Book reviews: Young Adult and Adult Fiction Books reviewed by NHS Students

Young Adult and Adult Fiction Books reviewed by NHS Students, December 2018.


Carter, T.E. I Stop Somewhere.  Feiwel & Friends, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1250124647.  320 p. Gr.10-adult. P7 Q6

This book was really disturbing, but not because it was some warped horror tale, but because it’s all too true: it’s about rape culture in our society and how acceptable it is.   I really had a hard time reading this because I felt like I was the main character, experiencing all the same raw emotions she was.  I wish the book had a more positive ending, but that’s life.  I don’t know that I could recommend this to others, because it really is pretty disturbing.  Genre: Realistic fiction.


Popoola, Olumide. When We Speak of Nothing. Cassava Republic Press, 2018. $15.95. ISBN 978-1911115458. 256p. Gr. 11-adult. P5Q8    

This novel is tough to read because the dialog and political settings (London and Nigeria) may be so unfamiliar to most high school kids.  However, the topics: police brutality, prejudice, gender bias, pollution, and sexual questioning are universal and current.  It deals with harsh reality (a murder and subsequent riot) as well as myths and is very interesting.  It actually reminded me of Ellen Hopkins’ works, in how direct the prose is, but it is far broader and more interesting.  Genre: Realistic fiction.


Ribay, Randy.  After the Shot Drops. $17.99. ISBN 978-1328702272.  336 p.  Gr. 9-12.  P8Q6

This book is about basketball and friendship.  That sounds pretty basic, but this is one complicated story, with betrayal, hard luck, violence, and love all playing major roles.  It’s told from the alternating perspective of 2 boys, which sounds weird, but it works and the book’s fast pace really keeps the reader interested.  Genre: Realistic fiction (sports.)


Hutton, Keely. Soldier Boy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. $10.50. ISBN 9780374305635. 336p.  Gr.9-12. P7Q7

Every other chapter in this book is the true story of a child soldier in Uganda in 1989, Ricky Anywar.  He was kidnapped, then trained, armed, and forced to kill for Kony’s army.  Through interviews, Ricky actually helped the author write the other chapters in this book, which covers the life of a fictional (but typical) boy named Samuel, who faces the same violence that Ricky did.   It’s hard to read at times, since it is so brutal, but it’s an important message that all high school students should hear. Genre: Historical fiction.

Lawson, Richard. All We Can Do Is Wait. Razorbill, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780448494111. 288p. Gr 7-10. P7Q

This book is about grief, disaster, and love and how reality can change so quickly.  There’s enough romance thrown in to make it appealing, even when it’s depressing as heck.  Even though the reading level is pretty young, the plot is really complex and the character development is strong.  The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, it felt rushed and incomplete.  Genre: Realistic fiction.


Hurwitz, Gregg. The Rains. Tor Teen, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 978-0765382689. 368p. Gr. 10+. P6Q7

A very violent, intense zombie novel, The Rains is good because the characters are so real.  The whole thing is fast-paced and you feel like you are reading a movie script. Genre: Horror/Paranormal.


Choi, Mary H.K.  Emergency Contact. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1534408968. 400p. Gr.9-12. P6Q6

The writing in this book reminds me of a buffet in a really good restaurant, but right before it closes and there’s only a tiny bit of deliciousness left in each bowl.  There’s a few cute phrases, adorable characters, angsty young adults, a rape, eating disorder musings, and cultural dysphoria – but it’s not really “filling” and the book falls a bit short of being anything more than a touchy-feely romance novel.  Not saying it isn’t good, but it could’ve been GREAT.  Maybe there will be a sequel? Genre: Romance.


Broadway, Alice. Ink (Skin, book 1.) Scholastic Press, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338196993. 336p. Gr. 9-12. P7Q7

Starting with an amazing cover, this book (written during NaNoWriMo, which is so cool, as I am writing now, too) kicks off a promising trilogy.  The story is about a young girl who learns her late father’s history is tainted with a serious crime. Since all personal history is revealed via tattoos on their skin, there’s no hiding secrets and she has to deal with the consequences.  It sounds predictable, but there are so many twists to the story that it really makes it interesting.  Can’t wait to read the next installment!  Genre: Dystopian.


