Review: The Beauty of the Moment

Title: The Beauty of the Moment
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun is Also a Star.

Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy — he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since. 
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants — until he meets her. 
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are. 

Review:

I really enjoyed this story.

I liked the dual narratives of Susan and Malcolm. It was great to see both sides of their romance. They come from different backgrounds, yet they had many similarities. Malcolm’s father was remarried and Susan lived just with her mother, so they both only had one of their parents in their daily lives. However, they are in different positions in their school. Susan is new to the school and she has trouble making friends. Malcolm has a lot of history at the school, including a jealous ex-girlfriend. I saw the world through Susan’s new eyes, yet I also saw the history of the characters through Malcolm’s perspective.

Though there were fun parts of the story with their budding romance, there were serious issues addressed as well. Malcolm was abused at home by his father. Susan discovered problems in her parents’ marriage. They also reference the Syrian refugees in Toronto and Mississauga, because Malcolm’s sister organized a fundraiser for a Syrian family. These parts were educational and informative for young readers who may not know about these issues.

This story was set in Mississauga, which is a city in the Greater Toronto Area. I could picture most of the locations mentioned, which was so great! Though I couldn’t relate to the characters because they have different backgrounds from me, I felt connected to them through this setting.

This was a great story.

What to read next:

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Have you read The Beauty of the Moment? What did you think of it?

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

Title: The Way You Make Me Feel
Author: Maurene Goo
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look. 

Review:

This is a fun summer story!

I loved the character Clara. She was carefree and took risks. At her junior prom, she reenacted Carrie by having fake blood dumped on herself after winning the title of prom queen. It was a dramatic moment, and ended up earning her the punishment of working on her dad’s food truck for the whole summer. She was a fun character to read about because she is so different from me.

I also loved the mix of cultures in the book. Clara was born in America to two parents who were both born in Brazil to Korean parents. Clara’s father’s Korean and Brazilian heritage was explored in his fusion food truck called KoBra. I didn’t know there was a Korean population in Brazil before reading this book, so that was fascinating to learn.

This was a great story! It would be a perfect read for the summer!

What to read next:

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Have you read The Way You Make Me Feel? What did you think of it?

Review: Goodbye Days

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review:

This story broke my heart and put it back together again. It was incredibly moving.

The premise of the story is that Carver texts his friends while they are driving, and they get into a fatal car accident while responding. Carver has to deal with the guilt of potentially causing his three best friends to die, while also moving on with his life. Carver goes on “Goodbye Days” with his friends’ families, in which they do his friends’ favourite things so everyone can say goodbye to them.

It was fascinating to read about this fairly new experience: texting while driving. There is a law, in this story, where a person could be charged with involuntary manslaughter for doing an action which you know could cause someone’s death. In this case, Carver texted his friend, knowing he may respond while driving and cause an accident. In my opinion, Carver shouldn’t have been blamed for this accident since his friend Mars ultimately made the decision to text while driving. However, it was up to the authorities to decide on his fate.

I don’t want to give anything away, because this is an important story with a modern lesson. I really liked the ending! I loved this whole story, and I highly recommend it!

What to read next:

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Have you read Goodbye Days? What did you think of it?

Review: There’s Something About Sweetie (Dimple and Rishi #2)

Title: There’s Something About Sweetie
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?

Review:

This was another amazing story by Sandhya Menon.

I loved the characters in this book. Sweetie was adorable and loveable. She was extremely talented, yet her mother criticized her for being “fat.” Ashish was also a great character. He was going through a lot of pain from a recent breakup, yet he was open to meeting a new girl that his parents picked out for him.

The narrative alternated between Sweetie’s and Ashish’s perspectives. It was third person, yet limited to both Sweetie’s and Ashish’s thoughts. I liked this style, because both characters were given equal time to show their stories.

This story features some of the characters from When Dimple Met Rishi, but it isn’t a sequel. The ending of that book may be spoiled if you read this book first, because Dimple and Rishi appear in the story. Rishi is actually the older brother of Ashish, the main male character in this story. However, it isn’t necessary to read that book first.

I loved this story! I’m so glad to see a body positive, “fat” girl featured in a book! I would have loved to read this kind of story when I was a teen, so I’m happy that teens today can see themselves in this book.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dumplin’ (Dumplin’ #1) by Julie Murphy

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Have you read There’s Something About Sweetie? What did you think of it?

Review: Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)

Title: Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Praised by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle as “hilarious, moving and flat-out fun,” and Kirkus as a “pitch-perfect rendering … of the teen experience,” Ten Things I Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) has captured the hearts of critics and readers alike. Fans of Sarah Dessen, E. Lockhart, and Maureen Johnson will love this hilarious and heartwarming tale of a girl on her own for the first time.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) is a mystery to them.

To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.

Review:

This book surprised me. It wasn’t as light as other Sarah Mlynowski books I’ve read. There were some heavy topics in this high school story.

April moves in with her friend while her dad moves away to Cleveland during her junior year of high school. They got up to lots of trouble, since her friend’s mom was out of town as well. I can’t imagine moving in with friends because my parents moved out of town. Some parts of that storyline were sad, since both of April’s parents moved away from her, rather than keeping her with them.

There were different kinds of relationships explored in this novel. There were new secret romances that some people didn’t want to share. There were also affairs and cheating. Lots of people denied their feelings. I don’t want to give away exactly what happened, but it made for some serious scenes. It got kind of dark and depressing near the end, which I was not expecting.

This book wasn’t like other Sarah Mlynowski books, which usually have a cheerful theme. However, if you like teen romances, this would be a great book for you.

What to read next:

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

Have you read Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)? What did you think of it?

Review: We Contain Multitudes

Title: We Contain Multitudes
Author: Sarah Henstra
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universemeets I’ll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another.

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship…and each other.

This rare and special novel celebrates love and life with engaging characters and stunning language, making it perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, and David Levithan.

Review:

I loved this story! I couldn’t put it down!

This story begins with Adam and Jonathan writing letters back and forth to each other as a school assignment, but it quickly blossoms into a friendship. I think this way of developing a relationship, which was basically orchestrated by the teacher, could be realistic. Sometimes teachers can see things in students that they can’t see themselves, so they can pair up students who would work well together. I’m curious to see the teacher’s perspective on their relationship and to know if she ever read their letters.

I loved the way that the letters told the story. The boys would recount things they did together. They often had a different perspective of events, so the letters weren’t repetitive. The letters would give two sides to the same story. This demonstrated the way that two people can see the same event in different ways.

This was an incredibly moving story.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Have you read We Contain Multitudes? What did you think of it?

Review: The Center of the Universe

Title: The Center of the Universe
Author: Ria Voros
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: KCP Loft
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Grace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits. Then one day GG is just … gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace’s family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers. While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted … or did she leave? And if she left, why?

Review:

I loved this story! It had suspenseful elements, but it had a heartwarming ending.

The first half of the story was about the mystery of Grace’s missing mother. There were so many questions as to why she left or if she was taken. I enjoyed this mystery, because I couldn’t guess what would happen next. Even when that mystery was solved, there was still a lot more to the story.

Science was a major theme in this book. Grace is interested in astrophysics, and she has even been mentioned in an article as the founder of an exoplanet. There is an interview with the astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker at the end of the book, and she is featured as a character in the novel too. This is great representation for young adults who are interested in pursuing a career in science.

I also liked that this story was about more than just Grace’s missing mother. This story explored the mother/daughter relationship between Grace and her mother, as well as her mother and grandmother. I think this was actually the main point of the story. Grace had to look for a way to find her mother, both literally and figuratively.

This is a great new story!

What to read next:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Have you read The Center of the Universe? What did you think of it?