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Book Reviews

Book Review: Rick by Alex Gino

*LGBTQIAP+ resources below*

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, LGBTQIAP+
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Passage: “You are the person who knows yourself better than anyone else. There are lots of different ways of being. Lots of different kinds of people, and lots of different kinds of relationships.”

ABOUT: From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

 

My Review: Rick by Alex Gino was a wonderful read that exceeded my expectations!

In Rick’s first year of middle school, his world immediately turns upside down as he begins to – for the first time – question his identity and his place in the world.

He wonders about all the people in his life, if he’s doing the right thing and being the right person. And he struggles to fit into the normative mold, any mold, that will allow him to be his true self. I like that Rick – though afraid of retaliation from Jeff – takes it upon himself to find answers to all his questions by going to the Rainbow Spectrum club. But it near broke my heart seeing him struggle.

I enjoyed reading the parts that take place during the Rainbow Spectrum meetings. I feel I’ve learned so much more about gender identity and how those in the LGBTQUIAP+ community feel about it.

I loved watching Rick bond with his Grandpa Ray, how his grandfather went from this obscure, quiet relative to an awesome person Rick can share important things with. Those were sweet and tender moments.

This story takes place over a relatively short period of time but Rick’s character develops exponentially. He’s very relatable and was a joy to read about.

The author’s note at the end was really insightful about the story as a whole. Gino writes:

“…we as a culture are learning more comprehensive ways to talk about ourselves. And there’s more language to come. The question becomes: How do we talk about our community in ways that are both aware of the value of commonly understood language and respectful to people who deserve to have language that works for them?”

Another terrific story by Alex Gino! Discovering who you truly are is hard, but I like that Gino leaves us with an assurance that it’s okay to be unsure and that there is no deadline towards self-discovery. A super quick but captivating read, I would highly recommend Rick.


More by Alex Gino (my reviews)

George


LGBTQIAP+ RESOURCES

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

TrevorLifeline
1-866-488-7386
24/7 immediate help

TrevorChat
24/7 confidential chat w/ a counselor

TrevorText
text START to 678678
24/7 confidential text w/ counselor

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About Books

#currentlyreading | Rick by Alex Gino

Rick by Alex Gino

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

Image via Goodreads

ABOUT: Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

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About Books Miscellaneous

Saturday Thoughts | Middle Grade Books I Love

Happy Saturday, Bookworms!

What are some of your favorite middle grade novels/series???

Pictured is my small stack of middle grade books I own.

Some of my favorite MG stories are Emmie & Friends series by Terri Libenson, The Unteachables and Ungifted by Gordon Korman, Mustaches For Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown, George by Alex Gino, and Narwhal & Jelly series by Ben Clanton.

So yesterday I received some shocking news about my dog, Lance. He still has mast tumors which we can only be treated with med since he’s too old to be put through surgery (he’s 14). But now it turns out he’s also anemic. He is usually roughly 25 pounds but is now 16 pounds.

Yet you wouldn’t be able to tell he has any of those things because he personally hasn’t change. Still eats, sleeps, barks, happy, and looking adorable like normal. Until is quality of life worsens he is “figuratively” ok.

Have a good day, everyone!

 

 

Stay home. Save Lives.

We’re All In This Together.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “I know how it’s supposed to work in seventh grade: You are who the other kids say you are. But I’m not ok with that. I’ll say who I am.”

 

ABOUT: A laugh-out-loud funny and empowering graphic memoir about growing up and finding your voice.

Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A (rare) young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader. Searching for her own scoops, Cindy doesn’t always get it right, on paper or in real life. But whether she’s writing features about ghost hunters, falling off her bicycle and into her first crush, or navigating shifting friendships, Cindy grows wiser and more confident through every awkward and hilarious mistake.

 

My Review: For context: Cub takes place in 1972/1973 America. The infamous Watergate scandal is making waves in the media and there’s also President Richard Nixon’s re-election by a landslide.

It was interesting to read a memoir as a middle grade graphic novel. I think it translated well and gave that extra authenticity to the story. I liked Cindy’s development and how through the confusing loss of her best friend she discovers a passion for journalism. And in turn her voice.

How hard middle school life is socially and the pressure fit in and “be cool” is depicted very well through an apt predator versus prey metaphor.

The book teaches Cindy (and the reader) what journalism is, how to report and write a news story, and the importance of an ethical, fact-driven media and its influence. This is one the book’s most important points relevant to today’s media.

Good story all in all.

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Nat Enough #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “Maybe you should focus on who you are instead of who you aren’t.”

“Making friends isn’t easy, but losing them is even harder!”

 

ABOUT: Making friends isn’t easy, but losing them is even harder!
Natalie has never felt that she’s enough — athletic enough, stylish enough, or talented enough. And on the first day of middle school, Natalie discovers that things are worse than she thought — now she’s not even cool enough for her best friend, Lily! As Natalie tries to get her best friend back, she learns more about her true self and natural talents. If Natalie can focus on who she is rather than who she isn’t, then she might realize she’s more than enough, just the way she is.

 

My Review: I really adored Nat Enough. The story, the characters, and the art combined into one terrific read.

I felt bad for Nat as she tried to figure out why Lily wasn’t acting like the BFF Nat has known since second grade. There was something about Lily as Nat herself described her that I didn’t quite trust from the very beginning. The red flag was everything in their club was purple because that’s Lily’s favorite color. Perhaps it was a mutual thing between them but I couldn’t shake my skepticism.

On top of losing Lily, Nat already feels inadequate, not good enough. This prompts her to try (and sadly fail) to be cool to win back Lily. I, like the other characters Nat gets to know, are stunned again and again why Nat would want to be friends with someone who is mean to her.

I loved the art and how the author designed each character. I loved the chapter sketches involving Nat’s cat and dog – those two were hilarious! The art graced the pages with bright colors, which was pleasing to the eye. The story was brilliantly fashioned together to create an appealing read.

Nat Enough is one of those books that stay with you long after reading. It has a strong message about friendship and self-worth. A perfect story for middle grade readers.

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About Books Spotlight

Hyping About Winter Themed Book Releases In The Spring

Happy Narwhalidays! by Ben Clanton
Series: Narwhal and Jelly #5
Pub Date: September 8, 2020 by Tundra Books


I know what you’re probably thinking. Spring just started so why am I posting a book about a winter holiday. Simple: I love narwhals and this adorably informational book series so much that I was beyond ecstatic when the news of another book was going to be publish.

Here are some links to my reviews for all the previous books in the Narwhal and Jelly series:

 

ABOUT THE BOOK: Narwhal and Jelly spread some holiday cheer (and warm waffle pudding)!

It’s the festive season in the world wide waters, and Narwhal is looking forward to cozying up with a good book, singing and partying with his pod pals and enjoying some warm waffle pudding. But most of all he’s excited about the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn! According to Narwhal, she’s part mermaid, part unicorn and completely mer-aculous! Jelly is of course skeptical about the existence of the “Mira-Miny-What-A Corn” . . . even when he receives a mysterious present. It must be from Narwhal. Now Jelly has to get the perfect gift, but finding a present for someone as unique as Narwhal is no easy feat, even when you have six tentacles. How will Jelly ever come up with a whaley great gift for a best pal who spreads cheer all through the year?

 

Not Sponsored / Not Ad

Cover image via Goodreads
Background Royalty free image via Pixabay

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Book Reviews

Book Review: OCDaniel by Wesley King

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Mental Health
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “Because even though we’re extraordinary, I think we could still use a little help.”

 

ABOUT: Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices. Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school. His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him.

Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star Child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him.

With great voice and grand adventure, this book is about feeling different and finding those who understand.

 

My Review:
OCDaniel is the book the world needs today to add to the conversation on the realities and misconceptions about mental health disorders. I liked the story and how it was told, but mainly I respect the book for what it is, what it represents, and how uplifting it is. I feel I can put myself in Daniel’s shoes, literally and figuratively. There is something special about Daniel’s character that anyone connects to some part of what he goes through day to day.

Daniel thinks he’s crazy, not normal. Unbeknownst to Daniel, he clearly has extreme OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, which affects his daily life functions. Numbers and specific routine commandeer his life in a way that the slightest shift off course causes extreme anxiety and feelings of dread or impending doom as if he will die if he doesn’t do any specific routine correctly. This is aptly represented by his night routine before he goes to bed. It can take hours to satisfy his anxieties before he is able to go to bed and sleep.

Like anyone with a mental health disorder, whether they are aware of it or not, Daniel fears his “abnormality” being discovered. This “abnormality” doesn’t fit the mold of “normal” so he fears being judged by everyone. Hiding it causes more anxiety as seen throughout the story. He wants to be normal – be accepted by his family – and doesn’t want to let anyone down – helping Sarah out – that he is unable to help himself. So Daniel assumes he must be “crazy” if he isn’t “normal.”

Daniel plays football even though he doesn’t like or care about it. He does it to form some bond with his dad and be a normal kid like his peers. But the only one who seems to notice him – really see him – is Sarah, the figurative elephant in any room because she never speaks and has a TA with her always.

And what a wild adventure Daniel goes on amidst his character development. As he tries to figure out why he does what he does, he is helping “fellow Star Child” solve a possible murder. The blend of the too reminds me of Turtles All the Way Down by John Green because both stories bring focus to mental health and how it affects your daily life through an accessible lens.

I enjoyed this story. Anyone can really take something away from this book. We need more stories like this for all ages because we need to be mindful of our mental health in order to function properly. I would recommend OCDaniel for sure.

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Bookish Memes Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – 2/26/20

Welcome to another Waiting On Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you spotlight a highly anticipated book.

This Wednesday I am waiting on Rick by Alex Gino. It’s expected publication is April 21, 2020.

Image via Goodreads

ABOUT: Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

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About Books Bookish Lists Spotlight

Reading 2019: Best of Middle Grade, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Manga, ARCs

 

 

 

 

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Brave” by Svetlana Chmakova

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Berrybrook Middle School #2
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different – math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a big problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen’s always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real life problems?

 

My Review:
Another crazy drama-filled adventure at Berrybrook Middle School! Brave is a great read that centers around the issue of bullying and the obvious signs and subtle signs.

Jensen is clearly being bullied but he doesn’t see it that way (is in denial). Brave depicts bullying from all sides and how it effects the person the person being bullied and the bully (also wickedly called “lizard brains”) through a physiological lens. Svetlana Chmakova does a great job weaving this heartbreaking issue into the story in a non-patronizing way, an accessible way.

Every character is dynamically crafted and undergoes some or total change throughout the story. I like that other than bullying, the book also touches upon so many things, such as friendship, self-esteem, civil disobedience, and credible journalism. A lot of topics really but without being to weighty.

I was totally engrossed in the story and couldn’t put it down. I was wholly invested in Jensen’s story and how he dealt with being bullied. Brave is a fantastic story that everyone should read because bullying transcends middle grade age. This book will help someone who is going through the same experiences as Jensen.