Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: When Light Left Us

When Light Left Us When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk: The Vasquez siblings' dad leaves them unexpectedly, leaving a hole in their lives that they feel can never be filled. That is until they meet a shining figure named Luz in the canyon behind their house. Luz begins to fill all the spaces in their lives...Hank's hands, Ana's eyes, and Milo's ears. But when Luz leaves them, the siblings have no idea how to move on in a world where everything has changed.

My thoughts: Without trying to give anything away, this is a weird little book. In fact, the author self-describes it as such in her acknowledgments. It took me a good 3 or 4 chapters to really get into the storyline, but it was worth the patience. The constantly changing perspective takes some time to get used to, until you figure out what is meant by Ears, Hands, etc. Overall I liked this one because it is so different from anything else I have ever read.

My recommendation: 4/5 stars (language, mild adult situations); Grades 9+

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Review: Soldier Boy

Soldier Boy Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
How would you feel if you were ripped from your family at gunpoint, and forced to watch your parents and siblings be killed? Ricky was 11 when the LRA abducted him and his brothers and friends from their village. He and tens of thousands of other children were recruited into the LRA, a guerilla force in the Ugandan Civil War. Ricky and his brother Patrick stayed in contact during their years in the LRA trying to find a way back home.

My Thoughts:
Both beautiful and horrifying, Soldier Boy takes us behind the scenes of child warfare in Africa. This is a very heavy book that leaves very little to the imagination. Lots of violence and brutality, but it it done in a way that really forces the reader to think about injustice and powerlessness. I give this one 5 stars for its depth and importance.

My Recommendation
5/5 stars
Grades 8+ (heavy violence, veiled references to rape)

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Solo

Solo Solo by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Thanks to @kidlitexchange for the advanced review copy of this book. Opinions are my own.** 4/5 stars
Grades 7+
Book Talk
Blade Morrison is NOT your typical 17-year old boy. He is the son of rock star parents, and is incredibly talented in his own right. He's got a gorgeous girlfriend and is on the cover of the tabloids. But after his mom dies, Blade's dad spirals into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol that leaves Blade and his sister Storm pretty much on their own. Then Blade discovers that his dad isn't really his dad at all. Blade was adopted as a baby.

Blade begins the journey of a lifetime to Ghana, to meet his birth mother. Unfortunately, he does not go alone. His rock star dad decides to make the trip a family experience, including a giant tour bus and a reality television film crew.

Will Blade find his mother? Can the relationship between he and his father ever be repaired?

My Thoughts
I am generally not a big fan of verse novel, but I liked this one. The story moves pretty quickly, and I cared about the characters. I hated the names, though. I know, that sounds trivial. But Chapel? Storm? Blade? It felt a little...contrived. Still, I connected to Blade's struggle with his dad. I wanted his reunion with his birth mother to be successful. And I cheered for little Sia when she got sick. Overall, I would recommend this one to fans of Kwame Alexander's other verse novels or Jason Reynolds' books.

Little to object to here in terms of language or adult content, although themes of alcoholism and drug use are probably too heavy for elementary. I recommend for grades 7+ (or mature 6th graders).

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