Teen Book Reviews
Submit a Teen Book Review
Teens in grades 6-12 can earn community service by reading and reviewing new YA books!
- Teens can read and review 2 books per month
- Each book will be worth 2 community service hours
- Teens may review any new book from our YA selection
- The reviews should be between 100-250 words.
- The review should discuss elements such as how the plot flowed, writing style, flaws in the story and overall enjoyment of the book. Do not provide a summary of the book. Please include the title and author at the top of your review.
- Book reviews must be submitted to email@example.com
Book review submissions will be reviewed by the Teen Department before community service is awarded. We reserve the right to deny community service credit if the review does meet the criteria presented above.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to the Teen Department at 914-941-2416 ext. 336.
Submit a book review here.
You are So Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah
by Fiona Rosenbloom
“You are So Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah” by Fiona Rosenbloom is a coming-of-age comedy- our main character, Stacy Friedman, is preparing for her bat mitzvah, one of the most important events of her life. All Stacy wants is to have her best friends by her side, the perfect outfit, and the boy she likes to notice her. However, things don’t go as planned- incident after incident enters her life, and eventually, she gets betrayed by her best friend. Frustrated and angered, Stacy loses her calm and utters the very words that will make her life turn upside down again: “You are SO not invited to my bat mitzvah!”. My expectations for this book were pretty high, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. I felt like I could relate to Stacy during her hardest moments. Though Stacy wasn’t the perfect Mary Sue, making decisions she shouldn’t have made & sending things further into turbulence, that’s what I liked about her character. Stacy wasn’t the perfect protagonist that we usually see, she had her own set of flaws– and despite her own shortcomings, she was able to overcome the challenges that she faced. However, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I could’ve, because of the incredibly cliche plot. Similar plots have been overused in different forms of media, and I was looking for a newer and more progressive idea- especially considering the title of the book. This plot was really similar to an early 2000’s movie, and that may be someone else’s cup of tea, but I was looking for a different perspective. In addition, the central conflict had been built up to an extreme, yet the resolution was a lot more underwhelming than I had expected– and the humor that was used was subpar. (On another note, there are mentions of body shaming in this book, which may not be comfortable for all). This book was a quick and interesting read, and would be a good fit for those who enjoy romantic comedies. Overall, “You are so Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah” deserves 3 out of 5 stars.
Fitz and Cleo Put A Party On It
by Jonathan Stutzman & Heather Fox
My mom made me read this but I actually enjoyed the book. I really like the art design, it’s almost the same stuff that I draw, ghosts, cats and little drawings that don’t make sense on my homework. In the book Fitz and Cleo do some stuff together. They work together to help each other when they are bored and cheer each other up. Mister Boo (Cleo’s cat) and Cleo and Fitz, like to party. So, they do that in the book too. If you have ever read the Catwad books by Jim Benton, it’s the same kind of concept, short and funny. The book will keep you entertained for a while and is good to read before bed or if you want to read to pass the time, read this book it’s about 10-20 minutes long. It’s a good thing to have when you’re bored.
by Jamie Lilac
In “Bellegarde” by Jamie Lilac, we are given a firsthand point of view on 18th century France through Evie, the main character- a baker’s daughter trying to make ends meet. Though she spends most of her time in school & in the bakery, Evie’s true passion is fashion design. However, everything changes when Beau Bellegarde, a second-born son, makes a bet: if he can get Evie to go to the court ball with him, he’ll inherit the family fortune. As Beau courts her, Evie’s put into various unexpected situations- and as her relationship with Beau develops, her life takes a turn for the better. In my opinion, this book could’ve been a lot better. Though it takes place in the 18th century, a lot of the elements of the story weren’t historically accurate– and the way the characters spoke was similar to how we speak today. Since there was so little detail to the world around the characters, it was harder for me to imagine the story. In addition, I didn’t really find myself liking the characters- neither Evie or Beau were particularly written in depth, and their romance was harder to root for, since they rarely spent time with one another. There were characters that had potential, such as the Duke, but whose roles remained minimal and were underdeveloped, which disappointed me. The book was really predictable- no new concepts were introduced, making it a pretty uninteresting read. In my opinion, “Bellegarde” had a lot of potential- but didn’t live up to my expectations. However, this book would be perfect for those who enjoy a lighthearted historical romance and comedy, or just want an easy read. I give this book a 1.5 stars out of 5.
by Christina Soontornvat
The Tryout is a graphic novel that captures the author’s experiences in middle school, exploring racial issues, as well as cultural identity. Christina, in her first year of middle school, joins the cheerleading team with her best friend Megan. However, because of where they’re from- both being Asian Americans, Christina & Megan face racism from their peers. This book, though comical and beautifully illustrated, also gave me more of an understanding of Thai culture, and I was able to relate with the main character in many moments. The drama and cringey moments, as well as Christina’s innocence, makes the book even more appealing- we’re able to view things through someone merely in 7th grade, yet faces so many internal & external struggles. The book wraps up well, with a good theme- overall, the reader can learn a lot from Christina’s experiences. Though I wish the author had elaborated more on the discrimination Asian-Americans face, I enjoyed this book a lot. With an intriguing hook & well-depicted representation, this book deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The Song that Moves the Sun
by Anna Bright
The Song that Moves the Sun is perfect for lovers of Astrology as it follows four teens and their journey through the cosmos in search of restoring harmony. The world-building in the novel is unique and the romance heart-gripping. I’m not typically a person who enjoys romance, but this statement does not apply to this story. The development of the romantic relationships is done well without taking away from the main focus of the story. In other words, the main plot doesn’t become an afterthought overshadowed by the romance, but is rather the romantic developments contribute to the overall message of the story. The book does tend to seem a bit prolonged in certain parts and aspects, making the action seem a bit stalled at times; however, it’s still a beautiful story without a doubt worth finishing with a strong message and characters that will leave the reader satisfied when they find themselves at the end.
“Borderless” by Jennifer De Leon gives an unique perspective on one of the most debatable issues: Allowing immigrants to cross the US border. Guatemala City, where Maya, the main character resides, hosts a multitude of gang violence, an uncaring government, and plenty of poverty. Maya is a talented teenager who dreams of being a fashion designer, but she must put her dream on hold and come up with a plan to escape Guatemala.. as she’s accidentally gotten involved with gang members. “Borderless” describes Maya’s journey across the border in an extremely realistic way- giving insight on the real treatment that those who seek asylum receive. Maya is written extremely well. Though Maya’s decisions ultimately drove her to cross the border, she’s written to be like any adolescent- her choices were the best that she could make, given the information she had at hand. Her relationships with those she cares about are written brilliantly- I really appreciated how the author expresses Maya’s relationship with her mother. In general, I really enjoyed this book. The tension is always constant- it was an easy read, the characters were easy to understand, and De Leon’s descriptions of Guatemala make it “come alive”. However, I didn’t like how this book ended- the author left off with a sad but hopeful ending for Maya- yet left some character’s fates unknown, and I would’ve preferred a closed ending. In addition, the author could’ve been more in depth with Maya’s journey crossing the border- since the actual process of crossing only happened in the later pages of the book, it felt a bit rushed. Overall, “Borderless” was humanizing- giving an impactful impression & exposing a side of the world that I was unaware of. Therefore, this book deserves a 4 out of 5 stars.
by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime is an excellent novel about the hardships a mother and her son have to face during and after apartheid and how their determination and Trevor Noah’s mother’s bravery lead them to form their identity in society rather than living under restrictions and not having freedom. Apartheid was a very difficult time in which there was racial segregation where different communities formed based on one’s color, such as being white, black, or mixed. Trevor Noah was born a mixed child because his mother, Patricia, had the courage to go outside of society’s norms and marry a white man. She later had to leave her white husband because the society would be suspicious if they saw a black woman with a mixed raced child and would take him into custody because at the time, it was not allowed for whites and blacks to be together. Therefore, she had to live a very tough and risky life with her son Trevor and had to be careful that nobody would see her with him. Patricia then goes on to marry Abel, who was very abusive, and had another child with him. The story details many harsh and brutal aspects of apartheid but the author, Trevor Noah, writes in a very whimsical and funny manner that make the most serious topics seem casual. After every chapter, he also includes some information about the history of apartheid and facts. The story continues to depict how Trevor had to live an uncertain lifestyle, how he made his identity by selling CD’s and being a DJ, and then continues to illustrate the hard work and loving bond of him with his mother. This book is amazing because it shows how with strength and the support of a loving mother, anything is possible.