Rutledge, A.B. Miles Away from You. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1328852335. 272p. Gr.10+. P5Q7

Miles is a pansexual son of lesbian mothers who falls for a transsexual girl, and both of them run an online LGBQT advocacy group.  If that isn’t complicated enough, the girl tries to commit suicide, falls into a coma, and her intolerant religious parents put her on life support. Miles must come to grips with who he is and what he can do to be true to himself.  Not sure many high school kids would understand the situations or complexity of this dark story, but it’s well-written.  Genre: Realistic Fiction/LBGTQ


Nijkamp, Marieke (ed.) Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 9780374306502. 310p. Gr. 9-12. P5Q8

This is a selection of many different genres of stories, ranging from romance to science-fiction, by 12 different authors.  The settings and perspectives of each character in the stories are very different, but the common thread is that all of them are disabled.  I found it to be positive and affirming and I think other teens will, too.


Day, Anna. The Fandom. Chicken House, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338232707. 416p. Gr.11+ P7Q7

I really liked this book; I got pulled into the characters right away.  It is so easy to relate to their joy and their pain, and I found myself crying a lot while I was reading this.  It has a lot of violence, and there’s a scene where they infiltrate a brothel.  Probably for mature readers only!


Book reviews: Picture Books reviewed by ECEL (Special Needs) Students

Thanks to the Newport High students in the Education for Community Employment and Life group and library staff for these reviews.

December 2018 Picture Book reviews by ECEL (Special Needs) Students:


Kheiriyeh, Rashin. Saffron Ice Cream. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. $17.60. ISBN 978-1338150520. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 8.

Rashin had to move from Iran to Brooklyn. She had to leave behind friends and everything she knew, including her favorite ice cream. Her family and friends went on a picnic at the beach on Coney Island. She tried a new ice cream and made a new friend.  There was no curtain on the beach in America, so she could swim with her whole family.  I liked this book; it was interesting and believable.  The book talked about different places and the beach/ocean, and had colorful illustrations.  It made us laugh out loud at times.

Taylor, Sean. I Am Actually a Penguin. Illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek. Templar, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1536202786. Unpaged. PK-1 ECEL Popularity: 9. 

A little girl liked to dress up. She got a penguin costume and wore it everywhere.  She believed she was a penguin and when her parents made her take the costume off to go to school she found an alligator costume to wear, instead. This was a very fun book that was easy to read.


Foster, Travis. Take a Hike, Miles and Spike!  Illustrated by Ethan Long. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1452164717. Unpaged. K-3. ECEL popularity: 9.

This book is about 2 friends who are heading somewhere and saying goodbye to all their friends. I really liked this book, it makes fun use of words and has very cute illustrations.

Shories, Pat. Squeak the Mouse Likes his House. Holiday House, 2018 $15.99. ISBN 978-0823439447. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 9. 

Squeak the mouse tells us he likes his house and the toys, fresh water, books, and free snacks that are in his house.  The book is very cute, I liked how the book was written from the mouse’s perspective.


Murray, Dianna. One Snowy Day. Illustrated by Diana Toledano. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1492645863. Unpaged. PK-1. ECEL Popularity: 8.

Puppy wakes up and goes through his day, including playing outside with all the kids.  The book counts to 10 and back, so it helps really young kids learn how to count. It’s a cute book that rhymes and is fun to read.

Fergus, Maureen. The Reptile Club. Illustrated by Elina Ellis. Kids Can Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1771386555. Unpaged. PK-2. ECEL Popularity: 10.

Rory started a new school and there were lots of clubs to join. None of the clubs interested Rory, so he decided to start one of his own, called the Reptile Club.  None of the kids wanted to join right away, but 3 reptiles (an alligator, anaconda, and a gecko) came to the meeting.  Once the kids saw the reptiles at the meeting, they all wanted to join them.  This book was really funny and really easy to read, the pictures made us all laugh out loud.


Boldt, Mike. Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy.  Margaret K. McElderry, 2018. $17.99. ISBN. 978-1481448871. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL Popularity: 6

This is the story of how different emotions run through us.  Claire’s “bad day” started with not having the “right” breakfast cereal.  Her best friend, Fluffy is a big stuffed rabbit and when Claire is in a bad mood, so is Fluffy.  As the day gets worse, Fluffy starts having a fit, and they both have a hard time getting control of their anger.  Somehow, they do and it all turns out ok.  It’s a little preachy at times, but maybe younger kids will get the message, because it is easy to read and the pictures are great.