Teen Book Reviews: “Concrete Rose” and “If I Tell You the Truth”

Today’s book reviews are by volunteer Ima T.

 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose serves as a prequel to the much loved story of The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. However, it’s not necessary to have read The Hate You Give, because the Concrete Rose has its own complete, separate storyline.

The story follows Maverick Carter, who is a 17 year old living in Garden Heights. He has been involved with the King Lords gang since his father had previously been a pivotal part of it beforehand. His role is to sell small amounts of weed and recruit new members. He made a nice sum of money from this role and could help pay the bills with his mother. Yet his life turns upside down when he realizes he has a son, which leads him to attempt to leave the gang. The reason he does this since he knows that the environment he is in with a gang would not be good for his son. But things start to change once he finds it harder and harder to scrape money together for his family and the people who support him. Maverick needs to find a way to break the cycle of involvement with gangs. One heart-stopping event occurs when a close friend of Maverick’s is murdered, and once this happens, he truly has to learn how to deal with grief and trauma with people who are still relying on him.

Concrete Rose is a fierce novel with important themes that can be applied to everyday life. For example, in the novel, Maverick struggles with the fact that he is being constantly compared to his powerful father, who was previously part of the gang but is now in jail. Nicknamed ‘Li’l Don’, he has big shoes to fill and constantly feels as though he should be more of a man. His emotional development throughout the book gives an inside look to readers who want to learn more about the father described in The Hate You Give. Concrete Rose is an amazing read, and truly lives up to its name of describing a boy who is struggling to flourish and realize his full potential.

 

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur follows the story of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, and it is told from both of their alternating perspectives. A compelling part of the novel is the fact that some of the story is told in verse, while the rest of it reads like a normal novel. When the novel is in verse, it is often to display emotions like sadness or anger. This allows for the distressed thoughts that the characters feel to be expressed deeper. Kiran is Punjabi, and comes to Canada on an educational visa. She leaves her strict family to go to university else where, but the reader soon discovers that she has a child on the way as a result of sexual assault. Her decision to keep her future daughter strains her relationship with her family, and leaves her isolated in a foreign country. Kiran struggles with letting her daughter grow up without much money and familial support, and there is an added fear of getting deported. Kiran had to overstay her visa in Canada for her daughter since she didn’t want to go back to her home country out of fear of finding her rapist.

The first half of the book is told from Kiran’s point of view, and the rest is from Sahaara. Sahaara wants to find her own identity since she doesn’t know about Kiran’s background. When she learns about what happened to her mother, she fights to help take down the rapist and stand by her mother, while struggling with her own self identity in the process. If I Tell You the Truth is very well written, and it expands on the important theme of community and loyalty while displaying the growing relationship between mother and daughter. Kiran’s and Sahaara’s story will strike a chord in many hearts. This is an exceptional novel, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

8 Mars Novels for Fans of the Red Planet

Were you glued to your screen on Feb. 18, 2021, when NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover made its final descent to the Mars?  This is the first rover mission designed to seek signs of past microbial life. Earlier rovers first focused on and confirmed that Mars once had habitable conditions. The goals of this mission are:

  1. Determine whether life ever existed on Mars
  2. Characterize the Climate of Mars
  3. Characterize the Geology of Mars
  4. Prepare for Human Exploration

If you’re caught a touch of Martian Fever, or just wondered what it might be like to be on Mars yourself, we’ve got a reading list for you:

Kids’ Fiction

The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm. Bell has spent his whole life – all eleven years of it – on Mars. When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help.

We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey. After a year on Mars, a young boy and his family migrate to the planet Choom, but the inhabitants of Choom, who look like giant mosquitoes, don’t really like humans and it is up to the boy and his family to change their minds if they hope to survive.

Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson. While waiting to leave Mars before it burns up just like the Earth before it, Liam and his friend Phoebe discover some facts about time and space and realize that the human race is just one of the races trying to survive in space.

In the Red by Christopher Swiedler. When a massive solar flare hits their Mars colony, friends Michael and Lilith are stranded with no protection from the sun, a quickly dwindling supply of air, food, and water, and little hope for rescue.

Adult/YA Fiction

Red Rising by Pierce Brown. A tale set in a bleak future society torn by class divisions follows the experiences of secret revolutionary Darrow, who after witnessing his wife’s execution by an oppressive government joins a revolutionary cell and attempts to infiltrate an elite military academy.

The Martian by Andy Weir. Stranded on Mars by a dust-storm that compromised his space suit and forced his crew to leave him behind, astronaut Mark Watney struggles to survive in spite of minimal supplies and environmental challenges that test his ingenuity.

