Category Archives: Fiction

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg

porcupine       There are many novels that try to achieve that delicate balance between light-hearted humor and emotional depth. Most do an okay job, but none that I’ve read strike the balance as well as Bill Konigsberg’s The Porcupine of Truth, a book that, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful young adult novels in the last decade. The Porcupine of Truth tells the story of Carson Smith, a teen who moves along with his mother from New York to Montana to spend the summer with his estranged father. Carson’s dad’s health is quickly deteriorating due to his alcoholism and the emotional stress that came with the disappearance of his own father years ago. Because of this, Carson thinks his summer is going to be awkward and difficult. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a girl who sleeps in the zoo after being kicked out by her father for being gay. The two of them form a connection instantly, and Aisha ends up moving in with Carson. Later, they discover some secrets about Carson’s grandfather, and decide to make it their mission to find out the truth about where he is after he left more than thirty years ago. They embark on a remarkable journey across multiple states that will change their lives as forever.

To be completely honest, I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about The Porcupine of Truth. Carson and Aisha are an incredibly dynamic duo and are both witty, relatable, and very heartwarming. The book’s great sense of humor made me laugh, but it also accomplished something more. Humor was not only used as an attractive point but was made an integral part of Carson’s character as both a strength and a shortcoming, which I felt was genius. The most important thing about this book and the thing that makes it special to me is the fact that it delivers powerful, enlightening messages. The book touches upon such topics as the way we view and practice spirituality and how we form and keep the bonds that tie us together. In particular, the way it approaches the relationship between religion and the way we treat people is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it truly struck me personally. I see no reason not to read The Porcupine of Truth. It will break your heart and mend it again. It will make you laugh and will make you cry. It is simultaneously down-to-Earth and a bringer of wisdom from high up in the heavens.

Submitted by Lauren Leon



The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

bunkerdiaryThe Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks is an amazing book.  It highlights how bad life can be, and what can happen on the streets.  The main character, Linus, has an amazing personality, but a not so amazing life.  Living on the streets  teaches him a lot of things about life, but one day his nice personality gets him into trouble.  Every character is different, and the whole story being told from Linus’s perspective shows how much he psychologically changes.  The book does highlight how bad the world can be, but it isn’t so realistic that it gets boring for fiction fans.  The book highlights many of the problems we have in the world:  crime, anger, greed, mental instabilities, disease, depression, and even suicide.  The author knows how to manipulate the readers’ emotions, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying at the end.

Submitted by Salar

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

jacket-aspx Young adult novels centered around Greek mythology are very common and have proved to be incredibly popular. However, never in all my years have I seen a book implement Greek mythology in the way David Almond’s, A Song for Ella Grey has. The book, described as “a new novel [that] tells an ancient tale” by the author himself, takes place in northern England and revolves around teenager Claire Wilkinson, her best friend Ella Grey, and their close-knit group of friends. They yearn for freedom from their responsibilities and desire only to truly take advantage of their youth. When the group goes on an outing to the beaches of Northumberland, they encounter the enigmatic Orpheus, a beautiful young wanderer who can play music that seems to make the whole world stop and listen. When Orpheus meets Ella, the two fall so deeply in love that it changes their lives—and their ultimate fate. Claire narrates the emotional, tragic story of Orpheus and Ella, their love, and their deaths.
A Song for Ella Grey bases its events around the well-known Greek folktale of Orpheus and Eurydice, meaning that if you know how that story ends, the book’s plot isn’t entirely a surprise. That being said, it’s not really meant to be—it’s supposed to put a modern twist on an old story. Unlike most “modern retellings” revolving around teenagers, this book doesn’t focus solely around the existence of phones and the Internet as its “modern” component—instead, it focuses on teenagers themselves, their desires, and their longing for freedom. This is a change I can appreciate, and it makes the book stand out. The language is colorful and descriptive, giving the setting a whimsical feel, even though it takes place in the real world (with a few small fantastical elements thrown in). I enjoyed the honest portrayal of the characters and their emotions, and I especially liked the fact that the book, despite being a romance story, has many other themes besides love—nature, music, freedom. The story has a feel that’s hard to describe, but it’s comforting and really makes you feel like you’re in the book’s world. My only real criticism is that, even though the “Greek myth to real world” adaptation is praiseworthy as I mentioned before, I can’t quite understand why Eurydice was changed to Ella while Orpheus still kept his name. It makes things a bit confusing as first, as this book’s Orpheus is a teen and is not really given much of a backstory to differentiate himself from the Orpheus of Orpheus and Eurydice.     Regardless, the book’s emotion and language was enough to keep me engaged throughout its entirety. If you’re looking for a short, genuine love/Greek mythology story that isn’t quite as cheesy as books in both of those categories tend to be, this is the book for you.

