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My Forbidden Face – A Review

Posted on May 10th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

my forbidden face

My Forbidden Face by Latifa

Read by: Kevin/Copley Teen Room Intern

My Forbidden Face is the story of sixteen year old Latifa who is from Kabul, Afghanistan. Latifa’s story focuses mostly on how the Taliban’s occupation of Kabul resulted in the loss of women’s freedom and the atrocious degradation women and men received from the Taliban. Yet when she describes her journey to Paris for an interview with Elle magazine, Latifa becomes representative of the fact that the Taliban were outmaneuvered by the women they thought so little of in the first place.

Terrorism in America is usually portrayed by the media as an act of meditated violence that results in the victim’s lost sense of safety, security and sometimes results in death.  However, Latifa’s story provided me a much clearer understanding of how terrorism affects a person’s psychological well-being, more than any form of media I had seen or read before. Throughout the book, Latifa refers to herself as a prisoner in her own home. The only way she could think of rebelling at the time was to not go outside, which is essentially what the Taliban wanted. With this picture in mind, Latifa showed me that terrorism can do much more than make one lose their sense of security. It can lead to self-imprisonment.

Another thing I found interesting about Latifa’s story is that she hardly mentions Osama Bin-Laden in her story at all. In the media here in America, we tended to view Bin-Laden as the symbol that stood for terrorism. Yet, as seen in Latifa’s story, he is merely an after-thought, just some rich guy who gives the Taliban money. And with that in mind, Latifa shows what the daily life of being occupied by a terrorist group is like. I have not read a single newspaper article or seen a news broadcast that brings this reality to life as well as Latifa’s story. You should really read this book. Your perspectives on what terrorism really is all about may change the way you think about it.

Looking For Alaska – A Review

Posted on May 5th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

looking for alaska

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Read by: Kevin/Copley Teen Room Intern

John Green’s Looking for Alaska focuses on Miles Halter’s first year at a prestigious boarding school in Alabama. Miles decides to leave his family and “school friends” in Florida to find what he describes as the “Great Perhaps.” In other words, he wants to find adventure, excitement, girls, and true friendship. Miles narrates the reader through his experiences with sex, smoking, alcohol, love, friendship and death.  He also meets “The Colonel” (his roommate) and Alaska. Both of whom smoke cigarettes way too much, love sex and drama, and drink alcohol as if it were water.

By coming into contact with The Colonel and Alaska, Miles is placed into a tight group of friends that will seemingly do anything for each other.  And there lies the importance of Green’s novel. He shows us that by developing true friendship with others, we have to take on the responsibility to uphold the loyalty, and trust that comes with real friendship.

This book made me laugh hysterically and I am not ashamed to say (this is a grown man typing, mind you) that it made me want to cry. The characters go through so many ups and downs in this novel. And I couldn’t get over the fact that everybody’s life is filled with ups and downs and we have to rely on our friends and loved ones to get through those tough times and celebrate and enjoy everything when we’re feeling invincible. Green has written a true to life novel in Looking for Alaska. Check it out, read it, and experience this story. I suspect you will not be disappointed when you finish.

The Name of the Star – A Review

Posted on April 28th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

name of the star

The Name of the Star by: Maureen Johnson

Read by: Kevin/Copley Teen Room Intern

Maureen Johnson’s novel, The Name of the Star, is narrated by an American high school girl named Rory, who travels to England with her parents for her senior year of high school. Rory decides to attend school in the city of London at a boarding school called Wexford. While receiving an excellent education at her new school and meeting a great friend in Jazza and a potential boyfriend in Jerome, she also receives an ability that allows her to see ghosts after a near death experience from Wexford’s cafeteria food. She receives this new ability at the same time the city of London faces a modern age Jack the Ripper killer. The result is that she becomes the most important witness in London during an incredible time of fear because she has seen the new ripper who has actually been dead for decades.

If you enjoy mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, ghost stories, romance, action, and unexpected twists in what you read, then you must read The Name of the Star! It has elements of all these genres. It’s a fast paced book that will lead you literally into an underground world of London that exists but the people and things inside may or may not. I just have one question for you:  Do you believe in ghosts? Because after reading this book, you might.

