Challenger Deep Full Analysis

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Caden has an average teenage life — parents, a sister, friends, sports, school. Though everything appears normal for Caden, behaviors usually dismissed as personality quirks begin to take over his life. He quits the track team to take secret walks for hours, can no longer focus on his daily activities, and is convinced that bad things are about to happen. In his mind, Caden is a crew member serving an unpredictable, vicious captain set to turn Caden into his slave. With each passing day, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred, sending Caden further into his abyss of mental illness.

This book was just wow. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it. Shusterman uses incredible style to illustrate Caden’s mental illness, including symbolism echoed in both Caden’s real life and in the world he believes is real. Though it can be tough to understand at times, this book talks about a very important issue that many would prefer is kept quiet. As Caden says in the book, “Dead kids are put on pedestals; mentally ill kids are swept under the rug”. It’s time to stop ignoring or shaming others because of circumstances beyond their control. The more we talk about this issue, the better it gets. I fully expect Shusterman to win all the awards for this!

Rating: 5/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

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100 Questions You’d Never Ask Your Parents by Elizabeth Henderson and Nancy Armstrong

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Using a brief, question and answer format, authors Henderson and Armstrong present relevant issues teens face today. Ranging from how to use protection during sex to questioning gender and/or sexuality, the book provides straightforward answers, including sources readers can use for further information seeking. Readers of all levels will appreciate the simple organization of this piece, as well as the judgement-free nature of the answers given.

Have a burning question, but you’re too embarrassed to ask? This book might have your answer. It’s short, well organized, and full of questions and answers relevant to teens today. Though this certainly isn’t a cover-to-cover read, it is one that might come in handy when you need it!

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Brag; Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley

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Focusing only on their untimely and often graphic ends, Bragg presents this compilation of mini “death” biographies of prominent historical figures. Arranged chronologically (by death date) and including plenty of extra historical facts and infographics, this piece is sure to interest readers of levels. As many young adults are fascinated by the demise of others, this would be an excellent book to use when planning history lessons. Sections are short, illustrated,  and leave many opportunities for reader discussion, debate, and further research.

This book was great! It’s a little on the gory, side, but it’s hilarious and definitely paints a different picture of historical people. I learned a lot of little facts that I didn’t know before, and it was SO much better than reading a history textbook. Of course, the author skips over much of each person’s life, and it’s not in-depth coverage at all. So if you’re doing a report, you’ll want to use more than just this book as a source However, it’s a great place to start — really entertaining and fun to read! Pick this one up if you’d like to know more about historical figures or if you just love history/biography.

Rating: 4.5/5

*Lone Star Book, 2013

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Doing It Right: Making Smart, Safe, and Satisfying Choices about Sex by Bronwen Pardes

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Using her background in human sexuality, Pardes offers a detailed guide for teens about sexual orientation, activity, and gender. Beginning with basic anatomy, Pardes explains the biology behind male and female sexual organs and the process of getting pregnant. In addition to science, the author offers advice about birth control, safe sex practices, and dispels myths about sex and getting pregnant. If teens are curious and sexual practices, Doing It Right provides a well-organized breakdown of information which answers many questions young adult readers may have.

This is a great, short guide if you have questions about anything sex related. The author’s philosophy is that, if you’re going to have sex, you need to be doing it safely, thus protecting against unplanned pregnancy and STDs. Though sex education is often a taboo topic, Pardes approaches the discussion with no bias and no judgement. If you’re looking for a book that will answer your questions directly and without being “preachy”, this is it. My only criticism is that I feel it could be longer and answer more questions!

*Rating: 4/5

*YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2009
*For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.