Author: Darcey Rosenblatt
Published: August 22, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 14-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
It’s 1982, and twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.
War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it.
Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?
Lost Boys is based off the real-life Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The specific year is 1982 and Reza is 12 years old and Iran sends their young boys off to war. If they die, then they will be considered a martyr and Reza’s mother is more than happy to see him off. Reza is conflicted to go but his best friend Ebi is very excited. In Iran they have no freedoms, they can’t even sing or let alone listen to music without punishment.
Reza finds out the grim reality of war and finds himself separated from Ebi and in a POW camp. The boys there are treated in a range of ways from friendly with a teacher whom Reza bonds with over their love of music to being treated terribly by some of the guards.
I liked Reza and was rooting for him the whole novel. I was hoping that he and Ebi would be reunited. Lost Boys gives you an idea of what life was like in an Iraq POW camp without being graphic. I enjoyed this quick and easy read as I saw Reza’s growth over his time at the camp, but the end of the novel left too many unanswered questions. The novel needed at least an epilogue or a follow up novel for the reader to get the whole story: When you become invested in characters, you need the whole story!
Despite the lack of conclusion, I would recommend the novel as it gives a US reader an experience of unfamiliar events at a time in the past with an unfamiliar country. And that has been the point of #Diverseathon2021: Diversifiying your reading this year by reading books with a certain type of character or places you might not normally read. And I would not have normally read Lost Boys.
**I am having a giveaway: A $20 e-gift card to the bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is read a book set in Iran and share what you thought about it on social media. **Be sure to tag me in some way so I see it!** Previous Diverseathon hosts are welcome to join in on this giveaway. This giveaway will last for the entire month of November with the winner being announced on my Instagram on December 1st: If you read fast then you still have time to get a book read and reviewed!
Your Corner Dark
Author: Desmond Hall
Published: January 19, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 12-29, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
American Street meets Long Way Down in this searing and gritty debut novel that takes an unflinching look at the harsh realities of gang life in Jamaica and how far a teen is willing to go for family.
Things can change in a second:
The second Frankie Green gets that scholarship letter, he has his ticket out of Jamaica.
The second his longtime crush, Leah, asks him on a date, he’s in trouble.
The second his father gets shot, suddenly nothing else matters.
And the second Frankie joins his uncle’s gang in exchange for paying for his father’s medical bills, there’s no going back…or is there?
As Frankie does things he never thought he’d be capable of, he’s forced to confront the truth of the family and future he was born into—and the ones he wants to build for himself.
Your Corner Dark is the debut novel by Jamaican native Desmond Hall who gives the reader a whole different perspective of how difficult life on the island can be: Jamaica isn’t just pretty sand and beaches, it has a whole rough side of life to it dealing with the harsh social, political, and economic realities of many who live there.
Frankie is our main character who has just received a full ride to college in the USA! He is ready for this to better himself and then something unexpected happened: Frankie’s father is shot and hospitalized. And the bills are going to be very costly.
Frankie is given an option from his uncle: He will pay Frankie’s father’s medical bills if Frankie joins his gang, which would mean giving up his scholarship and the way he thought his future was going to go. And Frankie’s father would be furious if he joined the gang….
Hall shows us another side of Jamaica with what the natives go through– a very difficult life– and we experience most of that with Frankie and the choices he makes and the repercussions from those choices. This was a hard novel to put down as I had no idea how it was going to end or what was going to happen with Frankie next!
There is a small potential romance that comes in the last portion of the book, but with everything else going on, it was not really necessary for me. There is a lot of violence, and yes, death along with political leanings and poverty in this novel, but you can’t help but to root for Frankie to pull through everything. And I really liked Aunt Jenny as well!
The conversations in the novel are written as how the natives would speak. I did have to get used to it, but it also added to the novel for me.
This book would not have come to my attention if I was not taking part in #Diverseathon2021 this year. I read this for September’s prompt which was a book set in Jamaica. I am glad I came across and read it. I did get Your Corner Dark finished in September, but was just not able to get the review written.
Now since we are in a new month: For October the prompt is: A main character who lives/lived with abuse.
**She will also be having a giveaway: See her Facebook and Instagram pages for information on the giveaway.[Top]
The Hiding Girl
Series: Emily Calby Book 1
Author: Dorian Box
Published: June 15, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 6-18, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Emily Calby was a good girl from a religious family in rural Georgia. She loved softball, her little sister and looking up words to get her allowance. Then two men came and murdered her family. Only the killers know she survived.
On the run, surviving by wits and animal instinct, she makes an unlikely ally in an ex-gang member who lost his own family to violence. He takes her in and trains her in “self-defense” before more tragedy launches her on a terrifying journey for justice. Nothing will stop her—not cops or creeps, not even her own splintering mind. Through it all, Emily fights to hold onto hope and the girl she once knew, kept buried deep inside.
Dark and gritty, but filled with heart and hope, The Hiding Girl is a twisty, fast-paced thriller and a testament to the boundless limits of human love, sacrifice and the will to survive.
What else can I say about The Hiding Girl by Dorian Box other than wow! It is a fast-paced novel that packs all the punches: Literally and figuratively! The Hiding Girl is dark and gritty with very graphic violence that also gives us characters to root for and become very attached to.
Twelve-year-old Emily Calby survives the graphic attack on her family and is on the run. Emily is definitely not the typical twelve-year-old. Experiencing what she did already ages her and over the course of the novel you have to keep reminding yourself of her young age! She meets Lucas who is a former gang member who helps her and these two definitely make quite the unique pair that form a special relationship. We also have Kiona, who is Lucas’ significant other who isn’t quite sure what to make of Emily. They teach her self defense and more as Emily is determined to find the men who killed her mother and sister.
Emily is one you cannot help but be on her side and get attached to. She is in for a long ‘adventure’ with many obstacles that keep coming up. At one point I found myself thinking “What else is Box going to have Emily go through!?!?” It is one thing after another, but our brave little fireball of a main character Emily can pull through!
And let me say this: I love Lucas! He is not what you expected and you really grow to care for him. As I was reading, I pictured Michael Clarke Duncan (RIP) as Lucas, but then I saw the premiere of The Walking Dead’s final season where we meet Mercer played by Michael James Shaw and despite the age difference, he would be a perfect Lucas!
This novel will not be for everyone with the graphic violence, but it also has a lot of heart and emotion to it. What made me read The Hiding Girl was that I was granted an arc copy of the second in the series The Girl in Cell 49B. I realized when I read the description for book two that I should read The Hiding Girl first. Though not needed as the second book touches on Emily’s back story, if you don’t read The Hiding Girl you will be missing so much! I am currently reading the second and still rooting for Emily!
The Hiding Girl actually fits for the prompt for #Diverseathon for this month, which is a main character in an interracial relationship. The relationship between Emily and Lucas starts as a mentor/mentee relationship that grows into so much more. August’s host is Mary @booksbymary1 and she will host at Instagram.
I really enjoyed The Hiding Girl and recommend it and cannot wait to see where Box goes next with the series. He is working on book three and I will be highly anticipating it![Top]