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Recommended books to read MEGA Thread

Dream Country follows family tree of African culture

By: Dorothy Humphrey ‘22 & Anela Ajkic ‘22

Dream Country by Shannon Gibney explores the historical and modern background of African culture. Although the topic of the book seems interesting given the information on the inside, the story itself is bland.

The book goes on to tell five different stories about five different generations connected through their family tree. The book first starts in 2008 showing the story of a young Liberian refugee named Kollie who has started a new life with his family in Minneapolis. He has a hard time in school because he is picked on just for where he is from.

The story then jumps to 1926 in Liberia, telling the story of one of Kollie’s ancestors, Togar. Togar is trying to flee the Congo people who invaded his village and first tried to enslave him. He tries to reach his other family in a different region, being chased the whole way.

Next is the story of Yasmine Wright and her children, who are trying to live through their harsh life and find better opportunity elsewhere. Yasmine and her family go through many hardships along the way, and even more when they finally get to their destination.

The story then goes to Ujay (Kollie’s father) and Evelyn. They are two young adults living in the 1980s. The last section of this book is in 2018, showing Angel’s story (Kollie’s younger sister) of her future and her past life, reflecting on how her life was earlier on.

The details and small things that are mentioned throughout the book provide the reader with some hints and clues as to how each story connects to one another. For example, there is a certain passed down item in the family that reveals their connections to one another and how certain decisions of one family member affects the future of their descendants.

Other details really allow you to see the mindset of the characters in the story, and while some seem unnecessary, they actually play a big role in allowing the reader to fully understand the character’s thoughts and feelings. There are also some very vivid details of the scenery that makes you feel like you are really there. Not only do these vivid details allow this, it also sets the mood of the scene so the reader can also see what kind of situation the characters are in.

Overall, even though the book has some good aspects that can make the story more interesting, the story was still rather boring. The plot seems to drag on throughout the book while you never really know much about things in the book besides the character you are reading about. There isn’t much background story, which does make it a little harder to understand what is going on and what situation the character is in.

This book is also confusing, considering the amount of times it changes from topic to topic and character to character.

Lastly, this book is not very appropriate for younger audiences, as it uses many vulgar words that would only be suitable for an older audience.


Autonomous loses traction in the confusing high-speed details

By: Hailey Gattorna ‘22 & Reid Bartkus ‘19

“VROOM”! When first thinking of a road trip “thriller,” the reader expects to find many twists and turns, both literally and figuratively. In the book there are many action-packed details, but they are all jumbled in a mess of high-speed chases and cheesy one-liners.

William Mackler, a teenage boy from Fremont, New York, is about to go on a road trip of a lifetime. After winning a contest, while nearly dying in the process, he becomes the owner of an Autonomous, a driverless car that knows where he wants to go before he does.

To sweeten the deal, he gets to pick three friends to go with him on a cross-country trip to see their favorite band. For William, a reckless adrenaline junkie, this is the perfect last hurrah before he and his friends go their separate ways after graduation.

His companions are neighbor and friend Christina, best friend Daniel, and Daniel’s girlfriend, Melissa.

In team-role terms, Christina is the tech genius who can hack into almost anything she can get her hands on. Daniel, who is heading to Princeton University for basketball, is the muscle of the group. Finally, Melissa is the fixer and a gorgeous girl whose passion and ambition are overlooked because they’re directed toward fashion and becoming a highly-praised entrepreneur. William is the wild card, and Otto, the car, is the brains.

Autonomous is about more than just a car without a steering wheel. It's capable of downloading all the passengers’ digital history including the good, the bad, and the humiliating. The information is wired into the car that will expose a few well-kept secrets, but it will also force William to face some inner demons of his own making.

Author Andy Marino does a good job of enhancing the youth of the story but to an extent in which some of the dialogue is confusing in attempt to use teenage “slang.” The entire story is cut up and very hard to follow, and many things could have been left unsaid. The author could have been better at organizing the points and setting as well as leading up to the climax.

The story is overall not worth the 359-page read that the author set out to make a fun adventure for the characters of the story or the readers.


