So B. It by Sarah Weeks

I was looking through my bookshelf, pondering which book I could write a review for next and my eye wandered over this lovely novel I read as a fifth-grader. Six (seemingly long) years ago, I read this book and was touched. My reaction remains the same even as I read this book again in 2018. Wikipedia labels So B. It as a children’s novel and yes, based on its reading comprehension levels, the label makes sense. But on a deeper, emotional level, the book holds a number of truths.

A twelve year old girl, Heidi, lives with her mentally disabled mother, whose name is practically unknown, and Bernadette, an  agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. Their lives are built around these obstacles and uncertainties for as long as Heidi can remember but as she starts to grow up, she becomes aware of the gaping holes in her history. Wondering more about her and her mother’s past lives before meeting Bernadette, she embarks on a cross country journey to answer her questions: Who is her father? How did she and her mother end up at Bernadette’s door step all those years ago? What does the mysterious word “soof” mean? Her search for the truth begins with her mother’s list of 23 word vocabulary and an old disposable camera, starts in Reno, Nevada and ends in Liberty, New York.

Along the way, Heidi meets various strangers from different paths of life and she learns important lessons that ultimately make her wonder if it’s always worthwhile to uncover the truth and realize how uncomfortable or undiscoverable the truth is. Heidi balances tragedy and luck, love and loss, hope and defeat on this coming-of-age journey.

Week’s novel may be a children’s novel at surface level but I definitely believe that the audience gains perspective after reading this book. The characters in this book are easy to love and the plot is simple to follow, making for a quick read. There ought to be no excuse for you not to check this one out!

-Jessica

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This book was one I randomly picked up mainly because the cover art was interesting and seemingly had nothing to do with the synopsis. (I later discovered that the tent on the cover was intricately woven into the plot, which took me by surprise.) The story line intertwines the lives of three girls from three time eras: Adri from 2065, Catherine from 1934 and Lenore from 1919.

2065: Futuristic Adri is prepping to take a one-way trip to Mars in hopes of finding a feasible way for human life to prosper there. As she trains for her flight, she stays in Kansas at her distant cousin’s house. Here, she finds a journal and letters of a girl that lived there over one hundred years ago, thus leading to a puzzle of the past that Adri is determined to solve.

1934: Living in Kansas during the treacherous Dust Bowl, fear and unpredictability of the future sinks its claws into Catherine’s family and lover. She must overcome all odds and find the strength to do what she deems right to save the person she loves the most. Even if it means running in the opposite direction of everyone’s advice and never looking back.

1919: Lenore struggles to recover from the impact of World War I and the loss of her brother by keeping her chin up and sending letters to her best friend. She decides to move to America in hopes of finding a better, happier life but obstacles make her journey nothing less than arduous.

I thought there was no possible way these three girls could have anything in common, especially if they’re all from drastically different time periods. However, Jodi Lynn Anderson found a clever way to link them all together, while highlighting the balance between family and friends, fate and adventure. All the pieces clicked into place seamlessly and made for a beautiful plot.

Midnight at the Electric was one of those books I couldn’t stop reading and once I finished, I had to take a minute to gather myself before continuing on with life. I definitely recommend this book to those who want something mysteriously intriguing but also touching and easy-to-read!

-Jessica T.

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

Shaken: Fighting to Stand Strong No Matter What Comes Your Way by Tim Tebow

When I saw that Tim Tebow would write a young readers copy of his book Shaken, which I read and loved, I was ecstatic! I adore Tim with everything he does, and this book is no different!

The book starts off with Tim going through a tough time in his life: getting let off from the Eagles. He explains how he got through it and how we can all get through tough times by letting God lead us and remembering his love for us. Throughout the book he let’s us into the kid’s life’s that he has worked with and how tough they have it and what he has learned from it. He never comes off as having an ego and always tries to tell us that it doesn’t matter how people view you on Earth, it doesn’t matter if you are popular, we are all equal in God’s eyes!

I believe this book would be perfect for any child going through a tough time (especially if they know Tim and enjoy football). It really manages to hold the readers attention.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a copy to review.

-Skylar N.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

houseonmangostreet_sandracisnerosThe House on Mango Street, a book by Sandra Cisneros, highlights the life of a Latina girl growing up in poverty. Desperate to escape her seemingly predestined fate of unhappiness, the protagonist Esperanza writes her story and her path to salvation. The story is told through a series of vignettes, all expressing Esperanza’s deeply rooted emotions of joy and sadness. Throughout the events that occur on Mango Street, we can see that Esperanza is surrounded by women trapped either by themselves, or by the men in their lives. Esperanza’s fate is closely intertwined with these women, whom she discovers have similar motives to her own. Not only does Esperanza want to escape their fate, she wants to do so by defining herself.

Although The House on Mango Street is a hard book to truly understand and grasp, by nature of its writing style and subtle complexities, it highlights so many themes that are relevant in our society. Among them, the struggles of self definition ranks highly. Cisneros is able to illustrate the struggle of defining yourself amidst opposition from forces that we have no control over, such as our gender, race, and socioeconomic status. All too often throughout the story, the reader sees girls who change themselves in their desperate plight to be accepted. The only question to ask yourself is, to what extent must a person go to live the life that they dream of?

-Mirabella S.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library