UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING BY MARCY BELLER PAUL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back today with another book review, Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul.


This is one of those books where I can't remember why I decided I wanted to read it, I just knew I did at some point because I bought a copy.

The story follows Mattie, a girl who is in high school. Mattie and her friend Kris haven't associated with the other half of their friend group in a year and a half because of some event that happened. I can't really tell you too much more about the plot because there isn't really a lot more plot. That's pretty much it.

I had a few problems with this book, so I guess, based on the reviews, I am on the side of the fence that wasn't a huge fan.

My first issue was that I couldn't really get into this book. It took a good 100 pages (a little too much in a <300-page book) for me to actually want to continue reading. I almost DNF'd this book multiple times in the first little bit because I wasn't enjoying it. Now, there are a few reasons for this: I'm fighting off a slump, so that doesn't help matters and because this book is fairly split when it comes to people loving it or not being a fan, I tend to stay on the pessimistic side of things. I'm not sure if it was the book itself, the writing, story, etc. or if it was me, but I had a difficult time getting into this book.

Once I did get into it, I felt like there wasn't a lot going on. Like I said before, there isn't really much going on in terms of plot. It's just kind of Mattie's life these days and a couple flashbacks to the event that ruined it all. I almost preferred reading the flashback memories and I wish that was more of the book. There were a couple of times where I felt like I just walked into the middle of a story - references made to the event but no one was telling me what had happened. I understand the effect it was supposed to have, but I just didn't enjoy it.

I did really enjoy the interactions with Jolene and Mattie - they were creepy and showed an interesting toxic friendship dynamic. I just wish there was more of that. When we see their present-day interactions, most of those interactions are gone, both girls have become different people.

I feel like I would have preferred the original story, not the recap, 2 years later situation. It almost felt unnecessary to have this secondary telling of that story and I think I am missing the purpose as to why that was done.

Overall, I can see why people like this book and I can see why people aren't huge fans. I do think, however, if you can power through the first bit, the story picks up and you'll have a better chance at enjoying it.


THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with a fairly short review today for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.


This book was phenomenal.

I'm going to keep this review super short because I think you should read the book, not my review, to get the full message.

The story follows 16-year-old Starr who has just witnessed a police officer murder of one of her friends after they were leaving a party. This book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, but it is so much more than that. There is love, hate, family, friendship, racism, police brutality, the list goes on.

This book provided such an eye-opening experience for me. Sometimes it is hard to put yourself in other people's shoes, especially when their world and life seems so different from your own. But Thomas does a fantastic job of laying it all out. She presents both sides of every story: the police officer's interpretation of the situation vs. Starr's first-hand account; Starr's uncle and aunt who are considered rich vs. Starr's family, more on the poor side; Starr's uncle Carlos, a black cop who is enraged that a fellow officer pulled a gun on two unarmed teens vs. Officer Cruise, a white cop who some say was just doing his job.

Throughout this book, Thomas doesn't get preachy, she doesn't tell you how to live your life or how to treat others, she just gives a much-needed voice that shows how the situation COULD be handled. She presents the details of this story so that even those who don't see the divisions of society are left with a new perspective and an open mind.

I think that is all I want to say about this book, and I highly recommend you pick it up as well.


JOYRIDE BY ANNA BANKS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Joyride by Anna Banks.


I'll give the book this, it sounded interesting.

The story follows 16-year-old Carly, an American-born Mexican who, with the help of her older brother, is trying to smuggle her recently deported parents back into the US. One night while working the graveyard shift at a convenience store, Carly meets Arden, the sheriff's son and last person she wants to associate with. Arden eventually convinces Carly to become his accomplice in his pranks but the two soon realize that being the sheriff's son has benefits that don't extend to Carly. In fact, Arden's dad's re-election campaign is centered around tightening restrictions on undocumented immigrants.

I'm so torn because I really enjoyed the storyline of this book - I haven't had the chance to read a lot of books on undocumented immigrants and deportation, the only other one I can think of being The Sun Is Also a Star - so I was really invested in Carly's story. But I just found some parts were slow and not really as enthralling as the title seems to suggest.

Firstly, I want to preface this review by saying that I am not an immigrant. I am not the child of immigrants. I will never know, on a first-hand basis, what the situation like what Carly's family goes through will feel like. Any analysis on that topic that I give should be taken with a grain of salt, as I am not the best person to verify the situation.

I will say, however, that the story Banks writes seems very plausible and remains heartbreaking. I cannot even imagine what she is going through. It's books like these that really put my own life into perspective and show that no matter how bad things get, they could always be worse.

In terms of characters, I really liked both Carly and Arden. I'm kind of sick and tired of the womanizing jock trope and while Banks shows that Arden is not that fairly quickly, I just felt like that cliche wasn't necessary to enhance the story. Carly is strong and smart. She knew her situation and the cards stacked against her but she didn't let that get in her way. I will say there were a few times where she just kind of went along with Arden's pranks even though she knew they might get caught. Part of me thinks she was reckless, but then the other part of me thinks that she shouldn't have to worry about what happens if they get caught.

I think aside from the obviously horrible situation I didn't really feel anything in this book. The romance was lukewarm for me, it seemed a little too insta-lovey and convenient for my tastes and I never really felt the spark between the two. I think this might be the biggest fault of this book, at the end, I just feel meh because of that ending.

Overall, the storyline of this book was really great but I just felt like the execution was a little lacking.