Margin Notes

STUDENT WRITER HAILEY CRONKHITE RECOMMENDS MAKE ME A LIAR BY MELISSA LANDERS

Jul
23

If you like surprises Make Me a Liar is right up your alley. Get ready to take a trip on a nail-biting adventure when you read this. The plot consists of Tia an ordinary teenage girl who holds a unique secret. One day, as she takes up her normal side gig. She sees herself kill another person. The police catch on, and frame her for a murder she didn’t commit, or did she?  From the smart reactions and hilarious remarks, this book feels like a real gem. To say this book is addictive is an understatement. 

 The character development was on point. The character’s sharp contrast from one another made the book stand out. An example of this, is when the main character Tia and Blade a side character meet. Their opposite personalities shine. Throughout the book, they must navigate through their differences. It makes for some interesting conversations and situations to read throughout the book. The unique plot and realistic characters are what make Make Me a Liar such an enjoyable book. 

 This book would be the perfect pick for older teenagers as content includes swearing and mature jokes and for readers who enjoy murder mystery, crime, suspense, thriller, and a pinch of romance. This book would be perfect for someone who loves to sit on the edge of their chair and loves to read mystery and suspense. The plot is a nail-biting story, so if you do not like that type of book, I would not recommend it. Although the beginning was a bit slow, it gradually picks up throughout the middle. I would still highly recommend this rollercoaster of a book to anyone interested! 

 

Hailey Cronkhite is a student at Fredericton High School, who lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She lives in a small neighborhood with her loving mom and her mom’s boyfriend. Hailey has been writing since elementary school. Ever since she was little, she would always construct stories of her own. She enjoys writing line by line and eventually telling a story as she goes along. 

 

STUDENT WRITER ANNE PETER RECOMMENDS BETTING ON YOU BY LYNN PAINTER

Jul
16

Lynn Painter is an author that writes romantic comedies for teens and adults. She is the New York times bestselling author of Better Than the Movies and Mr. Wrong Number. She currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her children.  

Lynn Painter’s YA book, Betting on you, dives into the life of a teenage girl that is adapting to her parent’s divorce. It shows the different things teenagers struggle with like; anxiety, relationships, friendships and change. This book lets us see the life of Bailey and Charlie who both have experienced the complexities of parental separation. Bailey and Charlie first meet in an airport in Fairbanks when Bailey was leaving her dad to stay in Nebraska with her mom.   

Three years later, Bailey gets a job with her best friend and is surprised to find out that Charlie is her co-worker. Bailey still isn’t thrilled to meet Charlie, but tolerates him anyways. Charlie has an ideal that two people of the opposite sex simply cannot be friends, but Bailey begs to differ. They end up making a bet where Bailey has to prove to Charlie that boys and girl can indeed be friends without any strings attached.  

When they start “fake dating” to get rid of Bailey’s mom’s boyfriend, Bailey tries not to fall for Charlie, but fails miserably. While Charlie desperately tries to deflect his feelings for Bailey for fear that their friendship will be ruined. But, their “only co-workers” relationship soon turns out to be a “more than friends” relationship with shaky hands and memorable events. 

The characters in this book are really relatable. There are a lot of teens struggling with divorce and this book reveals how divorce and solo travelling affects teenagers, as seen in the life of Bailey. There is also a realness to this book because, even as Bailey and Charlie are in some sort of relationship, there are a few setbacks and fights. There are also a lot of Taylor Swift references in this book. The word choice and nicknames in this book totally crack me up.  

Overall, Betting on you is a gripping and entrancing book. The growing chemistry between Bailey and Charlie is very alluring. Watching them try to deny their attraction for each other is quite frustrating, but all the moments where they get lost in their feelings are so cute. I would recommend this rom-com YA book to everyone above the age of 13. This is honestly one of the best books I’ve read in a while.  

