TeenLit Book Reviews

June 2008


Ian McEwan

Atonement, by Ian McEwan, chronicles the thrilling fictional love story of Cecilia "Cee" Tallis and her family's gardener, Robbie Turner, through the eyes of young Briony Tallis. The story takes place in England during the 1930s. After witnessing the flirtations between Cecilia and Robbie, Briony accuses Robbie of a crime that lands him in jail and then as a soldier in World War II. As the story unfolds, Briony becomes increasingly guilty for disrupting her older sister's true love. Briony begins to shape her life around this guilt that plagues every day of her life. On a scale of one to four, with four being the best, I would rate Atonement a four because not only is the story heartfelt and vividly descriptive, it also allows the reader to enter Briony's head and sense her overwhelming emotions that she feels helpless to control. This book is geared toward a mature audience who can understand the complex character relationships and interactions, so it would be best for a high school audience or for college students. Overall, Atonement is a great book that takes the audience on an exciting ride through the complex lives of Ian McEwan's characters.
Reviewed by Lisa E.. Grade: 11th Grade in East Palo Alto, - Link directly to entry

March 2008

The Human Fly and Other Stories

T.C. Boyle

The Human Fly and Other Stories is a collection of stories written after 1974. Some of the stories are very strong and well written. There are some allusions that I do not believe many of the readers are likely to catch on to since some of the stories were written more than thirty years ago. There is a huge variety of stories in this book which may limit the age appropriateness to about 15-16 and up perhaps even older depending on the maturity level of the reader. It focuses strongly of the struggles of adolescence. The targeted audience is young adolescents but the content of some of the stories is very inappropriate for its intended age group (12+.) Some references are too mature in content. The book has an odd combination of stories some targeted exclusively toward girls and some exclusively towards boys. The writing itself is very good, descriptive, easy to read, and most of it enjoyable and entertaining. Some of the stories were wonderful, and easy to relate to, and some of the others were a struggle to get through. They were either a hit or a miss. I would rate this book a 2.5 out of 4. While it was not unenjoyable to read it did not capture you the way a really good book does, and there was simply too much variety to the stories.
Reviewed by Kaleigh. Grade: Graduate in Tucson, - Link directly to entry

November 2007

Things You Either Hate Or Love

Brigid Lowry

In "Things You Either Hate or Love," it is Georgia's goal to see her favorite band live. Georgia is an average teen; complete with witty humor and low self-esteem. This novel allows the reader to delve into a teen's life, the ups and downs, joys and pains of growing up. I would rate this novel a three out of four for originality and humor. It is a story filled with laughter, and many things teens can relate to. All in all--read this book!
Reviewed by Mellissa. Grade: 10th Grade in Philadelphia, - Link directly to entry

July 2007

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

Once you pick up this book, you become engrossed with the story of Elizabeth Bennett, who is a beautiful yet independent and stubborn girl. When she meets the miserable Mr. Darcy, she swears to loathe him for his seemingly conceded manner. While her sister is captured in a romance with Mr. Darcy's good friend, Elizabeth finds herself more often in his presence. Different accounts and rumors of Mr. Darcy make Elizabeth confused over his character, until she doesn't know what to think of him. This witty and romantic novel will keep you interested until the end. I would rate this novel a 4 out of a 1-4 scale.
Reviewed by Chelsea. Grade: 10th Grade in , - Link directly to entry

May 2007

Follow the Blue

Brigid Lowry

This book I've read was amazing that I would give it a 4. I think anyone should read this book from 12 or 13 years and up. Females and males are welcome to read this book,but I guess boys aren't really going to be interested. There is a girl named Bec that goes probably to 8th or 10th grade because she goes to school on a higher level. She has two siblings, which are Bing(a little girl) and a boy who's intelligent named Josh. The setting is mostly at their home and school. The main conflict is that Bec wants to decided if she should be with a boy named Steve or a boy named Nick. Some strengths of this book is that is was very interestesting and it had great desciptions of the characters and places. I would like to read more books that aresort of like this or romance books too.
Reviewed by Bereniz . Grade: ----- in Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

