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Teen Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

My name is Jenna. I go to a high school where I’m part of the marching band and the cheerleading squad. I’m pretty busy, but I always find time to read. I’m also very creative and I like doing little crafts out of random things I find.

Chain Reaction by Simone ElkelesChain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Already a lover of the Perfect Chemistry novels, I knew I would love this conclusion to the trilogy. Keep in mind that you could understand the plot of Chain Reaction without reading the first two novels.

Luis Fuentes comes from a family of gang members. His two older brothers, Alex and Carlos, were both involved in the Latino Blood, but the LB is a Chicago gang and Luis now lives in Colorado for the sole reason of avoiding the gang. Luis thought he was safe, but when his mother forces him to move back to Chicago, Luis knows that involvement in the gang is inevitable, despite his family’s protests and his new girlfriend, Nikki’s, love.

This novel is told between two perspectives, Luis’ and Nikki’s, and readers will experience unexpected surprises in both of these young people’s lives. Nikki is falling in love again and Luis discovers the true reason why it seems he has a deep connection with the Latino Blood. The climax of this book will shock everybody. Also, if you were a reader of the previous novels, the epilogue to this book will satisfy and give closure.

If you like a forbidden love story and acceptance of others and yourself, Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles is the novel for you.

Teen Review: Samantha reviews Skinny by Donna Cooner

Samantha – Hi! I’m a 6th grader and really excited to be blogging. I LOVE to read and write so I’m most likely going to have a lot of posts. I’ll give you the most honest reviews possible. I hope you read them!

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny by Donna Cooner is a story I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. It’s about a girl named Ever. Ever is pretty normal except for two things: 1. She has a voice in her head named Skinny who is always lowering her self-confidence. And 2. She weighs over 300 pounds.

Skinny as I’m sure you can guess, is not the nicest person (or illusion), and Ever has been having to put up with her since her mom died. Ever has mostly tried to ignore her weight for most of her life until there is an opportunity for her to make things better again by getting Gastric Bypass surgery.

Ever has let herself be manipulated to believe the things Skinny told her about other people and herself. In the end, Ever realizes that none of it was true. Skinny was blind to other people’s true selves and thought appearances were all that mattered. Ever realizes that who you really are inside is more important than how you look.

I loved this book and I really loved the suspense when she has surgery. Gastric bypass surgery can kill some people, but Ever took that huge risk and survived. I recommend this book to people who have read things like My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

Teen Review: Samantha Reviews Border Town and Burn For Burn

Samantha – Hi! I’m a 6th grader and really excited to be blogging. I LOVE to read and write so I’m most likely going to have a lot of posts. I’ll give you the most honest reviews possible. I hope you read them!

I read two books that are very similar. The main characters in each story both want the same thing: revenge against different boys in their lives. Their relationships with each of these boys is different — whether it’s a boyfriend, just a friend or someone they barely know.

Border Town: Crossing the Line by Malin Alegria

In Crossing the Line by Malin Alegria, Fabiola is excited about having her little sister join her high school until she makes friends (and a boyfriend) with the wrong people. Fabi’s cousin is accused of robbing her father’s immigrant worker but Fabi knows who really did it, and it’s going to break her sister’s heart. Fabi wants to make things right.

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

In Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, three girls were hurt by different people in different ways, and they go through lots of crazy things to get back at them. The three girls, Lillia, Kat and Mary, were strangers to each other at first. They bonded because they all wanted the same thing. Kat wants revenge on her best childhood friend who is now her worst enemy and making her life miserable in high school. Mary wants revenge on the boy who made her so miserable that she had to leave the island she called home. Lillia wants revenge on her best friend for hurting her little sister.

These books were amazing, and Crossing the Line even had some Spanish (which I thought was really cool), and I definitely recommend both books for readers ages 12 and up. The things in both books were so crazy that you can never really imagine them happening in real life. I don’t see things like this in my world, but it’s scary to think there are other kids who do see things like this.

Teen Review: Samantha Reviews 3 Very Different Books

Samantha – Hi! I’m a 6th grader and really excited to be blogging. I LOVE to read and write so I’m most likely going to have a lot of posts. I’ll give you the most honest reviews possible. I hope you read them!


When I was at overnight camp, I read a lot of books. But there are three that are from three different time periods that I am going to compare and share with you.

The first book is Night by Elie Wiesel. Night is a true story about the Holocaust from a child’s point-of-view. The cool thing about this story is that the author is the main character and it’s really amazing that he remembers everything from so long ago so clearly that he can write it down in great detail. I really liked this book because I am very interested in the Holocaust, however it might be too scary for some people. Also if you like books like Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Devils Arithmetic, or Number The Stars you would like this book.

The second book is The List by Siobhan Vivian. The List is realistic fiction and takes place in your average high school. Every chapter is told by a different person on “The List”, a list of the prettiest and the ugliest girls of each grade. Everyone has a different reaction to “The List”. One girl was happy she got ugliest junior, and one girl was sad she got prettiest senior. I loved this book because it made me think about how high school might be for me in 3 years (I hope it’s not like this!). I recommend you keep an eye out for this book. It will be out soon.

The third and final book is Starters by Lissa Price. Starters takes place in the future in a world where you are either young and extremely poor or very old (like 150 years old) and rich. A couple years earlier, a bomb hit a town that killed anyone who wasn’t vaccinated for it (everyone between the ages of 30 and 60) killing the parents of a young girl named Callie. Three years later, Callie and her sick little brother are living on the streets. Callie felt helpless until she found a company that would pay her to lend them her body and put her in a temporary coma while an old person (with the help of technology) would rent out her body and pretend to be her. Everything is going great until something goes wrong on her third body rental which causes her to be awake during certain times in her rental. This causes Callie to get in lots of trouble. Read it to find out more! Like The List, I loved this book.

Now that I have explained the three books, I have a question to ask: Which time period is the best? Why? I think the past is the best because it’s interesting to learn about how things used to be and think about what it would be like if it were still like that now.

Interview with Siobhan Vivian, Author of The List

In this video, teen volunteer Jenna interviews local author Siobhan Vivian about her book The List, which chronicles the lives of eight young women who have been identified as each grade’s hottest–or ugliest–girl at their school. Watch it below!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Girls Against Girls

“She’s my best friend. God, I hate her.” -Veronica Sawyer, in Heathers

Just about everyone has been the victim (or the perpetrator) of bullying at some point. Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton delves into the particularly devious ways that girls bully each other.

Do we bully each other because:

We’re biologically hardwired to act this way. According to some researchers, sneaky passive-aggressive behaviors are instinctive to girls. Female primates bully other females in their group by interrupting their normal behaviors such as resting, feeding, or mating. This reduces their fertility and their social status in the group.

We are taught by our culture to be underhanded. Our culture doesn’t like to deal with angry, opinionated women. We learn to dismiss our problems and feelings and say, “Oh, it’s all right” or “I’m fine” when we are really anything but. When we try to bury strong emotions, they simmer under the surface until they reach a point where we start engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors.

We learn it from the women in our lives. We observe older women acting this way, or maybe receive this kind of treatment at the hands of an older woman. Like many abused or otherwise disempowered people, we make ourselves feel better by doing the same thing to others.

We feel a need to compete, 24-7. We are constantly scanning the horizon to see who is prettier than us, who has nicer clothes, cooler friends, or a better life.

Read this book if you want to break the cycle. A good place to start is remembering that you have no idea what someone else has lived through.

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”

-Tao Te Ching

If you’re interested, check out this book, too:

Sara Dora CLP-Hazelwood

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