Read + Review: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

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A child of six years at the time, Sachiko Yasui lived a modest life in her home town of Nagasaki. With her siblings Misa, Toshi, Aki, and Ichiro by her side, the little girl had no idea that August 9th was the day her whole world would be ripped apart. Even at a young age, Sachiko knew of the dangers that lurked around her, as America’s threats with Japan grew increasingly persistent during World War II. But when she saw a flash and debris pile on top of her, Sachiko learned that the road to recovery would not be easy. Through her father’s wise words and views of the world, Sachiko fights to understand the truth, and how things happen for a reason. Based on a real account of a hibakusha, this harrowing story is one that should be retold for generations to come, so that a devastating nuclear arms race shall never come about.

As the story went on, I was overcome with emotion. The grief, sorrow, and agony that Sachiko went through in the decades to follow was excruciatingly painful to read about. I’ve read many stories from different hibakusha, the bomb-affected people, about their journeys of self-discovery after the horrors of the explosion. Yet, none has ever given me the impression that I took away from this story. The vivid details, coupled with the factual background bits scattered throughout the story, made for an informative and mesmerizing read. There’s no possible way to describe Sachiko’s bravery in words, except that she is an inspiration to all. The silence, the emotion… everything about this book is beautifully written. I urge you to read this book if you can. I promise, you will not regret it.

I noticed that Sachiko took a lot of her father’s ideas and words, and found a way to incorporate it into her life. I truly resonated with Sachiko’s father and his ideas, for his main belief was that hate only produces hate. We need to live in a world of peace, and if everyone thought the same way as him, our world would be a better place. I also loved that Sachiko found her voice through her role models, from Helen Keller to Mahatma Gandhi. She truly is an exceptional woman that, I’m sure, will find a way to make her voice last for generations.

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Reviewed by Mitali, Grade 10, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Dog’s Best Friend by James Patterson

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Rafe Khatchadorian is just your average kid with an average life at Hills Village Middle School, but his big mouth lands him in some hot water. From making his mother cry during Christmas to accusing Eddie and Ethan Finn of some serious allegations, Rafe can only make matters worse for himself. Yet, through it all, his one wish is to get a WormHole Premium Multi-Platform GameBox. In hopes of receiving this item, Rafe decides to put on his thinking cap and start a dog-walking business. But when Rafe discovers something even more sinister going on, his investigations lead him to a reality like none other. Secrets and truths start pouring out, and Rafe needs to make the right choice in order to save his life from crashing down.

James Patterson has done it again with a hilarious, yet entrancing book about the life of a middle schooler. Rafe is not only a relatable character, but also one that seems to teach younger kids lessons about honesty, responsibility, and trust. Through graphic comic strips and eye-catching chapters, I was hooked on all the situations that occurred throughout the story. My favorite character was definitely Georgia; she’s cunning, smart, witty, and, in my opinion, helped the story close to a strong ending. Personally, I never expected such a child-like book to convey themes that I would probably see in adult novels. Although I can’t give anything away, I will say that I was baffled by all the plot twists in the story.

I enjoy the fact that Rafe doesn’t live a perfect life. He has his ups and downs, which makes the book, in my opinion, a lot more interesting to read. As previously said above, the book is a lot more relatable than some other stories I’ve read. Nevertheless, I loved how Rafe was able to create some humor out of every situation he faced. If you always look at the negatives in life, you’ll never have time to reach the positive. I think Rafe did a great job of learning how to balance his negativity out, and to make the best of every obstacle he endured.

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Reviewed by Mitali, Grade 10, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

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This book was the climactic finale to the Falconer series. Aileana has come back, with no memory of who she was before, and with powers not meant for a human to control. The human world is falling apart, and Kiaran, the faerie who had come to mean everything to her, is lost to his own dark powers. To save her world, and his, Aileana will have to reach him, to find her Kiaran through the darkness of Kadamach – before she loses control of her new powers.

This was by far the best book in the Falconer series. It’s strong and entrancing from start to finish. I read the entire book in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next. Kiaran and Aileana were the perfect couple. They had a wonderfully complex relationship. Even though they didn’t always agree with each other, and though they sometimes took different paths to achieve their goals, one thing was certain. They were always fighting for each other. Aithinne, Aileana’s friend and the faerie meant to become the Seelie Queen, added another layer of complexity to the book. Her relationship with her brother – both the Kiaran and the Kadamach sides of him – was heartbreaking to read.

I think the most memorable part of the book was the grey morality of so many of the characters. Kiaran, Aileana, Sorcha, and all the rest have good and bad sides to them. It makes for a group of complex, compelling characters. I didn’t always agree with them or root for them, but I always wanted to learn more about them. A character struggling between right and wrong is always infinitely more interesting to me than a character who is wholly good or wholly evil.

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Reviewed by Stephanie, Grade 12, Glen Allen Library

Read + Review: Girling Up by Mayam Bialik

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This guide to “Girling Up” was extremely useful because it demonstrates every aspect of being a girl. From how we grow and learn, to learning to embrace the beauty and importance of being girl, this book exhibits the true meaning of what it takes to deal with the everyday situations of being a girl in today’s world. The author also gives beneficial tips on how to deal with stress, dating, and schoolwork. Using scientific facts and personal anecdotes, Mayim Bialik tells you how to grow from a girl to a woman biologically, psychologically, and sociologically.

This book was everything and so much more. It was encouraging and inspiring, while also laying down the hard truths of being a girl. Bialik used a unique writing style that added to the appeal of this book. By sharing the various situations that she experienced in her teen years and adding humor to the book, the author found a way to express every aspect of being a girl while also making the book entertaining. Every chapter was so relatable and I think that this book would be useful for girls everywhere.

One memorable thing about this book was the continuous emphasis that the author put on the fact that Girling Up does not end with adulthood. It is a lifelong journey that is about laying the foundation for a life of healthy and satisfying decisions.

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Reviewed by Ilakkiya, Grade 7, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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In a galaxy that is powered by the current, some are fate-favored, and everyone develops a currentgift. These unique powers are meant to shape the future and can be beneficial to most. Cyra is the sister of a merciless tyrant who is the ruler of Shotet. Her gift gives pain to herself and anyone she touches, which her brother uses to his advantage to torture the people who do not obey his law. Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the nation-planet of Thuvhe. When a Shotet invasion results in him and his brother being kidnapped, he is thrust into Cyra’s world. They must figure out a way to help each other survive, or destroy one another.

I thought this book was fascinating. I admired the imagination and creativity the author used when creating the unique characteristics of each nation-planet and their contribution to the galaxy in which Cyra and Akos live in. The extensive thought and detail that was put into developing each character’s personality was also gratifying to explore when they were put through different situations. Despite that, I feel like the author put more effort into the scene setting and less on the emotional part of the story, making it hard to cheer the characters on.

A certain memorable thing about this book is the ending. It was not abrupt, while also not being complete and gradual. Since all of the conflicts in the story had not yet been resolved by the time of the conclusion, it leaves the reader wanting more.

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Reviewed by Ilakkiya, Grade 7, Twin Hickory Area Library