Review: The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar

The Bigfoot FilesTitle: The Bigfoot Files
Author: Lindsay Eagar
Genres: Middle Grade
Goodreads

From the author of Hour of the Bees comes another captivating story that deftly blurs the line between reality and magic — and will leave you wondering What if?

The Loch Ness Monster. The Frogman. Bigfoot. Twelve-year-old Miranda Cho used to believe in it all, used to love poring over every strange footprint, every stray hair, everything that proved that the world was full of wonders. But that was before her mother’s obsession with monsters cost Miranda her friends and her perfect school record, before Miranda found the stack of unopened bills and notices of foreclosure in the silverware drawer. Now the fact that her mom’s a cryptozoologist doesn’t seem wonderful — it’s embarrassing and irresponsible, and it could cost them everything. So Miranda agrees to go on one last creature hunt, determined to use all her scientific know-how to prove to her mother, once and for all, that Bigfoot isn’t real. Then her mom will have no choice but to grow up and get a real job — one that will pay the mortgage and allow Miranda to attend the leadership camp of her dreams. But when the trip goes horribly awry, will it be Miranda who’s forced to question everything she believes?

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book.

This book is incredibly captivating, and it sucked me in from the first word. I just couldn’t put it down. The writing is magical; it feels both heavy and light at the same time, but the overtone of the book is definitely darker. Something I didn’t expect from the synopsis, but something I definitely ended up loving.

I really enjoyed spending some time in the head of the main character, because I liked her a lot as a character, and I could relate to her very much. Miranda is a logical girl; her mother has been searching for these creatures for years and they haven’t found any evidence besides some footprints and scats, which very well could be from another animal. And once Miranda starts to see things that indicate that these strange creatures might actually exist, she banishes these things to the very back of her mind and tries to find logical reasons for everything that’s happening.

Miranda is also a girl who takes on a lot of responsibilities and who wants everything to be absolutely perfect. When she doesn’t succeed in this, the only thing that can calm her down is pulling out hair. This ground her, and gives her a sense of calmness. I’ve never personally dealt with trichotellomenia before, but I do have anxiety and that part of Miranda’s personality was incredibly relatable.

Besides Miranda, Miranda’s mother is also an incredibly interesting character. She’s incredibly messy, doesn’t always behave in a way you’d expect a mother to behave, and you quickly learn to agree with Miranda: her mom is no good and needs to grow up. But after a while you learn that there’s definitely more to her mom. The not-great stuff she does is definitely not excused, but you get to see that there’s more layers to her, and that’s what makes her so incredibly interesting.

Overall, this book was definitely different than what I thought it was going to be, but I was pleasantly surprised and I’d definitely recommend this book to all of you.

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Review: I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I Was Born For ThisTitle: I Was Born For This
Author: Alice Oseman
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

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I Was Born For This meant the entire world to me, and more.

One of the things I appreciated most about the book was the anxiety rep. Jimmy, the main character, has anxiety and has a few panic attacks throughout the book, and everything about this was so incredibly relatable to me. From the fear of the plane crashing even though you know it’s probably not going to happen, to the full on panic attacks he experiences. I had tears running down my face while reading some of his scenes because I felt understood in a way that I’ve never felt before, and that’s so important to me. Lees verder

Review: Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles

Fresh Ink: An AnthologyTitle: Fresh Ink
Edited by: Lamar Giles
Genres: Young Adult anthology
Goodreads

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

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I have said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m not the biggest fan of anthologies. Short stories often just don’t work for me so, why do I keep picking them up? Because in every single anthology there’s always at least one short story that I absolutely adore, and that makes the entire anthology worth it. And, luckily for me, this anthology had quite a few of those stories.

Here’s a little overview of my thoughts on all of the stories:

Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds, 4 stars – Jason Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, and I always love his writing and his characters. But I think I like his full-length books more than his short stories.
Meet Cute by Malinda Lo, 5 stars – A f/f story set at a convention? Sign me up! I loved this a lot, and I kind of want a longer version of this.
Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth, 4 stars – I always really enjoy Eric Gansworths writing, and the story was very important. Loved the characters.
Be Cool for Once by Aminah Mae Safi, 3 stars – This was enjoyable and I liked the setting, but me and Amina Mae Safi’s writing just don’t match.
Tags by Walter Dean Myers, 4 stars – I normally never read plays so it was a bit confusing at first, but this was incredibly chilling and powerful. (TW: death, gun violence)
Why I Learned to Cook by Sara Farizan, 5 stars – If you can get me to cry over a story within just a few pages, you automatically deserve 5 stars. Plus, I’m just a sucker for food descriptions and cooking scenes.
A Stranger at the Bochinche by Daniel José Older, 4 stars – Daniel José Olders writing is just incredible, and I really enjoyed this story.
A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake, DNF – This just did not work for me at all. The setting was great, it was very atmospheric, but I felt very lost. Plus, you know something’s wrong when a short story feels like it’s never going to end.
One Voice by Melissa de la Cruz, 3.5 stars – It was an enjoyable story, but the ending felt super abrupt.
Palladin/Samurai by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham – This was basically impossible to read on my kindle, so I really hope that’ll be fixed in the final copy. But the illustrations looked really good, as far as I could see.
Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar, 5 stars – This was very hard to read, mostly because my eyes were filled with tears the entire time. (TW: transphobia)
Super Human by Nicola Yoon, 5 stars – Nicola Yoon’s stories in anthologies are always so unique and I love them a lot. This was incredible. (TW: gun violence)

This was definitely one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read (not that I’ve read many, but still), and I’d totally recommend all of them!

(trigger warning: besides the trigger warnings next to certain stories, almost every single one of them deals with racism.)

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Review: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

To Be HonestTitle: To Be Honest
Author: Maggie Ann Martin
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

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Thank you so much to Macmillan for sending me an ARC of this book.

To be honest, I was very afraid of reading this book. The main character in this book is fat, and her mom is constantly trying to lose weight to try and keep up with the weight she lost after being on an extreme weight loss program, and her mom tries to pressure her to lose weight too.

The reason why I was scared is because I’m a fat woman too, and I’ve been around people who try and pressure me to lose weight for a long long time. I’m trying to feel positive about my body, but it’s incredibly hard. And I thought reading the mom’s comments would get to me. And it did. Luckily the main character, Savannah, was very fat positive and made me feel a lot better. I loved that, and we need so many more fat-positive books. Lees verder

Review: Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham

Don't Stop Thinking About TomorrowTitle: Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
Author: Siobhan Curham
Genres: Young adult contemporary
Goodreads

Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie… As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

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Thank you so much to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of this book. 

I was in a bit of a reading slump when I started Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, and it pulled me right out of that slump, and I ended up finishing the book in a little more than a day. This book is the perfect slump-beater. It’s easy to get into, a very quick-read, and the chapters are very short because you keep switching between perspectives which was perfect for me because I tend to get a little bored while reading long chapters, and lose my focus.

The mental health representation in this book is something I feel conflicted about. Stevie’s mother suffers from depression and anxiety and she spends all day in bed. I liked how the book explored therapy and medication, but I didn’t like how Stevie’s mum quite suddenly got better after changing her medication and going to therapy once. This is something that happens quite often in books and I feel like it’s quite harmful, because when I got ill, all of my friends expected me to be better in a couple of weeks. That obviously didn’t happen. We need to show that recovery is, often times, a long and slow process, and I wish we’d seen a little more of that in the book.

Stevie also talks about “catching her mom’s depression” in the book, which is also just a very harmful thing to say. Depression, nor any other mental illnesses, are contagious.

I loved both main characters, Hafiz and Stevie, and how passionate they both were for the things they loved. Hafiz about soccer and stories, and Stevie about music. I also really loved the friendship that blossomed between them, and even though there were definitely some hints at romance (spoiler) I’m honestly really glad this book solely focused on the friendship. We need more of that in YA.

A big thing that kept me from 100% loving this book though, was the fact that this book wasn’t ownvoices. From statistics I’ve seen it’s incredibly clear that not enough stories by people of color are published worldwide, and also in the UK, so the fact that this story that focused a lot on the refugee crisis in Syria wasn’t written by someone who’s lived through this experience feels wrong. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how much more real this book could’ve been.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that the author chose to shed light on such an important topic, and I really hope people are going to pay more attention to what’s going on because of it, but… yeah.

