I had the privilege of teaming up with two fabulous Legend High School English teachers (shout out to Ms. Tripp and Ms. Eckmann). I came to their classrooms and showed their students what a good book review looks like. They took what they learned and created their own book reviews. Here are the top 17 entries. Please check them out by clicking on a link below. Each review ends with several discussion questions, and I’m sure it would make their day if you left them a comment!
Publisher/Year: Delacorte Press/October 6, 2009
Genres: young adult fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, science fiction, dystopia
Other books from author: The Maze Runner series, The Morality Doctrine series
Summary: Thomas, a teenager, arrives in a glade at the center of a huge maze. Like the other youths dumped there before him, he has no memory of his previous life. Thomas quickly becomes part of the group and soon after demonstrates a unique perspective that scores him a promotion to Runner status, those who patrol the always changing maze to find an escape route. Together with Teresa, the only female, Thomas tries to convince his cohorts that he knows a way out.
Reaction After Finishing: I was completely shocked by the ending.
Thoughts About Book: I really enjoyed this book. I wanted to keep reading and never put it down. I loved the characters along with the action within the story.
The detail: The detail about each character and setting is incredible. The Maze is described in a way that leaves you to imagine the exact picture.
The plot: The plot is creative and interesting to read about. It keeps you on the edge and wanting to read more.
The action: The action within the book keeps it exciting and draws you in deeper.
Factors for Rating: plot, detail, action
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys The Hunger Games series. Anyone that likes action and outdoors surviving.
Final Thoughts on Book: I really enjoyed this book and would definitely read the rest of the series because this book left me wanting more. It was action-filled and kept me on the edge of my seat. The plot is awesome and the ending is even better.
Things to Talk About: What are your thoughts? Would you change anything about the ending or story all together? Are our thoughts similar?
Reviewed by Payton Y – Legend Titan
So What Is It About? It is the story of Violet Markey, a quiet girl on the edge of the popular group whose perception of life changed after the death of her older sister, and Theodore Finch, a misfit who is constantly thinking about death and ways to kill himself. But this isn’t your classic boy meets girl: They meet atop the bell tower with Violet about to attempt suicide. The majority of the story follows Finch and Violet as they work together on a project, finding wonders in the local area.
Reaction Upon Finishing: I honestly don’t know what to say about this book! It was both exciting and sad, inspirational and depressing, optimistic and dark. I got so close to the characters! They felt more like my friends than just fictional creations. They made me laugh, and then ugly cry (the UGLIEST cry since The Fault in Our Stars). I loved this book and just wanted to read it all over again!
What I thought: The story of Finch and Violet is certainly different from the cliché “boy meets girl” type of books. It was one of those types of books that made you want to hold on to it and keep reading all night. I was hooked from the very first chapter. I loved this book and it instantly became one of my favorites on my shelf. I really loved how the author made us feel so connected to the characters. She shows the story from both perspectives of Finch and Violet, and that is what I adored most about reading it. You get to feel and experience what they both see. They slowly become friends and you get to perceive both sides of the story.
Finch is definitely a unique character. He plans his death every day, thinking of new ways how it can happen. He is funny, sarcastic, awkward, and some people would describe him as being a little odd. He likes to start trouble at his school and with the kids because he enjoys it.
Violet is almost completely different from Finch. Before her sister’s death in a tragic car accident, she used to be popular and involved in tons of clubs and extracurricular activities. She isn’t as excited and motivated as she was a few years ago, but after she meets Finch, many things change. She loves to blog and create magazines online. Her favorite thing to do in the whole world is write. She is a lovely character!
+ The main characters are both imaginative and unusual compared to most people. They are complete opposites before they meet, but things change once they spend time together. The writing is also fantastic and there are lots of great quotes.
‐ I don’t have any complaints!
Would I buy a copy for my collection: I already have!
Who do I recommend this book to? I recommend this book to anyone, mainly young adults, who loves romantic love stories and peculiar characters with lots of perspectives on life. If you liked books such as The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, Perks of Being a Wallflower, or Looking for Alaska, you will LOVE this book! Also, if you’re interested in novels being turned into movies, you’re in luck! It’s soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning.
My final thoughts on the book: Overall, this was a fantastic book. I would definitely re‐read this again. I recommend it to anyone out there who loves to snuggle up in bed and read a good book. Finch will DEFINITLY motivate you with some of his words. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and after you’re done reading, you’ll be thinking to yourself … What just happened?! I gotta read that again!
Things we should talk about: If you haven’t read this book, what do you think about it? Is it something you’d be into? How many tissues did you need after finishing this book? Did you enjoy this book as much as I did? How did you feel about the ending?
Reviewed by Olivia B – Legend Titan
So What’s It About? This memoir is of a little girl, Jeannette, who is telling her story of how she grew up in a bitter home, if you could even call it a home. “The skedaddle” is a commonly used term throughout the book said by her father, from not paying the bill to moving from desert to desert. A part of a family of four, growing up they can’t stay in one place too long due to her father’s alcoholism and dislike of an organized society. Soon mom inherits a beautiful home in Phoenix from her parents and things are looking up, and Dad quit drinking as a gift to Jeannette for her 10th birthday. Sadly, things went south and he started drinking again so Mom presented the idea of moving back to Dad’s hometown. Things were at their all-time low there. Jeannette’s little brother is being sexually abused by their father’s Mother, suggesting what it was like when he grew up. Dad’s drinking was also at its worst and Jeannette and her older sister, Lori, have had it. They come up with a plan to chase their dreams and move to New York after they graduate. Jeannette, now a reporter in New York, spots her mom digging through trash. Feeling mixed emotions about abandoning her parents and the realization her father has passed from a heart attack, she soon divorces her husband and moves away from New York, finally feeling at peace with her past and present.
Reaction Upon Finishing: Hands down, best book I’ve ever read! Can I read it again? I don’t even like reading books!
What I Thought: This memoir is such a well-written book, in a way that I did not want to put it down. I can’t capture the passion her voice carries while reflecting back on her troubled past. I can’t describe in the way that she does for one to comprehend such vivid detail. The fact that this is actually how she lived was so intriguing. Here’s why I love it:
Jeannette: Being burned at the age of three because she was boiling her own hot dog, Jeannette was forced into being able to take care of herself way earlier than she is expected to be. Jeannette reminded me a lot of myself. As a child, she was outgoing, outdoorsy, and wild-hearted and her dad’s favorite. She had wild dreams and ambitions and was able to make those wild dreams come true. One of my biggest connections with Jeannette is her uprising feeling of guilt about her move from poverty to middle class. Although I have never been in her position, I have a soft heart and often hypothetically put myself in other people’s shoes. I think Jeannette Walls is great person who has experienced a lot and uses it to her advantage, and anyone else who reads this book can agree with me on that.
The Writing: Jeannette Walls’ writing in this book is very successful. It is that way because it is a memoir, and what makes that so successful is that it is not a figment of Jeannette’s imagination. These things ACTUALLY HAPPENED. She’s able to share her experiences and stories so descriptively it was like you were there with her when they happened. And it doesn’t stop there. Once you pick up that book, it is glued to your hand from then on. It was all I thought about! I wasn’t satisfied with life until I knew what happened next, and that makes for all the best writers.
Family: Her dad really sticks out to me. I believe the reason he does is because he somehow reminds me of my own father. She resents her father’s drinking because that’s the base of all their problems, all the jobs lost and moving from state to state. She resents his lack of accepting his flaws and letting her down. My dad has done none of these things to me, but I can’t say the same for my mom. His life is also consumed by alcohol.
Factors for Rating: Nothing really, just an overall great book!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Already have one. 😉
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
My mom recommended this book to me, so I feel like someone in their teens or adult years. Anyone who loves a good memoir, because this is one of the best ones. Someone who loves family, and maybe even has some of the same troubling events that are touched on in this beautiful book.
My Final Thought
I don’t know how someone could read this book and not like it. It is beautifully crafted into getting your imagination in the shoes of three-year-old Jeannette Walls and following her all the way to adulthood. Jeannette Walls is an amazing writer, and there is more where that came from. Half Broke Horses is the sequel.
Things We Should Talk About
“Have you read this book before? Did you like or dislike it? Why? If you haven’t read it, does it sound like something you want to read? Why or why not?”