Graphic novel format confuses the reader

By: Nicklaus Elliott ‘22 & Morgan Cox ‘22

Graphic novel Losing the Girl, written and illustrated by Mari Naomi, is a very confusing book. There are a lot of moving pieces that are hard to follow throughout the course of the book. Many of the characters that aren't main characters are introduced abruptly and then gone almost as soon as they arrived, causing you to wonder what point they served.

The book gives you a lot of mixed feelings about the characters because they act differently throughout the book. This makes the novel much more realistic because everyone has a want that they aren't getting and there are no definite happy endings. The whole book is suggested to be about Claudia Jones, the lost high school girl.

But instead, it could be about the main characters losing the girls, Nigel Losing Emily, Emily losing her best Friend, and Brett losing Johanna.

The graphic novel is said to be about a lost high schooler named Claudia Jones and the search for where she is. Rather, it is more about the life of four other teens who live in the same area. Nigel Jones is a humorous guy who is trying hard to impress girls. He shoots his shot with Emily Baker and ends up with date.

They have a decent relationship until Emily doesn’t feel the same way anymore and falls for another boy, Brett Hathaway. Emily and Brett go out together for a bit and something serious comes out of it. But secretly, Brett is obsessed with Johanna which causes issues, because Johanna just wants to be friends with him.. Then Emily’s “best friend” Paula Navarro turns on her because people are paying attention to her.

The illustrations of the book were by far the best part, they allowed you to put a face to the character which definitely helps when trying to figure out what is happening. The illustrations were not too detailed, but they were detailed enough to follow along. They showed facial expressions and different colors were used to express the mood of the situations.

The style this novel was written in didn’t allow the author to explain further details of every situation, because of the lack of room taken by the illustrations. The book had promise to it, but it lacked many crucial parts such as further details and not staying on topics long enough. If the book wasn’t written in graphic novel form, it could have improved in overall quality.


Readers will find themselves caught in The Place Between Breaths

By: Chris Barr ‘22 & Brielle Campbell ‘22

The Place Between Breaths is a book that truly sinks you down to the core, pulls you down farther, and then takes your breath away. The approach An Na took when putting together this shattering story allows you to truly live amidst a heartbreaking mental disorder. You find yourself in a roller coaster of pain and euphoria, and then turning back to page one to read it again.

A train is pounding down the track at high speeds. Grace is frozen with fear as she hears the train barreling towards her. She tries to run away, but she cannot escape the train. Screams and train whistles are echoing through her head, but is the train even real? Is this even reality, or is it a brutal trick her brain is playing on her?

The Place Between Breaths brings the reader on an emotional adventure filled with heartwarming moments. She allows the reader to experience life through different lenses involving schizophrenia. Including a first-person viewpoint is truly moving. This book raises awareness for such a serious illness and doesn’t sugar coat its effects.

Grace is a 16-year-old girl whose life, and intelligence, isn’t the same as the average high schooler. Her mother suffered from schizophrenia for years, and Grace had to live through it with her, witnessing the effects and experiencing it first-hand. Her mother suddenly disappeared during this time and left the family in fear of her hurting her loved ones. Her father works tirelessly at the lab to try to find a cure and figure more about this disease so he can bring his beloved wife back.

This state of endeavor leaves him in what Grace refers to as “The place between breathes.”

Grace is constantly alone with no loved ones, and only one friend who now ignores her because of an argument. Grace is a biochemist on the rise, but her hallucinations may take away any opportunities in her future. Will she survive this mess and live a bright future, or will her mind get the best of her and take away all chances of even living a life? The train is coming, faster and faster, keep running or die.


Meet the Sky takes reader along in hurricane experience

By: Zack Brook Kohout ‘22 & Gianna Delissio-Gaskill ‘22

Meet the Sky is a book written by award-winning author McCall Hoyle. This book is about a girl named Sophie who lives with her mother and her sister Mere. When she was younger, she had a perfect family, which included her father, but that was until he got into an accident with Mere in the car causing her to become a whole new person. Since that day, it was nothing but pain for Sophie, and it has felt as if it were her job to take care of her mom, sister and the barn after her dad left.

This book is a truly inspiring book about a young girl who tries to survive a hurricane after she got separated from her family during the evacuation, and she must come out of her comfort zone to achieve this goal. She isn't alone in the storm either, she is with a boy named Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshmen year and she has not seen him since. Both now must work together to survive the eye of the hurricane. Finn is not a very safe person though, which causes it to be difficult for Sophie to work with him.

