Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Published: February 26th, 2013

Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor. Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”

This book is extremely important for a young reader to have. I’m kind of sad it came out when I was graduating high school. If there’s one lesson I learned in life, kids can be mean. All through middle school, kids will gang up on you for the simplest yet stupidest thing in the world. For Eleanor, it was hair. Big, curly, fiery red hair. I feel Eleanor’s pain in this book because the thing in middle school kids made fun of me for was…my hair. Too frizzy, too curly, too thick. Eleanor took it much better than I did. She came to a new school while returning home with her mom, stepfather, and four siblings after being kicked out by her stepfather a year ago. She wasn’t the best looking girl, and she got made fun of on her first day. That’s when she met Park. She rode next to him on the bus to and from school. It started when Park noticed that Eleanor was reading the same comics as him, and it blossomed into this beautiful relationship. However, Eleanor wasn’t just living a rough life at school, it was a rough life at home too. Richie, her stepfather, was abusive physically to Eleanor’s mom, but also emotionally and verbally to Eleanor. He’s a real scumbag. I really, really hated him. Park and his parents come to the rescue many times when Eleanor just needs somewhere to be for a few hours…until it becomes to be too much for her. Park helps her out of Omaha and takes her somewhere safe. Thank God for Park.

I would like to say to all young-adult readers: This book will change the outlook on a lot of things. It is written beautifully and really could help a child that is getting bullied that isn’t sure of what to do. I would recommend this book to any parent that is struggling with a child getting bullied. Help them. They need it.

Rating: ★★★★★

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Published: January 6th, 2015

“Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.”

All I can say is wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I did not expect this book to be the way it was. I thought it was going to be a funny, young-adult quick read that I would easily forget about. Jennifer Niven makes it so that the reader will never forget this book. It is so serious, yet comical and romantic. It was truly beautiful. It’s gripping and intense right from the beginning, and you will not be able to put it down. Violet is an ex-cheerleader/popular girl that survives a car crash that kills her sister. Theodore Finch is a kid that doesn’t have the best home life but tries to make the best out of every situation. Violet is scared to drive and bikes/walks everywhere. Finch is unstable to say the least. They meet on a bell tower where Violet doesn’t know where she is, and Finch wonders what it would be like to jump. Finch ends up saving Violet’s life, but as word spreads around school, it seems that people think it’s the other way around. Theodore Finch is also known as ‘Freak’, so Violet knows that they both have baggage. They find love, and find the power over fear. This book grabbed my attention from the start, and I would recommend this book to a young-adult that is looking for a quick read with a fascinating story.

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful By Alice Hoffman

Published: November 1st, 2016

“Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night. Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.”

This book was pretty heavy. You learn in the beginning that two friends, Shelby and Helene, are in a car accident. Helene’s life is pretty much over, bedridden and unable to move or speak. Shelby has a lot of survivor’s guilt and treats her life like it’s the worst thing in the world. She wishes it were her instead of Helene, and tries to show everyone, including her parents, that. This book does have a few triggers in it, so be careful of that. There is a rape scene in the beginning, so take care of yourselves. Alice Hoffman wrote a wonderful tale about luck running out, just to be found again. Faithful takes you through Shelby’s life as she learns to how to take care of herself. Sure, there’s a few bumps on the way, but it’s Shelby’s obligation to figure out how to overcome them. The ending of this book was the best part. I didn’t like how slow this book was in the beginning, but it did provide a moving feeling to the reader at the end. This was a powerful book to show how to rise up through tragedy.

About The Author:
Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Rating: ★★★★

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Published: September 23rd, 2003

“Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer. In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

I had to read this book in high school my freshman year. I didn’t like reading back then, so I could barely get through it. I did get through it, and I’m glad I did. However, now as a senior in college, I decided to try it again and see if anything changed. The only thing that changed in this sense was my age, and how I took the premise of this book. When I read it the first time, I didn’t find it as spiritual then as I do now. I really feel that connection more now with religion in this book. I never really saw it before, but as I’ve grown, there’s definitely more in this book that could’ve been understood differently back then. I hate how Eddie dies, it makes me fear ferris wheels even more now. But other than that, this book was so wonderful and well-written that I’m glad I read it back then, and read it again now.

About The Author:
Mitchell David Albom is an author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.

Rating: ★★★★★

Save The Date By Mary Kay Andrews

Published: June 3rd, 2014

“A wedding florist finds love and trouble in this delightful new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Ladies’ Night. A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn’t believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all. Told with Mary Kay Andrew’s trademark wit and keen eye for detail, mark your calendars for Save the Date!”

I absolutely adore the premise of this story. It’s something you never really hear of, something that hasn’t been done that much. Cara Kryzik is a florist in downtown Savannah with a cute little flower shop. There’s one thing about Cara to remember: she doesn’t believe in love. She creates these beautiful arrangements for weddings, and it’s the one thing she’s absolutely against. When her dog Poppy goes missing, she searches around Savannah trying to find him. That’s when she meets Jack, who insists that his dog is actually his dog, Shaz, and not Poppy. Their relationship starts out rough, not liking each other the least bit, but of course (like always), their enemy relationship turns to a loving one. Does Jack change Cara’s mind about love? I loved this book. Absolutely love. Would recommend 100%.

Rating: ★★★★★

Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews

Published: June 5th, 2012

“Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless.  They’ve been divorced for four years, she’s engaged to a new, terrific guy, and she’s ready to leave the small town where she and Mason had so much history.  She is so over Mason that she has absolutely no problem attending his wedding to the beautiful, intelligent, delightful Celia.  But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called to a halt as the bride is literally walking down the aisle, Annajane begins to realize that maybe she’s been given a second chance.  Maybe everything happens for a reason.  And maybe, just maybe, she wants Mason back.  But there are secrets afoot in this small southern town.  On the peaceful surface of Hideaway Lake, Annajane discovers that the past is never really gone.  Even if there are people determined to keep Annajane from getting what she wants, happiness might be hers for the taking, and the life she once had with Mason in this sleepy lake town might be in her future.”

This is my favorite book ever. I don’t think I’ve read another book that has struck me like this book has. It starts out with Annajane Hudgens at her ex-husbands funeral. If that doesn’t grab your attention, what can? So many questions flooded my mind immediately. Why are they divorced? Who’s he getting married to? Did someone cheat? Do they have any kids? Who is the new wife? I needed to keep reading to find out. I finished this book in two days. I couldn’t put it down. This story was so angsty and emotional, but showed love in its purest form. I would read this book over and over and over again. Mary Kay Andrews is one of my favorite authors, so I might have a favoritism towards her, but anyone who can read would love this book.

Rating: ★★★★★

Room by Emma Donoghue

Published: September 13th, 2010

“To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work. Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.”

I cried a lot reading this book. I am naturally an emotional mess when something sad happens, but this book was especially heavy in the sense of dread and protectiveness. Jack is a little five year old boy who has never left this little room in his entire life. The same story for the boy’s mother for the last seven years. They eat, sleep, and bathe in this little room. I’ve wanted to kill characters in books before, but oh my god, I never wanted to kill one more in my life than I did him. Jack is Old Nick’s son, and ‘Ma’s’ kidnapper. I can guarantee that you will want to kill him too when you read about the things he has done to this boy’s mother and him. The story is absolutely beautiful when you get to see Jack’s imagination run wild. He makes light of his situation, and you get to see how beautiful he makes his life in his mind. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks that they can handle it. It does get very heavy emotionally.

About The Author:
Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. Since the age of 23, Donoghue has earned her living as a full-time writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their son and daughter.

Rating: ★★★★★