOUS GRADUATE STUDENTS STRUGGLE TO ESCAPE ALIVE FROM THE ABANDONED ISLAND THAT ONCE IMPRISONED HER. CONTAGION DOESN’T DIE. IT JUST WAITS. In the Hell Gate section of New York’s East River lie the sad islands where, for centuries, people locked away what they most feared: the contagious, the disfigured, the addicted, the criminally insane. Here infection slowly consumed the stricken. Here a desperate ship captain ran his doomed steamship aground and watched flames devour 1,500 souls. Here George A. Soper imprisoned the infamous Typhoid Mary after she spread sickness and death in Manhattan’s most privileged quarters. George’s great-granddaughter, Karalee, and her fellow graduate students in public health know that story. But as they poke in and out of the macabre hospital rooms of abandoned North Brother Island―bantering, taking pictures, recalling history―they are missing something: Hidden evil watches over them―and plots against them. When death visits Hell Gate, it comes to stay. As darkness falls, the students find themselves marooned―their casual trespass having unleashed a chain of horrific events beyond anyone’s imagination. Disease lurks among the eerie ruins where Typhoid Mary once lived and breathed. Ravenous flies swarm puddles of blood. Rot and decay cling to human skin. And spiteful ghosts haunt the living and undead. Soon five students of history will learn more than they ever wanted to know about New York’s foul underbelly: the meaning of spine-tingling cries down the corridor, of mysterious fires, of disfiguring murder, and of an avenging presence so sinister they’d rather risk their lives than face the terror of one more night.
I was really excited about this book . . . another abandoned hospital! Then I started reading, and it was all downhill from there. Unfortunately, I had to push myself to finish this book. I ran into problems from page 1. The writing was so pretentious! I felt like the author was trying to write an epic poem instead of a horror story. Just spit it out! And I think the author, whoever he or she may be, since Dana I. Wolff is a pseudonym, was trying to encourage sympathy for Typhoid Mary and it didn’t work at all! By the time I was done with the book, I hated Mary! She was nothing but a selfish slut who complained about her lot in life, but then went right on trying to get her own way, no matter who she hurt! Even after it was proven that she spread typhoid to the people she cooked for, she completely ignored the danger and justified going back to the kitchen by complaining about how horrible people have always been to her and ended up killing more people. And then, when faced with all the lives that were lost because of her, she brushed it off by saying that those numbers were nothing compared to the lives lost by the actions of other people, hence they were eviler that she was!! Oh, give me a break!!!!
Why Mary is still alive on this island is never actually explained, she kills more people because everyone in her past abused her, so she’s clear to kill more . . .? And there are ghosts from the shipwreck of the General Slocum, stuck on the island possibly for the same reason Mary is still there, but again, it wasn’t clear so I still have no idea. Karalee, whose grandfather was the man who identified Mary as a threat and quarantined her for the good of New York City, somehow got caught up in Mary’s fury, and killed someone as well, because . . . well I still don’t know. The only reason I gave 3 stars was because it had the potential to be an awesome book. I really wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody, I don’t think it’s worth the read.[Top]
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: September 5, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
Like other Lockhart books, this one is better when you go into it without much information, so I’ll try to keep my review as info free as possible. 😊 Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time deciding what kind of rating to give this book. I enjoyed reading it, I wanted to find out what was going on, I was excited to see what kind of twists Lockhart put in . . . but by the time I was done, all I could say was, “what?”. I don’t think I understood what the point of this story was. The ending seemed really anticlimactic to me. I had such high expectations after reading We Were Liars, but I feel that Genuine Fraud missed the mark. I also felt a lot annoyance with all of the characters because of their whiny attitudes. The rich ones were complaining about all the pressure they were under, hence they left to “find themselves” . . . must be nice! Everyone else acted like everything was the fault of others instead of taking responsibility for themselves. I did like the format of the book and that helped with the anticipation and pacing. I think I may have to settle on a 3-star rating: I enjoyed reading it and I’m glad I did, but I really don’t think I’ll ever pick it up again or really recommend it to anyone.