PASSIONATE ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Tag: Prejudice

Book Review: Frankly in Love

Frankly in Love – David Yoon – G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Published 10 September 2019

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Synopsis

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

My thoughts

Dramatic writing and a strong and humorous narrator drive this coming-of-age story about acceptance and belonging, falling in love and growing up.

Frank has two names. His American name and his Korean name. He has two sides – perpetually separated. When his parents strongly encourage a relationship with a fellow Korean-American family friend, Joy, and Frank finds himself falling in love with a definitely-not-parental-approved White girl, he and Joy concoct a plan to secretly date to give each other the freedom to be who (and date whomever) they want to be.

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Book Review: Love From A to Z

Love From A to Z – S.K. Ali – Salaam Reads – Published 30 April 2019

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Synopsis

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

My thoughts

Love From A to Z is a fun, romantic love story that encompasses a deeper message about justice, equality, faith, health, family and living the life you were meant to live, fully embracing the person you were meant to be.

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Book Review: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Sons of Blackbird Mountain – Joanne Bischof – Blackbird Mountain #1 – Thomas Nelson – Published 3 July 2018

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Synopsis

When Aven Norgaard leaves Norway to serve as housekeeper to her late husband’s cousins in Appalachia, she expects lads in need of care, not three grown men—each in need of a wife and bound by a powerful brotherhood. As the men carve out a living by brewing artisan liquor, young Haakon’s pursuit tempts Aven’s lonely spirit . . . but it is his deaf brother, Thor, whose silent strength shows her the depths of real love.

Unable to speak to any woman, Thor Norgaard never anticipates Aven will befriend him, let alone treat him as her safe harbor. Though hard cider is their livelihood and his greatest talent, he fights his way to sobriety with Haakon’s help, defying the bottle for Aven’s hand—only to face a battle of the heart that tests even the strongest bonds of brotherhood.

My thoughts

Sons of Blackbird Mountain is an utterly charming and beautiful historical novel. Set in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, it combines the complexity of brotherly relationships and finding a place to belong, with the sweet joy of finding a true love connection, despite many challenges.

Aven Norgaard has faced many challenges in her short life. Having escaped from the workhouse, her husband then died. Travelling from Norway across the oceans to Appalachia, America, Aven hopes to find a home with her late husband’s relatives. Upon arriving, Aven is surprised to discover that her cousins-in-law are not the boys she expected but grown men – each with their own demons and attractions. Thor Norgaard has loved Aven from a distance for years, but having her in his house is a new and unsettling feeling. Deaf, Thor is touched that Aven seems to truly hear him, yet his relationship with his brother Haakon -already strained – is stretched further and Thor’s own battle with alcohol addiction is a challenge he must overcome if he wants to court Aven.

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Book Review: The Possibility of Somewhere

The Possibility of Somewhere

The Possibility of Somewhere – Julia Day – St Martin’s Griffin – Published 6 September 2016

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Synopsis

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted– he’s admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There’s only one obstacle in Ash’s path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden’s ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college — and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream — one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?

My thoughts

The Possibility is Somewhere is a story of a small town, prejudice, rumours and two teens who fall in love despite it all.

Eden wants out of her town, where her biological mother’s legacy and her father’s unemployment has labeled her as an outsider. Or maybe that’s because of her reluctance to trust people. Her goal is to win a scholarship and start college. Falling for the very annoying but also very cute Ash Gupta, would create more problems than she already has. Especially when his friends and family would never approve.

I didn’t initially like Eden. She’s not very friendly, doesn’t talk to people, is a bit of a know it all and a little condescending. But books are about people’s journeys and people can change, so I decided to give her time to grown on me. I’m glad I did. I never really loved Eden, but as I learnt more of her backstory and her reasons for keeping her distance from the other students, it makes her attitude a little more understandable. I also liked the way she was around kids. She’s great with the kids she babysits and I loved how this influences her choices for the future.

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Book Review: Sea Rose Lane

Sea Rose Lane

Sea Rose Lane – Irene Hannon – Revell – Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. 

As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

My thoughts

There is something so familiar and comforting about an Irene Hannon contemporary romance. It is as cozy as cuddling under your favourite blanket, and you know exactly what to expect – beautiful romance, charming characters, a sweet setting, faith gently interwoven between the other story threads and multiple storylines. Sea Rose Lane totally delivers and it is every bit as charming as that title and cover would lead you to believe.

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Book Review: The Last Time We Were Us

The Last Time We Were Us

The Last Time We Were Us – Leah Konen – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 10 May 2016

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Synopsis

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

My thoughts

The Last Time We Were Us is set in the summer but this is by no means a light and fluffy beach read. It reminded me of I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios for its raw and rough tone and its cusp-of-possibilities perspective. It is the perfect best-friends-falling-in-love story, but with far more depth – a story about one girl’s strength and belief in herself, a story about standing up and a story about family.

When Jason Sullivan is released from jail, Liz Grant’s summer is shaken. She knows that she should stay away from Jason, but she is undeniably drawn to her childhood friend. But secretly meeting with Jason complicates her relationships with her parents and sister and threatens the budding romance between her and Innis Taylor, the brother of the boy whose face Jason permanently scarred. Complicated is perhaps an understatement.

The Last Time We Were Us is the perfect mix of romance and social issues. It’s heavy and light all at the same time, mixing wedding planning (Liz’s sister is about to get married) with jail sentences, sweet kisses with the heavy topics of first-time sex and whole-town resentment.

Liz is meeting with Jason behind everyone’s backs and still developing a sort-of relationship with Innis. You know it’s going to end badly but you can’t help but hope that maybe there will be a shred of good in that bad, that maybe there is more to the story or that Liz can help or that she and Jason will be together in the end.  Continue reading

Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King

The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner – Penguin Random House UK Children’s – Published 8 March 2016

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Synopsis

Dill’s father is in jail for an unspeakable crime. Shunned by the neighbours in their small religious Tennessee town, Dill and his mother try to make ends meet.  Dill’s only respite from poverty and prejudice are his two friends: Lydia and Travis. Travis is an oddball, finding sanctuary from his violent father in his obsession with an epic fantasy saga. Lydia is fast-talking and fiercely creative, pinning her hopes on her achingly cool fashion blog. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life in New York.

Dill wants to get through his final year of high school in one piece. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of his family, a serpent poisoning his blood, filling him with despair. Dill must confront this legacy of madness and desperation before it tears him apart.

My thoughts

The Serpent King is an emotional and touching novel. Three friends together experience loss, the trials of social segregation, and hope and trepidation for the future. Set in rural Tennessee, Lydia, Dill and Travis fight for their futures against the backdrop of Southern charm and prejudice.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. The summary suggested a book about friendship, and it certainly is the focus of this book, but it is also about love, coming of age, and fighting the demons that seek to steal your light. It was surprising and totally engrossing.

Lydia, Dill and Travis are a strong trio of friends and yet they are totally disparate. The book cycles through each of their perspectives in short chapters, sometimes picking up right where one leaves off, providing a wonderful insight into each of the main characters’ heads and hearts.    Continue reading

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