Young Adult Reviews: Summer 2013

YA Reviews

There are many bloggers and book reviewers who do an excellent job of critiquing all of the wonderful YA books that are out there; so I’m just going to give my quick reviews of a few YA books I’ve recently read.  I tend to pick up books that I would’ve typically liked in my teenage years, too.

Listening for Lions

This book is absolutely wonderful; I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day! First of all, historical fiction-esque books are among my favorite.

Listening for Lions is a breathtaking story of tragedy, deception, and triumph against all odds. National Book Award–winning author Gloria Whelan sets this richly historical coming–of–age adventure in British East Africa in the year 1918.

This irresistible novel entangles an orphaned girl in a deceit filled plot. Young Rachel Sheridan is made to leave her beloved Africa for England, where she must pose as the deceased daughter of a nefarious couple in an effort to gain them an enormous inheritance. Her irrepressible spirit and extraordinary wit turn her from victim to heroine in a surprising and empowering tale of a remarkable young woman.

The reason I enjoyed the settings (Africa & England) is that the readers get to experience both countries and cultures within this book; Whelan writes detailed, gorgeous lines about each place.  Furthermore, I love the classic literary element about “an orphaned girl in deciet filled plot,” very Dickens.  The reader learns much about Rachel’s parents who are medical missionaries to Africa; it’s a fascinating look, at that time period in history, of how third world countries survived.

Rachel is a well-written character who is certainly no fooled by anyone and, because of her confidence and strength, creates an empowering life for herself.  First: I love reading books that make me fall into the world – I can hear the lions and see the homes she describes so well – it’s fantastic.  Two: I love when I read a currently written novel, but it reads as if it’s been on the shelves for decades.

I bought this used since our library didn’t have a copy, and I’m so glad I did – I’ll be reading it over and over again!

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

This book is very quaint, just like the summer cottage Stella shares with her great-aunt, Louise, on Cape Cod.  Louise manages summer cottages for vacationers, and Stella ends up creating a more stable home at Cape Cod, than with her unreliable mother.  Louise, too, takes on a foster child – a young teenage girl named Angel – who clashes with most everyone, including Stella.

Both girls feel unattached and less like a family, but an unexpected situation and a summer of working together brings them together in a way they never though possible. The main character Stella, is a well developed character, who is highly realistic in the optimism she holds of her old life with her mother.  The details of Cape Cod are realistic; however, I had trouble with one of the plot twists and couldn’t quite get over it, through the rest of the book.  It was good, not great – for me.

 Check out these two reviews I wrote this summer – I highly recommend each of these:

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang

Three Times Luck by Sheila Turnage


Two more fun YA books I’ve added to my read list – tell me what else you’ve read that’s good?


The Mother-Daughter Book Club

Spy School



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