How We Roll by Natasha Friend

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is a coming of age story of a young teenager named Quinn who must deal with something very few have to: she is bald. As an eighth grader, she was diagnosed with alopecia, and lost all of her hair. Unfortunately, the kids at school made constant fun of her, and she slowly lost her closest friends. She got a fresh start when her family decided to move in order to have her brother Julius, who has autism, attend a special school. In a new school now, Quinn decides to wear her wig permanently in the hopes that she will be treated nicely. Fortunately, she finds a group of girls who quickly adopt her into their friend group.

In addition to these friends, Quinn meets a boy named Nick. Once the star football player, he lost both of his legs in a car accident. In the grueling recovery process, Nick has become silent and recluse. However, Quinn and him make an unlikely bond that is strong enough for Quinn to reveal her secret and for Quinn to keep pushing Nick to the road to recovery. With a beautiful ending, I would say that this book is for anyone looking for a touching story.

Personally, I enjoy novels with either fantasy or adventure, but this one was a great contrast to my typical repertoire. Quinn’s personality was real; one could feel her happiness, anger, success, and fear. Her character was like any other teenager trying to fit in among her peers, and her ability to forgive her previous tormentors took a great deal of maturity. The friendship between her and Nick also showed how she grew as a person. In the novel, Quinn’s family was the backdrop for the story, and it was beautiful to see her interacting with her parents and little brother. Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a feel-good read.

-Anmol K.

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Money Run by Jack Heath

Money Run by Jack Heath is a suspenseful thriller about two teenager thieves: Ashley and Benjamin. Ashley’s criminal life started when her house was robbed, so she tracked down the thief and was able to steal back her belongings. Since that day, she keeps up with her life of crime to support her and her Father. Benjamin is her partner in crime but holds down the court by supporting her in their heists virtually.

One day, Ashley gets wind that there is 200 million dollars hidden in one of the biggest companies in the country. Their headquarters happened to be located in the same town where Ashley and Benjamin live. After deciding to steal the money, they hatch an elaborate scheme over the course of several months. They expect the job to be seamless without any hindrances, but once the day comes, stealing the money is a lot harder than it seems. Taking over the course of one day with a shocking ending, this book is for anyone looking for an exciting thriller.

I have always loved action adventure books, and this was no exception. With unexpected twists and turns, this book did not let me put it down until I got to the end. Even though it takes place in only one day, the reader gets to enjoy multiple points of view. These helped to explain the various events taking place, and also allowed the reader to understand each of the characters better. By being aware of their backgrounds, I was able to be more sympathetic and understanding, even for the ones engaged in thievery. This book is for the type of person who loves adventure movies, and a thriller, roller coaster ride.

-Anmol K.

Money Run by Jack Heath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien is a science fiction, dystopian novel. It takes place in the Forge School of the Arts, which is the site of a reality TV show. The school had 100 kids enter in each year, but 50 of them are cut, and do not receive this world-class education. The cuts are based on each person’s ranking, and these ranking are determined by the viewers, who watch the kids 12 hours a day. They vote, and the ones with more votes rise in rank, and make the cuts. The rest of the 12 hours are for the kids to sleep because it is believed that more sleep allows them to have more creativity. Each kid is given a pill to take, and its purpose is to help them sleep better and allow more creativity.

The main character of the book is Rosie Sinclair. She is in the school for film editing, and is ranked very low days before the cuts. Because of this, she skips taking her pill one night and goes out to explore because she does not have any regard for the consequences. In her exploration she finds a whole new world beyond the cameras. This encourages her to put more effort into staying up in the ranks in order to unearth the dark secret that the school is covering.

The premise of the book for me was interesting enough to pick it up off the shelf. I started to read it, and it was a bit difficult to get into. The story started with a pretty simple plot line, and a lot of the beginning was what I already read from the book summary. However, I loved to read about Rosie’s backstory because it made me root for her. Then, a few expected “turns” happened, and the story sort of plautead. I continued to read, and was happy to see the action pick up again. This propelled me to read the rest of the story, and I enjoyed the ending. Even though the beginning was a bit difficult to get through, I would recommend this book for an interesting, thought-provoking novel.

-Anmol K.

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Andy Weir

On July 18th, Andy Weir, author of The Martian and Artemis, visited the Norman P Murray center. After his introduction, he talked about how he “accidentally “ became an author. As a child, his Father had many science-fiction novels on his bookshelf. Weir, reflecting on this, said  he was “doomed to become a nerd.” He read those novels, and fell in love with those books because of the extensive focus on science in them.

At 15, he was hired by Sandia labs to be an intern. There, he was introduced to computers and fell in love with them. His passion for writing also kept increasing at this time. When the time to choose a college came, he wanted to write, but “wanted regular meals,” so he chose to pursue software engineering. In college, he was in debt and was not able to complete his degree. Fortunately, the software industry was desperate for engineers, so Weir was hired. Eventually, he landed a job at aol, but was laid off. He had enough money from stocks to pursue his dream of writing, but was unsuccessful, and went back to software engineering.

