“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”, Part 1: Summary (Book Review)

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a Young Adult, Fiction novel, by Stephanie Oakes. Published by Dial Books, it is a novel of 400 pages. Though there is no action in the book, the mystery of who killed the Prophet, as well as the practices in the cult, will keep your interest until the last page.

The story begins when Minnow Bly, the main character, attempts to kill a boy, named Philip, after stressing her. “I am a blood-soaked girl,” is how the novel begins, and is what makes the readers want to keep turning the pages. A few pages later, the police are there in order to provide medical assistance to Philip, and to arrest Minnow. They are ready to handcuff Minnow, but there is a small issue — Minnow doesn’t have any hands…

Flashbacks throughout the book reveal to us what had happened earlier. Minnow is a seventeen-year-old, who has just escaped the cult which she was in for the past twelve years of her life. The cult has unusual practices and beliefs. However, the characters don’t refer to it as “cult,” but rather “Community.” The Community is run by the Prophet, named Kevin. His followers refer to themselves as “Kevinians,” in the name of their prophet. The Prophet claims that once, he had met a janitor who was named Charlie, and that he was God. He also claimed that Charlie had told him that he was chosen to write and share his words.

Life in the Community is much different than in the real world. Every day, people wake up early and start doing their chores. Some people milk the cows, and some others clean and do other chores. Every man has multiple wives, so the families are very large, each one having more than ten children. This cult has many strict beliefs. For example, the Prophet claims that women cannot read books, since they are creations of the Devil. We later learn that he wants to keep them illiterate, so they will not be able to read his notes. The believers cannot listen to music, nor do anything that goes against the Prophet’s rules. Whoever doesn’t follow the rules shall see the consequences — the Prophet’s sadistic practices.

That is what happened to Minnow. Since she was considered older, the Prophet wanted to marry her, adding to his other eight wives. Minnow refuses, but the Prophet insists. Therefore, Minnow attempts to escape the Community. When the Prophet’s men catch her, she is sent to the Prophet. The Prophet orders Minnow’s biological father to cut off her hands, and after much debate, he does so.

One day, a fire starts in the Community. Minnow is able to escape into the forest and run to civilization. She attempts to save her sister, but she sees that her father has already gotten her. When she reaches civilization, Philip causes distress to Minnow. Being much exhausted, traumatized, and having witnessed a fire, Minnow is not very patient. Though she does not have any hands, that doesn’t get in the way of kicking Philip, almost to death. Minnow escapes, and the Prophet is mysteriously murdered.

Minnow is sent to a juvenile prison, where she becomes friends with her cellmate, Angel. Not true to her name, Angel had murdered her uncle, giving her the longest sentence of all the prisoners. An FBI agent, referred to as Dr. Wilson, has taken interest in Minnow. He wants to find out who has murdered the Prophet, in return of giving back her freedom. Did anyone in the Community survive? Will Minnow get out of prison? Did Minnow kill the Prophet? Will Dr. Wilson ever know the truth?

 

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Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (Book Review)

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When Mimi and her family move to Vermont in 1969, it is still a mostly white state. She is judged because of her appearance but also because of her dreams. A woman astronaut is practically unheard of but one who is half-Japanese half-African American is a crazy thought and that’s what people tell Mimi. Science is her passion but because she is a girl nobody, except her parents, support her.

On the first day of school, Mimi meets a girl named Stacey who treats her like an actual human being. While they are in class they get caught passing notes and get put in after school detention. When Stacey’s mom pulls into the parking lot, she doesn’t even glance at Mimi and her father. After this, Stacey starts hanging out at Mimi’s house but never invites her over to her house. Mimi eventually finds out this is because Stacey’s mom doesn’t like African Americans and doesn’t approve of their friendship. This doesn’t stop them though, they continue to hang out and grow closer and closer.

Mimi soon finds out that just because Stacey accepts her doesn’t mean everyone else will. She gets bullied in school and accused of stealing. This new town isn’t all bad though — Mimi’s neighbor is a boy her age and they quickly become friends. He helps her through hard times and stays with her when the town starts to accept her family.

Mimi and her family bring new ideals to this little town in Vermont and change the people’s views about being different.

I liked this book because it really opens your eyes to how hard it was for different people to live in a time when diversity was not accepted. It also shows you that if you believe in yourself you can do whatever you put your mind to.

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.

“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.