“Something More” by Jackie Khalilieh tells the story of Jessie, an autistic teenager, who is recently learned she’s neurodivergent. Jessie is entering high school- and after she’s encouraged by her doctor, she decides to keep a journal full of a list of goals for her school year- ranging from “Don’t tell anyone about my autism”, to “Make friends!”. As Jessie learns to adapt and broaden her social skills, she finds acceptance, trust, and even love. I really enjoyed this book, because of how realistic and relatable Jessie was. Khalilieh’s writing was easy to read & casual, yet draws you in. Jessie is a flawed character- there were moments where she was stubborn and immature, but above all, I appreciated how the author made every moment genuine. Jessie’s development throughout the book is excellent as well- I really enjoyed how she grew as a character. This book also offered me a different perspective (as Jessie is neurodivergent, and her view of things was new to me, thus giving me an opportunity to learn). However, the cliches in this book weren’t really my cup of tea, especially the events that happened in the end.. and I didn’t really like how the author dragged the romance on for so long (when who Jessie would end up with was obvious). I would’ve also liked to learn more about autism- as the book doesn’t really cover much about it, but is mainly focused on Jessie’s romance. In general, “Something More” was an unique and brilliant book. I recommend it to those who enjoy romance, and I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.
by Sarah Beth Durst
Claire, Reyva and Mariana are all heading to a remote camp in the wilderness. Their parents went to this very camp, and enjoyed the experience- and the 3 girls are expected to stay there for 2 months. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. After they are dropped off at the camp grounds, they realize that there’s no cell signal, the campsite has been burned to a crisp, and in the midst of all this.. there’s a dead body. Knowing that no help will come, the girls have to work together to survive…and as time goes by, they realize that someone is watching them. This book was absolutely amazing. I loved how the author was able to depict and flesh out all 3 of the girls, you’re able to get to know them and connect strongly with them (especially since they all had unique personalities, yet got along perfectly). I would’ve preferred the conflict to be more straightforward, since it only appears in the latter half of the book (and was kind of confusing, to be honest)- but I enjoyed the plot twist. However, the plot twist also minimizes some of the conflict (as it can work for some readers, but not all, and leaves the book relatively unmemorable). I also liked how the author created a sense of suspense and uncertainty in the book, as it got me wanting to read more and more. I enjoyed how the author depicted Claire, Reyva and Mariana’s relationship- especially how they grew to trust each other, but the dialogue between the 3 (though interesting), created more of a distraction towards the conflict. I think the book could’ve been scarier, but it was excellent overall. I rate this 4 out of 5 stars.
