Challenger Deep- Book Review

Cover of the book Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Review by laurae87

Caden Bosch thinks too much. As a fifteen-year-old struggling with schizophrenia and anxiety, life is one confusing mess of hallucinations and worried thoughts. With the growing concern of his family, Caden takes too many painkillers, eats too little, and paces around the house in a dissociated state. At school, his test scores are dropping, and his paranoia is rising. School becomes a place that triggers panic, so Caden starts skipping classes, and instead, walks around town. His “thought-voices” torment him and make him think unpleasant thoughts. Caden is slowly losing his grip on reality. His parents notice his unusual (and worrying) behavior and admit him into a psychiatric ward. There, he meets other teens who are battling their own mental illnesses. He slowly becomes friends with some of the teens, and tries to help them with their struggles, along with getting better himself. However, one situation that occurs is so shocking that Caden doesn’t know if he will be swallowed whole by the gaping jaws of schizophrenia, or if he’ll manage to get out alive. Will Caden have the courage and strength to battle his mental illness and win, for now? To find out and follow Caden through his journey, read Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This novel is about courage, self-reflection, and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia, mania, and anxiety. Challenger Deep lets people who have been there know that they are not alone in their struggles. In the last pages of the novel, Shusterman provides resources and help for those dealing with mental illness.

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“See Me” by Nicholas Sparks Book Review

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Review by: dancingforever27
This month, I read the novel See Me by Nicholas Sparks. Sparks has published around twenty books, and ten of them have been produced into movies such as The Notebook. This book surely does account to the exquisite love story of those other pieces of literature.

This narrative focuses on two characters through alternating third-person omniscience that varies each chapter.

Colin Hancock is the leading male character with a history of impulses that have gotten him in trouble with the police. He has been granted, by the authorities, five year probation to erase all of his criminal records, but a single petty offense could have him locked up for all of his charges.

Maria Sanchez, on the other hand, is a working daughter of a family that immigrated from Mexico. Speculated, everything in her life is met with awards, recognition, and success. She works at a law firm in Wilmington, North Carolina. Eventually, the reader comes to find out that this job has caused her trauma with their brutally aggressive cases.

In the first chapters, the reader is able to observe how the characters come to find one another, simply described as quite standoffish. The scene is set to be a rainy night where Maria has a flat tire on a stretch of road with little to no cars. Colin approaches Maria, tattoos and bruises laced across his body, offering assistance.She is immediately frightened as she suspects he could take her life without anyone knowing out in the middle of nowhere. Colin notices her terror and allots a large space in between them for her comfort, which helps her later trust him.

Shortly enough, the two twenty-eight year olds meet again and their love story begins. They are able to test how horrid tragedies, mainly involving a stalker, can either bring them together, or make them part ways.

All in all, this story has a roller coaster of a plot line, where every chapter has a new addition to the mystery of who is leaving mysterious signs for Maria.

This book also demonstrates consistency in many cases, especially through characters’ actions, to make it more compelling to the readers. Barney, one of Maria’s bosses, always stands or sits up straighter when he is feeling nervous or on the wrong side of an accusation. Colin frequently says “Okay.” whenever there is an open ended statement requiring advice or further explaining. This tells the readers that he does not provide life assistance or advice, is always honest, and excepts the limits of what people will confess to him.

With the fact that Sparks used great character development, made careful decisions when choosing what actions those people would perform that stay true to their identity, and provides a love story while menacing messages are  produced, I would absolutely rate this book 10/10.

(This book will be rated for somewhat older audiences for intimacy. However, nothing is ever described in detail and is mainly only referred to.)

Ages 14+

Giant Days Series

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Review by: laurae87

Giant Days, an on-going comic book series by John Allison, Max Sarin, and Lissa Treiman, follows Esther, Daisy, and Susan throughout their journey of interesting college situations.

The three college freshmen, although having vastly different personalities, end up becoming close friends due to being assigned in adjacent residence hall rooms. Esther de Groot enjoys listening to black metal, boxing, and dressing in gothic fashion, all while emitting a “drama field” and trying to recover from a recent relationship breakup. Daisy Wooton is an innocent, loving, and trusting optimist who tries to resolve problems with pacifism. Susan Ptolemy is a realist medical student who is trying to forget her ex. All three girls have very different backstories and dispositions, but they share three main things in common: friendship, attempts at self-discovery, and relationship problems. Once the girls are finally done settling in to college life, though, everything changes. Esther gains a secret admirer, Susan’s ex comes back into her life, and Daisy finds a love interest that might just turn her world upside-down! Find out what happens next in Giant Days!

I recommend this series to teens and college students. While high-school-age teenagers may not relate to the troubles of college life, they will, however, relate to the main characters and the crazy (but realistic) ordeals that everyday life manages to throw at them. Overall, this is my favorite comic book series and I enjoy reading it due to its relatability, comedic elements, art style, and interesting character development.

 

A Walk In The Sun by Michelle Zink

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Review by: fmarie0112

A Walk in the Sun by Michelle Zink follows Rose Darrow through her eventful summer on her family farm. Her mother had recently passed away and ever since, Rose’s plans for the future have been completely altered. Her once-attentive father is consumed by grief, and her friends are getting ready for the adventures that come after high school. Rose resigns herself to hold her small world together – until a ranch hand is hired to help out over the summer.
Bodhi Lowell left home as a kid and hasn’t looked back since. Years of working farm jobs has given him the one thing he wants most: freedom to travel without answering to anyone. He’s already looking past his job at Darrow Farm and plans on leaving in September – until he meets Rose.
Neither Rose nor Bodhi can deny the sparks flying between them, but with the end of summer looming, they must decide if it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
I read this book in one day on a road trip to New York. It is the first book I have read by Michelle Zink and I have to say, I wasn’t sure about reading it at first. While I wasn’t initially positive I would like the book, I gave it a try anyway and I was not disappointed. The author does an excellent job of capturing the progression of the relationship over time. In the beginning, Rose is uncomfortable around Bodhi. Due to her mother’s death, she finds it difficult to get close to anyone. But over the course of the summer, Bodhi is able to get Rose to open up. ultimately, he will be the one to help Rose truly recover from her mother death. I would highly recommend picking up this book, it is an easy read and can be found at your local library.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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Review by: fmarie0112

I have only read a handful of Sarah Dessen books, but every time I pick one up I am never disappointed. All of the books I have read by this author have been extraordinary and The Truth About Forever is no exception. The story follows the summer of a young girl named Macy. Macy has her whole summer planned out – working at the library, studying, and spending time with her mother, sharing silent grief at the traumatic loss of her father. One thing she didn’t plan on was landing a job at Wish Catering, with the chaotic crew that feels more like family. Or digging up feelings of the past with the renovation of the families old beach side cottage, left untouched since the death of her father. Or Wes, an artistically talented boy with a past. But Macy soon discovers that the things you expect the least are sometimes the things you need the most.

This book addresses many issues, such as death of a parent, parental stress, peer pressure, and self-expectations. They way that Sarah Dessen skillfully expresses how these obstacles make the character feel and how she ultimately overcomes them creates an interesting plot and character development that makes you want to keep reading to see what happens next. The Truth About Forever would receive a 5/5 rating from me, as would many more of Sarah Dessen’s books. Her stories leave you on the edge of your seat, unable to put the book down until you’ve finished. I would highly recommend you give this book a shot, as well as anything else written by Sarah Dessen.

The Wonder of Us (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson is a dual-perspective novel about two friends traveling around Europe. Abby and Riya have been best friends since preschool, but when Riya moves to Berlin for a year they stop talking. To mend their friendship, Riya decides to invite Abby to do a tour around Europe for two weeks. Abby is really into history and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, so Riya thinks her itinerary will be perfect. Instead of going to the actual wonders, Riya connects other sights to them. The two girls are “chaperoned” by her cousin, whom she finds very annoying.

Abby feels like she barely knows Riya anymore because she acts and dresses differently. Also, she doesn’t seem very anxious to get back to Yuba Ridge, California. During their time apart they have been keeping secrets from each other and this trip will finally bring them out. This secret keeping makes them get into fights on their first stop in Florence.

The next cities they go to are Zurich, Berlin, and Edinburgh. Abby finds out Riya’s life changing secret, can’t handle it, and decides to go back home. Will everything work out or will they stop being friends forever?

I really liked this book because it felt very real since it could happen in real life. The ending even made me sad. I recommend this book because it was interesting and a real page-turner.

Death After Life

 

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The day started well. He had felt a curious sense of calm as he rocked out of the Tempur-pedic, flossed his teeth twice, and made eggs, two of which he fed to the turtle. Six capsules went down with eight ounces of fruit punch, and in a bathrobe, he sat down at his 1963 Remington, and began to type.

By eleven, he had checked email at that infernal laptop. His agent had signed him up for a gig: some ridiculous Christmas farce they were filming next spring. Did he truly look old enough to be that heifer’s grandfather? Sure, she was a Disney starlet, but she was twenty-seven. He Googled her. This depressed him.

Afternoon brought those Asian cleaning ladies around. In accordance, he locked his underwear drawer, where he kept his most precious treasures. Those cleaning people stole everything. Just last week, he noticed two small ornamental statues missing in the foyer, and two months prior, he saw them leave with the vacuum!

Four tablets were swallowed with eight ounces of fruit punch.

At three, he took a shower in the guest bath, and under the water, realized that he’d forgotten a towel. He exited nude and dripping, but for a hand towel lain across his hairy shoulder, and startled a woman with a feather duster on his way to the bedroom. He dressed quickly in a Chinese print button down and slacks, and promptly left.

His driver had the day off, so he drove himself to the hospital. That evening, he would be hosting the black tie opening of its new psychiatric wing.

Seventy doctors, a gaggle of nurses, and the press cheered as he cut the ribbon and led the group inside. Pictures were taken, champagne was passed around, his decade old Oscars were celebrated. The place was beautiful, with walls of glass, botanical gardens, and non-offensive artwork. It put him in a festive mood. He even posted a selfie with the top doc.

On the drive home, lights raced past him smearing like a color palate, and he thought of his wife, who was a painter. She’d be home by now. He looked at his wrist, to check the time, and nearly ran off the road. His watch was gone. Those cleaners! They must have gotten into his underwear drawer after all. Or, perhaps someone at the event had stolen it. There had been quite a lot of drink going around…

As soon as he screeched into the driveway, he ran to his bureau and removed his treasure: seven precious watches, in twenty-four karat gold, in platinum, in diamond. Now, he had a duty to fulfill. He wrapped them delicately in various undergarments, tucked them in a hat, and drove off once more.

His friend took them in like orphans, as he knew she would. He didn’t stay longer than a quick exchange on her door mat. And then he left for home.

Who could you trust in this world? The vast darkness was deep enough to ingest anyone whole. His life was an abyss that swallowed up his blockbuster hits, his fortune, his happiness. Where were the award shows now? Where was the gratitude?

He dressed for bed, pondering this, and kissed his wife on the cheek. She was reading, and smiled at him as he explained that he didn’t want to miss the Tonight show.

Then he went to the bathroom. He did not take his pills.

His hands yearned for a razor blade. What they found was a small pair of scissors.

The next morning, every news headline read: BROCK BOWER, 61, FOUND DEAD IN HIS LOS ANGELES HOME.

 

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