Book Reviews

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

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Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe
by Sarah Mlynowski

-You can find this book here.

Take one college freshman, an absentee boyfriend, a moment of humiliation, and add summer camp.

For Sam, this summer is a chance for redemption after being shamed as an 11-year-old at the same camp where she is now returning as a counselor. Plus, boyfriend Eli is off to Europe and this is something to do. Despite her dedication to absent Eli, Sam can’t help being flattered by—and very attracted to—cool guy Gavin, who seems safe since he also has a long-distance love. What follows is a breezy summer fling that also addresses slut-shaming (directed at Sam in the past and, now, at a buxom, Canadian, Christian counselor) and the questionable ethics of a relationship where both parties are already involved elsewhere. Sam makes bad choices romantically but blossoms into a great, compassionate counselor and friend. Mlynowski captures the sleepaway experience, specifically the Northeastern, secular Jewish variant, where most campers and staff are white and Jewish, with humor and affection. Many readers will recognize the camp culture of hard work for little pay, insularity, day-off rituals, and bonding as well as the depictions of secular Jewish life, with its textured, overlapping social connections both in and out of camp. Fun, sexy, sex-positive, and inclusive (peripheral characters are racially and sexually diverse) while rooted in a specific identity and cultural space, this deceptively thought-provoking summer read also offers a thoughtful feminist subtext.

Sizzling and smart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Review found here.

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Together We Caught Fire
by Eva V. Gibson

-You can find this book here.

Eighteen-year-old Lane Jamison’s enduring crush, Grey McIntyre, moves into her house and becomes her stepbrother.

When she was 5, Lane’s mother died by suicide, leaving her motherless and traumatized. Inundated with relentless nightmares of that bloody and violent night, Lane prefers to keep people at arm’s length lest she begin to care about them. Her life is further complicated when her father remarries and the object of her desire since eighth grade moves in. Green-eyed, cinnamon-haired Grey is everything Lane wants but can’t have, not only because he’s now her stepbrother, but also because he’s in a relationship with Southern belle Sadie Hall. When Lane and Connor (Sadie’s older brother) start a flirtation that irritates Grey as much as it delights Sadie, both relationships and friendships are tested. Lane must decide how far she’s willing to go for her attraction to Grey and what Connor really means to her. Flawed and fully fleshed out, the characters attempt to navigate their lives as best they can with the baggage they each carry. While the plot meanders at times, this is a solid debut that realistically portrays teens and touches on issues like sex, drugs, trauma, and mental illness. The writing is captivating and fluid—easily switching from lyrical and dreamy to raw and violent. All characters are assumed white.

An addictive page-turner that begins with a forbidden romance but turns into so much more. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Review found here.

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All Your Twisted Secrets
by Diana Urban

-You can find this book here.

Debut author Urban’s high-pressure revenge thriller puts a sinister twist on the escape room motif.

Amber is a recently popular high school senior who, after years of avoiding social entanglements, is suddenly thrust into the popular circle. Her musical ambitions lead her to team up with queen bee Sasha to compose the score for an upcoming school play. Though Sasha appears outwardly friendly, Amber slowly learns the machinations of the in crowd and the manipulation required to attain and maintain their social hierarchy. The story of Amber’s rise is told in flashbacks as she and a motley crew with tenuous ties try to escape from a terrifying room in which they have been commanded to kill one among them in order to save the rest. Each flashback provides clues to the relationships between and potential motives of each person locked in the death trap. Confusingly, relationships that are alluded to in the present never appear in the flashbacks, and other important plot elements seem thrown in after the fact by way of explanation rather than following logically from the preceding action. Though an unreliable narrator is to be expected, Amber’s character is nothing if not inconsistent, leaving the reader to question who the real bad guy is and if they have just been gaslighted yet again. Amber and Sasha are white; there is some diversity in the cast, but the portrayals lack substantive texture.

A mixed bag. (Mystery/thriller. 14-18)

Review found here.



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