Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

October 21, 2015

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Goodness, where do I even begin? At the beginning, some might say. Alright then. The book up on the chopping block today is called Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian. This story is about a teenager named Will Caynes. In the beginning, (You asked, so I am starting here) Will is kissed by his best friend, Angus. Now he is confused. He knows he is into girls, but kissing a guy wasn’t too bad…

Then Will meets a lovely girl named Brandy, who is adorable and easy to chill with. He begins falling for her, which PROVES that he is most definitely not gay. However this still doesn’t prove that he is strictly straight.

Over the course of the book you are pulled into Will’s topsy-turvy world of trying to keep Angus and Brandy from finding out about each other, which is actually not too hard, considering that his parents are divorced and live in basically two separate social worlds. There are side problems as well. Will’s dad struggles to maintain his own problems and make ends meet while Will’s mother is always trying to prove that she is the better parent. This tension takes a tole on our main character, but gives the story a realistic edge: People have more than just one problem in life to deal with at a time.

The characters in this book are very realistic and easy to relate to. Each person has all sorts of little quirks and flaws that keep you interested. There are no clean-cut flawless people. Even the minor characters hook you.

I can relate to Will in his struggle to figure out who he is and why he is attracted to two different sexes. Coming to terms with one’s sexuality can be a confusing road. Will did not handle this the best way, which was aggravating (Very. Aggravating.) but he eventually learned to accept it for what it was.

The book was written nicely. There were lots of little pieces and excerpts that sounded a lot like something John Green would have written. They made you think, were relatable, and gave you a new perspective through imagery and comparisons.

I loved the fact that this book was about someone who is bisexual. Throughout it’s entirety, the actual word bisexual is never said (which is strange, because it would be nice to educate more people on this sexual orientation through literature and not off of somewhat-reliable social media). Disappointing, I know. However it was really nice to see some recognition for that. The spectrum is not strictly straight or gay. There are tons more types of orientations and preferences!

WARNING WARNING PARENTAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTED: One thing you must know about this book is that there is a lot of sex in it. Sex with two guys and with a guy and a girl. Nothing too graphic, (definitely nothing close to a fanfiction) but there is some description. After all, this story is written from the perspective of a stereotypical, horny teenage guy. I mean, I guess we should sort of expect it. There is also drinking; the boys get drunk occasionally, and Will’s dad is a bit of an alcoholic. There are also drugs; Marijuana is smoked occasionally.

Overall, this book was okay. It has a lot of potential, but it didn’t really go to its full extent (Sort of like how the movie Jupiter Ascending went: a totally cool idea that just doesn’t get expanded upon and built off of, if you’ve seen it). The amount of intimate activities (*cough cough*) didn’t spur me to take it seriously. There isn’t a great amount of character development, if at all. The ending leaves you unsatisfied. I literally turned the page thinking there was more chapters. The ending does not seem to be resolved, but, I will say there is a lot more symbolism behind it. The reader has sort of got to interpret it and take away from the book what they will, but the solution and purpose of the story are not clear as crystal.

I’m not sure I would really recommend this book. The concept is fantastic, which might be enough alone to get somebody to read it, but it just wasn’t satisfying enough to make my “Must Read” list.

~Meera

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Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

October 14, 2015

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17 year old Alys Arson’s life used to be normal. Her life was about normal things- violin practice, her school, her boyfriend. But none of that matters anymore. Not after what happened in the library that day. When her brother, Luke, walked through those doors and shot 15 people before turning the gun on himself. She was there, too, but he spared her. Now she is caught up in the aftermath, with the media coming down on her tiny town, her family being torn apart, and everyone asking her one question: why?

This book was beautiful. The writing was so amazing, you could tell how much time and effort the author put into it. Right after the shooting, Alys talked about how the red blood wouldn’t go away, wouldn’t come off, and how it would stay there, haunting her, always reminding her. This book is very dark, very mature because it talked about a school shooting. How her brother seemed normal, but he did it, he killed 15 innocent people. This book is one of those books that makes you think. Alys keeps missing her brother, but she feels guilty for missing him because of what he did. She keeps seeing Luke in random places, but he talks to her. She also starts seeing Miranda, a girl that was shot in the library, in her room. Miranda keeps telling Alys everything she wanted to do and about her future. The media invades her town, constantly badgering everyone, swarming Alys’ house. Alys keeps going to school, but everyone avoids her. Her parents barely even talk to her- or each other. Her whole life is falling apart, tumbling into an abyss and all she can do is watch.

I recommend this book to people who read Give a Boy a Gun and liked it. Just keep in mind that this book is dark. I really hope this book doesn’t get challenged like Give a Boy a Gun did because as a teen, they don’t talk to us at all or tell us anything about stuff like this, and we need to talk about it. I really liked this book because it felt like someone was finally talking to me about school shootings. I enjoyed it, and I recommend this book to you.

~Erin


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

October 8, 2015

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I read the book Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is about a girl named Lia who is a senior in high school. Right at the beginning of the book, you find out that the girl who was her best friend for 9 years has just died. The book primarily deals with Lia coping with this and an eating disorder. She has been admitted to special hospitals twice for it.

I loved reading this book. The writing style was interesting and made it easy for me to identify with Lia. The author used lots of interesting metaphors and various forms of figurative speech. At certain points, it almost felt like spoken word poetry. I could really feel Lia spiraling. The character development was also very strong. In her stepmother this was especially prominent. Overall, the way it was written was enjoyable for me.

In my opinion, the end of the story wasn’t written extremely well. That isn’t me being bratty because I didn’t like the ending (because I did!). It was neat and wrapped up nicely, it just wasn’t well executed. I still really liked Wintergirls,even if the ending wasn’t so powerful.

This book made it onto the shortlist of books that have made me cry (that list includes Challenger Deep and Harry Potter). There were some extremely strong moments that left me sobbing. I strongly recommend this book, except that a younger crowd should not be reading it, unless they can be mature about it.

All in all a good, powerful book that I’m really pleased I read.

~Grace


Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

July 15, 2015

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There’s one thing Guy Langman does really well- nothing. And he likes it that way. His friend Anoop then asks him to join forensics club, and he thinks, “why not?” But when he and Anoop show up at a fake crime scene, they find a real dead body and freak out. Guy and Anoop then are trying to solve the murder along with diving into Guy’s deceased father’s past and trying to get back a sunken treasure that was stolen.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

July 8, 2015

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Code Name Verity is a historical fiction novel about two allied pilots in World War II, Verity and Maddie. While flying over enemy territory, their planes are shot down. Throughout half the book, you listen to Verity confess to the enemy about her past. In the second part of the book, you read about Maddie and what she goes through as she fights to free Verity.

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

July 1, 2015

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It’s been one year since it happened- when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in a swimming accident. After shutting out everyone but her family and three best friends, Paige has decided to rejoin the world, and she’s armed with a plan. 1) Date a boy: her old crush Ryan Chase is a perfect choice; 2) Attend parties: with friends like hers, this should be easy; 3) Join a club: It’s high school, so this is easy; 4) Travel: hey, a girl can dream; and 5) Swim: terrifying, but possible, right? She has her plan mapped out, but Ryan’s nerdy cousin max moves to town and recruits her for Quiz Bowl. This throws her plans for a loop, and she has very little time to get back on track.

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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

June 24, 2015

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a story about, well, a southern belle named Harper Price who thrives on being the most perfect girl in her town. On homecoming night, Harper is determined to win homecoming queen, but sadly forgets her lipgloss. As she applies it in the bathroom, she hears Mr. Hall, a middle aged janitor for the school, burst in, with a gash across is stomach. Harper, terrified, watches as he dies in her arms, and at the same moment, her history teacher, Mr. DuPont, marches in with a blade in his hand. Harper’s life is about to change in a big way.

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