Anne Peter is a student in Fredericton High School. She grew up in Nigeria and moved to Fredericton last year. She was born on the 9th of September 2008. She lives in Fredericton with her mother and two younger sisters. She hasn’t published or written any books yet, but she has written a few pieces for school and for the fun of it. Whenever she isn’t writing or learning, she is reading a book, watching TikToks or watching anime. She has social anxiety, so she is a bit awkward at times. She has a calm personality and can be very fun if you get to know her. She is very introverted and prefers being in her own circle. She dislikes anything that puts her in social situations and the terms “group work” or “presentation”. She absolutely loves fried chicken and tangerines. She prefers working with music because it makes her concentrate and connect to what she is doing. Presently, she has a lot of ambitions and a lot of things she hopes to achieve. She aspires to have A LOT OF MONEY and wants to travel the whole world.  

STUDENT WRITER ALLIE ASHFORD RECOMMENDS FIVE SURVIVE BY HOLLY JACKSON

Jul
09

New York Times #1 bestselling author Holly Jackson’s YA novel, Five Survive,  follows a group of teens on a road trip with deadly consequences. It’s the perfect mystery filled with lies and secrets that will have you on the edge of your seat. This excellently paced story never fails to keep you entertained with unforeseeable twists and turns, all happening in one night.  

Told from the third person perspective of Redford Kenny, an eighteen-year-old troubled teen with an unreliable father and deceased mother, we see six friends go on a spring break trip in a camper, the only trip Red can afford. When service cuts out and they get lead to an isolated dirt road, another problem strikes: a flat tire. With that problem fixed and the camper ready to go again, they head to continue their journey, hollering as they begin to drive away. However, they don’t make it far as they come to an abrupt stop, all four tires collapsing into the ground. While observing the tires, Red notices a tiny red light staggering around them, and it isn’t long before a loud crack reveals a bullet hole in the camper wall. With a deadly laser breaking into their camper, bullets prepared, Red and her friends must try and escape. The only way out is to reveal a secret to the sniper lurking in the woods, but whose secret is it? While reading this book you will see Red uncover lies she wishes to have never known, witness evocative actions, and make discoveries that will haunt her forever.  

This “perfect nail-biting mystery”, as author Natasha Preston says, is an amazing thriller that is suitable for people in high school or older due to its mature dialogue, violence, and graphic content. This is an amazing book if you wish to be confused, jarred, and beguiled.  

Allie Ashford is a grade ten student at Fredericton High School that loves baking, creating art, and writing, obviously. She spends most of her time typing away on her laptop, which I am sure her mother appreciates as it keeps the kitchen clean. For Allie, completing pieces she is proud of gives her a sense of accomplishment, and she finds that really motivating.   

 

STUDENT WRITER AJ JEFFREY RECOMMENDS A THOUSAND STEPS INTO NIGHT BY TRACI CHEE 

Jul
02

A Thousand Steps into Night is a captivating fantasy novel taking place in medieval Japan. The story unfolds in the realm of Awara, a world full of spirits and demons. Some of these otherworldly beings are kind, while others are not. The protagonist, Miuko, lives a constrained life as an innkeeper’s daughter, with little influence due to her gender. 

Miuko’s life takes a dramatic turn when she’s hit by a curse that begins transforming her into a demon. This unexpected twist forces her to embark on a journey to undo the curse and reclaim her human form. As she ventures through the treacherous landscapes of Awara, Miuko encounters gods, demons, and tricksters, each posing unique challenges she must overcome. 

Throughout her journey, Miuko grapples with the newfound powers and freedom that her demonic transformation has put upon her. As she navigates her changing identity, Miuko starts to question whether she truly wants to return to her former life or if the power and liberation of her demon form are worth the cost of her humanity. 

A Thousand Steps into Night is a thrilling read that combines action and Japanese mythology. It features a diverse cast of characters who engage with readers on multiple levels. The novel explores many diverse themes, including personal transformation and the conflict between societal expectations and individual desires, which many teenagers today may relate to. 

This book is best suited for mature audiences due to its exploration of dark themes such as sexual assault, murder, and sexism, so readers should proceed with caution. While the premise of this book may seem daunting for those unfamiliar with Japanese history and mythology, the author provides footnotes whenever something a reader may not know much about is introduced, making it easy to follow along with the book. 

