Friday, August 20, 2021

Book Reviews - Complex Characters and Situations

This round had four books each with some kind of complexity, and each type was very, very different.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty was quite the wild ride. I was a little unsure of how I would feel about this one as someone on the cover explained it as "Jaws for parents." As an expectant mom, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go on this journey, but I decided to try it out. Y'a'll, I'm glad I did as this was quite the thriller! The reason for the book's title is there is a literal chain involved. That chain involves kidnapping. Rachel gets a message that her daughter has been kidnapped, and the only way she can get her back is by kidnapping someone else to continue the chain. Rachel is desperate to save her daughter, so like the parents in the chain before her she has to make an impossible choice. More than anything, this book is about the actual chain and figuring out where it started and more importantly how to make it stop. It was such a unique premise, and it kept me reading because I just had to know how it was all going to play out! 

Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz was just a sweet little middle grade read I needed after an intense thriller. The story focuses on Bernice who has an unfortunate last name, so she decides to prevent others from making fun of her by being a bully. Then, Bernice moves and is the new kid. With this new opportunity, she decides to give being a good gal a try. It was just a delight to read how Bernice evolves to find not only friends but herself. It's definitely a good one for kids to learn about how people can and do change.

Linked by Gordan Korman was quite the middle grade read. It focuses on a middle school where a swastika has been painted on the school walls. No one knows who is responsible, and the town is shocked that this could happen. Then, more start to appear. Some of the kids decide to take action. They decide they want to educate on why this is a symbol of hate by bringing attention to the devastation of the Holocaust. Throughout, the story is told from a number of different student perspectives, and each is processing what has happened in a different way and is taking a different course of action. I will say that the reveal at the end of what truly happened at the end of this one was especially powerful and provides an incredible learning moment.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout features a main character unlike any other I've read. Y'all, Olive is something! She's written in this way that is abrasive and somewhat rude, but also caring and insightful. Olive isn't the star of every story, rather her story is told through those of others in her community. Olive has a connection to each of these people, so she is still a common thread throughout, but others are also allowed to take center stage. This was such an incredibly character driven piece, and the way these characters are written is outstanding. I read this for a book club, so actually have read the first Olive book, but after having this introduction I definitely must!

Onto the next ones!