Review of ‘I Killed Zoe Spanos’, by Kit Frick
On the one hand, this book kept me reading way past my bedtime. I just HAD to know who had killed Zoe Spanos, but also, how all the weird things that were happening were going to be explained. There was so much happening and presented perfectly—the right speed, the right order (the author chooses to go between “then” and “now” and does so absolutely brilliantly), the right amount of character development, just brilliant. But the ending got me a little disappointed. I mean, I didn’t see it coming until the end, followed by another twist on the very last page of the book. And when you reread the book, you see the hints throughout quite clearly—a lot like in The Sixth Sense. But it was still a little anti-climactic. I’m not sure if it’s because I, as a reader, was expecting too much, or because it was actually anti-climactic. Rest assured I will be bringing this up with anyone who has read this book—which, by the way, I still completely recommend!
Review of ‘You Can’t Touch My Hair’, by Phoebe Robinson
I was thrown back into my high school years, in a very good way. Reading Phoebe Robinson’s book felt like I was back with my Black friends who first initiated me into the things that I, as a white-passing person, kind of knew were happening but couldn’t really get a grasp on. And I mean, the book even comes with sometimes ridiculous, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes completely out-of-the-blue segues, again, just like when a group of high schoolers are chatting it up. I mean, it was so crazy that I actually reached out to a few of them and thanked them (again) for being that person in my life, and also apologising to them for having needed them to school me. Hey, there you go, I am also segueing like a high schooler chatting away with my friends or like Phoebe Robinson, although I am totally on point. Robinson’s book will not go well with everyone, mind you—she swears and can seem, sometimes, all over the place. But if you have a white or white-passing friend (or perhaps even a POC who doesn’t understand anti-Black racism) who loves to learn through comedy, this might be the book to help them take another step towards becoming a staunch anti-racist and ally.
Review of ‘Never Look Back’, by Lilliam Rivera
I enjoyed Lilliam Rivera’s Never Look Back. The characters were relatable, the plot intriguing, and the pace was just right. I liked the central idea at the center of the book: what if hallucinations are actually real? What if some people see what they say they see, things that no one else sees although they are around us, as well? I also found that the glimpse into the trauma of the hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2019. But I felt that the story could have been deeper, and even perception-altering. There were a number of missed opportunities, the most disappointing one being the evil that is extreme wealth and how it can be countered. I still it’s worth to pick up this book, be it just to get to know some sweet characters, to enjoy some pretty evocative descriptions, and to flirt with the question, what if hallucinations were true.
Review of ‘You Have A Match’, by Emma Lord
The whole idea of finding family members through DNA tests reaches a whole new level in Emma Loard’s You Have a Match. Abby does the DNA test in support of her friend Leo, who is adopted—only to find out she has a sister. A full sister, period, no halfs or anything. I mean, can you imagine something like this happening to you? On top of that, her main source of support, her grandfather, passed away a little under a year ago, and while her parents are amazing, they were in law school when they had her, so her bond with Poppy is quite strong. When he passes, both Abby and her parents are left adrift, and her parents overreact a little by piling on various academic tutors on her. And since when it rains, it pours, it so happens that around the time that Poppy passed, Abby had a Big Embarrassing Incident with her best friend Leo—yes, the same one as above—and it’s just a whole lot of complicated and a whole lot of coming-of-age that has to happen. Which it does, beautifully, I have to say, in a way that I feel honours both the turmoil that is adolescence and the nobility that most people carry within them. This one is definitely a recommended read, something that will leave readers feeling warm inside but also carry a little bit of insight into the importance of communication and love.
Review of ‘Slingshot’, by Mercedes Helnwein
Oh my goodness, how the confusion, hormones, and just plain confusion that are the teenage years was so well captured in Mercedes Helnwein’s Slingshot. Even the way that we just end up one day waking up and suddenly, without any clear reason, are suddenly handling life a little better at 16 than we were at 15 was really well captured. The story itself was heartbreaking at times, with two compelling main characters who are very engaging. The plot is fairly simple: girl meets boy, etc. etc., many life lessons are learned and we all grow up. The ending took me by surprise, pleasantly so. I mean, it’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good happily-ever-after type book, but I feel many of them are too perfect, too color-in-the-lines, by-the-book. This one, well, suffice to say that although the life circumstances of the main characters are quite unique, the messiness will resonate with many a reader. A quick and thought-provoking read.