Tag: Realistic FIction

Michigan vs The Boys

Author: Carrie S. Allen
To Be Published: October 1, 2019
304 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 8-12, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.

Jessica’s Review:

Michigan vs The Boys is not a light – hearted read. It is a realistic portrayal of a teen girl joining a boys’ team and the consequences of that (positive, yet mainly negative).  This is a novel about a girl and girl empowerment. You can’t help but root for Michigan to succeed despite the many setbacks that occur from her own ‘team mates’. 

Michigan is a strong female character who goes through many emotions and experiences. I hated she kept silent throughout most of the abuse she endured.   She is great at hockey and did everything to stay on the team, which included keeping quiet as long as she could. There is also a sweet romance that doesn’t take away from the story. 

I did not like the coach. Yes, he put her on the team, but it was obviously not willingly.    A coach should be someone you should be able to come to in times of trouble, but he was not that for Michigan.  To me, he was just as bad as the boys were and most of the problem.  He did not support Michigan.  For example: making her change into her uniform in a broom closet!?!? Come on, there has to be a girl’s changing room somewhere in the school.  After all, there are still girl’s teams in the school, just not a hockey team anymore. And extreme rules that only applied to her?  It seemed that coach did everything he could to keep her out of the team. 

You know an assault is coming while reading as it is mentioned in the book description, but for me an assault happened more than once.  I was expecting something graphic, but it was not, yet still achieved what it meant to.

I would love to see another book with Michigan, to see what happens next in her life.  

Allen worked in sports medicine and knows her sports lingo!  I did not understand all of the vernacular, but she gets the point across.

I would recommend this for older teens (14+)  due to the violence against Michigan along with some foul language and extensive mentions of teen drinking.  This is an important book that should be read.   

Many thanks to KCP Loft for my arc copy that I was sent. 

Pre-order Links:
Amazon US  
Amazon UK  

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





How to Make Friends with the Dark

Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Published: April 9, 2019
421 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  5 stars

Book Description:

Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

Kim’s Review:

Another ugly cry book for Kim! The cover fascinated me, the title sounded interesting, and after reading the description, I became obsessed with wanting to read it. It started out pretty regularly, a teen who doesn’t get along with her mom, who just wants independence, etc. Thankfully, there’s not much to give away that you don’t already learn in the description. Tiger’s mom dies unexpectedly and the rest of the book is Tiger trying to deal with her grief and new life without her mother. There were times when the typical teen idea of “adults just don’t understand” came out and that got a little annoying, but the emotions were so raw and real that it didn’t bother me. There are a lot of good lessons throughout the story that I think teens would benefit from, but I would not recommend this book to younger kids. By the time I finished it, I was sobbing. I haven’t cried that hard since Jagged Mind! It didn’t help that I’m PMS’ing but that’s neither here nor there!

I liked how Glasgow documented the whole journey from death, to funeral, to foster care, to guardianship, to coroners report, to obituary, to dealing with permanent loss. I think this would be a great book to give to teachers to read. To be honest, while reading this, that opening quote from The Breakfast Club kept coming to mind. “…and these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…” – David Bowie.

Fortunately, there isn’t any real adult vs. teen conflict in the story, but it is sometimes easy to forget that teens’ feelings can be complicated and hard to deal with. We think that they have the resilience of childhood, but they’re far closer to adulthood and they often need more attention than the younger ones. Overall, this is an emotional and educational read that gives a detailed look into everything surrounding death, specifically how it affects teens under 18. I absolutely recommend it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK