A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

In Khaled Hosseini’s, A Thousand Splendid Suns, the novel focuses on the relationship between mothers and daughters, and friendships between women. The novel attempts to show the difficult lifestyle women experience in war-torn Afghanistan. Mariam and Laila both come from different walks of life, where they each have different experiences of living in Afghanistan. Mariam lives her entire life as an illegitimate child and is consistently ridiculed for her status in society. In comparison to Laila, who grows up with a loving family and is well-educated. These two individuals navigate their way through Afghanistan and must make difficult choices in hopes of surviving in a barren country.

Khaled Hosseini amazingly portrays the struggles women face in Afghanistan, as the emotions are raw. His utilitarian prose enables him to create characters who have the primary-coloured and simplicity emotions of people in a fairy-tale. A Thousand Splendid Suns is definitely a recommended read if you are interested in women becoming independent and developing relationships with one another. This empowering book provides great insight into the struggles of women living in third-world countries. Mariam and Laila both convey strong messages that women can easily relate to, so the reader will be intrigued. This novel may contain some mature scenes or content, so reader discretion is advised. -Iffat A.

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Wonder

R.J. Palacio

August or ‘Auggie’ Pullman has been homeschooled up until fifth grade, because of complicated health issues and his facial deformity. When Auggie turns ten, his parents think it’s best if he goes to middle school for the first time, since his mother is not able to teach him enough and they think he’s ready to learn more about the world and face life. As Auggie enters the daunting school ‘Beecher Prep’ for the first time, he faces the ups and downs of the first day of school, Halloween, bullying, interesting friends, struggles within his family, a three day school trip, and one graduation ceremony. Auggie has high hopes of blending in, but he realizes that it’s not so easy to blend in when you’re a wonder!

This book is a definite page turner, you will want to chant Auggie’s name and be by his side at all times. You will easily learn to love Auggie Pullman as he discovers more about life and who people truly are not just for the outer person but the person on the inside. This book teaches that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover rather see what’s inside. It shows that there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel, to never change yourself for anybody and it even questions you to think how you would treat the beloved Auggie Pullman. The book is written nicely and includes humour and makes you want to choose kindness. I would recommend this book to readers grade 5 and up. -Sakura T.

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How to Disappear

Sharon Huss Roat

Vicky Decker has been struggling with social anxiety for almost all her life. The only person she dares to speak to at school is her best friend, Jenna. Until one day, Jenna moves way.

Because of Jenna moving away, Vicky has no one to talk to, and her anxiety only gets worse. When Vicky realizes that Jenna has easily adjusted to her new lifestyle and made many new friends, Vicky instantly becomes very jealous and a much lonelier.

In hopes of trying to impress Jenna, and showing her that she doesn’t need her, Vicky photoshops pictures of herself at concerts and parties and, sends them to Jenna. Realising how fun this is, Vicky makes an account on Instagram under the name of “Vicurious” (because of how she lives vicariously). Using hashtags like #alone, #broken, #invisible, Vicky gains a massive following.

Now Vicky is more at ease in communicating but is also getting carried away with her new life. Since no one knows she is “Vicurious”, she cannot speak to anyone about it, which makes her feel lonelier and lonelier.

However, on her account, she tells everyone that is depressed or has anxiety that they can talk to her. She is very kind to all her fans and everyone who has a doubt that they aren’t good enough. This makes her instantly viral. Everyone, including big celebrities, is very impressed by Vicky’s kindness and how socially involved she is, and how she is using her platform for a good cause.

Instead of this making her feel good, she feels like a liar. On her account, she gives advice on how to feel good about yourself and how to be less introverted, but how can she give tips on something she is very bad at? Will Vicky stay a lie, and keep being more and more alone, or will she step up and try to change herself?

This touching, funny, and relatable novel will surely be heartwarming to a lot of teenagers everywhere. -Khadeeja F.

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Kiersten White

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

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Unclaimed Baggage

Jen Doll

In Jen Doll’s young adult debut novel, Unclaimed Baggage, Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of “Mr. Popular” whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people’s lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.

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Trouble Never Sleeps

Stephanie Tromly

Happily Ever After gets a serious makeover in this swoony, non-stop, thrill-ride of a conclusion to the Trouble Is a Friend of Mine trilogy

No one makes getting into trouble look as good as Philip Digby—and he looks good doing it. Now that he’s back in town, he’s plunged Zoe (and their Scooby Gang of wealthy frenemy Sloane, nerd-tastic genius Felix, and aw-shucks-handsome Henry) back into the deep end on the hunt for his kidnapped sister. He’s got a lead, but it involves doing a deal with the scion of an alarmingly powerful family, not to mention committing some light treason. Zoe and Digby are officially together now, and she’s definitely up for whatever closure this new caper might offer, even though this mystery will come with a twist neither expected.

With acerbic banter, steamy chemistry, and no small amount of sarcasm, Zoe and Digby are the will-they-or-won’t-they, charismatic crime solving couple you’ve been waiting for.

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Six Impossible Things

Fiona Wood

Dan Cereill (pronounced “surreal” not “cereal”) has his world turned upside down in an instant with a new house, new school, a newly out of the closet father, a family who has just declared bankruptcy, a mother with a failing business, and the most amazing girl right next door. Despite all this, Dan tries his hardest to fit in, make new friends, and repeatedly reminds people of the proper pronunciation of his last name. In efforts to try to cope with the situation that Dan has found himself in, he creates a list of six things he deems impossible to happen. Narrated by a nerdy, funny, and smart teenager who is just trying to get through the rest of high school undetected and without being a total loser.

I thought this was refreshing to read a romance novel written entirely from a male perspective. Not to mention the amazingly funny and nerdy writing done by the writer. I found it nearly impossible to peel my eyes from the pages due to the suspense and the always changing plot. Never a dull moment when reading this book and is a great young adult romance novel about the struggles of family, high school, and finding love. -Melanie G.

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The Brightsiders

Jen Wilde

A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

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The Duff

Kody Keplinger

A cute, fun read. I really enjoyed this story. What is a “Duff”? Heck, many of us notice them all the time. The one girl/guy who is a bit less attractive in their crowd, the one that tends to fade into the background. Well, when known manwhore, Wesley informs Bianca that she is, in fact, the Duff of her group, she is left spinning. This revelation comes at the same time Bianca’s home life is taking a nosedive. So, guess where she ends up taking refuge… the last place she ever imagined, with Wesley. Bianca is now confused, and alone, she doesn’t know how to handle her emotions and realizes that she may be falling for the last person that she would have wanted to.

This story was cute, realistic and emotional. This was a funny and light book that is super sweet. I enjoyed how both Bianca and Wesley became friends through their own pain and helped each other grow. I also enjoyed how Bianca realized that labels have no meanings and you don’t always have to be the most attractive in a group to be deserving of love. This book was a book of growth, friendship and love. -Khadeeja F.

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The Circus

Olivia Levez

To others, it might seem like Willow has all she could ever need, from a pony to a big house and even her own maid. Although, what others don’t realize is that since she was little the only thing Willow’s ever wanted, and never had, was a loving family that she could spend time with, ask advice from, a family that genuinely cares about her. On the verge of getting married to a woman half his age, Willow’s father never spent much time with her, opting to spend his hours working and having the maid play with/occupy Willow instead. Her mother left, joining the circus when Willow was young, leaving her and her father.

In this book, Olivia Levez tells the not-so-classic story of a girl (Willow) who runs away from home to join the circus. The book is filled with twists and turns as it follows Willow as she tries to survive on her own with nothing more than a bit of money and a few of her belongings. On the streets, Willow meets people who help her stay alive and follow her dream of joining the circus and others who will try to slow her down.

From the moment I started reading this book, I didn’t want to put it down. It will bring you through a rollercoaster of emotions, and you’ll just want to keep reading to figure out if Willow makes it. “The Circus” is a realistic fiction book, but it’s filled with adventure, humour and friendship. – Yara M.

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