Book Reviews

Check out these reviews for some of our newest YA Books:


Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
by Laura Ruby

-You can find this book here.

A ghost girl’s narration weaves her own story with that of a tenacious orphan in World War II–era Chicago.

Teenage Frankie’s story is no more or less tragic than that of any other young person at her German Catholic orphanage: That is, it’s heartbreaking. She and her two siblings have a father who brings them gifts but claims he can’t afford to take them home and who eventually abandons them for a new family. But Frankie’s tenacious grip on hope draws attention from both her fellow orphans, including a beautiful, gentle boy with whom she shares an illicit prewar romance, and Pearl, the book’s ghost narrator, whose own tragic story slowly unfurls alongside Frankie’s. Pearl’s narration elevates an already-poignant story to a complex, bittersweet examination of why “girls were punished so hard for their love, so hard, hard enough to break them.” There is no escape from pain or death in this narrative—from the wolf waiting behind every door—but there is the suggestion that it’s worth the risk to open them all wide anyway. Pearl and Frankie are white (Frankie’s parents were Italian immigrants), but many secondary characters, memorably an African American ghost named Marguerite and a Chinese love interest for Pearl, are racially diverse.

A layered, empathetic examination of the ghosts inside all girls’ lives, full of historical realism and timeless feeling. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 14-adult)

Review found here.

 THE TOLL by Neal Shusterman

The Toll
by Neal Shusterman

-You can find this book here.

The sins of the founding scythes now reap terrible rewards in this trilogy conclusion.

The Thunderhead—a benevolent, nigh-omniscient, nanite-controlling artificial intelligence—still runs the world but speaks only to Greyson Tolliver. Now deified as the Toll, prophet of the Tonists, Greyson attempts to advise a populace abruptly cut off from the Thunderhead’s gentle guidance. For the scythes—allegedly compassionate and objective executioners whose irreversible gleanings control the post-mortal population—the Thunderhead’s been silent for centuries, but recent scythedom unrest now tests the Thunderhead’s noninterference. Untouchable and unhinged, Scythe Goddard, self-appointed Overblade, encourages unrestricted and prejudiced gleanings. Formerly formidable opponents Scythe Anastasia (Citra Terranova) and scythe-killer Scythe Lucifer (Rowan Damisch) are now fugitives, saved from the sea but pursued by Goddard’s allies. Even in a post-national, post-racial world, Capt. Jerico’s meteorologically influenced gender fluidity surprises some, but as Goddard’s bigotry indicates, discrimination plagues even the post-mortals. Shusterman (Dry, 2018, etc.) wryly unravels organized religion and delivers a scathing takedown of political demagogues. Yet the whirlwind of narrators, sly humor, and action scenes never obscures the series’ central question: If most death is impermanent, and age can be reset, what’s the meaning of life?

Long but strong, a furiously paced finale that reaches for the stars. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Review found here.


The Fountains of Silence
by Ruta Sepetys

-You can find this book here.

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world.

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Review found here.

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