All American Boys

“Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn’t want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things.”

Title: All American Boys

Authors: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 29th 2015 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Pages: 316

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

My Thoughts:

All American Boys is about All-American racism. It is about police brutality, what it means to choose a side, and how not choosing a side makes you part of the problem. All American Boys offers contrasting views of the same incident – both from the victim and from a bystander. This is a story of troubles those with privilege would never likely think twice about. It is a story about choosing to take a stand when everyone around you tells you you’re wrong. It is about honesty, responsibility, and how perceptions can be both subtle and out in the open yet be equally problematic and hurtful.

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OwlCrate: February 2017

MY OWLCRATE BOX CAME TODAY AND I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW! Ugh, I needed this. Midterms are next week and my OwlCrate box just lifted my mood out of the gutter. YAY FOR BOOKISH THINGS.

In case you don’t know what the glorious OwlCrate is, it’s just like Fandom of the Month only.. better? I don’t know, I love them both. OwlCrate gives you a new release in the Young Adult world and a bunch of bookish stuff centered around a specific theme. It’s a subscription box that is worth every little penny – count on that. (You guys can sign up here)

This month’s box had a wonderful theme. As soon as I found out about it, I was salivating. For the generally depressing for single people month of February, the theme was…

Run away with the circus!


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Optimists Die First

“Studies show that in general, optimists die ten years earlier than pessimists”

Title: Optimists Die First

Author: Susin Nielsen

Series: Standalone

Publication:  February 21st 2017 by Wendy Lamb Books

Pages: 224

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Beware: Life ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk.

A Listical of Thoughts:

The Good

  • Crazy cat lady = instant love from this other crazy cat lady who read about said crazy cat lady. Meow.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Series: Standalone

Publication: April 7th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Pages: 320

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Thoughts:

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda is a paradox of light-hearted angst. It is the story of Simon Spier, a boy whose choice is stolen from him when a guy from school blackmails him about his sexuality. Simon Spier isn’t so sure he wants to come out to everyone, he hasn’t told his family or even his best friends. His life suddenly changes when he is confronted by Martin, a classmate who has screenshots of Simon’s private emails to his cherished pen pal Blue. This is a story that blasts through the narrow-minded idea, as Simon puts it, that “there shouldn’t even be a default” when it comes to sexuality and personal identity.

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Eleanor & Park

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: Standalone

Publication: February 26th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 328

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My Thoughts:

Eleanor & Park is a work of art by Park’s own definition. Art isn’t supposed to be pretty, it’s supposed to make you feel something – and that is exactly what this book does. It makes you feel. Not every feeling is good, not every feeling is bad. Eleanor & Park makes you feel things deep down in your chest and you can’t tell whether or not you want to claw those feelings out or relish in their power.

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The Outsiders

“Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too.”

Title: The Outsiders

Author: S.E Hinton

Series: Standalone

Publication: April 24th 1967 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Pages: 192

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

My Thoughts:

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton deals with major themes such as belonging, discrimination, and family. The story follows Ponyboy, the youngest member of the Greaser gang at fourteen, as he deals with the hardships in his everyday life. Readers watch as Ponyboy, Darrel, Sodapop, Dallas, Johnny, Two-Bit, and Steve struggle over the prejudice the Socs and society hold over their heads for being less than they are. The Outsiders takes a long look at the stigmas surrounding the less fortunate in a gritty, no-nonsense and take no prisoners voice.

The characters in this story are troublemakers, and they are treated as such. After all, what else are teenagers good for? In the world of The Outsiders, young adults fall into two categories: socs and greasers. Montague and Capulet. West side and East side. The teens are struggling; they fight tooth and nail only to be told they are worthless because of where they come from and what they wear. S.E Hinton handles her characters delicately with a brash note of fearless intention. The characters are wild, unruly, and utterly human.

S.E Hinton focuses explicitly on two types of characters: those who fit in and those who don’t. Even within the gangs themselves there are those who don’t fit in. Ponyboy wants to and likes to read. Darry is smart, too smart and too serious. Compare them with Two-Bit and Dally who love being in the gang and believe that is all there is in life for them, and there is an unbalance. I don’t see how Hinton addresses issues in youth culture. Ultimately, there are consequences for bad behavior and stereotypes are rewarded. While there is a small diversity to the characters themselves, the book as a whole was lacking a variety. It was like having to choose between vanilla ice cream and rainbow sherbet. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing considering when this was written, but that aspect didn’t quite live up to the hype.

The language of the greasers and the socs is innovative and clever. They have their own codes, and those codes vary between different gangs of the same group. The language is where the magic is. Ponyboy speaks to the reader in a way that is entirely his own. His voice is important here, and it demands to be heard. His thoughts and feelings about everything going on around him: the life of the gang, his brothers, schoolwork, Johnny – it’s so unbelievably important and honest.

“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”

This story is easy to fall into and even easier to fall in love with. It’s like being transported to another world that steal deals with some of the same issues we handle everyday, but now it’s in the voice of a young boy who sees things just a bit differently than we do.



Barnes & Noble

OwlCrate: January 2017

WHOOP WHOOP! It’s OwlCrate time guys! Which, as you know, is probably one of my favorite things ever because the boxes are so amazing.

In case you don’t know what the glorious OwlCrate is, it’s just like Fandom of the Month only.. better? I don’t know, I love them both. OwlCrate gives you a new release in the Young Adult world and a bunch of bookish stuff centered around a specific theme. It’s a subscription box that is worth every little penny – count on that. (You guys can sign up here)

So, the super duper wonderfully amazing theme for January was….

Classic Remix


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