Overall, I did like reading the book and I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that it got me out of my slump, but there were definitely a few things that kept me from loving it.

(trigger warnings: depression, anxiety, racism, refugee crisis, stories about death) 

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Review: Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Hullmetal GirlsTitle: Hullmetal Girls
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genres: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Goodreads

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together–a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

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Thank you so much to PRH International for sending me an ARC of this book. 

I was incredibly excited for Hullmetal Girls when I first picked it up.  I read Emily Skrutskie’s The Edge of the Abyss and absolutely loved it, and I had heard that the protagonist of Hullmetal Girls identifies as aroace. But, I also felt a little… scared. I don’t tend to read a lot of sci-fi so I felt a little intimidated (what if it’s too difficult for me? What if I don’t understand?), and a review had just came out which said that the marginalized characters in this book weren’t treated very well. I almost didn’t pick the book up because I was scared I was going to get hurt, but I had the ARC so I read it.

Did I end up liking the book? Ehm, that’s a difficult question, honestly. Let’s start with the positive. Lees verder

Review: Rebound by Kwame Alexander

ReboundTitle: Rebound
Series: The Crossover 0.5
Author: Kwame Alexander
Genres: Middle Grade
Goodreads

Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshipping, basketball star his sons look up to.

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If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know that I’ve already read the two other books in this series (The Crossover and Booked) and absolutely loved them. I knew I was going to love this book too, but I was still scared going into it because it’s a prequel to The Crossover, so you already know how it’s going to end. I was scared that it’d be heartbreaking and it most definitely was, but in a good way. A really good way.

Rebound is about a boy named Chuck, who later turned into the father of Josh and Jordan from The Crossover. We followed him after the sudden loss of his father, and saw what he was like as a kid. We see him spending time with his family, learn about his friends (and future wife!!) and see him picking up basketball.

Once again, the writing was absolutely incredible. I listened to Rebound as an audiobook because the book is entirely written in verse and I feel like it’s so much more powerful when it’s read to me, and just, wow. It was such a powerful read and I cried multiple times.

Just like in the other two books, both the story and the characters were wonderful. I’m quite amazed by this series because, usually when I’m reading a series I can pick a clear favorite, but with this series I really can’t. They’re just all so consistently good.

I’m incredibly excited to pick up more Kwame Alexander books after this. I really want to pick up Solo next because it sounds great, and I’m curious to see what his books that are not apart of this series are like. I’m sure it’s going to be an incredible read as well.

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Blog Tour: Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi – Review

Not the Girls You%27re Looking For.png

Today I’m taking part in the Not the Girls You’re Looking For blog tour, hosted by Aimee, Always!

Not the Girls You're Looking For

Title: Not the Girls You’re Looking For
Author: Aminah Mae Safi
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

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Review: Meet Cute | My Very First Anthology

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to MeetTitle: Meet Cute
Authors: Various authors
Genres: Young Adult
Goodreads

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

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I’ve never read an anthology before. Not that I’ve never tried, (I’ve actually started a few but never ended up finishing them) they were just never really my thing. I need some time to get into a world or care about characters, and everytime I started doing that, the story would be over. And then I’d have to do it all over again, which was not a fun time for me. I think I also always compared the short stories to a full length novels, which is something I actively tried not to do this time around, and it must have worked because I actually managed to finish the book!

Of course the best way to review this anthology would be to review every single story separately, but I, being the smart person that I am, completely forgot to take notes while reading. Well, that’s not really true. I didn’t forget, I just thought I’d be able to remember. When will I learn? Luckily I do remember what star ratings I’d give every single story so I’ll leave that down below, but I’ll share some of my overall thoughts on the anthology here.

Okay, so, one of the reasons why I ended up liking this book was (and this might sound weird but oh well) because I allowed myself to DNF a few stories that I knew I wasn’t going to like. For example, there was this one story (I think the one by Katie Cotugno) which writing style I knew wasn’t for me, so I DNF’d it after 2 paragraphs. Why force yourself to struggle through something when you know you’re not going to like it? And within the few pages that the story has, the chance of it completely changing around on you and you falling in love with it are fairly small…

I ended up DNF’ing 4 stories in total, and all of the other stories were above 3 stars for me. The stories I ended up liking the most were the one’s by Nina Lacour, Katherine McGee, Dhonielle Clayton, Emery Lord, Jocelyn Davies and Kass Morgan. I also really liked Nicola Yoon’s story, and thought her ability to create a whole new world in such a small number of pages was incredible, but the romance made me a tad uncomfortable. Besides that, I also really appreciated what Meredith Russo’s story tried to do, but I felt like the topic was way too big to be discussed in such a small number of pages. It needed more, and felt too rushed.

I thought the stories in this anthology were incredibly cute, and they made me very happy. They were a great and an easy pick-me-up when I couldn’t read much because of studying. Every time I felt incredibly stressed I’d just sit down for 20 minutes and read a story, and it’d make a really big difference. I appreciate it for that. But quite a few stories could’ve been better… But I’m guessing that’s the case with every single anthology.

Overall, this book was fun, cute and made me happy, but it was also a bit mediocre… There are only a few stories that will stay with me for a while, but I’ve already forgotten most of the details from a lot of the stories. I do plan on picking up more anthologies in the future though, because this one did make me realise that it’s possible for me to like them, and that’s something.

Here are my single ratings:

Siege and Etiquette by Katie Cotugno – DNF
Print Shop by Nina LaCour – ★★★★★
Hourglass by Ibi Zoboi – ★★★
Click by Katharine McGee – ★★★★★
The Intern by Sara Shepard – DNF
Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo – ★★★
The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton – ★★★★
Oomph by Emery Lord – ★★★★★
The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout – DNF
The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies – ★★★★★
259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan – ★★★★
Something Real by Julie Murphy – ★★★★
Say Everything by Huntley Fitzpatrick – DNF
The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon – ★★★★

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Review: The Vanderbeekers and the Secret Garden by Karina Yan Glaser | The Perfect Middle Grade Book

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

Title: The Vanderbeekers and the Secret Garden
Series: The Vanderbeekers #2
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Genres: Middle Grade Fiction
Goodreads

Return to Harlem’s “wildly entertaining” family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem–in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.

While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.

In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.

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Do you ever read a book that makes you teary-eyed the entire time, because the book is just so lovely and wonderful? Because that’s definitely what this book did for me.

I already fell in love with the Vanderbeeker family, a biracial family with five kids and their pets living in Harlem, while reading the first book in this series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st street. Every single member of the family is incredibly loving and caring, but they’re also all their own person. Usually when I’m reading a book with quite a few characters they end up kind of blurring together, but that definitely didn’t happen with this book. I can remember every single name and even the things that make each of these characters unique, and from someone as forgetful as I am, that’s quite high praise.

In this book, The Vanderbeeker kids try to create a garden for their upstairs neighbors, Mr. Jeet and Miss Josie, after Mr. Jeet has a stroke. The kids were incredibly worried about Mr. Jeet (and after falling in love with his character in book one, I was right there with them), but the fact that they managed to distract themselves by putting so much energy in making this garden was lovely to see.

I loved reading about the garden. I loved reading about the kids working in it, about them learning about plants, about them trying to save it, etc. And I also quite enjoyed all of the Secret Garden references. Just, the entire book was so wonderful.

One of my favourite parts about this series, though, is Mr. Beiderman, and the way that they treat him. Mr. Beiderman is their landlord, and (spoiler for book one) his wife and daughter passed away in a car accident a few years ago. Middle grade books often tend to glance over heavy things like grief, but this one definitely didn’t. Mr. Beiderman has an incredibly hard time sometimes, and the kids are very respectful towards that. They try to cheer him up, but they also realize that they’re not going to be able to fix the situation, and there’s even a scene in which the youngest kid says “It’s okay, Mr. Beiderman. Mama always says healing takes time.”

Honestly, I love everything about this book. The characters, their adventures, the way it doesn’t shy away from more serious topics, the messages it sends, etc. In my opinion, this is the perfect middle grade book, and I know I’ll probably reread it many times.

Also, in case you were wondering; yes, writing this review made me tear up again. Please don’t judge me.

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