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Library Reads #3

It’s been a while since I posted about the books from the Book Clubs at the library where I work. But, that is because almost each month, I’m reading at least one book for the Book Clubs. Recently, I’ve been reading and leading the Young Adult Book Club (I won’t be reading and leading the Umoja Book Club again until the end of this year). So, which books have I been reading and discussing with the teens at the library?

I have to say that while many of the teens enjoy the books from Levine Querido, they are still intimidated by the “weight” of their books due to the type of paper they use for publishing.

That being said, the teens (especially, those that finished reading book) enjoyed this supernatural alternative history mystery novel. In recent years, we’ve been receiving more fiction about Native Americans written by Native Americans. Of course, regardless of the genre, readers will still learn about the beliefs of each of the Native American tribes, based on the one the author is from (I hope I phrased that correctly). The author represents the Lipan Apache Tribe, so readers learn a bit about their culture.

The protagonist in this story is dealing with the sudden death of her cousin, who died in a car accident. However, the local police refuses to release the body to his family, which causes conflict because their relative needs to be buried by the customs of their tribe. Meanwhile, the protagonist, who has a “gift” of her tribe, is told by her cousin’s spirit that he was murdered and tells her the name of the culprit. Now, it’s not just about defending her tribe’s burial rites, but also to stop an individual before they kill again.

This YA book delves into trauma, PTSD, and grief presented in verse. This is the author’s second novel and the narrative is a flow of streams-of-consciousness from the two protagonists who are dealing with the traumatic lost of their siblings. The way both teenagers deal with their trauma is expressed poignantly in verse and through elements of magical realism. Yes, the story can get confusing at times, but any story this emotional will present those emotions realistically (which, would be all over the place).

Coping with grief is very difficult for anyone regardless of an individual’s age; and, the author captures this difficulty brilliantly in this book. Adolescents are already dealing with hormones and life changes, but they will appreciate this verse novel that puts “emotions being all over the place” into something that can be followed along by the audience. Note: the cause of death of the siblings is revealed towards the end of the book. And, the cause of death is NOT what you think it is, which explains the narrative choice and the PTSD the teen protagonists are experiencing. The narrative doesn’t end with the protagonists being “better,” but instead they continue to work their way through their grief.

This Middle Grade Novel delves into the consequences of bullying. The protagonist is one of the “popular” girls at her school. Right before the start of the new school year, she gets a new neighbor who is the same age as her. Unlike the protagonist, the “new girl,” Jennifer Chan, refuses to conform with the school “hierarchy,” and she believes in “unusual” things such as aliens. After a “prank” goes too far, the protagonist has to decide which matters more to her: doing the right thing, or being called a “mean girl.”

This book provides an interesting look into those who are the bullies and investigates the reason they bully other people, especially those who “see them for what they are.” The narrative in this book is excellent and the “mystery” of Jennifer Chan’s disappearance is solved through creative, yet believable measures. Kids who enjoyed the author’s previous book, which won the Newbery Medal, will enjoy this book, too.

Yes, this book was written by THAT John Cho! This is a Middle Grade “historical” fiction book (I use that term vaguely because historical fiction takes place at least 50 years from the date of the book’s publication) about the L.A. Riots (which occurred in 1992) from the perspective of a young Korean boy. The book focuses on the protagonist who is trying to make “good” decisions when he decides to sneak out of his home in order to help his father with protecting their store. The closer he gets to Downtown L.A. and Korea Town, the more chaotic the atmosphere becomes.

As someone who recalls the L.A. Riots, it was interesting reading the events from the point-of-view of a child protagonist who not only would have been older than me at the time of this narrative, but also a Korean-American who dealt with the negative affect of what occurred between the events from Rodney King’s beating to the succession of acquittals of several notorious individuals. In addition, the Author’s Note at the end provides essential insight into how and why this book was written.

The latest book from the Teen Book Club is a debut novel about a 12 year-old girl who has to move with her mother to a different state, which means transferring schools. As the protagonist is getting used to being the “new kid,” she has to navigate a new school, new neighbors, and a new way to express herself. As any preteen believes, she thinks “no one understands her” and she decides to gather up her new friends in order to rebel against “the system, a.k.a. school.”

This Middle Grade Book deals with identity, self-expression, and rebellion. Yes, kids in junior high/middle school should follow a dress code and a code of conduct. However, the school’s principal did take it a bit too far. I had to remind myself that this book takes place in “our era,” and not during the late 1970s. That being said, I love the references to famous Mexicans, famous artists, and famous musicians.

This is the latest stack of books I’ve read with the teens at the library where I work. I hope this helps with any last minute summer reading any of your kids need to complete before the new school year begins. I can say for the upcoming selections for the book club will be different genres of literature. I want to mention that while not all of the kids who read these books participated in the Book Club Discussion, they did say they enjoyed reading the books. I’ll take that as a win.

Have you, or any kids you know, read any of these books? What book are you reading for the book club you participate in?

One thought on “Library Reads #3

  1. I’ve heard really good things about Elatsoe, I’d definitely read it if I had more time. And Toublemaker sounds good. I was working near downtown during the riots and it was scary!

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