Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver is a memoir and collection of essays originally written in Folsom State Prison in 1965, and published three years later in 1968. In this time of Black Lives Matter it is a book all teens should read.
The book is divided into four sections. They cover the author’s time in prison and his crimes. His coming to a knowledge of who he is as a black man. His romantic interest in his lawyer. What it means to be black and have your own sexual identity.
The first two sections cover material still relevant today. People expected Eldridge Cleaver to be apologetic about his crimes. He, however, pointed out that those who expected this were rich, fat, and supporting a war against the Vietnamese who were starving and terrified. The greater crimes of the rich, he claimed, balanced out his crimes and drug use.
However, he also longed to be clean of drugs and to learn more about black nationalism and communist politics. He felt that being black caused him to have a lesser place in society which was unfair.
These problems of black being treated as less than white in the workplace and in society still resonate today. The wars fought by our rich nation against impoverished nations still exists. The idea that black men are viewed differently if they have sexual attraction to white women still exists.
This book opened my eyes to how much hasn’t changed in 55 years. It gave me a feeling that I must do my part to bring more change.
In a world where hustle is the name of the game, teenaged Vinny Il-Cazzo is the greatest player ever. He speaks a language of his own (I learned a bunch of phrases like “dig the scene but gradually” for taking a moment to get one’s bearings, and “claws sharp” for being intelligent) There are two huge problems in Vinnie’s life. One, his parents are con artists who taught him how to be a criminal. From shoplifting and credit card fraud, to scamming restaurants out of free food, he becomes an expert. Two, he is in love with a girl named Steph who is being abused by her father and has to “go underground” with her mom and sister to escape. The majority of the story is Vinnie’s search for Steph. As he travels, he finds ways to camp on the beach, obtain free food, get hotel rooms for cheap, and help other people who need his skills in order to survive.
My one critique is that while searching for Steph with whom he is infatuated, he is all up in it with every girl he meets. It made me feel like he wasn’t very loyal to Steph. I admit that the author handles this problem well, but it is sad anyway.
Eventually Vinnie’s own morals lead to lifestyle changes for the better. The ending was satisfying and felt true.
I couldn’t put this book down. I loved it that much. Kids need to read this and discuss it. In certain places it’s almost a survival guide for our present day.
Everybody But Us by Ben Rose is a totally awesome Young Adult Novel. Set primarily in the Boroughs of New York City (where I reside) this is the story of a bisexual teen named Destiny. After being subjected to conversion therapy, she is abandoned by her abusive, fundamentalist family. She meets three college students who help her to have a more liberal view of The Bible and to begin normalizing her sexuality. Once she reaches NYC, she meets a runaway teen named Mackenzie with whom she falls in love. They survive by their wits, and build a found family with friends they meet including a teen hustler named Vinnie. Everything is coming together for the girls until Mackenzie’s alcoholism threatens to destroy it all.
I loved this novel! The characters are nuanced, the use of language sounds realistic, and the scene setting is very much the city I know. I will say that the description of Destiny’s conversion therapy is traumatic, but it is necessary.
This is a riveting portrait of bi-sexual teens trying to survive in today’s world.
Christina Soontornvat’s All Thirteen is an extraordinary true story, with photgraphs and maps, about an outstanding cave rescue of the Thai boys’ soccer team in 2018. This book is about thirteen boys trapped in a cave called Tham Luang. The boys were players on a soccer team called the Wild Boars. After soccer practice one day, they biked to explore Tham Luang. It flooded, and they were trapped with no food for nine days. They drank water that dripped from the walls. As they sat in the dark, people came from all over the world to try and help save the boys. The rescuers included Thai Navy Seals, world class cave divers, doctors, water experts, locals, volunteers, and parents, who all pitched in out of goodwill, without pay. But time was of the essence because the monsoon rains were coming any day. Read this awesome book to find out what happens.
Twelve-year-old Charlie Thorne is a rebellious genius and a thief who learns to use her brain for good.
When Albert Einstein died, he left behind a code to hide the physics equation for how to make an easy super nuclear bomb called Pandora. CIA Director Carter tries to find someone smart enough to crack Einstein’s code.
