American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

225x225bb.jpgAmerican Born Chinese follows the lives of three different people who stories will collide in a way you never expected. Jin Wang, a middle school Chinese-American student, faces bullying and discrimination because of his race in school. Danny, a white high school student, tries to do damage control when his cousin Chin-Kee comes for his annual visit. Lastly, the Monkey King faces several hard life lessons about what it means to be a monkey.

I really enjoyed this book. This graphic novel has a lot to say about the experiences of Chinese-American students in America today. Not only does it makes great social commentary, but it is a quick and hilarious read. The images are easy to follow along with, and they will keep you entertained. I give this book a 5 out of 5. I would highly recommend this graphic novel to all my students.

Common Sense Media: 13+ years

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March Trilogy

51ZRJL8XCgL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe March trilogy, written by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, explores the Civil Right’s movement in America through the eyes of John Lewis. This trilogy is a powerful showcase of the good, bad, and extremely ugly moments in America’s history as civilians and leaders fought for equality. Each book focuses on a different sector of events, such as the Greensboro sit-ins.

This trilogy is really wonderful. I love this current movement to put important historical events and stories into graphic novels. It makes the reading engaging, and it adds the right about of visualization. I would give these books a 5 out of 5. If you are looking to be more informed about American history, or you just want an engaging read, this one is for you.

Common Sense Media: 12+ years

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

cover-for-everything-everythingMaddy has spent all her life inside. After a medical emergency when she was younger, Maddy’s mother discovered that her immune system was volatile, and the only way Maddy would live is if she stayed inside…forever. However, after the new neighbors move in next door, Maddy makes friends with the new kid, Olly, and she begins to imagine life on the outside. Will she risk it all in the name of love? Or will she put her health first?

YAL romance is often repetitive and overdone, but Nicola Yoon surprises us all by throwing a curve ball in the story. I thought this story was cute, light-hearted, and full of surprises. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a traditional love story with a nontraditional plot line. The book also moves very quickly, making it easy to read and a great book for pleasure reading. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Common sense media rating: 13+ years

Content: mild sexual references

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

717Tx5+P+7L.jpgCraig Gilner may seem like he is handling life flawlessly on the outside, but mental illness is taking control of his life. After getting into an elite high school, the pressure of performance at school starts to take a toll on Craig. Over time, the weight of school makes suicide appear to be the only relief. Upon this realization, Craig decides to check himself into a psychiatric hospital. In It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Craig’s journey as a patient in a psychiatric hospital is told through hilarious and hard-hitting tales that anyone who has battled mental illness can find comfort in.

I really enjoyed this book. I think this is an excellent read for anyone who has every struggled with mental illnesses or anyone who seeks to gain more understanding about mental illness. The book does get a little slow in the middle; however, I am forgiving of this because I think this book serves a greater purpose than just entertainment. I am giving this book a 4 out of 5. The author, Ned Vizzini, tells this story in such a relatable yet humorous way. Unfortunately, the author himself battled depression, and he took his life a few years ago. While his departure is tragic, he leaves behind a story that can comfort and provide aid those who battle similar problems.

Common sense media rating: 14+ yrs

sexual references, drug use, language

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

61sidpXiAIL.jpgBruno is a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany. When Hitler begins targeting Jews and placing them in concentration camps, Bruno doesn’t have to worry because his family is a part of the SS. Told from Bruno’s perspective, there is a lot of confusion surrounding what is going on, and why his family is moving to a place called “Out-With”. An aspiring explorer, Bruno meets a young boy from the other side of the fence and forms a friendship. Will he be able to fight the prejudice his family supports? Will he be able to save his new friend?

I really don’t know how to feel about this book. In some ways, I really want to love it. I feel like there is some innocence in Bruno’s perspective that is valuable because as the reader we understand why things are how they are, however we see our main character lacking this knowledge. In other ways, however, Bruno’s ignorance is extremely annoying. Even at 9 years old, you would expect him to be able to catch on to things a lot quicker. I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. It’s something worth reading, but I think other holocaust books narrate this time in history much better.

Common Sense Media Rating: 12+ years old

 

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

23453112.jpgDating life not going well? Tormented by the limitless romantic options out there? Never satisfied with your dates? Aziz Ansari explores the complex world of modern dating. Through humor, Aziz discusses topics from dating apps, dating trends, cheating, snooping and marriage with various research. He not only presents data from sociologists, but he talks to people from around the world to gather insight into what makes dating in 2017 complex and what are our new advantages.

I am really glad I picked up this book. Not only did Aziz have me laughing out loud, but there were so many topics that he covered beautifully. I even learned a little bit about my own dating life! I would definitely recommend this book to young men and women. The topics are presented from various points of views and allows the reader to form their own opinion. Overall, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. I skimmed through a few pages because I lost interest or the information felt repetitive. But overall, I enjoyed this book.

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

used to be.jpgEden just started High School, and she is ready to make the most out of the four years. However, during her Freshman year, she is raped by her brother’s friend. Told over the next four years of her life, Eden deals with the pain and suffering her rapist left behind. Will she be able to speak up? Or will she stay crippled beneath the weight of her biggest secret?

This book is not for anyone who is triggered by accounts of rape. The rape scene is retold is fairly good detail, and much of the book focuses directly on what happened to Eden. However, I think this book houses an important story that needs to be told. Particularly, I think this book sheds light on why so many people do not speak up after being raped or how assault can affect a person many years after the fact. This book is really moving and had me flipping pages like crazy. I give it a 4 out of 5. I would highly recommend this book, and I think many people would benefit from it’s story.

Common Sense Rating: 14+ yrs

Rape scene, drugs, alcohol, language