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children – A Review

Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Beautiful Music Ugly Children

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the story of Gabe, who was born Elizabeth, and who just wants to become a radio DJ as he was meant to be. When he was ten, Gabe’s DJ mentor, John, moved in next door. Supposedly, John was the first radio DJ to play Elvis on the airwaves back in the day. To Gabe, that’s pretty cool. Pretty awesome, in fact. John helps Gabe get a radio show on the local community station at midnight on Fridays where Gabe becomes something of a local celebrity. There’s just one problem. Gabe recently graduated highschool as Elizabeth and most of the school doesn’t realize that Elizabeth has always felt like she was a boy inside. Coming out to his family didn’t exactly go as planned and his parents, struggling with the sudden change, still call him Elizabeth. No one seems to understand who he is. When Gabe wins the heart of a popular girl, things start to get dangerous with threats on his life, and that of his family. Even so, Gabe finds himself falling for his BFF since forever: pretty Paige. But does Paige return Gabe’s feelings, or will another girl take his heart? Gabe has his doubts about love and who he is throughout the story, but ultimately, he remains strong and true to himself.

This was a fast read  I couldn’t put down, and one I highly recommend. As the author states at the very end, not every person has the same experiences, yet I found Gabe’s story to be very realistic and inspiring. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it wasn’t perfect, as life is almost never perfect. The characters were great, and I loved the fact that Gabe wanted to be a radio DJ. Little known fact: that was my dream job when I was in middle school and early high school, so to see him living that dream was pretty awesome, especially when it seems like there are fewer and fewer DJs today than there were years ago. A note about musical taste, Gabe likes a wide variety of things, half of which I haven’t heard of and half of which was popular a bazillion years ago. That’s cool. I like the fact that he doesn’t stick to one genre of music, and I especially like the fact that he doesn’t stick to what’s popular right now. He really knows his music. Overall, this book was fabulous, and I would read it again in a heartbeat.

For those who are interested, at the end, the author included a section about what it means to be transgender and transsexual. She explains the various words that fall underneath the umbrella of transgender, including genderqueer, and what it means to not fall into the “gender binary”. This section is short and easy to understand for anyone who has yet to learn about gender differences. For this section, the author is awesome. She really did a great job.

Croak: A Review

Posted on December 14th, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

Croak by Gina Demico

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the story of a 16-year-old teen who gets shipped off to spend the summer with her Uncle Mort because of sudden behavioral issues. Lex, named after the battle of Lexington, has no idea why she turned violent. She just knows that she likes to punch people and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve done something to personally offend her or not. But when she gets to the town of Croak, NY (Population 82), she’s startled to discover that her uncle isn’t the farmer she expected. He’s a Grim Reaper. And so is everyone else in the small town. She was born to be a Grim. At first she isn’t sure about this, but the more she hangs out with the other Junior Grims, and the more time she spends at work, Killing dead bodies so her partner can Cull the souls to send the people to the afterlife, the more she comes to realize that Croak is where she belongs.

But then, mysterious deaths start to occur. Not only do the medical examiners not know what’s killing these people, seemingly at random, but neither do the Grims. When it become apparent that the killer could very well be a Grim, it’s up to Lex and the other Junior Grims to figure it out.

Honestly, I think I died laughing. No joke. This book is at the same time dark, very serious and yet light with humor. I loved getting to hang out in the afterlife with the dead famous people like Edgar Allen Poe who seems to be the only one who doesn’t like John Wilkes Booth because John stole Edgar’s favorite quill. When we get the absolutely lovely description of the alcohol-like drink that actually has no alcohol in it, I about died, wishing I could have a cup. Keep in mind, the drink has no alcohol, but if a Grim has more than three drinks in a row, that could spell a very different kind of trouble: Death. The murder mystery that takes place is definitely a mystery that will defy you until near the end of the book. At least, it did for me. The book is at times creepy, but there is also a healthy dose of awkward romance to go along with the creep. While most books these days throw in the perfect romance between the two perfect main characters, this romance is not perfect. Nothing goes as planned and neither are the two main characters perfect. It’s wonderfully realistic.

Over all, this book was a nice breath of fresh air from all the books that only seem to mimic each other these days. Yep, there’s a girl on the cover, but she’s wearing a black hoodie (proper Grim attire) and carrying a large scythe. Not a fancy dress that never gets worn in the book. But be aware of one thing. As you near the end of the first book, make sure you have Scorch, the second book, handy because you’ll want to dive right in without waiting. Trust me, this book is awesome. And the story’s not done yet…

I can’t recommend this book enough.