Dante Garcia and Milana Moon, two CIA agents, try to track down Charlie. Charlie has a super high IQ, like Einstein, so it is hard to find her because she does not want to be found. A terrorist group is also racing to get Pandora.
This book is astounding, with rooftop chases, gunfights, explosions, betrayals, and more. Charlie is a “like a cockroach”: she always gets away from every trap. But she does not know who to trust. If you liked the Spy School series, also by Stuart Gibbs, you will like this book.
Pandora could destroy the world or save it. You’ll find out in the sensational ending of this awesome book. The fate of the world is in Charlie’s hands.
Based on a true story, A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, will inspire you to make the world a better place. This is a story about people helping people. After I closed the book, I wanted to become a better kid.
Salva is an 11-year-old African boy in 1985, traveling by foot for 1800 miles to escape the war raging in his country of Sudan. He and his fellow refugees face many horrible challenges, including murderous soldiers, days without food, savage lions, and bloodthirsty crocodiles.
Nya is an 11-year-old girl living in Sudan in 2008. She walks every day for hours to fetch water for her family who desperately needs the water to drink and use. Their lives depend on it. The water is nasty, muddy, and filled with germs, but it is the only water they can get. She and the other kids in her village cannot attend school because they spend all day collecting this unclean water.
Even though Salva and Nya are from different tribes, they join together for something everyone needs: water. The author brings Salva’s and Nya’s stories together in a heartwarming ending.
Because Of Mr. Terupt is one of the most touching books I’ve ever read. This story moved me because it’s about how tragedy brings people together.
Mr. Terupt, a thoughtful, caring teacher, designs a fun classroom for his fifth graders. His students are the classic school kids: the class troublemaker, the shy kid, the smart kid who loves school, the depressed outcast, the popular girl, the followers of the popular girl, the fat kid that gets picked on, and the new kid.
I like the writing style of the book because each chapter describes the same events from the perspective of a different student. All the kids have unique views on the same event, based on their own feelings and lives. The story shows that everyone can change for the better.
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Neal Shusterman’s Full Tilt will stretch your mind with its psychedelic imagery. It’s a fantasy in an amusement park that turns out to be full of danger. Blake, a sixteen-year-old, visits his town’s regular amusement park, where he receives a strange invitation from a mysterious yet beautiful girl to go to a different, unknown amusement park. With two friends, he follows his younger brother to the new park: an unreal carnival. Once they enter, they learn that they have to complete seven impossible rides before dawn if they want to get out alive. One ride, for instance, features bumper cars that turn into real cars trying to ram each other in the dangerous alleyways of a city. Will they survive and make it out of the park?
I loved this book because it’s chock full of very immersive imagery. It has a completely unique plot that intensifies with each page. It pulled me in, and once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a touching book that pulls you into the story as if it was a movie playing in your head. A silverback gorilla named Ivan lives in a mall circus. He performs in the circus every day with an elephant named Stella. Stella had a rough past and walks with two hurt feet from having been chained during an earlier captivity. When a new elephant named Ruby arrives with playful energy and strong emotions like fear and love, Ivan and Stella begin to see their caged life in a whole new light. If you love animals and deep stories of friendship and sacrifice this would be a good story for you.
Petey, written by Ben Mikaelsen, is a heartwarming story about a man named Petey who is misdiagnosed as a “retard” and an “idiot” and grows up in an insane asylum. He lives there until he is in his sixties, when suddenly he moves to a group home. One day while Petey is outside his group home, some boys start to throw snowballs at him. Another boy named Trevor stops their bullying. Petey and Trevor instantly become best friends. Together they go fishing, to a mall, and on very long walks. Petey and Trevor have to overcome many obstacles, like weird looks, name calling, and getting Petey a new wheelchair so he can go on longer walks without the wheelchair falling apart or the wheels breaking. But overall, the friendship helps them both tremendously.
You should read Petey because it is so satisfying, it will touch your heart. The author puts you in Petey’s perspective and uses descriptive words to detail the way two very different lives can affect each other. You should read this book because it is wonderful.