Tag: Realistic FIction

Say What You Will

Author: Cammie McGovern
Published: June 3, 2014
218 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

Kim’s Review:

I really liked this book. This was one of those stories that after I closed it, I had to sit and just ponder. I’ve never been a good one with people who are disabled. I feel the pity and the discomfort and I know that they hate it when people respond to them that way, but unfortunately, I’m still working on it. This book elicits that kind of discomfort, but in an educational kind of way.

Many people have a hard time realizing that physical disability does not mean mental disability. Say What You Will does a good job of making that distinction. Amy has cerebral palsy and is always treated like either a fragile robin’s egg, or as mentally challenged. All she wants is to be treated like a regular teenager. Matthew has his own problems, but they’re easier to hide. But Amy seems to be the only one who understands him. The story is all about the roller coaster that is their relationship. Seriously, by the end, I didn’t know if I should cry, or smile, or just sit there with my mouth hanging open. I would suggest this for anyone who has a disability or those who know anyone with a disability. I would also recommend this for mature teenagers. Getting a look inside a person who could be considered an outcast is never a bad thing.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

American Girls

Author: Alison Umminger
Published: June 7, 2016
293 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

She was looking for a place to land.

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.

Kim’s Review:

Normally I find the protagonists of coming of age stories to be shallow, immature, and downright obnoxious! Not so in American Girls. Anna captured the “regularness” that many of these characters, especially girls, lack. Her life is turned upside down and her reaction to it all, yes, is dramatic, but understandable. I liked her, I understood why she did the things that she did, and I sympathized with her. Especially when she was talking about not trying to cause trouble or to hurt people but it ends up happening anyway. This book accomplished what so many other failed at, a regular person dealing with regular things all while being likable and relatable. Throwing in the Manson girls and working through some philosophical questions raised by the murders and their aftermaths, which is the main reason I read it, and you get a true to life, heartfelt story about growing up in a topsy-turvy world.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Code of Honor

Author: Alan Gratz
Published: August 25, 2015
288 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Live by the code. Die by the code?

Kamran Smith has it all. He’s the star of the football team, dates the most popular girl in school, and can’t wait to enlist in the Army like his big brother, Darius. Although Kamran’s family hails from Iran, Kamran has always felt 100% American. Accepted.

And then everything implodes.

Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran refuses to believe it. But Darius has been filmed making threats against his country, hinting at an upcoming deadly attack. Suddenly, everyone in Kamran’s life turns against him and his family.

Kamran knows it’s up to him to clear his brother’s name. In a race against time, Kamran must piece together a series of clues and codes that will lead him to Darius—and the truth.

But is it a truth Kamran is ready to face? And is he putting his own life at risk?

Kim’s Review:

I really loved Gratz’s other books and I was so excited when Ivan got me Code of Honor for Christmas. I was a little worried when I started reading that it was going to get too political, but it got better very quickly. There were some subtle political jabs that I didn’t appreciate, which is why I gave this book 4 stars. But I can tell that Gratz really appreciates our Armed Forces and Kamran’s love of America was a wonderful thing to read. Patriotism was set up as an admirable thing in a world where love of America is politically incorrect. Kamran became the everyman when talking about stereotyping and unfair views of certain groups of people. Unfortunately, stereotyping is not just an Arab problem, or Muslim problem. And I related to Kamran because of that. I’m a Southerner, born and raised, and of course that make me uneducated and racist.

The story was exciting and original and I couldn’t put the book down! I liked the characters a lot! Micky Hagan was the perfect person to drop into Kamran’s life and kept the book from falling into a lecture about islamophobia. I liked how Gratz brought in the IRA to make the problems universal.

Overall, this is another book that I would put on history teachers’ bookshelves. It’s an interesting look into the inner workings of counter-terrorism and teaches healthy empathy. It also deals with issues facing our soldiers on a daily basis. PTSD, training, discipline, honor, bravery, brotherhood . . . Gratz did a great job of highlighting the greatness of our military men and women and I really loved that! I absolutely recommend this to those looking for an exciting read and to all teenagers.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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