Tag: Contemporary

Hope and Other Punchlines

Author: Julie Buxbaum
Published: May 7, 2019
304 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

Kim’s Review:

I read the description while browsing the books in Target and I was just fascinated. When I was teaching in Hawaii, I would make sure to do a special lesson every year on 9/11. I realized that my students were the very last of the kids who were born right before September 11, yet they weren’t old enough to remember what happened that day. I’m pretty sure that most of our followers at Jessica’s Reading Room are old enough to remember what happened and we all remember exactly where we were when we found out about the attacks:

I was in Mrs. Hand’s 8th grade English class. Then we all trekked across campus for chapel where we had a school wide prayer meeting. Later that night, my mom admitted that she thought it was a prank when she heard it on the radio but when she realized it was serious, she wanted to come pick us up right away from school. Everybody meeting in a huge building like the Founders Memorial Amphitorium didn’t sound like such a hot idea that day. We all have stories and memories that stick in our brains down to the smallest details.

This book is about a baby who was photographed being saved from one of the towers; the photo made her famous and she doesn’t remember a thing. She then has to learn to navigate her life around this photo, dealing with people who draw hope from it, even when she was too young to have any idea of what was happening. I very much liked the perspective of the younger kids who lived through it, but don’t remember. This is such a great book to have in high school classrooms and would be a great teaching tool. While it doesn’t focus on the details of the attack, it does give an in-depth look at the aftermath.

Believe it or not, this was not an ugly cry book for me. I did get misty and my heart definitely warmed. I liked this book a lot and I would absolutely recommend it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK




A Double Review of Five Feet Apart

Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis.  We both enjoyed it and rated it 5 stars!   Kim read the physical book while I listened to the audiobook and we are both looking forward to seeing the movie. 

Rachael Lippincott
Mikki Daughtry
Tobias Iaconis
Published: November 10, 2018
288 Pages

Book Description:

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Dates Read: June 10-21, 2019

Jessica’s Review:

If Everything, Everything and The Fault in Our Stars got together and had a baby then it would result in Five Feet Apart.  I loved this novel, and the cover is beyond gorgeous:  Before I knew what it was about, I thought to myself “Those look like lungs on the cover” and they are! 

Stella and Will both have cystic fibrosis. Stella has been going to the same hospital for years to fight the disease.  Will has traveled all over the world for various treatments, but has only seen the inside of hospitals which are all the same.  Stella and Will meet and Stella can’t stand Will…. Then things start to change…

This is a story of first love and the teens in this novel are definitely more grown up than your typical YA characters.  But come on: they know for a fact that their pending death could come at any moment and that would age any teenager. But they are still teenagers.

I don’t know how life-like the novel is with the reality of cystic fibrosis, but this novel feels very real.  I was attached to the characters and you wanted a happy ending and no dumb choices made.  Though we came very close to the dumb choices part. I was thinking “NO!” when a certain situation happened, but at that age and in that situation, who knows what my decision might have been.

Five Feet Apart is also similar to The Sun is Also a Star in the fact that it has a realistic ending. If you are a fan of YA in general or of the other YA novels I mentioned then Five Feet Apart WILL be for you!  I look forward to seeing the movie version soon. I still also need to watch the film versions of these novels as well.

Five Feet Apart is highly recommended.

Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Kim’s Review:

What a great book! Finally, a YA book where the teen drama fit in perfectly and wasn’t ridiculously obnoxious! I loved everything about this book. Look at the cover!!! The story was sweet and easy to read. The characters were cute and realistic. They had enough problems in their lives that they didn’t have to create any.

I didn’t know anything about cystic fibrosis before reading this book. I still don’t know much, but I enjoyed learning a little about it. If I have any criticism, it’s very tiny: there were some medical things that needed a bit more explanation to make it all make sense. I had to keep asking Ivan questions and he finally told me that he didn’t want to talk about B. Cepacia anymore!

I became so emotionally invested in these kids. It was an easy book to get through and I finished it in a day. There were some adult things, like some swearing, that would keep me from recommending it to younger readers, but I’d recommend it to pretty much everyone else! The movie comes out soon and I’m cautiously optimistic about it. I had Cole Sprouse’s face in my head the whole time I was reading and it definitely worked!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Movie Trailer for Five Feet Apart:


With the Fire on High

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 17, 2019
400 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  4 stars

Book Description:

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Kim’s Review:

Best. Cover. Ever. Easily my favorite of the year so far. This is one that I bought exclusively for the cover, it’s that gorgeous!

This is my first book by Acevedo and after reading it, I might just get her other book. I liked this story a lot. She kept it real and without much embellishment or polish. Emoni is believable and completely likable. She’s a young person who doesn’t hide from her responsibilities or the consequences of her actions. I loved her passion for food. While I thought this book was going to fall into the same problem as Fangirl, a student refusing to take the wisdom of the teachers and quitting something because it’s just too hard, Emoni surprised me and matured throughout the story.

I also liked the look into the life of a pregnant teen. While I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, it happens and of course, accidental pregnancies crop up as well. Emoni and her grandmother worked hard to adapt to the new baby and I appreciated how Acevedo commended the hard work and effort put into the new life and responsibilities. I also now want to go on a food tour of Spain!

Overall, this is a sweet read, that combines happy and sad perfectly. There was a little bit of that woke focus on race, but thankfully, it wasn’t much. I really liked this book and absolutely recommend it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK