Bean's Books and Beyond

Sharing thoughts on books–and sometimes on education and life

Student Book Reviews July 21, 2008

This page is devoted to recommendations by students.  They are written by students and hopefully read by students.  To add a book recommendation, use the reply box.  Remember to include the book title and author, and if possible, publication date and genre.  Definitely include your name and grade or age.

Remember to reread and edit your review carefully before hitting the submit comment option.  Once you hit submit, you cannot edit your review.

To return to Ms. Klus’s teacher page, use the link at the right under Blogroll.


195 Responses to “Student Book Reviews”

  1. Mae Fischer Says:

    Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand
    I–having not been alive, nor educated about WWII–was shocked. I’ve read about WWII, but only in books like The Book Thief and The Diary of Anne Frank. The book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, while still in the same era, was nothing like those. The story began with an uplifting 50 pages about a troubled boy turned olympic runner. Louie Zamperini was set to be the best runner the world had seen. I was inspired. But then the 1942 olympics were cancelled and Loui was drafted into World War 2.
    Upsetting as Zamperini losing his chance to show the world how great he really was, it did nothing to prepare me for the heartbreak to come. Once he was drafted, it took only a short time for him to go into combat. My mind racing with every turn of the page, making me unable to put the book down. Each detailed bombing gave me a shock of anxiety.
    The B24’s, a type of bomber plane, were flown in WWII. Zamperini was the bombardier for one of these planes. Hillenbrand threw in enough statistics about them to amaze me, and leave me wondering how Zamperini had survived the war. Thousands of men had died in crashes from them, most of these in flight training and not from combat. Eventually, after many treacherous missions, Zamperini’s plane crashed into the Pacific.
    He was then captured around 50 days later. Those 50 days went too slow for me. I found Hillenbrand’s writing captivating, but the time at sea was the same over and over again. They seemed to do the same things every day: wait for a bird to fly by the raft to catch it, fix holes in the raft, make sure sharks didn’t come too close, and pray for rain. At first, it was nerve wracking, but once I read almost exactly the same description over and over again it was tiresome.
    The book started to get interesting again when Zamperini and his only other surviving companion, Phil, were captured by the Japanese. However, I found the gruesome torture hard to endure. Reading the book I cringed, and had to stop every once in a while to take a break. I had thought this was the Japanese torture camp they were talking about, but I was wrong. The next horrific place the men were taken to was a secret kept by the Japanese for many years. Reading about this camp warranted even more breaks.
    As we all know, the Allies won WWII. Zamperini was released from the camp and he went home, and got married. He also married alcohol, and a case of PTSD. This made me mad, not that he had PTSD–it was certainly unsurprising–but that he had endured one hell only to go through another. Even though this was still hard to read, it was easier than war. Maybe because during the war section of the book, there were multiple short divergences that seemed like unnecessary additions to the novel.
    Overall, the book was very well written. It also had a happy ending, Zamperini started helping underprivileged youth and became a motivational speaker, but you will need to prepare yourself before reading Unbroken. I had not expected the book to be this harrowing from the short winded reviews preceding the novel. However, I ended up thoroughly enjoying the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a serious read, or anyone with an affinity to history.


  2. Tyler Meier Says:

    Yes Chef by Marcus Samuellson
    Yes, Chef (or Ja kock in swedish) by Marcus Samuelsson with Veronica Chambers is a memoir depicting the life of Marcus. Marcus is a very successful, Ethiopian born, Swedish chef and this book tells his journey of how he got to where he is and where his inspirations come from. A lot of this book is based on his family life and how most of his inspirations for his recipes are based on the simplest of meals he was served by his grandparents and his parents. He did not have access to the resources he uses today and was able to still make amazing culinary dishes. It explores his breaking through of racial and ethnic barriers to achieve his goals. The culinary world was one that was largely favored toward white males. Females and black people were almost unheard of working in a kitchen.
    Marcus largely believed that people should notice work ethic over physical traits and his diligent work ethic is what enabled him to be able to be the chef he is. It is amazing that Marcus was able to become the successful chef he became due to the all the challenges he faced. He faced: having little to no money, having to pay child support every month, and all other very hard challenges he faced he was still able to succeed. When faced with challenges such as these most people would easily just give up and not persevere towards their dreams.
    This book opened my eyes to the challenges minorities face in our societies. Many hard working people are overlooked due to their unique features. This is a problem that needs to be eliminated and this book emphasized how much it needed to be eliminated.
    This book was very enjoyable to me but was not a quick read. At 315 pages this book is the type of book you would read before bed to wind down and get ready to sleep. This book could also be good for lounging on your couch with a good read. The story of Marcus Samuelsson is a rollercoaster with many ups and downs throughout it. The way he overcomes his problems and stays focused is a lesson that everyone could use and this book teaches it. As soon as I began reading this book I wasn’t able to put it down. I would highly suggest this book to anyone who is looking for an enjoyable, inspirational read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ben Betita Says:

    Jake Reinvented By Gordon Korman
    Though Jake Reinvented didn’t have the deepest ideas, the novel was a fun read and I appreciated Gordon Korman’s humor. Ironically, the overall conflict wasn’t funny. The novel is about Jake, a brilliant, laid-back kid, who is striving to be with Didi. He is willing to get beat up by anybody to be with her. It’s later revealed that he’s not really in love with her–he’s obsessed. Since I’m bringing up the characters, I’m going to explain what I thought of them.
    The book started at a party packed with people where most of the characters were introduced. Most of them were pretty cliché: Nelson, the brawn with no brains linebacker, Todd Buckley, a quarterback who’s full of himself, Didi, Todd’s girlfriend who everyone objectifies. Although most were predictable, I still found them interesting since I could relate to them as a high schooler, and they acted foolish which I found funny. Some examples are Nelson fighting people for accidentally stepping on his giant feet, Todd playing with fire by cheating with Nelson’s girlfriend, and one of the coaches stealing a car (this was in the past, not at the party). The character that caught my attention was Jake Garret. He was a new comer and was already becoming one of the most popular kids at Fitzgerald High, but no one really knew where he came from.
    Aside from the characters, I found Jake Reinvented a good read because of the quotes. Caught being nosy in a quick meeting with Jake and some college students, the narrator, Rick felt embarrassed. “I was embarrassed. Here was Jake, trusting me enough to bring me along this meeting, and I was gawking like a ten-year-old at his first Playboy” (25, Korman). I found the quote funny, while at the same time it gave me a great image. There are great images like these all over the book.
    Even though the book felt mostly comedic, there were some serious messages that reached me, especially since I’m in high school. One of the side characters, Dipsy, lets the football team pick on him to be hung out with because it’s better than getting beat up. When Rick asks Dipsy, he realizes that Dipsy was only trying to survive. Dipsy knew that High School was temporary, only a small part of his life. This message tells me that whether High School ends up a good or bad experience, it’s not the peak of my life. I liked Jake Reinvented because of its humorous images and messages that relate to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lily Conybeare Says:

    A Book Review on The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    Throughout the book, I marveled at the way Khaled Hosseini, the author of the novel The Kite Runner, was able to write this story using unique details that made the novel so much better. As much as I disliked the main character, I found myself unable to put the book down, intrigued yet disgusted by the plot. While reading, clear images went through my head as if I was in the same situation Amir was in, showing how impressive Hosseini’s use of imagery and descriptions were. Since I didn’t know much about this part of the world during the time it took place, I was hesitant to read this book; I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to completely understand what was going on without background knowledge on the topic. However, the story used enough information, allowing me to grasp the idea of the time, and its effects it had on the characters’ lives.
    The plot was divided into three major parts; Amir’s childhood, Amir’s life in America, and Amir’s journey back to Afghanistan. During his childhood, Amir grew up with the pressure of constantly needing to impress and satisfy his father, who he didn’t have a very good relationship with. Additionally, he felt torn with having Hassan– a Hazara– as his best friend. As much as he enjoyed spending his time with Hassan, part of Amir was ashamed to be friends with his servant’s son. After a kite flying competition that the two boys won together, Hassan was raped by neighborhood bullies, and Amir allowed it to happen, doing nothing about it. After this, he felt the constant guilt of betraying Hassan, who would have done anything for him. Then, the book skips five years ahead to when Amir and his father Baba flee Afghanistan to go to America, but one day, after Amir gets married and is in his thirties, he is called back to Afghanistan by an old friend, telling him he “there is a way to be good again” (192). This leads Amir back to his hometown, trying to find Sohrab, Hassan’s only son, but along the way finding out more about his own childhood he was never told. When he finally reaches Sohrab, he finds himself striving to redeem himself for what he did to Hassan when they were children.
    I have to say that as much as I found many events that took place over the course of the story frustrating, I really enjoyed reading it. I was blown away by how the book was written, and how all the loose ends were tied up by the end of the story. The irony was unbelievable, how everything in the end fell into place, and everyone got what they deserved. The beginning was captivating, and though I tend to get bored of books that tell story after story of one’s life, I soaked up every bit of information as I could from Amir’s childhood. Every little detail Hosseini used pulled me further and further into the plot of the story, and in the end, every little detail served a purpose. After I finished reading, I was surprisingly satisfied, though it did not have a happily-ever-after outcome. I read most of the book on an airplane, so the flight attendants observed me experience a rollercoaster of emotions (which I had no problem with conveying– even crying). My feelings toward the characters were so strong, it was as if I knew them in real life, demonstrating how powerful Hosseini’s portrayal of his characters was. It wasn’t particularly easy to read in the beginning, as Amir intended to be disliked; though in the end, its powerful message allowed me to understand why he was the way he was. Exhilarating, breathtaking, and haunting, The Kite Runner no doubt has made the list of my favorite reads.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Norah Judge Says:

    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    Though, not a very difficult book to read, Speak is a powerful story about an uncomfortable subject. It wasn’t my first choice for the All-School read, but I was pleasantly surprised by Anderson’s ability to make me feel connected to Melinda, the main character. Like her, I am a freshman in high school, and I know the importance of having good relationships with friends. But right from the beginning, Anderson lets readers know that Melinda doesn’t have any friends-she ruined all her relationships during the summer when she called the cops and busted a party. Why would she do this? The author probably intended for us to wonder throughout the whole story, but I correctly assumed the reason at the beginning. I was disappointed that it lacked the mystery, but it was still an enjoyable book because I felt so connected to the protagonist.

    The characterization of Melinda Sordino drew me into the story. Laurie Halse Anderson managed to let her readers know what was going on through the main character’s actions and thought processes, rather than telling us upfront what had occurred. The writing style put me in Melinda’s head as she evades confronting her past.

    I think it was pretty obvious at the start of the story that something traumatic had occurred over the summer that had made her withdrawn and depressed going into high school. She stopped speaking to her parents and wouldn’t open up to anyone in her life. The single way she released her emotions was through art: the one class she got an A in. Reading this book, I witnessed Melinda’s life fall apart; she had no real friends, stopped caring about school, and refused to speak her mind. Anyone would pity her. But if it was written from any other perspective or in any other way, the story wouldn’t be nearly as powerful. I appreciated the honesty of the author when describing the horrific experiences of a girl my age.

    I’ve been meaning to read Fever 1793, also by Laurie Halse Anderson, for a while now. After reading Speak, I’m definitely going to stop putting it off. It’s also got me interested in watching the movie adaption of Speak, though I know it won’t be as good as the book because the story is so reliant on being inside of Melinda’s head. This book is definitely an appropriate way of exploring a topic often avoided by Young Adult authors. It is worth reading and if you’re an experienced reader it won’t be much of a time commitment. Though you must not assume that because the writing is simple and clear, the book is simple. This is a book that deserves respect and thought from its readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Julia Adent Says:

    Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Book Review

    I’m infatuated with this book. Crossing two of my favorite things together—food and traveling—Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson contains all the characteristics that I look for in a great book.
    Aside from the fame, fortune, and food, this novel discusses the hardships and failures that occurred in Marcus’s life, and how he used his emotions from that to fuel his will to succeed. What I really loved about this book is that it doesn’t just have to do with Samuelsson’s career as a chef, but also describes the challenges he went through in order to achieve this. His novel is simply a love letter from him to his family and food. And I’m sure many celebrity authors have a compelling story to tell on how their fame came to be, but this one, though I haven’t read many others, stands out to me.
    At the beginning of the novel, Samuelsson is a young boy living in Götenburg, Sweden. In a country that contained many white people with racist views and comments, it was difficult for Marcus, a black boy, to fit in. But that didn’t stop him from playing soccer, going to culinary school, and eventually becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world.
    I overall loved every page of this book. When I first made a decision to read this, I was sure I would get bored within the first few pages. What was especially intriguing to me was that I could relate to him on a personal level. Not only do we share the love for the game of soccer at a young age, but we also come from families that absolutely love to cook. Furthermore, we both share a great deal of ambition. I’m always open to trying new things because, like Marcus, I’ll never know what I end up loving until experience other things first. He was willing to leave his regular school and friends for a chance to make it big in the world of cooking.
    Towards the end of the novel, Samuelsson opens his own restaurant, Red Rooster, that fulfills his dream of creating a place where people of all races, ethnicities, occupations, and religion can all become one through his culinary expertise. This really touched me because after the things he went through, like getting denied a job as a teenager because of his skin color, he still wants to give back and do good to those who wronged him. And opening his restaurant did just that.
    Both inspiring and captivating, Yes, Chef will definitely hold a special place on my bookshelf for many years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Addyson Archer Says:

    Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

    This book was my awakening to the awful conditions that WWII soldiers experienced. Because I didn’t have any close relatives that discussed what happened during the war, I figured that soldiers just suffered from PTSD because they watched some people get shot or killed. Now I know that if things didn’t go as planned on the field and you get captured, what you would encounter would scar you so deeply—both mentally and physically—that you would have no chance of living a normal life if you made it out.
    Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand tells the tale of Louie Zamperini: Olympic runner, a troublemaker, WWII bombardier, prisoner of war (POW). Laura Hillenbrand takes us through Louie’s journey, from how he began running to his old and gray days. I am in awe of Hillenbrand’s writing— she was able to convince me that she was there when Louie crossed the finish line at the 1936 Olympics, she was there when Louie nearly starved to death on the raft, and she was there as Louie spent two and a half years being tortured and abused at various Japanese POW camps.
    Additionally, I was amazed at how much Louie changed throughout the story. An energetic and charismatic young man, Louie seemed like someone whose behavior would change very little throughout the story. I was completely wrong. I watched a man develop from being an attention-seeking Olympic medalist to someone who often attempts to drown his PTSD with alcohol. “If I knew I had to go through those experiences again,…I’d kill myself”(328). We see him stranded in a raft, beyond any island or help, nearly starved to death, take the reigns as leader of the two partners who survived as him. Phil, a pilot who’s barely surviving, and Mac, who ate all of the emergency food in a panic, laid alongside Louie on the raft.
    Next we watch Louie as he becomes the main victim of Mutsuhiro Watanabe’s (nicknamed The Bird) abuse. One time, Watanabe made Louie hold a heavy wooden beam over his head to see how long he could last. Knees weak, arms trembling, he was able to hold the beam for 37 minutes. I was at the edge of my seat during this section, waiting, hoping that Louie kept fighting through his torture.
    What really hurt me was to see how this affected him once he was rescued. He struggled with PTSD, nightmares of his abuser, and an abusive marriage. It was clear that even though he was rescued from the prison camp, he could never be rescued from the memories that will haunt him forever.
    It occured to me why the title was Unbroken: no matter how much Louie suffered through, how much pain he endured, he refused to stop fighting. That is why I admire him: he was able to hold his head up through everything, maintained his composure, and survived. From now on, whenever I feel like I can’t take anymore misery, I will remember that I am Unbroken, and I will survive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Owen Faulkner Says:

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    Delving me straight into the memories of a troubled Afghani boy, this historical fiction novel by Khaled Hosseini slipped me into the conscious of the story’s main character without me even knowing. Hosseini’s style in this book convinced me within the first few pages that I was sitting in a room, listening to the narrator’s odyssey of father and son relations, redemption, and regret. The novel revolves around the life of Amir, a boy who lives with his father and two servants—also a single father and son—in Afghanistan, during the political and military turmoil that lasts from around the 1970’s to early 2000’s involving Russia and the Taliban. Beginning in the city of Kabul, The Kite Runner explains the unique relationship between Amir and his father, “Baba,” and the conditions of his close friendship with his servant’s son, Hassan, who is an individual of the oppressed race of the Hazaras. The themes developed in Kabul carry on through the story, building it, as Amir grows up and later moves to America. What really drives the plot and its motifs are human relationships from some of the most disadvantageous of circumstances.
    Son of a wealthy businessman who lives in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul Afghanistan, Amir has lived his childhood in constant redemption to regain his father’s respect, as well as in jealousy of Baba’s adoration to Hassan. And now, Amir looks for the only way he feels will gain the last of his father’s respect: winning the classical Afghani sport of kite-fighting in which thousands of children of Kabul participate in. Together, Hassan and Amir discover victory, but also a powerful secret that tears apart their friendship, spurred with the coming of war. Though Amir and Baba are forced to leave to America, the emotions of regret and redemption persist, leading Amir to return alone to his home city years later.
    What really stood out to me first in this book is Hosseini’s unique writing style that is executed very well. He utilizes a concept of oral storytelling, making his writing sound like a conversation you would have with your grandparents: focusing on the memorable senses and events, not dwelling on the little imagistic detail of a story. For example, “Rich scents, both pleasant and not so pleasant, drifted to me through the passenger window, the spicy aroma of pakora and the nihari Baba had loved so much…” (196). Another thing that you might have noticed with his writing is the use of Afghani words. Khaled often switches English nouns and adjectives with their Farsi correspondent, introducing me to a new language and culture in context to a historical work of fiction. Hosseini’s writing, practical and three-dimensional, also includes satisfying passages that seem to “break the fourth wall,” using the characters’ contemplations about telling the story to describe Khaled’s contemplations when writing the story.
    Though still, the wonderfully crafted style is only a basis meant to support the highly realistic and believable plot of The Kite Runner. The book taught me a lesson of history as well as a story of tragedy and family, enlightening me about the horrible conditions of Afghanistan when the Russians and later Taliban took power of the nation; little food, homes demolished to rubble, and children marooned on the streets because their fathers were murdered and their mothers ran away when they could not care for them. Though this book contains intense, violent imagery and language, the story would not be whole without it, and I would highly suggest this to anyone—teen and above.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophia Pavese Says:

      Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

      Is revenge a necessary action? Having a student in possession of a gun on school property is a serious matter, but it worsens when the student proceeds to use the weapon for revenge. Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes is an intense story that centers around a school shooting, and what nineteen minutes can do to change a person’s life. Peter Houghton, the main character, is an average 17-year-old boy at Sterling high school who was bullied all throughout his education. We learn early on that a brutal shooting occurs at Sterling high, and Peter is the face behind the weapon. Weeks after, a large case is brought to the court of Judge Alex Cormier, who just happens to be the mother of Peter’s prior (and only) best-friend, Josie Cormier. As you read through the book you will get many surprises, so be sure to keep an adult mindset throughout. Picoult shows you behind the scenes of the lifestyle of a killer and how everyone around him can be thrown off course after a tragic event.
      During the first few sections—not chapters because the book is not in chronological order—of the book, it’s difficult to follow along with all the characters because Picoult likes to switch from different viewpoints. Because she switches from person to person, she gives the different opinions on the shooting, but it can also get confusing along the way. As you progress through the book though, the characters become more defined and it becomes easier to fit the pieces together of what went down on March 6th, 2007. While I was reading a section about the case, I came across these two sentences that have the perfect flow; “But this is exactly what happened, wasn’t it, when you started to sift through the shifting sands of feelings, instead of just feeding facts hand over fist? The hell with putting your heart on your sleeve; it was likely to get ripped off.” (Picoult, 266). The words give such a straight description of sorting through your feelings, and whether or not it’s worth it to put yourself out there.
      Upon finishing the novel, I found myself re-evaluating the way I treat and feel about others because of the little breaks—an intermission if you will—that are added between sections of the story. The intermissions are only a paragraph, but they teach lessons about the world: like how to act, what to think, or how people are seen in the ranks of popularity. The ideas appeal to me because I am in high school and it’s easy to see the levels of popularity within the students, and sometimes the teachers too. But, it is also easy to question what people would do just to fit in somewhere.
      Overall, Nineteen Minutes gives a clear image of what it would be like to be affected by a school shooting. Not only by vivid descriptions, but floating ideas into our minds about the workings of society. Her writing style flows easily once you get used to it, so don’t shy away after finding the many characters throughout. This novel compels you to cherish life, in any way, and be thankful that you are able to see your friends and family every day.


  9. aqua1398 Says:

    The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

    Quick Summary: Alona Dare was never one to pity the mentally insane, but being hit by a bus can change your point of view. Will Killian was never one to diverse himself with one such as her, but being able to see ghosts doesn’t leave you with much of a choice. While trying to escape zero hour gym to check in on her alcoholic mother, Alona Dare was struck by a bus stock full of the band geeks who worship her. Finding herself in a place between life and death—the middle—Alona dare is struggling to take in how her fellow classmates and best friend and handling her death. One day the whole school is grieving and showing support with a black arm band, the next, ripping it off and trash talking her cold corpse, leaving her crying in the middle of campus. Due to the overload of irony, Will Killian does nothing but smile at the predicament the once “Princess” finds herself in, giving Alona hope she can be seen. After tracking him down, Alona attempts to squeeze all the knowledge Will has about life, death, and all in between. An unbelieving shrink, brain dead best friend, and lesbian lover are the predicaments the unlikely duo find them self in along their adventure—and an excessive amount of a living person making out with someone nobody else can see—so boredom is out of the question!

    Despite being 40-ish, Stacey Kade really knows how to sound like a popular school girl and Goth in their high school years. Despite her ability to accurately describe the perspectives, she failed when it came to plot. The story and concept is interesting, but it was extremely predictable. Goth has crush on preppy school girl: they make out in the first 50 pages. Perfect girl doesn’t have perfect life: mom’s alcoholic. People don’t believe Goth can see ghosts: accused of mental insanity and suggested for an asylum. The only significant plot twist was the lesbian best friend, but if you’re truly interested you’ll read it yourself. While reading other reviews on this book, I began to realize I might be the only male to read it. My conclusion: if you’re a bored girl—or guy with too much time on his hands—this is the book for you.


  10. Erik Rumsa Says:

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

    “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon Is a simple, yet compelling story. Christopher is 15 years old, and he has problems with seeing the world in the casual everyday way that we do. Sarcasm, human emotions, and humor troubles him because he does not see Figurative meanings, only literal meanings. I found the writing style of the book to be so simple, but the information was so deep. At one point, Chris is talking about stranger danger and he say, “Men I don’t know may pick up and take me and go have the sex with me” (39). Not a single word was over four letters. There was the exact same effect if he would have worded with longer words such as abduction or molest. Haddon writes with such an intense way with simple words as a 15 year old boy would speak. My understanding and interpretation of this book is much more clear and concise than more complicated books. When I read the Odyssey, I have to reread a section 3-4 times before I barely start to understand what is happening. To me, a reader enjoys the book best when the words are as simple as the way you speak.

    Another striking feature of this story is that there are pictures on almost every page. Most of these pictures were diagrams, floor plans, math equations, or puzzles which save me as a reader a lot of time, and I can see exactly what Haddon had in his mind when he was writing. A picture is worth 1000 words, so one picture about every other page. 113 pictures. Haddon just saved me 113,000 words I didn’t have to read. What a pal.

    This book can keep anyone from teens to older people entertained. While this book had “suggestive content” (don’t read this unless you’re 15 or older), it brings the story much more in depth with the personality of each character. Haddon has done an excellent job being able to keep such a descriptive mental picture with usually only using words shorter than his last name. He has put me in Chris’ s life of logic through a lack of humor, sarcasm, and human emotions.


  11. Anne Renee Corpus Says:

    Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
    Glancing upon the rather dull-looking book, I was quite hesitant to read Annie’s Ghosts. However, my expectations were blown out of proportions as this hauntingly suspenseful story took me on a rollercoaster ride. Luxenberg’s power of reportage and mystery kept me on my toes throughout the entire piece.
    Steve Luxenberg, an editor/reporter for a newspaper, has always thought his mother to be an only child. However, upon her death, him and his siblings discover that they had an aunt, Annie Cohen, who was said to have a deformed leg and a mental disability. Upon discovering that this unknown aunt used to reside at mental institution, Luxenberg was compelled to investigate for more information. He sleuths his family’s history and as he delves deeper, many shocking evidence about his family are revealed.
    This is a story that speaks for all the mental institution patients of early America. Luxenberg manages to tell Annie’s story and step into her shoes. The author also hinted some Michigan history as he writes about the way mental institutions were run in Annie’s time.
    Overall, I thought this read was quite interesting and entertaining. Luxemberg’s writing style is descriptive and deep; furthermore, it involves analytical philosophies and evidence only a detective could utilize. I do, however, feel that Luxemberg tends to weave too many unnecessary ideas into his text and ultimately trails away from his initial topic. His overabundance of dialogue and excessive use of background information were some minor set backs I also noticed throughout the book.
    In conclusion, Annie’s Ghosts was a compelling story that took me in for one hell of a ride. Its analytical elements and suspenseful builds could truly keep any reader on their toes. However, I would only recommend it to those who are interested in the mystery genre or those who would want to learn about mental disabilities how the institutions back then. The story was emotional and just plain interesting. The voice of Annie and the million other mental patients was, and forever will be implanted in heart.


  12. Gavin Clarke grade 9 Says:

    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    The only way I could set down this book was forcing myself to do homework. Alice Sebold’s poetic imagery in The Lovely Bones caught me off guard and dragged me right into her Storyline. This book takes place from 1973 to about the early 1980’s, in which the technology was very different. The technology brings the beauty of a simple life. Also seeing a girl with all her years ahead of her murdered you appreciate life that much more. Not only life, but love. This book shows how you take love for granted. This story takes on my favorite narrating style, first person omniscient. It is the same narration style as my absolute favorite book Every Day by David Leviathan. I love it because there is quite an opinion from the narrator but you can see everything going on in the story plot.
    Something they Alice shows in The Lovely Bones is the beauty of human sexuality. Feeling like a broken record player, I keep talking about how beautiful this book is. But I cannot use words to describe what you feel in this book: You taste the blood of a murder, feel two bodies make love, smell the sickness waft throughout a hospital. This is not half of what you feel in this book. Never once in this book did I think where are these, characters what are they doing? This happens often in the newer books that I read. An author uses no imagery. They get right to the story. But without imagery I cannot comprehend what is going on in a story. In this book the imagery is the perfect amount it does not clog the story, but I can feel everything.
    In The Lovely Bones a young girl, Susie is murdered. She goes to her heaven from which she can leave. She often leaves as a spirit and watches over her family. Her family goes through troubles as any normal family would. Susie helps the family find her killer. But he gets away. After this the storyline breaks of from basically one story to ten side stories. This follows the whole family who has grown apart I will not spoil the ending but I will say that it ends as happy as realistically as possible. This is no Disney book. If you cannot handle the hardships of life, first of all you need to eventually outgrow that, and secondly don’t read this book. If you love books like David Leviathan’s that are about human nature, love, the meaning of life, and what if then this is the book for you. The heaven that Alice Sebold creates is beautiful. If you are or are not religious you will appreciate her effort. This now my second favorite book and author. I read quite a bit so that is an accomplishment in my book. On that point, I think this should be on everyone’s bookshelf.


  13. Sundip G. 9th Says:

    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    The Fault in Our Stars is a spectacular love story on an adolescent young lady, named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and reluctantly goes to a cancer support group. In one of the gatherings she gets the attention of a teen kid, his name is Augustus Waters also known as Gus. He is beguiling and witty. Augustus has had osteosarcoma, an uncommon manifestation of bone growth, yet has recently had it all clear. After learning more about each other’s personalities and interest, they fall in love and learn to cope with the presence of death. At first Hazel tries hard not to let Augustus know how she is feels for him because she does not want to put him in pain if something happens to her. They both find a common interest in the novel An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, who fled to Amsterdam after the novel was published and has not been heard from since. In the search for answers from the author, Augustus reveals that he tracked down Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij. Through the assistant’s help, they are able to contact their favorite author for the rest of the story and questions they have. Shortly after Augustus invites Hazel on a picnic. During the picnic, Hazel warns Augustus not to fall in love with her because she is like a grenade that could explode whenever. While searching for the author of their favorite book in Amsterdam, Augustus breaks some heartbreaking news to Hazel, and both of their worlds fall apart around them.

    If you relish adolescent grown-up books, brimming with witty humor and heartbreaking events, this book is ideal for you. Expect to laugh, cry and smile throughout this novel. I highly recommend this book.


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