In the book, Sophie has trouble in her family whether it is trying to get into a veterinary school to attempting to keep the family business running and protecting her sister and her mom from another disaster that they do not need. As they live their lives, a Category 1 hurricane forms off the coast, and they are hoping something will change its course so no damage will be caused.

The author is a very talented writer because she does a very good job of pulling you in, and she has a unique way with her words. She made the story fun to read and added many twists in the plot to keep the reader engaged. She also made the book something that some people can relate to, which is another reason the book is interesting. Many people have been in a hurricane and know how it has affected their lives.


Flawed takes main character on a journey for acceptance

By: Madison Binkley ‘22 & Sofia Boyle ‘22

Flawed entails a woman and her coming of age experience in order to balance her beliefs and love for a man. Observing the cover of the book Flawed, we imagined a young and fun children’s book with a simple plot and static characters. After reading, we soon realized this was far from the truth. Initially this book seemed indescribable and hard to process. Despite its simple reading, the complex plot behind the story is that of one for an older audience.

Flawed begins with a simple summer vacation that turns into a love story. Despite the two's feelings, they have very different interests that contradict one another. At the summer’s end, both characters are forced to separate, and the farther they are away from each other the more relevant their issues become. Because of what the man she loves does, Andrea becomes insecure about her appearance. Andrea soon comes to realize her true beauty and accept herself and the one she loves.

Throughout the book the author Andrea Dorfman uses features such as images and characterization to make the story come to life. On each page, the author has images to allow the readers to imagine what each character thinks and feels. Despite the plot taking on a more serious undertone, the author uses cartoon-like characters in the story to give an easier and child-like feel to the book. Dorfman also uses dynamic characters in the book to allow for a more rounded story. Dorfman highlights the fact that the characters change based on their events, this allows the story to have a more intriguing sequence of events and keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Flawed can be purchased on Amazon and can be found in most bookstores. Dorfman, who is an award-winning animator and filmmaker, also made the book into a short film that can be viewed through any device.


Blink turns small town upside down

By: Elaina Regnier ‘22 & Taylor Johnson ‘22

Sasha Dawn has everyone believing that Blink’s small town of Sugar Creek is just a quiet, simple area that overlooks the coast of the ocean, but it’s really anything but.

Dawn does an outstanding job of allowing the readers’ minds to wander while simultaneously always questioning the characters’ next move. By having the readers continuously staying on the edge of their seats, Dawn really makes the book captivating.

Sugar Creek was previously home to a girl named Rachel Bachton and her loving parents. She had a good life until she was suddenly snatched away in the middle of a crowded farmer’s market street. Years later, countless leads with dead ends were all the kidnapping had led to.

A 16-year-old teenager named Josh Michaels is a wondrous character. His life was the opposite of Rachel’s, as his mother married multiple wrong and abusive men. He was forced to look after himself and his younger twin sisters, Caroline and Margaret, from too early of an age.

Sugar Creek was a common small town where everyone knew everyone. Hellos and waves were often shared along the street, and everyone frequently gathered at the town’s watering hole, the Tiny Elvis. When this new girl blows in from only God knows where, Josh is intrigued and desires to learn her background.

Chatham Claiborne is one of the most important characters in this story with her bumpy past. She begins to remember being in places of the town where she claims she has never been before. Chatham had come to Sugar Creek in search of her sister Savannah, who ran away from their home in Georgia before anyone could convince her to stay. The journal and notes her sister left under her pillow the night she disappeared were all Chatham had left in attempt to find and remember Savannah.

From the moment Josh and Chatham meet on a sunny afternoon at the beach, this book is almost a never stopping journey to discover who Chatham Claiborne really is. The next few months are spent searching for clues as to where Savannah could be, along with a strong romance developing between Josh and Chatham. A sudden disappearance of Chatham and repeated news reports of new discoveries is all it takes for Josh to finally put together that Chatham Claiborne and Rachel Bachton are in fact the same person.

Through mind-jumbling facts, flashbacks, and a seemingly impossible story, Dawn creates a captivating adventure that not only keeps the reader drawn in, but also pulls at many heartstrings. Blink is sure to take you through a rollercoaster of emotions in the best and most fascinating way possible.

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