Mini-Reviews{18}

Posted August 29, 2016 by Stormy in Book Reviews, Books / 0 Comments

1. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

War that Saved My Life

 Summary:

An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

Thoughts: 

I wasn’t sure what a middle grade novel set during WWII would look like, but what I got with The War That Saved My Life was nothing at all like I had been expecting. The book follows Ada and her brother as they take the country side to stay safe from the threat of bombs on London. Unlike most WWII stories, the war improves Ada’s life. Suddenly, she finds herself living with an adult who takes care of her(despite the crankiness), in stark contrast to her abusive mother. The abuse that Ada suffered at her mother’s hands is quite horrific, though not detailed. The War That Saved My Life is a quiet book about how Ada, Jamie, and Susan make each other better, despite the horrific backdrop of the war and the threat that Ada’s mother might fetch them to come home some day. I ended up racing through this book and thought it was exceptionally well-done. 4/5 stars.

2. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Girl Against the Universe

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.

Summary:

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

Thoughts: 

Girl Against the Universe was my first Paula Stokes book, and it was a success! This book just hit all my YA contemporary high points. It isn’t fluffy, but it isn’t a completely serious book either. Maguire deals with some very real issues. She has anxiety to the point of almost locking herself away from the world in order to keep everyone around her safe. There are some lengthy, real discussions about Maguire’s mental health and where she is(including some excellent scenes with her therapist). But there’s also a lot of heartwarming moments too, especially between Maguire and Jordy(as well as some excellent “aww” inducing family moments). It’s a book about people fighting for their happy ending, and I tend to love that kind of book. 4/5 stars.

3. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.

Summary:

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Thoughts:

My first impression upon finishing this book was how authentic the voice felt. I loved Jo’s narration. It felt contemporary and realistic while still being interesting. In some ways, it reminded me of the voice in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda — not because the two characters are anything alike(they aren’t–and if you go in expecting that, you’ll be disappointed) — but because in both books the narrative voice felt so true to the characters and the story. That alone makes this book a worthwhile read, but there’s a lot of other good stuff here too. The book deals with some serious themes, but it’s also pretty light-hearted, which is sadly missing in most f/f YA contemporary. Jo is fairly devout to her religion, and the theme of identity as it pertained to both sexual orientation and faith was probably the best thing about this book. On a more minor note, I also felt like the southern setting really came through in a way it doesn’t always. Plus, Mary Carlson, with the double first name alone, is a big indicator of how southern this book is. 4/5 stars.

 

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