Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Review Summary Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a …

ARC: The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

Review Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Summary Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into …

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

In Speak, we are introduced to Melinda Sordino, a girl who enters her freshman year of high school to discover that all her friends (and everyone else she runs into) hate her for calling the cops during a summer party a month before school began. As Melinda moves through the awkward loneliness of this new …

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

I know what you’re thinking: “But Elise, this is a children’s book! Why would you put this on a blog for adults? What could we possibly find in a book meant for 11 year olds?” Hold you horses, people, cause it turns out we can learn a whole hell of a lot from well-written children’s …

The Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

In The Last Bus to Wisdom, Doig tells the tale of Donal, an inquisitive and gregarious 11-year old. When his Gran has to undergo surgery, Donal is put on a bus to go spend the summer with his great-aunt Kitty in Wisconsin. The bus journey proves to be full of surprising characters, and Donal gets all …

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go follows the lives of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, all of whom have been lucky enough to be raised at Hailsham, an idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. Told from Kathy’s point of view, readers witness the increasing struggle of the Hailsham children to understand their murky “special” purpose in the …

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

Cold Sassy Tree is a heartfelt novel about life in a small Georgia town around the turn of the century. The story begins with the main character, Will Tweedy, witnessing his grandfather’s announcement that he intends to marry a woman 20 years his junior—only three weeks after the death of his grandmother! The town throws …

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is, at its heart, a story about finding your way, about learning how to follow your dreams as well as appreciate the journey you take to reach them. Told in the style of a fable or fairytale, the writing is simple and straightforward, yet impregnated with philosophical meaning. The plot revolves around a …

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The plot of Midnight’s Children revolves around the life of Saleem Sinai, a boy born in Bombay at the exact stroke of midnight when India achieved independence from British rule. Due to this ominous birth, Saleem’s life (and the lives of 1,000 other children born during that midnight hour) becomes magically and devastatingly intertwined with the life of the new India. Remember how, in Forest Gump, Gump always stumbles into some important moment in history by accident, or how his actions somehow lead to an important event taking place? Midnight’s Children is like that, but the tale is woven and braided together in such a complicated pattern that it’s difficult to understand how only one mind could have contained and produced it all. Elements repeat subtly and enchantingly; sorrow and joy are intertwined with such complexity that one feels, upon finishing the book, that one has lived through someone else’s lifetime—it’s exhausting and disorienting to say the least, and yet it’s an experience unparalleled in all my years of reading.