Monday, November 12, 2018

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is a truly inspiring autobiography that I read at my school. Before he became a world-famous comedian, Trevor Noah had to get through apartheid in South Africa. Born to a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was illegal. He struggled to find his place in a world that didn't want his "kind". Noah enlightens readers with through his funny, optimistic approach to his in life poverty, oppression, abuse, and how he escaped and became molded into the man that he is today.

This is one of the best books I've ever read, and I cannot wait to read it again! Trevor Noah is a huge inspiration. Throughout his childhood, he was able to turn desolate situations into opportunity and fun. His positivity and lightheartedness is incredible, and it is obvious that he is well-suited as a comedian. I admire Noah for defying the laws of society and becoming his own person.

He had the perfect balance of intense, alarming moments and topics (like colonialism) while also being lighthearted and optimistic. Of course there were awful scenes of ridicule, but he never got mad at the bullies- just smiled and cracked a joke. This story contains major trends of people being afraid of what they don't understand, the main basis of hate crimes and segregation. However, Trevor's fearlessness and passion for being himself inspires readers- if there isn't a place for you in society, make your own, and always face an obstacle with optimism.

I highly recommend this book!

In case you have no idea who this guy is, he has his own TV show, the Daily Show With Trevor Noah on the Comedy Central television station. After reading this book I've started watching him- he's hilarious!

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah's website

His YouTube Channel

Title: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Split by Swati Avasthi

Split is a YA realistic fiction book about the aftermath of abuse. After his father beats sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon and throws him out, he leaves behind his mother and drives to the home of his older brother, Spencer, who managed to escape years before. Jace is able to start at a new school and slowly build a new life, but both boys will soon learn that they can't keep running from their father- and their secrets.

I loved this emotional roller coaster! This is the definition of a love-hate relationship. Yes, their father is abusive and horrendous, but there were still happy times, which sometimes can overpower the bad. That's really the huge internal conflict, whether to miss him or hate him. The cycle of abuse is nearly impossible to get out of, and while I really don't like the outcome, not everyone can have a perfect ending.

What I loved the most about this book was how realistic it was in the sense that everybody is broken. Nobody is perfect and there was no perfect solution to the problems and the huge mistakes that the characters made. Jace struggled with that quite a bit, haunted by the fear that he is turning into his father. This story is not a happy one, however it is full of hope and love that readers will remember for weeks.

I recommend this book!

Title: Split
Author: Swati Avasthi
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 280
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, October 29, 2018

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus is a historical fiction book about the oppressed lifestyle of a Nigerian family that I found at my school library. Taking place in the 1960s during the Nigerian Civil War, Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a sheltered life in a rich family. They are completely blocked off from the rest of their world, surrounded only by religion, fear, and pain. As the military coup begins to take over the county, the children are sent away to live with their Aunt, who introduces them to freedom, laughter, and happiness. As the country falls apart, her family does as well, and Kambili must hold her family together after a tragedy long enough to escape to America.

This book was amazing! I loved the parallels between the war in their county and the war inside their home. I found myself not only fascinated with Kambili's strength and heart, but also the culture and the history of the country. In addition, the aspect of religious conflict in their culture was massive, half the population sticking with native polytheistic values while the other half, including Kambili's father, assimilates into the Church. It's a whole different set of beliefs between her father and her aunt, and it was amazing to watch how both influenced and gave her strength to conquer the harsh, unforgiving days she had ahead.

Kambili doesn't understand what is wrong with her life, she has worshiped her father and always tried to please him. It was amazing watching her first laugh and the first time she ever smiled with her aunt and cousins. Her inner turmoil was powerful, and Kambili found herself trying to save her family at all costs. She is brave and magnificent.

The symbolism of the purple flower was incredible. In darkness and oppression, the Purple Hibiscus is defiance and freedom, representing the beauty that can shine if one allows themselves to never give up, and always keep fighting against brutality. This flower is their beacon of hope, and the only thing more powerful than fear is hope.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 307
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Stuck on Earth by David Klass

Stuck on Earth is a combination of science and realistic fiction with a satirical twist about an alien who inhibits a human boy. Ketchvar III is a gastropod from the planet Sandoval. His species is alarmed at how humans are destroying their planet and pushing it to the brink of demise. Armed with the Gagnerian Death Ray, Ketchvar must inhibit the body and brain of a teenager, Tom Filber, and determine whether or not the human race should be annihilated for their own safety.

Stuck on Earth is super bizarre, nothing like I've ever read, and a book I can never forget! This book is very ironic and satirical, especially in the age of nuclear weapons and global warming. We often wonder ourselves if humanity is worthy of the Earth, and in the age of global warming we are destroying our precious home rather than saving it. I loved how this book conveyed those messages and spoke of real environmental issues, as well as what we can do as individuals to clean up our mess.

