The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does – or does not – say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

For a debut novel, The Hate U Give had an incredibly powerful voice. Unintentionally I ended up reading this when the riots and black lives matter protests began to appear all over the news. It really resonated with me how depressing it was for people’s rights to be completely ignored like that in this day and age. Starr’s perspective in the book feels so real and at times I almost could have sworn I was witnessing everything right there with her. As heavy as the issues The Hate U Give portrayed are, there are so many well developed and loveable characters that you can’t help but feel a glimmer of hope too. I definitely think this book is a must read for all young people, especially now we start to delve further into the anti-racism movement.

Rating: 10/10

The Paper Girl of Paris

The Paper Girl of Paris

*New release – May 2020*

  Now:

Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked away for more than seventy years.

Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realises there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.

Then:

Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognise Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back. But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises – to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.

Starting this book, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. I didn’t understand why it was written in two points of view: Alice seemed so boring and underdeveloped whereas the story really seemed to come alive with Adalyn. It took me about halfway through to understand what the author was getting at. I loved Adalyn’s story and following her through the French resistance against the Nazi’s in Paris. And slowly Alice started to become a bit more interesting as she embarked on solving the mystery of her grandmother’s family as well as a pretty cute romance. So, surprisingly, I found myself actually quite loving this book. It was the author’s debut novel and you did get the sense in parts that is wasn’t as well finished as other books but wow the story is so worth the read, especially if you’re a fan of historical fiction.

Rating: 8/10

Turtles All the Way Down

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Turtles All the Way Down is most definitely recognisable as a John Green book, however it portrayed a voice that I would say is a lot more raw than in some of his other books. Green explores the depths of anxiety and how it can really make you your own worst enemy. Aza’s story feels very real. There’s no magic cure that will make everything okay but there is true power in help from those around you and, most of all, yourself. While it felt like not much really developed in the way of plot, I really liked the insight into what living with life-impacting anxiety looks like. This might not be the right book if you’re looking for a story to dive into and get lost in, but I believe it does explore the important reality of being an adolescent struggling with mental health.

Stream Some Percy

With everything being in lockdown and movie theatres being closed, Netflix and other streaming services have become a real isolation life saver. So Rick Riordan announcing that Disney+ are going to produce a series reboot of Percy Jackson is very welcome and exciting news.

Percy Jackson was staple reading for me growing up and Rick Riordan continues to be a popular author today. He somehow manages to pump books out at the speed of light, meaning readers will never leave empty handed when searching for stories about mythology and monsters.

Riordan has stated he will be heavily involved in this production and the series will closely follow the books, something which I think a lot of people will be grateful for following the flop of the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief movie. Hopefully lockdown restrictions will well and truly be eased by the time this series is released, but I’m sure readers will still be excited to see the refreshed return of Percy.