Reviewed by Michaela S – Legend Titan
Genres: Autobiographical documentary
Other Books From Author: These are some of his more popular novels: The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Have a Little Faith, and For One More Day.
So What Is It About? Mitch Albom, newspaper sports columnist, records his precious time spent with his very wise old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is slowly dying from ALS. Mitch saw his old professor on TV and decided to visit Morrie one day on a specific Tuesday. After realizing how much Mitch missed Morrie and his remarkable advice, Mitch made visits EVERY Tuesday. Morrie’s intelligence about this life impacts Mitch and changes his life forever. Morrie shifts the way Mitch thinks about popular culture and transforms how he thinks through their deep conversations.
Reaction Upon Finishing: I was upset when this book ended! It taught me very important lessons that everyone should understand.
What I Thought: To be honest, the beginning of this book is a little slow at first, but do not give up! You need to read this book and apply Morrie’s wisdom into your everyday life. Morrie’s acumen taught me about acceptance, communication, love, values, openness, and overall happiness. My perspective about the world around me changed after finishing this book. This book is different because the material is so relatable and applicable.
Morrie and Mitch’s Relationship: Morrie has the unique talent of teaching through the human essence of everyone he becomes friends with. Morrie realizes that his young, innocent student has surrendered himself in the popular culture, which changed Mitch. Mitch and Morrie’s relationship continually grows every time Mitch comes over. When Mitch was in college, taking sociology from Morrie, they were very close friends. Because they lost touch, their strong bond became less and less. The recent contact and Tuesday conversations helped Mitch understand how his life is lacking significance. I would define them as having a father-son relationship. Morrie played a fatherly role towards Mitch from the immense amout of insight he had through his own life experiences.
The Lessons You Learn: Each one of Morrie and Mitch’s conversations results in a lesson being learned. These powerful messages help individuals reject popular cultural values and start developing their own values. Morrie views the popular culture or the media as a dictatorship that controls the suffering of all civilians. Morrie encourages Mitch to free himself of this corrupt, dictatorial culture. This breakaway allows Mitch to reassess his life and discover self-fulfillment. I want to share just some of the many transformative lessons. “Love is the only rational act.” “There is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family.” “Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” “Sometimes you can’t believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel.” “Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.”
It’s a True Story: I love the fact that this book is an autobiography! This factor makes this novel at least three times better in my eyes because all the in-depth conversations, storyline, and characters are 100% real. The way Mitch Albom, himself, wrote the book helps me truly relate to Mitch because most of the story is written through the dialog of him and Morrie. This book also helped me realize there are still good people on this earth who hold a greater understanding. This book will make you cry (if you actually have a heart). Morrie’s demeanor and intelligence will affect you one way or another. An everlasting effect will come over you through the teachings of Morrie Schwartz.
Factors for Rating
- Genre (+)
- Author (+)
- Feeling when finishing the book (+)
- Lessons learned (+)
- Impact in your life (+)
- Symbolism (+)
- Motifs (+)
- Boring (-)
- Confusion/tense of writing (-)
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes, I happily own the book.
Who Would I Recommend This Book To? I would recommend this book to adults and youth who are struggling with a tough situation, who need some genuine advice. This book will not only help you with that problem, but will keep your mind on the right path when it comes to self-worth, love and happiness. I want YOU to read this, so you don’t miss out on anything.
My Final Thought: This book gently reminded me how fragile life is and how I constantly take it for granted. I believe we are here on earth to progress and grow as individuals. If we set our values to popular culture, we can be in serious danger. Wise Morrie Schwartz helps the reader reclaim his or her own system to live by that will truly make you happy. This novel, Tuesdays With Morrie, reveals at least 31 life lessons that are recommended to apply. Mitch Albom’s true story is really great. And that’s why I love this book.
Things We Should Talk About: Do you feel the same way as I do about this book? Do you think there was someone who taught Morrie all these life lessons? Or do you think he gained the knowledge through experience? Is there a specific reason that the “t” in tuesday is not capitalized in the title? From this review, are you interested in reading this novel?
Reviewed by Mallory M – Legend Titan