Fat Boy Swim

Catherine Forde

I think this book is fit for anyone who has ever had problems with teasing, or who is interested in learning about it. Fat Boy Swim is about a fourteen year old boy who is always being teast by ignorant school mates. He is mainly teased about his weight problem. Throughout the book he meets different people, such as GI Joe, Elle and Aunt Pol, who help him pursue his dream as well as find his true identity. While reading this book I felt I could relate to the main character. I was always met with surprises in each chapter that kept me reading. I would definitely rate this book a 4.
Reviewed by Ulises. Grade: ----- in Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Libby Bray

The title and author of the book I read are A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray. On a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best, I would rate this book a 4. genre of this book is fiction. People my age, or most middle schoolers, would probably like this book. The book takes place in India then in London at a school named Spence. Much of the book involves in a magical garden, but I don't want to give it away! The book is great except for all the diffrent settings, which can sometimes make it confusing, but I would still recommend this to everyone.
Reviewed by Laura. Grade: 6th Grade in Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

January 2007

Girl, 15, Charming but Insane

Sue Limb

The title of this book is GIRL, 15, CHARMING BUT INSANE. The author of this book is Sue Limb. I would give this book a 3 out of 4. This book could be read by a 12 or 13 year old. A girl would probably like this book better than boy due to the subject matter. The main character of the book is Jessica Jordan but everyone calls her Jess. The story takes place in England and is all about the life and sturggles of Jess. On of the conflicts in this book is that Jess was video taped while she was in the bathroom. Jess tried to get the tape but she couldn't because someone had already taken it. Than Fred calls Jess and tells her to meet him at the bus stop. When Jess goes to the bus stop, Fred gives her the video tape, and their relationship begins. I won't reveal the ending but I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, relaxing read!
Reviewed by Ana. Grade: ----- in California, - Link directly to entry

The Sword of Straw

Amanda Hemingway

Amanda Hemingway's The Sword of Straw is an excellent book for readers 13 and up, and I would rate it a 4. THe main character is Nathan Ward, a boy who dreams like all men do, but his dreams are real! He travels to other worlds and times in these dreams. He cannot make these dreams happen, and if he does force them to happen, he never ends up where and when he wanted to be. The dreams are explined by particle physics and quantum physics. Hemingway's descriptions are detailed, from Woody the woodrose, to Nathan's friend Hazels malevolent spirit Lilliat. The book is centered around findign the Sword of Straw (The Traitor's Sword). to add to the Grail, which is in Nathan's Uncle Barty's possession. But who 'Uncle Barty' really is, is open for disscussion. A spirit keeps possessing teenage boys to steal the Grail from Barty. Nathan visits the land of Winderslee. The princess's, Nell, father has been ill for years, after he was stabbed by the Traiter's Sword, and the wound will not heal. (This is reminiscent of the story of the king who was stabbed by the lance that pierced Our Lord's side in a King Arthur story) Nathan finds himself falling for Nell, while his best friend, Hazel, is dealing with love problems of her own. Hazel turns to Lillait, who is really someone who Hazel knows is evil in disguise, for help. This help, however is not what Hazel wanted. Nathan does everything to help Nell and her ill father. But when Nell tells him that she thinks he's the 'mysterious stranger' from prophecy, Nathan is confident that he is not the one. He isn't pure of heart, or especially brave or strong, he's an English school boy who dreams. The story is given a down to earth feeling amid the fantasy by Nathan's problems; with a bully at school, parental problems, games with his friends; Hazel's anger at him because he isn't spending time with her, and the school hierarchery at Hazel's school. An enthralling read that I would definitely recommend!
Reviewed by Kirsten. Grade: ----- in Ohio, - Link directly to entry

Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn

Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller's contemporary novel with an interesting (and possibly paranormal) twist, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn, is certainly worth reading. A mystery girl (could it be the gorgeous Pilar? the plain but charming Molly? or someone else entirely?) has somehow found her way into Gideon's mind, and she is the narrator of the story of Gideon's first few months at Midvale Academy, a prep school where he feels he simply does not belong. Teenage girls will definitely enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at what goes on inside a guy's mind! If this were just a story about a guy going to prep school, it would be missing the charm that the novel posesses. Giving the narrator access to Gideon's every thought adds another level to this story! I'm not certain that the mystery element (only the last page reveals who this girl with an all-access pass to the mind of Gideon Rayburn actually is) adds to the book, but it doesn't make it any worse, either. This mystery girl watches Gideon's every move (through his perspective) as he finds his way through Midvale Academy, dealing with his new roommates and other students around him. This mystery girl even watches as he tries to win a bet with Nicholas and Cullen, his two roommates, who make a bet on when (if ever) he'll lose his virginity--to Molly McGarry. This is an awesome novel--I'd rate it four out offour-- and I for one cannot wait to read more from Sarah Miller!
Reviewed by Jocelyn. Grade: ----- in North Carolina, - Link directly to entry