I also love how this book was still realistic, and for a few chapters even I doubted whether he was actually an alien or young bullied teenager with a vivid imagination. It was interesting how the book drew parallels between between being an Alien and feeling like one.

It has an amazing message about loving and caring for the environment, as well as our family, friends, and neighbors. Ketchvar became entangled in his disastrous family, and I really enjoyed how he unified his family and made friendships. His take with romance and kissing was hilarious and adorable. This is one of the few books that I've read recently where I know that I will still remember in years to come!

I highly recommend this book!

Also by this author, read my review of Second Impact, as well as Losers Take All

Title: Stuck on Earth
Author: David Klass
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 240
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hungry by H.A. Swain

Hungry is a YA science fiction book about a futuristic world where nobody needs to eat. In One World, food no longer exists. Instead, everybody is fed medicine with nutrients in it. The government of One World says this prevents famine, gets rid of obesity, and prevents war. Everything she believed changes when Thalia begins to feel hunger. She meets a boy from the underground movement to bring food back, and they run away together to find real food.

I was extremely disappointed, as I had very high expectations for this book. The original concept was incredible, and I loved the beginning so much. But the more the book progressed, the more it went off the rails with too many new ideas and too much of an abandonment of the ideas left unfinished. The ending of the book threw me off a lot with no indication of a sequel.

The plot with the farm was just so irrelevant and disturbing. It's a completely different story that I just had no interest in. The harvest is absolutely revolting and makes me sick to my stomach. The cities, One World, revolution, and government lies are really what I cared about, and it makes me sad that I did not enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. It started out a 5 star, but the more it went on the more it started to deteriorate.

I do recommend that you read this book, but don't get your hopes up.

Title: Hungry
Author: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 384
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Miles From Ordinary is a YA realistic fiction book about a girl attempting to care for her ill mother. Lacey's mother is very sick, and struggles with severe anxiety and depression. She also does dangerous and bizarre things because she hears the voice of her dead father telling her to. Lacey's aunt used to help care for her, but her mother kicked her out and even got a restraining order, leaving Lacey to take care of her by herself.

After Lacey's mother's latest spending spree that leaves them nearly broke, Lacey is forced to let her mother take a job at the grocery store while she goes to the library. However, four hours later, Lacey cannot find her mother, and is forced to confront her mother's demons.

While I found this book to be extremely fascinating and captivating, it is also very strange and frightening. I am not really sure what the author was trying to accomplish, but if it was horror, she succeeded. I have read my fair share of books with characters struggling with mental illness, but none as terrifying as the mother. The ideas were so twisted. This book would be better categorized as a physiological thriller.

It was also very short. I was missing all these details that I wanted, and I was very confused because some things weren't adding up. For example, if her mother is truly as sick as she seems, why wait until now to get her aunt, especially if they were almost broke. Okay, and common sense- her first mistake was leaving her mom alone. With a history like that, she should have hired a care-taker or something. 

Don't get me wrong- it is extremely well-written and I was completely engrossed in the book. It is also very different than anything I have ever read, but in this case it is too different. While I was reading Miles From Ordinary, I enjoyed it. However, it was just so strange. I commend the author for making me scared during it, and it was a great thrill, but I cannot get past how unrealistic and creepy it was. 

While I did not particularity enjoy this book, I will try another book from the author, The Chosen One.

Title: Miles From Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 197
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is a realistic fiction book about a five-year-old boy and his mother trapped in Room. When Jack's mom was 19, she was kidnapped outside of her college dorm, and held prisoner in Room, a converted shed. Eventually, she gave birth to a little boy. Told in the viewpoint of Jack, this story surrounds what happens when Ma reveals to him that there is a world outside of Room, and the two devise a plan to escape.

I love this book! Originally when I picked it up at my school library, I thought it'd be a fun, quick book to read. Boy, was I wrong! While the book is narrated by a five-year-old boy, being stuck in that room for five years his mom had lots of time to teach him advanced math, spelling, reading, and very big words. Yes, it is told in the viewpoint of of a little kid, but the ideas he was able to convey are huge. At this age he is able to articulate and notice that something is very wrong, and he is able to recognize his mother's depression. Jack is incredible. His love and protectiveness of his mother is enormous and heartwarming. He's a little superhero.

The author managed to voice a realistic child, somehow managing to make him seem his age, but also have critical thinking skills. I also loved his hilarious thinking patterns and rhetorical questions, about everything from baked beans to spiders. He is able to turn a serious, deadly situation funny, making the horrendous conditions light-hearted. There were so many times where you could tell that bad things were happening, but because it was told through the young eyes of Jack, they were easier to bear. It is quite intriguing to watch a little boy grasp the idea that the world is not this room. An ongoing theme was having Jack accept that (almost) everything on the TV was real! That's an extremely overwhelming situation, and even most adults cannot understand how big the world is. Room will leave you thinking for days!

I highly recommend this book, and I am excited to watch the movie adaptation!

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 321
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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