Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
Gr. 4-5. Efrén’s parents work hard to make a good life for their kids. Efrén is worried about them though–both of his parents are undocumented immigrants. One day, when his mom doesn’t come home from work, his worst nightmare proves to be true: his Amá was captured by ICE and deported to Mexico. It is up to Efrén and his dad to get her back, with Efrén now taking on a lot more responsibility taking care of his younger siblings, who just miss their mom.

I just want to give Efrén (and his whole family) big hugs. This book explores immigration laws, while also speaking about current events and the past and current political climate. Pairs well with Three Keys by Kelly Yang.


Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (teen)
Gr. 10+. Ada shares her story by moving back and forth in time: from her childhood to her current revelations during her first year at college. Ada captures memories from her childhood: being abused by her cousin, her mother’s addiction, her attempts to understand her body and where she fits in among her peers. In college, Ada is working to figure out who she is and where she belongs with a little more freedom–particularly when she is finally able to embrace dancing.

This felt quick, possibly due to being written in verse, but was packed with emotion and passion. I had to concentrate a bit more than usual to follow the time jumps, but that just made me more immersed in the work. Looking forward to reading more by this author.


A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
Gr. 4-6. Shayla just wants to make it through seventh grade with her best friends and maybe a new boyfriend. But everything is different. Julia is hanging out with a new group of girls (her “squad”), the boy she likes doesn’t seem to know she exists (and another, more annoying boy, does), her sister is wrapped up in protests, and now her gym teacher wants her to join the track team. Shay doesn’t want to make waves, but to keep moving forward, she is going to have to decide if, maybe, some rules are worth breaking and some things are worth standing up for.

I really appreciate Shay’s character development. She wasn’t my favorite character for more than a half the novel–her self-absorbed attitude was starting to grate at me. But her personality is honest and reflective in a way that may have felt fake if Shay came across as always kind instead. It allows for growth, related to Black Lives Matter and Shay learning why she needs to stand up for what is right, but also for those tween girl struggles (crushes, friendships, new hobbies).


Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (teen)
Gr. 9+. Enchanted Jones wants to be a singer. She has the voice for it, but she isn’t so sure her family can spare her so she can pursue a music career. She tries out for a singing show and is turned away–but legendary R&B artist Korey Fields is in the audience. And he thinks she has potential. Not just that–but he seems to like her. No matter that he is over ten years older than her–he is a star, and he could make her famous. Enchanted is pulled into his world, but she quickly discovers there is a dark side to Korey and all that he offers.

Wow, that was an experience! Told in alternating timelines, chronicling Korey’s horrifying manipulation of Enchanted (and eventual kidnapping and rape) and also a time in the future where Korey is dead–and Enchanted seems to be to blame. On the surface this is a mystery thriller, but there is so much more nuance here with twisting conversations about power dynamics, rape, the treatment of Black girls, the music industry, violence, and trauma. This one will stay with me for a while.

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Iggy Is Better Than Ever by Annie Barrows
Gr. 2-3. Iggy makes mistakes–sometimes those mistakes are bad decisions, but this isn’t one of those books where the main character is punished and learns a lesson. This is just a book about Iggy, some gardening tape, a basketball, and a bike. What could possibly go wrong?

Another fun Iggy adventure. I really appreciate the humor here–this would be well appreciated by both kids and adults during a family read aloud.


The Magic Eraser by Aaron Starmer
Gr. 3-4. Carson Cooper discovers two things on his first day of fourth grade: a note claiming that Locker 37 at Hopewell Elementary is magical and a mysterious stain located in an unfortunate place on his pants. The note might solve his problem–inside Locker 37, Carson discovers an eraser that, when rubbed three times, makes anything disappear. Can Carson use the eraser to fix his pants? What happens when the rest of the fourth grade discovers the magic of the eraser too?

Another series I’ve read out of order, but I’m glad to have picked up Locker 37 simply for its readalike potential. I enjoyed the second book more than this one, but this is an easy readalike for fans of Wimpy Kid, Terrible Two, and even Klawde the Evil Alien Warlord Cat.

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