October 2006

Clair de Lune

Cassandra Golds

Cassandra Golds' Clair de Lune tells the fictional story of a who couldn’t speak but who could dance. Clair de Lune lives with her grandmother because her mother died when she was born. Clair de Lune doesn’t have any friends because she is so different. People judge her because she doesn’t have any parents and because she lives in poverty. I would give this book a three (out of 1-4, with 4 being the best) because it is interesting and because it has some French words in it. Somebody who likes different languages and fictional stories with realistic characters would enjoy reading this book.
Reviewed by Araceli. Grade: ----- in East Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

Smallville: See No Evil

Cherie Bennet and Jeff Gottesfeld

The title of the book is Smallville: See No Evil by Cherie Bennet and Jeff Gottesfeld. The genre of this story is science fiction. The rating I would give this book is a 4 (out of 1-4, with 4 being the best) because I really enjoyed it. I think children my age-- ”teenagers” should read this book because I found it interesting and engaging. The main characters are Lana Lang and Clark Kent and the story takes place in Smalleville. The main conflict of the story is that Clark wants to go out with Lana and she already has a boy friend, and from there the drama unfolds. Clark inadvertently lands the lead in the school play, opposite his favorite leading lady, Lana Lang. Aside from stage fright wracking his nerves, there’s an un explained force at work. Mysterious “accidents” befall several cast members and it appears the drama builds throughout the story. I would recommend this book to teenagers looking for an interesting television-based science fiction story.
Reviewed by Diana. Grade: ----- in East Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

September 2006

Be Healthy! It’s a Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great

Mavis Jukes and Lilian Cheung

Be Healthy! It’s a Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great does just what the title says. This book provides a general overview of what’s important for young girls to eat healthy, exercise, and living a fit lifestyle. It is divided into chapters, and each has many small sections, which make it not only a fast read, but an easy reference book as well. On a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best, I would rate this book a 4. The audience is probably pre-teens and young teen girls, as the advice is good but rather general. Some of the books strengths are its many external references, index at the back with definitions of the words, and the little changes you can incorporate into your daily life immediately. It doesn’t seem like you have to change your whole life to be healthier; you can start at breakfast, add in exercise, and little by little make these changes. It would be good to have more detail but then the book might be too long or too complicated. I think this is a great guide for girls who want an easy and safe way to be healthy, without making too many changes!
Reviewed by Jo. Grade: ----- in California, USA, - Link directly to entry

June 2006

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood

Ann Brashares

The book I read from TeenLit was Girls In Pants:The Third Summer Of The Sister Hood, by Ann brashares. This book is fiction and I woud say that girls from the ages of 12- 16 should read this book. Girls In Pants is about 3 teenage girs who are best friends. These three girls are graduating high school and are spending their last summer together. All three girls have their own problems and now have one more; having to separate for the frist time, each going to a different college. I would rate this book a 3- it is confusing at times with so many main chracters and all, but this book had a good plot and the characters brought life to the story. In my opinion wasn't a great book but it was an alright book, but a good read if you're looking to relax.
Reviewed by Margarita. Grade: ----- in Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry

Girls Out Late

Jaqueline Wilson

The title of the book I read is Girls Out Late, by Jaqueline Wilson. The genre of the book is fiction. I rate it a 4 (on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best), since it was very good overall. I think girls who are at least 12 years old should read this book. This book ia about three best friends who one night go to a place they are not supposed to. They meet boys who are very mean to them. Then one friend meets a guy she loves and spents the whole time with him and leaves her friends for him. At the end of the book the girls become friends again and it is like old times. This book teaches many good lessons about freindships and growing up. The most important lesson is that a guy may not be worth dropping everything at such a young age. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a friend.
Reviewed by Eliana. Grade: ----- in Palo Alto, CA, - Link directly to entry
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