by Maria E. Andreu
In Julieta & The Romeos, Jules, the main character, plans to enjoy her summer doing a writer’s camp. When her teacher encourages her to publish her writing online, an anonymous writer decides to contribute to her work– and Jules makes every effort to find out their identity. Meanwhile, just like any teenage girl, she also has to deal with boy problems. There’s her best friend’s brother (who she despises), her abuela’s new neighbor, and her childhood best friend- could one of them be the anonymous writer she’s looking for? Julieta & The Romeos was an okay read. I liked how the author depicted Jules & her abuela’s relationship, and the plot twist in the end was pretty unpredictable. This was easy to read, and though there were many characters, the author does a fantastic job of letting you get to know and connect with each of them. However, this book’s pace was excruciatingly slow. It’s quite hard to get into, and because of all the conflict going on, some problems didn’t get as much coverage as others. I also thought that having 3 love interests was unnecessary (especially since one of them did not appear as much as the other 2), and she didn’t have as much chemistry with 2 out of the 3 (so who she’d end up with was kind of obvious). Additionally, I would have preferred Jules to develop more throughout the story. Overall, this was a fun read, and would fit well for those who like romance and comedy. I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
“Parachute Kids” by Betty C. Tang is a graphic novel, based on the author’s experiences. The term “parachute kid” refers to children who have been left in a foreign country, while their parents stay in their home country. The parachute kids in question: Ann, Jason and Jessie (16,14,10) are siblings, who are left to fend for themselves in America. Their parents’ visas have expired & their father must return to Taiwan (as in the US, he wouldn’t get a high-paying job)– therefore, Jessie, the oldest, is responsible for taking care of herself and her siblings. The 3 siblings are put under a lot of pressure, as they must adapt to living in a country without their parents. This eventually pulls them apart, as each is dealing with their own conflicts- and they all make bad decisions. I really liked this book, as the story was realistic, each sibling had their own moment to shine (and grow from their mistakes), and the art was visually appealing. I also liked the messages & themes the author includes; Ann, Jason and Jessie can all be relatable. However, I didn’t like how the book ended– it was rushed, and I didn’t like how (amongst the 3 siblings), only Jason’s personal conflict was left unresolved. I also appreciated how the author created a lot of conflict throughout the book, since each sibling had their own set of misdemeanors- however, all the constant problems can feel overwhelming while reading. In general, this was not only a fun read- it also educated me, and I highly recommend this book. I’d rate this book 4.5/5 stars.
The silence that binds us by
This book is about a Chinese American teenager, Maybelline Chen. She is mourning the death of her older brother, who was struggling with depression, and later on died due to suicide. Sadly, this is true for most people in real life. I think this is another reason why this book drew my attention in, because this certain situation is very real, and sadly, common. However, Maybelline is pretty different, she isn’t the tradition Chinese daughter. She prefers to dress comfortably, for example, she would mostly wear hoodies instead of dresses and she wishes to become a writer. Although her brother’s suicide led to a much greater discussion, there was a statement put out that Asian families put too much pressure on their kids, that possibly lead them to become over stressed and can cause them to make some pretty bad decisions. Personally, this statement was more directed towards Maybelline’s family, which is what caused Maybelline to write a poem for the local paper in response to the racism on Asian families. Overall this book was pretty interesting, especially seeing a young girl not staying quiet and speaking out in order to defend her family.
Jordan J and the Truth about Jordan J by K.A Holt
The book Jordan J and the Truth about Jordan J by K.A Holt is about the main protagonist Jordan J an opinionated middle schooler who loves to dance. But when he saw his favorite dance show, Fierce Across America, a dance competition judged by famous dancers announcing that they are having auditions in his town. He was more than delighted to attend the auditions. But when he realized he didn’t qualify for Fierce Across America. He felt like he had lost all hope. Until he partnered up with his school’s head captain of the dance team. Hart rocketeer’s Casey Price was also at the Fierce Across America auditions. Together Casey Price and Jordan J believe they will make an unstoppable team with their dancing skills. I would rate this book four stars because I think the book had an exciting storyline that made me relate to some of the characters in the book too.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Clap when you land is a story about 2 sisters who lose their father in the 9/11 crash, but one of them lives in New York and the other lives in the Dominican Republic. The story shows how deeply one can be affected by the loss of an important figure in their lives. Both characters live completely opposite lives with different morals, interest and relations yet they both love their Papi. The book helps the reader understand that you must keep pushing through the faults and hardships in life, as it will only hold you down. The author never fails to bore the reader, as each page is full of detail, figurative language and emotion. The author beautifully writes both sisters emotions and hardships through poetry, with deeper meaning. I would recommend this book to someone who likes to read realistic fiction and poetry.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez
Julia Reyes, a smart but rebellious teen who lives with her parents and older sister, Olga, the “perfect Mexican daughter”. It was always about being the Perfect Mexican daughter. But Julia was everything but that. The Perfect Mexican daughter was Olga’s role. The tragic accident that left Olga dead results in the broken hearts of many. No one seemed to acknowledge that Julia was also suffering. Instead of providing Julia comfort, her mother uses her grief to point out all of Julia’s failures. It’s not long before Julia finds out that Olga wasn’t the saint everyone thought she was. In attempting to discover Olga’s secrets, she came to a realization of why her parents were so afraid of Julia building a different life for herself. Julia became determined to find out Olga’s truth. Who really was Olga? Not only does this book go into the Mexican culture but it also uncovers the harsh realities connected with death, poverty, and immigration. I highly recommend reading this book as it also reveals the relationship between Mexican immigrant parents that are firm in following tradition and first-generation children who are “Americanized”.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
The story of Lara Jean, a girl who instead of admitting her crushes out loud, writes each crush a love letter confessing how she felt. Each letter was sealed and hidden in a box under her bed. One day, Lara Jean come to find out that her secret box of love letters was mailed out. All her crushes from her past end up confronting her about the letters. From her first kiss to her sister’s ex-boyfriend, her secrets were out. She never had the intention of mailing these letters but Laura Jean had no idea something good would come out of this. In the attempts of bringing this crazy situation back to normal, Laura jean somehow ends up not only in a love triangle but also in a fake relationship with Peter- one of the boys that received a letter. I recommend this book as it is an exploration of teenage growth and young love. The plot of this book will bring butterflies to your stomach.
One Of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
Drop everything you’re doing right now and go and get yourself a copy of the book one of Us is Next by Karen McManus, a sequel to her 2017 young adult mystery-thriller novel, One of Us is Lying. It’s a novel full of mystery and thriller as the three main characters Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox, become affected by a truth or dare game started by an anonymous texter. Where new friends’ secrets are getting revealed to the public via school-wide texts. Where choosing the truth could mean unveiling your darkest secrets, but picking dare could be a dangerous or even deadly one. The plot is a very easy-going one that jumps right into the novel from where it left off while remaining engaging and not boring. I found the idea of the whole truth or dare game that the teenagers were involved in to be very intriguing and fascinating to see how the game was going to escalate. However, one flaw I found in the novel that, for many, could not be a defect is how overly dramatic some parts got made to be, especially towards the end. However, the writing style makes up for it. It’s essentially what captivated me, how the story is told from the first-person point of view of the three different students while still having a shared narration that allows the reader to feel close to each of the main characters.
Three Things I Know to be True by Betty Cully
Three Things I Know are True by Betty Culley is a saddening book, focusing on the idea of recovering from tragedy. Throughout this brutally honest book, the main character must find peace in the fact that her family will never be the same. This book was fairly entertaining and very easy to read, despite the fact that it was written in verse. The author managed to get to her point rather fast, but in a way that wasn’t to blunt. My biggest critique of this book, however, was that it would pick up a side story or theme and never complete them. This was somewhat annoying. This is a very menial complaint, though. This book would not be something that I would recommend, but I would not advise you against reading it.
Maybe This Time by Kasie West
This book didn’t end up on my favorites list, even though I wanted it to. I generally like romance, but this book was just too cliche for me. The plot is sturdy and flows relatively well. Every chapter is an event and i liked the main character’s voice. Sophie is very ambitious and likable. I felt that the interactions between the characters were slightly unrealistic, but Sophie and Micah’s fears, problems, and situations are very real and genuine. Micah and Sophie’s friendship is complex and again, realistic because it shows what real friendships are like. Andrew and Sophie’s characters are written pretty well, and the dramatic irony Kasie West uses emphasizes who they are. If you like romance, this could be the book for you.
DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier
Callie is in middle school she really loves theater and in her school they are doing a production in theater called “moon over mississippi but she’s not a really good singer but instead the make callie the set designer for the drama departments stage grew. She is determined to make a set worthy of broadway but on a budget,she thinks to her self how can she do that?,her crew members start having some trouble working together and they have a lot of drama on stage and off! it occurs when the actors were chosen ,things get crazier when these to brothers enter the picture.