Fans of Japanese mythology and fantasy adventures will find “A Thousand Steps into Night” an enthralling read. 

AJ Jeffrey is obsessed with reading and writing. While they may not have any professionally published work, but many of their short stories can be found being shared in online spaces. In addition to fictional stories, AJ loves writing historical essays for fun. When they’re not writing, AJ can be found playing sports. Their favourite sport is softball, and they can be found playing on three different teams throughout the year. 

 

GUEST WRITER SUSAN MILLER RECOMMENDS THE BERRY PICKERS BY AMANDA PETERS

Jun
25

Author Amanda Peters is a mixed-race woman of Mi’kmaq and European ancestry who was born and raised in Nova Scotia. Her debut novel, The Berry Pickers, is an adult novel that delves into heavy topics so this interesting read is not for the faint of heart; however, for mature Grade 11 and 12 readers, it should be in your classroom. Peters shows her readers the ins and outs of trauma within the story of Ruthie, a four-year-old Indigenous little girl who disappears while her family is in Maine working the blueberry fields. Peters allows her readers into the minds and thoughts of the family mainly through the eyes and memories of Joe, the sibling closest to Ruthie in age. Peters uses the technique of flashbacks within this novel, and Joe shows readers in flashbacks the way he and his family deal with Ruthie’s vanishing. Joe struggles with many issues over his life— guilt, regret, grief, death, loss, anger, abuse, alcoholism to name a few —and readers will be captivated by the vivid descriptions and images that Peters carefully crafts. Readers can easily visualize what Peters writes and the words come to life on the page — this is a definite plus of the novel as a movie is taking place in the reader’s mind with every turn of the page.

The Berry Pickers is also a window into the way Indigenous individuals were treated in our country and by our neighbours to the south during most of the 20th century. At various times, it is a difficult read, but just because something is difficult to read, it doesn’t mean it isn’t important reading.

The Berry Pickers is also a story about love and Peters paints a story of resilience within the novel though the character of Norma. Norma is an only child in a home where the loving mother is sickly, controlling, and secretive in addition to not being in the best state of mind mentally; however, Norma does have an aunt who loves her like her own and who stands beside her throughout her entire life. Love is woven into the book in different ways and chapters alternate between Joe and Norma so the reader is shown many relationships and differing times throughout the two perspectives which only serves to enhance the story.

So, if you are looking to increase indigenous representation on your classroom bookshelves, and to challenge your stronger, mature readers, this story of trauma, struggle and resilience is a recommended addition.

Susan Miller truly loves her job as a teacher of English at Minto Memorial High School where she’s been since 1993.  She strongly believes that reading is the key to student success and prides herself on helping her students find great books to read.

STUDENT WRITER JOANNA DINAN RECOMMENDS SOLITAIRE BY ALICE OSEMAN

Jun
18

Few people are aware that the characters in Heartstopper existed long before Alice Oseman drew the first panel in the popular graphic novel series. In her debut novel, Solitaire, Oseman invented the beautifully complex universe that so many 21st century teens have fallen in love with.

Tori Spring is tangled in a mess of fake friendships and family issues. With such a complicated life and everything only getting worse, Tori can only seem to find solace in her blog. The chemistry of Tori’s situation may seem toxic, but she manages–until a series of Post-Its leads her to Solitaire, an empty blog… and Michael Holden. In the beginning, Solitaire seems to be a harmless organization, but of course, the blog’s impact crescendos, and leads to damage beyond anything anyone could’ve anticipated. Tori is certain that Michael Holden is involved, but she simply cannot understand what his role is within Solitaire and what their goal could be… and as the story progresses, she realizes that Michael Holden may be her only reliable friend. All the while, Tori must deal with her own mental health struggles, but she is determined to keep it together for her brother, Charlie, whose anorexia has left him dependent on her support.

One thing I feel is important to mention about this book is that it deals with quite heavy topics, such as suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, bullying, physical violence, substance use, and depression. I would not recommend this book to those for whom that may be triggering.

This book was a page-turner, drawing the reader in with Tori’s quick, quiet, dark, and sassy humor, and keeping one immersed in the mysterious air of the story and social situations almost any 13- to 16-yearold can empathize with. With an amiable protagonist, and a heart-wrenching plot with a twist at the end, Oseman’s first book is an artful piece of YA literature. All in all, I loved every minute of Solitaire and would argue that it was better than its more popular companion, Heartstopper.  

 

Joanna Dinan is currently a student at George Street Middle School in Fredericton. She is a competitive singer and pianist who enjoys binging books and writing short stories. Someday, she hopes to be a professional timewaster, procrastinator, and daydreamer, but for now, she does this as an amateur. Her favourite authors include Naomi Novik, Lois Lowry, Rainbow Rowell, and Dr. Seuss.

GUEST WRITER ISOBEL O’BRION RECOMMENDS AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW BY ZOULFA KATOUH

Jun
11

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a heartbreaking, inspiring, and insightful novel which takes place in 2011 Syria during the early Civil War. This book finds a way to fuse terrifying, devastating, unfathomable historical events with the innocence of youth, love, and relationships, ultimately humanizing complex issues and providing young readers a perspective that is both informative and relatable. Salama, the protagonist, is enduring something that many young, western readers will have never experienced, while giving a voice and story to many Syrian people who have undergone similar circumstances and have grappled with the same complexities and dilemmas throughout the ongoing civil war. Salama has lost so much already and is left to protect her best friend/sister-in-law who is pregnant with her niece, as well as the members of her community who need medical attention. She was studying to become a pharmacist, but her role in healthcare suddenly became much more than that. Katouh adeptly blends Salama’s youthful mind, filled with anxieties, dreams, and awkwardness, with the psyche of a traumatized, heroic figure which is fostered within Salama’s healer/protector identity. This story is anchored by a theme of fear and uncertainty. Salama fears what might happen if she leaves Syria, however, lives in fear every day she remains there. This feeling is something that many people can relate to, the uncertainty about leaving behind a context you feel the need to protect, or remain connected to, without thinking of yourself first. To me, this novel perfectly articulates this feeling and balances a love for Syria with a powerful, heartbreaking reality that is seeking refuge from your homeland.

There are many great literary strategies in this novel, balanced with casual dialogue and easy, relatable thoughts. I particularly love the contrast of the desolate world building with the warm memories, reference to Studio Ghibli films and landscape, and budding love story. Katouh uses a fascinating literary strategy where she represents Salama’s anxieties as a person, who acts as a sort of guide, much like a devil on her shoulder at times. This representation is so important for everyone who struggles to understand their anxieties either generally, in the face of adversity, from traumatic events, or as one navigates love for the first time, like Salama. Representation runs deep in this novel as it provides an incredible voice and hopeful, authentic narrative for Syria and for young Syrian women and girls. This book has something to offer everyone, touching your heart in ways that both shatter and warm it, as it skillfully balances the nightmares of war, loss, and fear with the themes of love, friendship, loyalty, and nostalgia all through the lens of Salama’s journey navigating so much for such a young woman.

GUEST WRITER KAYLA STRANG RECOMMENDS GRACELING BY KRISTIN CASHORE

Jun
04

Graceling is a fantasy graphic novel, written by Kristin Cashorein and illustrated by Gareth Hinds,  that tells a story in the mythical land of The Seven Kingdoms. A king rules each of the Seven Kingdoms, all striving to maintain their own eminence and prowess over their kingdom. The gracelings, who are born with a specific talent, are what give the kings of the seven kingdoms their power. Meanwhile, there is only one way of distinguishing a graceling from the general public: by looking at their eye colours. Katsa, the blue and green-eyed heroine of the story, the niece of the king of Middluns, is graced with killing. The king of Middluns uses Kasta’s skill to his benefit, but in return, Katsa is left bitter, alone, and exploited. When the King of Middluns sends Kasta to yet another killing expedition, she encounters Po, a graceling who is the prince of Lienid with the skill of combat; Katsa is then drawn into a liberation quest across the Kingdoms.