In the early 2000s, Weir made a website to publish his stories on. He would publish longer stories, and post a chapter at a time. His fanbase loved one in particular: the one about a man stranded on Mars. Dubbed, The Martian, it rose to popularity among his dedicated core group of “nerd readers.” One day, he got an email requesting him to create downloadable versions of his writing. So, he proceeded to self-publish on Amazon.

Initially, he was hesitant about that because of the minimum purchase price because he always wanted his work to be free. However, people did not mind paying the price, and he had people who wanted to donate to him. He said he did not want any donations because he was comfortable in his life. People, however, “donated” to him by purchasing his ebook on Amazon. Eventually, it rose to do the top ten in the science fiction category on the Amazon bookstore.

From there, he was approached by an agent and The Martian was eventually published by Random House. Once it was released, it was #2 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and the movie deal was confirmed with 20th Century Fox. After the immense success of The Martian, Weir wrote Artemis. This novel is about the first human establishment on the moon, and it is in the perspective of a 26 year-old women, and how she is entangled within various struggles.

As a writer, Weir aims to write 1000 words a day, and states that the “hardest part of writing is writing.” For aspiring writers, he has three pieces of advice: 1) In order to be a writer, you have to write. Sitting there and thinking about your story is not the same as writing. 2) Resist the urge to tell your story to other people until it is done because it saps your own will to finish the story. 3) There has never been a better time to self-publish. Because of this, there is no need to spend so much money on an agent, and by self-publishing, one can see how their book does without any risk of losing money. Seeing Andy Weir was a great opportunity, and I loved hearing him talk about his life and writing. I can’t wait to see what will happen with Weir;s future works, and if there are more movies adapted from his work.

-Anmol K.

The works of Andy Weir are available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library

Where I Live

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener tells the story of high schooler Linden Rose. When you read high schooler, you may have pictured someone who has a typical life with friends, homework, and a family. Linden Rose has all of these things, but no family. Homeless for about a year, she lives at school; no one knows about her secret because she does not want anybody to know.  Her two closest friends, Ham and Seung, are under the impression that she lives with her constantly absent Father at a nearby trailer park. Linden works hard in school to keep up her guise in order to have a shot at the future.

Flying under the radar is all she wants to do, and she does just that until she meets Bea. On the surface, Bea is the popular girl everyone admires. However, she comes to school one day with a bloody lip; everyone thinks it is from her boyfriend, but she vehemently denies this. This is hard for Linden to fathom because her place in life is due to domestic violence because of the various men beating up her mother, who eventually died and left Linden to live with her grandma, but she also died. In her gut, Linden knows that she needs to tell Bea’s story, but is unable to do so without revealing some secrets of her own.

This story was an emotional journey, but one thing that the reader will keep doing is rooting for a better life for Linden. Linden is portrayed in a way that she feels to be real, and the reader is able to connect to her. The story was slow-moving, but I do not think there was any other way for the story to be told. By building the story slowly, but surely, the author was able to depict the journey of Linden. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that takes on a different about high schoolers.

– Anmol K.

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener is avaiable at the Mission Viejo Library.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is a story that takes place in late 19th century Norway. The main character of the novel is Nora Helmer, and she is married to her husband, Torvald Helmer. She is treated like a doll by her husband, and has no say into any decisions that are made. She is there as a plaything for her husband, and has been molded by society to not have own identity as a person. Despite her characterization as a dim-witted doll, she is hiding a big secret. Nora borrowed money without any permission from either her husband or father in order to help her family while Torvald was sick. This kind of action was unheard of for a woman to do at this time, so she never told her husband from where she got her money from. Once her secret is threatened to be revealed, the course of the novel changes from the depiction of a typical, happy family of the Victorian time to something modern, but not normal for that time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was not a typical read for me because it was a novel assigned to me by school. It was an easy read, but the story kept me hooked from the beginning. Initially, I was a bit wary of the way Nora was treated, and just thought of her as silly. However, when her secret was revealed, my opinion of her changed. The rest of the novel was now on a different, more interesting course of action. The ending was not only surprising, but very controversial for that time. I would recommend this novel, regardless if it is assigned or not,  for anyone in order to see the importance of this kind of novel at this period in history.

-Anmol K.

Henry Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian follows almost-16-year-old, Daria. Proudly Iranian-American, she is not ashamed of her heritage, which is different from the clique she and her friends have dubbed as the “Nose Jobs,” whose leader used to be Daria’s best friend. Daria and her friends nicknamed themselves  “the authentics” because they see themselves as real and honest. They have a great vibe in their group, and feed off each other very well. Daria’s family is another major part of this novel, and they also love and support Daria. Despite having normal, familial disputes, she values her parents. One day, she is researching her ancestry for a school project and this leads her on a journey that will forever change her life.

This novel had many different aspects, and these all came together in a beautiful way. Family was an important subject in this book, and was depicted realistically by Nazemian. He not only showed the celebrations and happy times of the family, but he included the hardships and troubled times the family faced as well. The way the family changes and grows throughout the course of the novel is done well. More than the family, Daria grew and matured into a young, intelligent lady. Facing hardship, I admired how she did not allow for anything to get to her on her self-discovery. In addition to depicting the coming of age of Daria, the author also includes commentary about Iran that enhances the novel. Overall, this is a great novel and provides the reader with an interesting outlook of life.  

-Anmol K.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be download for free from Overdrive