Review of Bridgers: A Parable

Bridgers: A Parable

Title: Bridgers: A Parable
Author: Angie Thompson
Publisher: Quiet Waters Press
Released: November 21, 2017

Summary

Peyton is a boy with a bright future. He attends church, says the right things, and is even reaching his dream of becoming a preacher.

Davonte comes from the wrong side of town. He’s not necessarily a bad kid, and just wants to be left alone, but in school and in town he can tell that people have some opinions about him.

Levi’s the pastor’s son. He knows what he is supposed to do, but he’s shy and nervous, and struggles to stay committed to his faith when pressures arise.

These boys all have the same choice to make, and only one of them steps past expectations and stigmas in order to truly help another in need. The choices they make will influence their entire community.

Review

This book blew me away. To be honest, I skimmed the description and picked it for the cover. It was as much and more than I was expecting. Angie’s characters are amazing, and it’s impossible not to relate to the characters and feel invested in them and their storyline.

Bridgers is based off the story of The Good Samaritan, and it’s one of the best retellings I’ve ever read. It is a powerful story in itself, and also makes the story it’s based on come to life in a new way.

When we hear the words “good Samaritan,” we think “nice person.” We don’t think about the stigmas and expectations that the real Samaritan had to be brave and caring enough to overcome. We don’t think about how caring for another person could have disrupted their life. Bridgers really shows what caring about other people enough to do something about it when they’re hurting might look like in a modern setting we recognize.

The writing style in this book was very unique, and I really enjoyed it. The POV switches are unusual in that it switches from third person for Peyton and Levi to first person for Davonte. I’d never seen that before, but I think it worked very well to distinguish the characters and their perspectives and also make the book very personal for one of them.

The dialogue was spot-on, and I love a book with good, natural dialogue. The book shows and doesn’t tell, which can be a very hard thing to do, even for well-established authors and writers.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Stellae Books. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.

Overall, Bridgers impressed me very much and is going on my list of favorites. I contacted the author and asked if she’d be interested in answering a few questions for a short interview which you can read here.

If You Like

If you like books such as Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, or You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, you will probably enjoy Bridgers: A Parable. 

Let’s Chat!

Have you read many indie-published books? What are your thoughts on books with multiple points of view?

Advertisements

ARC Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Within These Lines

Title: Within These Lines
Author: Stephanie Morrill
Publisher: Blink
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

About The Author

Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. To learn more, see my interview with her.

Summary

Evalina Cassano lives happily with her family in San Francisco until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Taichi and his family are forced to move to the Manzanar internment camp.

Evalina feels she must help Taichi and speaks out more and more against the racism and Japanese internment at home and school.  When Japanese-Americans begin taking sides within the Manzanar camp, Taichi is caught in between and begins to doubt he and his family will stay safe and leave the camp alive. Evalina and Taichi must find a way to stand strong and make it back to each other.

Review

Evalina is an articulate, tenacious girl, much like Piper from the author’s last book. She is angry and confused at the injustice done to her friends and neighbors. She sees the people behind the politics, and is brave enough to speak about what she believes.

Taichi didn’t captivate me at first. For the first third or half of the book, he felt like a sort of bland character. However, later in the book, he really began to develop as a character. He cared about his family and about Evalina, and having his perspective made the book much more real and poignant.

I particularly appreciated the family relationships that were highlighted in this book. Taichi obviously cares very much about his family, and reading about his interactions with his sister was quite enjoyable. Evalina had a little bit more tension in her family relationships. She wasn’t sure if her Italian-American parents would approve of her relationship with Taichi, and tried to keep it a secret.

Stephanie Morrill did a wonderful job writing the point of view switches between Evalina and Taichi. Both had a unique voice and perspective, and tied together very well. I love reading books where the characters have different voices and unique backgrounds, but the overall tone and voice of the book is still regular.

The time period this book was set in, World War II, was a very turbulent and tense time. Within These Lines addresses difficult issues of injustice, racism, and internment camps in a sensitive yet honest way. 

Overall, this book had beautiful writing, well-developed characters, a wonderful ending, and deftly handles some difficult topics. I’m not going to give away spoilers, but I will say that towards the finish both Evalina and Taichi had a lot at stake, and the ending was satisfying but a little bit surprising. Within These Lines is written for young adult readers, but I think this book will also appeal to adult readers that enjoy historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of Within These Lines for review from Blink through Netgalley. This did not impact my review in any way and all opinions expressed are my own.

If You Like

I would recommend this book to fans of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, and Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read The Lost Girl of Astor Street? Are you planning on reading Within These Lines? What are your thoughts on WWII fiction?

Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Title: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Author: Andrew Peterson

Summary

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby have the secret of the lost legend and jewels of King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera. The wicked Fangs of Dang have crossed the Dark Sea of Darkness and taken over Anniera, and the children, along with their dog Nugget, must escape their pursuit and brave horned hounds, the Black Carriage, Glipwood Forest, Peet the Sock Man, and the terrible toothy cows.

Review

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness tells a well-paced story full of character and courage. It has enough character uniqueness and development to satisfy those who love character-driven stories, and an intriguing and fast-paced plot to satisfy those who read a book for the plot.

This story is filled with outlandish names, an unusual world, and funny footnotes that serve to both entertain and explain Anniera and its customs.  We are thrown right into the world of Anniera, which can be disorienting, but the quirky writing style and well-used description make the world feel real and important.

I appreciated that despite the light tone and fast-paced plot, the characters’ struggles feel important and real. Janner, Tink, and Leeli all have unique personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Their grandfather is a wise and quirky ex-pirate. Their mother is a loving, strong, and hard-working woman.

I also particularly liked the rich and authentic family relationships in this book. Often in teen and middle grade fiction, families are dysfunctional, not present, or treated as trivial and annoying. In On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, we see how even through their struggles and perils, the Igibys love each other and lean on each other.

This story has many layers. The fear and suffering of the people in Anniera. The struggle of good versus evil. The realization that you can’t judge a person by how they look.  The struggle to fight for what is right when most prefer to turn a blind eye on the injustice.

If You Like

If you liked the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, the Hobbit series by J. R. R. Tolkien, or the Green Ember series by S. D. Smith, you will probably enjoy this book.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness? What did you think? Have you noticed that lack of healthy family relationships in teen and middle grade fiction?

Book Review: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Title: Chasing Jupiter

Author: Rachel Coker

Publisher: Zondervan

Summary

Chasing Jupiter begins in the summer of 1969. Scarlett Blaine is sixteen, and lives in a small town in Georgia. Scarlett’s younger brother Cliff is often overlooked or misunderstood because of his autism, so when asks for a rocket, she is determined  to make his wish come true. She starts baking and selling pies to make money to build his rocket.

Although her summer starts out well, it quickly become busy and turbulent when her Grandpop Barley declines mentally, older sister Juli causes strain in the family, and Scarlett finds herself struggling between childhood and adulthood and struggling with family, love, and what her future should look like.

Review

I first discovered Chasing Jupiter when I was doing research on young authors that got a reputable publisher. Rachel Coker wrote her first book, Interrupted, when she was 14, and it was published by Zondervan about a year later. Chasing Jupiter followed in 2012. It’s always fun to read books by talented young authors, and Chasing Jupiter did not disappoint.

I thought that Rachel Coker did a wonderful job providing emotional depth to the story. Although the plotting leaves something to be desired, the characters are well-developed and likeable. Overall, my favorite aspect of the story was how real it felt. It faced the fact that life isn’t perfect, and not every ending is happily-ever-after while achieving a satisfying yet plausible ending.

If You Like

If you like character-driven books with happy endings or books like Anne of Green Gables, Ella Enchanted, or American Street, you might enjoy Chasing Jupiter. 

Let’s Chat!

Have you read Chasing Jupiter? Have you come across other interesting books by young authors?

Ten Favorite Book Characters

As a reader, I think characters are one of the most important parts of a book. We care about the characters; we pick up the sequels to see what becomes of the characters. We love a strong, relatable character and leave a flat, annoying character. These ten characters are some of my favorite characters in fiction. They are often complex and flawed, they have problems and they try to find solutions, and they are interesting and unique.

Kira from Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: Kira is crippled, and when her mother dies, she is at the mercy of the manipulative Council of Guardians in a town where the weak are killed or cast out. She is reserved, but not shy or complaining, and she is an intelligent and strong character who acknowledges her weaknesses and strives to be a light in her dark, fearful, trustless community. I think Kira is one of Lois Lowry’s most complex, interesting, layered, and relatable characters.

Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is a fascinating character. She thinks she is doing the right thing and deserves to be in charge, but really, she is a manipulative, frightening, power-hungry, and evil queen.  She is completely twisted and blinded, and in Levana Marissa Meyer has created a villain of the best sort.

Logan from the Swipe series by Evan Angler is a scaredy-cat with good reason. I appreciated seeing a character that developed over the course of the series, but didn’t get to the end of the story and have a completely new personality and be a perfect, outgoing, kind and wonderful person.

Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is renowned, and I probably don’t need to repeat why. I loved Scout because I can very much identify with her drive for justice and distaste for not knowing what’s going on or who is telling the truth.

Lucy from Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo has an unusual identity crisis. (I know, I know, all YA characters have an identity crisis and they all follow pretty much the same pattern. This doesn’t.) Lucy washed onto shore on an island in Scillies with amnesia and no memories, no backstory, and no family. She must discover who she is over the course of the story with the help of a kindly fisherman and his family.

Nisha from The Night Diaries: Nisha is a sweet,sensitive girl confused by the turmoil in her world. I enjoyed getting to know her in The Night Diaries.

Henry from 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson: Henry is an unusual character. He is an eccentric and awkward boy, but he is also the typical adventure hero with energy, bravery, something to overcome, something to defeat, and a sidekick.

Sonia from You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins is a book-loving, cause-supporting, opinionated girl, and I wrote a post about her and the other characters in You Bring the Distant Near in this book review.

Chess from The Fog Diver is a daring, precocious character trying to survive on a makeshift raft as he dives down beneath the fog to salvage what is left of the world before his. He is perfectly suited for his setting, and was a very entertaining character.

 Charles Wallace from the A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle: Charles Wallace is a brilliant, quiet boy who knows everyone and whom everyone thinks they know. He is the best kind of character: one who is flawed and sometimes wrong, yet ultimately comes to realize and acknowledge that fact and find a way to overcome their obstacles.

Let’s chat!

Who are some of your favorite characters? Do you prefer plot-driven or character-driven stories? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Review: The Night Diaries by Veera Hiranandani

Title: The Night Diaries

Author: Veera Hiranandani

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary

In The Night Diaries, Nisha receives a diary on her 12th birthday and turns to writing to make sense of her world during the Partition of India in 1947. She writes about her love of cooking, her family, and her confusion and fear as gaining independence from Britain has split her country into two parts and her family is forced to move to a new home.  While Muslims and Hindus used to live side by side peacefully, her country is split and there is one part for Muslims and another for Hindus.

Review

Veera Hiranandani shows us the turbulent historical period of the Partition of India from the perspective of a young girl, and well balances details of this event and Nisha’s personal thoughts, ideas, and struggles. Her pacing and storytelling is wonderful, and although she keeps the story real, she also keeps it hopeful. Nisha’s story is told with enough detail that readers with little or no knowledge about the Partition of India can understand it, yet the story is still interesting and coherent.

I appreciated how Veera Hiranandani shows us how Nisha recognized the changes in her world, and her wondering what it might be like if things were different, if her mother were alive, or if she could still see people and not try to figure out if they were Muslim or Hindu and if they could stay or had to go.

 The Night Diaries is epistolary, written as a series of letters by Nisha. Although I don’t always like stories written in letters, I think this format was a good choice for this story. It allows the author to share details and Nisha’s thoughts and feelings that help us understand her and her time better without feeling like the story is being interrupted.

If You Like…

If you enjoyed Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, or The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley, you will like The Night Diaries. While targeted toward children, The Night Diaries should interest anyone who likes learning about historical events, likes to get to know a character, and appreciates outstanding storytelling.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read The Night Diaries? Do you like historical fiction?

Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Title: You Bring the Distant Near

Author: Mitali Perkins

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

Summary

This book follows three generations of Indian-American women and their struggles with culture, friendship, family, love, race, and identity. It opens in 1965 when Ranee Das and her two daughters, Sonia and Tara, are moving to the United States where Mr. Das has found work. It follows the lives of Sonia and Tara as they adjust to a new culture and school, pursue their dreams, fall in love, and grieve over their father’s death. About halfway through, the book begins following the lives of Anna, Tara’s daughter, and Chantal, Sonia’s daughter.

Review

You Bring the Distant Near is certainly a character-driven book, but it is my no means uninteresting. Mitali Perkins does a wonderful job of crafting an interesting and inspiring story, of making us care about her characters and feel like we know them. She shows us her characters’ hopes, dreams, failures, and flaws; their greatest joys and their greatest struggles.

Tara has always wanted to act, but her mother expects her to marry or become an engineer or doctor, like a good Bengali girl. Anna, Tara’s daughter, just started attending her cousin’s school in America and struggles with feeling overshadowed by her cousin Chantal. Chantal comes alongside her cousin and makes her feel welcome in the school, even though she doesn’t share in Anna’s personal struggles.

Mitali Perkins gracefully and honestly addresses issues of race, prejudice, and relationships in You Bring the Distant Near. She acknowledges these important part of her characters’ stories and struggles, and represents her characters admirably.

You Bring the Distant Near is one of my favorite books, for the characters, the settings, the struggles, and the writing. It tells a story that many can enjoy, and also identify with. It has received awards and acknowledgements such as the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Boston Globe Best Book of the Year, and South Asia Book Award. I would recommend this book to fans of Piecing Me Together, The Hate U Give, Salt to the Sea, and American Street, as well as  anyone who enjoys beautiful story full of character


Let’s chat!

Have you read You Bring the Distant Near? Do you prefer character-driven or plot-driven stories?