The Sky So Big and Black by John Barnes. Accompanying her eco-prospector father on a tour through the Martian wilderness, Terry finds herself having to guide the trip’s young survivors back home after a terrible accident.

Mars Life by Ben Bova. Discovering proof that intelligent life had existed on Mars millions of years earlier, scientists Jamie Waterman and Carter Carleton struggle to protect Mars funding in the face of ultra-conservatives who fear the discovery will compromise their religious beliefs.

 

YA Books for Theater Geeks

You have a show-tune playlist. You have a program or Playbill from every show you’ve seen.  You break out into accents in the middle of conversations. You own every season of Glee (and all the High School Musicals – admit it). You are a theater geek – embrace it, celebrate it! Read about it! The theater plays a leading role in these YA books:

1. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg.  Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts high school in New York City, preparing for the senior recital and feeling the pressure to perform well.

2. Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth. 15-year-old Emma is acting as stage manager for her school’s production of Hamlet when she finds herself transported to the original staging of Hamlet in Shakespearean England.

3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Designing sets for her middle school’s play, Callie tries to overcome limited carpentry skills, low ticket sales, squabbling crew members, and the arrival of two cute brothers.

4. Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. A contemporary romance inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet follows the efforts of a plucky but lovelorn teen theater director who is unexpectedly cast in a leading role at the same time she begins receiving relationship advice from a playwright friend

5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon. Mary Elizabeth Cep, (though she calls herself “Lola,”) sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school.

6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan. The tale of a pair of teens who meet by chance on a Chicago street corner and discover that they share a name and intertwining destinies involving an epic production of a high school musical.

7. Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian. Gaining instant popularity after landing the lead in the school play, Rebecca breaks a pact with her new friends by dating a fellow cast member until backstage drama escalates into a life-changing accusation.

8. Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley. Seventeen-year-old Max, struggling to come to terms with his mother’s death, is cast as the ghost in “Hamlet” and finds strength in his new theater friends.

9. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. Claudia agrees to coach actors in her high school’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” leading to new friendships–and maybe even new love.

10. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. After learning that her deep voice is keeping her from being cast in plays at her exclusive performing arts school, Jordan disguises herself as a boy to gain entry into a competitive, all-male a cappella group that is looking for a singer with her vocal range.

CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2020

Ask a librarian for some good books, be prepared for a long list! I recently asked our staff members to share some their favorite reads in 2020, and the answers that came back were many and varied. We really do read a lot! Not all the books on this list were published in 2020, (some were older books we just got around to reading in 2020!), but all received a solid thumbs up from a member of our staff:

Children’s Books

Picture Books

Chapter Books

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Adult Non-Fiction

 

( * – this book was recommended by more than one staff member)

 

Review of THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan

Today’s book review is written by teen volunteer Sarah Reid.

Percy Jackson and his friends aren’t ordinary kids. They are all demigods, half-god, and half-human, which means it’s up to them to save the world. When disaster strikes and Gaea threatens to wake from her eternal slumber, everyone is in danger. They must sail on the Argo ll and prevent Gaea from waking. At the same time Greek camp, Camp Half-Blood, and Roman camp, Camp Jupiter are prepared to go to war. But will they be able to prevent the battle between the camps? How will they defeat the giants? Will they be able to overcome the obstacles standing in their way? Can they make it to Gaea before the entire world and everything they know is destroyed?

This book along with the entire series is so amazing! Rick Riordan puts a unique spin on Greek and Roman mythology. He is an outstanding author and storyteller. The whole series is hilarious, creative, entertaining, and so action-packed. Rick Riordan uses awesome descriptive words to help you visualize what is going on. It’s almost like you are in the book. The idea for this book was so incredibly clever. The book teaches you about Greek and Roman mythology but in a fun, cool, and amusing way. All of the characters are so interesting and aren’t one dimensional like some other ones I’ve read about. They all have their own stories and cool different special powers. I love that there are always amazing plot twists that you would never expect in a million years. I loved everything about the book. I have read it and the series multiple times already, it’s just so good! I would give this book ten out of ten stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books with action, adventure, friendship, comedy, and mystery, or to anyone who is just looking for an overall amazing book.

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Note:

This book is the last volume in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, which itself is a spinoff of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Here are the titles from both series, in order:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians:

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titan’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

Heroes of Olympus:

  1. The Lost Hero
  2. The Son of Neptune
  3. The Mark of Athena
  4. The House of Hades
  5. The Blood of Olympus