Cashore creates a bond between the reader and the characters by incorporating fantasy, romance, magic, battle, rivals, and adventure. She also places an emphasis on independence, creating one’s own identity, and the triumph of good over evil. At the same time, Gareth Hinds’ illustration of the story perfectly captures all of its most crucial details and conveys the emotions in a way that words cannot.

I would recommend this book to high school students or late middle school students who like fantasy, mystery, romance, and adventure or a student who wants to broaden their genre horizons, finds it hard to get into books that lack action, or a student who does not know what genre they would like. Graceling has a fast pace; it has a way of throwing you into the plot that your eyes have a hard time keeping up. This book could also be used as an EAL recommendation; even though it can be hard to follow (there are lots of characters, kingdoms, and storylines to keep up with), the image tells a story itself. At the same time, the sentences are short and easy to follow but are filled with lots of imagination. And while there are many characters, kingdoms, wars, and rivalries to remember, this could also encourage students to discuss different strategies for keeping track of characters and more. No matter why a reader picks up this book, they are sure to enjoy the story within!

 

 

GUEST WRITER MADISON PRICE RECOMMENDS THE HILLS OF ESTELLA ROJA BY ASHLEY ROBIN FRANKLIN

May
28

Kat Fields and Marisol “Mari” Castillo are headed to Estrella Roja, a tiny town in rural Texas, but for different reasons. After receiving an anonymous tip about the strange things that happen there, Kat loads up her car for a solo trip to the town to investigate it for her podcast, “Paranormal Texas.” Upon arrival, she finds the people of Estrella Roja distant and cold, except for a girl she runs into at the local diner. Mari is on her way to Estrella Roja, a place she hasn’t been since her mother packed up and left with Mari and her sister nine years ago, for her abuela’s funeral. Plagued by nightmares and bored out of her mind, Mari seeks a distraction through Kat, a girl determined to discover whatever secrets Estrella Roja holds. The two girls team up, and as the town’s mysterious past comes to light, it’s not just feelings swarming up around them.

The Hills of Estrella Roja is a story about self-discovery and learning to love yourself, even when you think you’re a monster. With its beautiful illustrations, heartfelt moments and the highs and lows of teenage love, this graphic novel is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a visual experience while reading. It’s also a wonderful choice for students looking for books that contain LGBTQIA2S+ representation. Before recommending this book, it’s good to mention that there are spooky elements that may frighten students.

GUEST WRITER MEGAN YOUNG JONES RECOMMENDS FINCH HOUSE BY CIERA BURCH

May
14

“It looked like a doll house. Or, it would have, if anyone ever bothered to clean it up. What was supposed to be bright yellow was closer to grayish cream. The front porch was missing boards, and the roof sagged. Even the grass, when it wasn’t covered in snow, was brown and overgrown with weeds year-round.

Micah loved it. It was beautiful and creepy and looked like it had a story to tell.”

Finch House by Ciera Burch offers a unique take on the customary haunted house tale. Eleven-year-old Michaela (Micah) is fascinated by the old Victorian home known as Finch House. Her curiosity only increases when her Poppop makes her promise that she will never step foot in that house, or even on the street where Finch House is located. No more will he reveal.

Despite her promise and best intentions, Micah finds herself befriending Theo whose family purchased and fixed up Finch house. When invited inside, Micah gives into curiosity and accepts. What she doesn’t realize is that she may never be able to leave.

This book provided the intrigue and mystery that students love in a YA novel while seamlessly folding in a deeper story about family and forgiveness. I pitched it to my class when we returned from break and have several waiting to claim it.

It is appropriate for grades 5-8 and contains enough action to keep students turning the pages. I would recommend this book as a good transition for students who enjoy Goosebumps or Haunted Canada books.

Megan Young Jones is a middle level teacher at Hanwell Park Academy. Finding and recommending books to her students is the best part of her job!