Submitted by Lauren Leon

X: A Novel by Ilysah Shabazz

jacket-aspxThis book is about the infamous Malcolm X.  It is not about what he is famous for, but about his childhood life until he figures out who he is.  My favorite part is when Malcolm is in a prison, in a hopeless state, and figures out a way to get out of prison (through writing letters to his family and obtaining information).  His family changes religion.  With the help  of a family member, he begins to change.  This change is when he begins to come out of his shell, and starts to believe what his father taught him.  I would recommend this to my friends because Malcolm X is truly inspiring in his transformation from a kid to an adult.

Submitted by R. T.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

jacket-aspxThis novel revolves around the lives of two teenagers named Skylar and Josh.  Skylar is a girl who has high hopes to fulfill her ambitions in Creek View.  She doesn’t desire to be the average woman, with a regular job and household duties.  On the other hand, Josh is a boy who holds interest in joining the Marines.  They both thought their lives were planned out until  everything begins to crumble.  Skylar learns she can’t afford the art school she’s always wanted to go to.  Josh experiences a physical injury that stops him from pursuing his career.  Soon, they both connect with one other, deeper and deeper, as they work at the same place.  Skylar is my favorite character because of how determined and hopeful she is about her future.  I would rate this book a 10 out of 10.

Submitted by M. H.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

jacket-aspxThe novel primarily revolved around the struggles of two teenagers named Violet Markey and Theodore Finch.  Violet is a teen who faces the trauma of her sister’s recent death.  Theodore is also a teen, and cannot find a reason to live.  Both are struggling to make it in the world.  They both work  on a project together in which they go on adventures to different places in Indiana.  The adventures serve as a way for both of them to heal and overcome the sadness, while falling in love.  My favorite character is Theodore because he helped Violet become better, while facing his own issues.  I would rate this book 10 out of 10 and would recommend it.

Submitted by M. H.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

jacket-aspxThis novel focuses on the story of three girls:  Tabitha (Tab), Bridge, and Emily.  These girls are all best friends who vowed never to fight no matter what comes their way.  As soon as they enter the seventh grade, each of their lives begin to change.  Tabitha starts to see the real world.  Bridge has come back from a horrible accident.  Emily changed her appearance.  All of these things make them question the stability of their friendship.  My favorite character is Tabitha because of how down-to-earth she is.  I would rate this book a 10 out of 10.

Submitted by M. H.

Little Peach by Peggy Kern

jacket-aspxIn this novel, a teenage girl named Michelle is facing a life without a real guardian.  Her mother spends her days consuming drugs instead of providing a stable life.  Michelle decides to leave NY in order to get away from her horrid mother.  Once she arrives, she faces a very major issue- prostitution.  She comes to learn how some women are victims of human trafficking.  My favorite character is Michelle because of her bravery, which helped her throughout this novel in every hardship she faced.  I would rate this book a 10 out of 10.  I would recommend this book because of the underlying themes regarding prostitution and human trafficking, issues that aren’t discussed enough.

Submitted by M. H.

Beastkeeper by by Cat Hellisen

jacket-aspxThe following fairy tale revolves around the mystical life of a girl named Sarah and her family.  In the beginning, teenager Sarah wished to acquire magic.   Sarah and her family were always migrating to different locations to avoid the “cold”, or  magic.  Sarah eventually became a teen without a mom, when her mother abandoned her and her father.  Consequently, bad things happened to Sarah’s father including him turning into a beast.  Sarah’s life began to turn upside down when she discovered the magical curses her family was involved in.  Sarah is my favorite character because she represents the majority of the teenage population in my eyes:  She wanted something, got it, and wanted the total opposite afterwards.  This happens to all teens.  I would rate this book an 8 out of 10 only because it is a fairy tale and not something I prefer to read.  I would still recommend it because it is a very interesting book.

Submitted by M. H.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

jacket-aspxEveryone always has a point in their life where they break down and don’t have the motivation to move on in life.  Similarly, a teenager named Aaron Soto is dealing with the biggest pain one can experience, the loss of a parent.  Aaron’s father had committed suicide and he is unable to get rid of any of this from his mind.  In the book, Aaron strives to overcome this ingrained sadness within him. He tries to become his old self in order to make his life more stable again.  My favorite character is Aaron Soto because he is very strong as a person.  I would rate this book a 10 out of 10 and recommend it to friends because it persuades teens to face hardships and moments in life with strength.

Submitted by M. H.

%d bloggers like this: