We Were Beautiful by Heather Helper

07B8E370-7E57-43C8-865D-FED924181DADGenre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Shelf Location: Young Adult Fiction

Rating: ★★★★.5

I checked out a copy of this book from my local library. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or author.

 


Final Thoughts

This book is told from the perspective of Mia Hopkins, a fifteen-year-old teen girl trying to navigate her life after a tragic event. Mia’s life was healthy before a terrible accident left her family in disarray and her with both emotional and physical scars. Mia had a happy family and a sister that loved her until one night she can’t seem to remember. Mia and her sister were involved in an accident, but Mia can’t seem to remember what happened. She also can’t seem to look at herself in the mirror. Her family struggles to come to terms with the accident, and Mia must figure out a way to heal on her own. In an attempt to help her come to terms with the crash fully, her father sends her to live with her grandmother for the summer. Will this summer away help Mia heal or push her to her breaking point?

This book was absolutely heartbreaking, but it was very well written. The author does a great job diving into the challenges of overcoming loss and showcasing the complexity involved in the grieving process. However, I thought it was a bit cliche that Mia found a group of friends that all had scares of their own. It felt like everything fell into place for Mia. I personally wanted a bit more drama and turmoil, but that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth behind each character, including the supporting characters. I wanted to learn more about her mother and grandmother’s relationship, but that would be great for a second novel.

If you’re looking for a contemporary realistic fiction novel that is heavy with emotion, then this may be the novel for you.


You can purchase copies of this book from: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Zoondervan

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

in-a-dark-dark-wood-9781501193484_xlg
Source: https://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/In-a-Dark-Dark-Wood/Ruth-Ware/9781501193484

Genre: Suspense Mystery Thriller

Shelf Location: Adult Fiction

Rating: ★★★★

I purchased a copy of this book over a year ago and it has been sitting on my shelf since then. I was browsing my collection looking for something to read on my flight to New Jersey. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or author.


Final Thoughts

This book told from the perspective of Lanora, the main character. Lanora is a writer who has decided a life of seclusion is better than facing the past she tried to keep hard hidden.  Somethings cannot stay hidden forever; she realizes this as she receives an invitation to old friends hen (bachelorette party). She hasn’t spoken to Clare in over ten years, and now she is getting invited to her hen. Against her better judgment, Nora goes to the hen. The story continues with twists and turns that left me on the edge of my seat. The plot started to unfold from the moment

However, I figured out the plot halfway through the book. I felt the book could have been developed more and wished the supporting characters played a more significant role in the overall plot. I also, felt the plot was a bit lackluster, but this is because I watched an extensive amount of Lifetime thriller movies as a tween. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the backstory associated with the main character and Clare.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in a thrilling mystery that takes you for a loop throughout the story. The author uses a vast amount of details to help create a real thriller environment in the story.


You can purchase copies of this book:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Simon & Schuster

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

62EE8900-9E96-4F61-96C6-67F2DA565280Genre: Young Adult Realistic Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 344
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Author:  Erika L. Sanchez
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I borrowed from my local library.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?


Final Thoughts

This book starts with Julia losing her sister in a terrible accident but ends with a well-developed plot twist. Julia is a junior in high school who has the brains and individuality to lead the world astray. She is the black sheep of her family and continues to feel this way even more after losing her sister. Julia’s sister was considered perfect. Always willing to stay home to cook with her mother, went to school, and remained in town to work a receptionist job. Julia is the complete opposite; she is rebellious, loves alternative music, loves to read, and enjoys time alone. She wants to go to college in another city and pursue an English degree. Her mother, dealing with the loss of her sister, continues to push Julia telling her why can’t she be more like her sister Olga. Her mother continues to berate her for wanting to go out to parties, hang out with her friends, or resemble a lifestyle of a rebellious teen.

To make matters worse, her father is mute and ignores her, she is behind in school, and she feels something is missing about her sister. As Julia copes with the loss of her sister, and the pressures of her mother, she works to uncover the secrets of her sister. While doing so, she discovers the secrets of her mother and father. She realizes that some secrets are better left as secrets; otherwise, they ruin the lives of those that are living. Can Julia learn to deal with the disappointment from her mother, the silence from her father, and the pressure to perform? Or will she crumble in the process?

The author does a fantastic job with the development of the main characters and the supporting characters. The story of Julia and her sister Olga shed light on the challenges of migrating to the United States. I loved the fact that I was able to read about her parent’s migration story. I felt that added to the story and the development of Julia’s character. The author’s realistic approach to telling this story emphasizes the emotions; I felt the same feelings the characters did. I highly recommend this book to any middle schooler or high schooler who has parents that migrated. I also think it is essential to encourage people of all races to read this book to inform them of the challenges immigrants face.

This book does contain content associated with suicidal (including suicidal thoughts), mental health, depression, and anxiety. Proceed with caution when reading this if you have experienced any of these or know someone who has.


To view purchasing options and other books written by this author,  click this link Here


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

F1CD5E32-44DE-4C87-B093-B425EDDDDAA6Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: Print 552
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Author: Markus Zusak
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 

 

 


Goodreads Synopsis

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.


Final Thoughts

This young adult fiction novel told from the perspective of death is both humorous and heartbreaking. Death, portrayed as a man, become fascinated by Liesel Meminger and during a routine soul recovery. Who is the soul he is coming to retrieve, her brother’s? Liesel is on her way to new her foster family with her brother and mother. Hitler has taken over Germany, and her mother is ill and unable to care for her children. The two are going to a foster family in Molching, Germany. Liesel notices her brother take his last breath on the train with their mother to their new home. At that moment, they must get off the train in the next town and bury her brother then continue their journey to Molching. Liesel stares as they bury her brother with only the gravediggers near and her mother. Then on their way from the gravesite Liesel notices a book in the snow, “The Gravediggers Handbook,” she takes the book as a souvenir from the day’s events.

“The Gravediggers Handbook” leads her to learn to read, sparks her love for books, and her receiving the name “The Book Thief” by Death. After her brother’s funeral, she continues the journey to her new home with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She will learn to love and trust her foster parents. Her first few months in her new home are challenging, and it gets worse when she starts at her new school and realizes she is behind the other students. She must learn to read and write to move up to her right grade. Liesel will make friends with the kids in her neighborhood, help her mother with the laundry business, learn to read with her foster father and learn to survive. Her love for reading and writing not only saves her life but benefits the lives of those around her. As Liesel learns to adjust to her new home the war around her continues to wage, and the poor small town of Molching must learn to survive as rations diminish. To make matters more complicated, Hans has agreed to be a haven for a Jewish male. The family keeps a huge secret as they sacrifice their lives for a friend. Will this poor small town and the occupants of Himmel street survive to see the end of the war? Or will everyone die trying to survive?

I tried to limit my summary but I loved this book, and it’s hard to hit every point. I adored this book and the writing style. I liked the fact that the narrator took breaks in the story to tell a bit more about himself and his journey to Liesel. This book touched my heart as it was filled with a variety of emotions. The connection that Liesel grew between Hans and Rosa Hubermann was described in great detail to paint a picture. Markus Zusak words painted a picture of emotional relationships, turmoil, loss, and family. I could tell that he meticulously developed each main character and the supporting characters as their stories started to intertwine. Each character had their own back story with was tied well into the story of Liesel. This book is one of my favorites by far. If you enjoy reading historical fiction and is a fan of “All the Light We Cannot See” then you will enjoy this novel. The Book Thief takes you on a journey through love, loss, immense tragedy, and redemption. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book immediately.

To purchase your copy of this novel you can visit this link to view purchasing links https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19063.The_Book_Thief 


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Bus 59 and a Half by Mel Ingrid

fMK4uviYToO8k+ioThLdEgGenre: Young Adult Psychological Thriller
Pages: Print 153
Release Date: June 7,  2018
Author: Mel Ingrid
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I purchased a copy of this book on my own from Amazon.com. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or the author. 


Synopsis:

In a tranquil town where no one pays attention, June of 2016 means three things to three people–the start of summer vacation, the conclusion of a divorce, and a plethora of cardboard boxes. But when a sculpture exhibit near the local high school opens, June 2016 isn’t just about three things. There’s a flyer inside the exhibit–a job opening hiding underneath an innocent façade, waiting to lure victims into an anomalous trap.

A few traffic jams and a pine thicket away from the suburbs is the worn down warehouse of two sculptors. They’re slaving over a collection with a deadline that puts their lifelines at risk, but that’s the least either of them is worried about. Art is a form of life that exceeds the limitations of reality, and it can be dangerous.

So what is one to do when the muses want their encore?


Author Bio:

Mel Ingrid is the teen author of a YA psychological thriller entitled BUS 59 AND A HALF and a short story, WHEN WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO, featured in the 2017 All In! Snack Fiction Anthology. She’s also a hardcore Sherlockian and a lover of movie posters, among several other things.

She was born in Long Island, New York, raised by loving Taiwanese parents and delicious food. When she was in the first grade, she and her family moved halfway across the world to Singapore, where she resided before her early adolescent years.

In her spare time, she enjoys playing her violin, playing online Scrabble, and doodling weird drawings. She also wants to mother a dog someday.

Her real name is Melissa Lee, and she uses Mel Ingrid as her pen name solely because she does not want to be confused with the CNN reporter.

She now writes and procrastinates in New Jersey.

*Taken from Goodreads author profile. Click this link to go to page.*


Final Thoughts:

Bus 59 and Half was a book that I stumbled on through another indie author on instagram. I was interested in reading more independent author novels and I found a few. This young adult psychological thriller takes you on a journey through the intertwining of a variety of characters. We watch each character play it’s own part in the story and mingle with other characters. The plot was definitely a twist no one will see coming but it was an interesting surprise. This novel is short but thrilling, so be prepared to finish it in one sitting.

The author did a great job starting the story off by introducing one of the characters Alexi. The author provided back story on Alexi and actually introduced members of her family. From there the story takes you on a journey that connects Alexi to another character and so on. Alexi is only the beginning of the start of the flowchart of character connections. We learn that she is offered a job as a model for a sculptor. We then are taken on a journey through the perspective of each person that will come in contact with the sculptor and the sculptor himself. We learn more about him and his past which becomes important as the story moves forward. However, I started to get lost closer to the end of the story. I could understand the structure behind the main plot but I was starting to get confused as people disappeared then reappeared in the story later. I was confused as to where they went and how they got there. I enjoyed the different dialogue perspectives portrayed and the chapter style of leading up to the main event in the story. It help understand how each supporting character intertwined with the main male character. I especially enjoyed the psychological aspect of the story but wanted to know more about the big ending and why the main character did what he did in the ending scene. The book was a bit short and I personally wanted more of an explanation of some of the events. However, the author did a great job of keeping me on my toes and guessing what the next action in the story was. I enjoyed the dialogue between the different characters but also hoped for a bit more romance and action. This book had a lot of potential and moments that made me gasp because of the absurdity. (I mean this in a grip your chair kind of moment.) The author nailed the suspense aspect of the book which made it more appealing to actually finish it. Mel did a great job on this book and I am excited to see more novels written by her in the future. See the link above to check out her book and learn more about her.


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

img_3541Title: I Have Lost My Way 
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Pages: Print 368
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.


Favorite Quotes:

” I have lost my way.”

“Right here is where I need to be.”

“We all die. It’s the only sure thing in life and the one thing we all have in common with everything else on the planet.”


Final Thoughts:

This captivating book follows the journey of three young adults all uttering the same phrase that has connected each to one another, “I have lost my way.” Gayle Forman has done it again with her new contemporary novel that follows the lives of these young adults, each dealing with their form of loss. Freya must learn to accept the things she cannot change and mourn the loss of an absentee father. She must decide what’s more important, building relationships or her career. Harun is harboring a secret that could change his life and his relationship with his family. He must face facts, he must face his fears, and he must learn what it is necessary, family, love or both. Lastly, Nathaniel is too afraid to face the reality of his situation. He is facing the biggest challenge of the three, but he has to face reality head-on or let his imagination consume him. It is by fate that these three stumble into each other on that day in Central Park and it is by fate that their lives begin to unravel together. Each must face their challenges both individually and collectively. These three were strangers during the day, but by night they are family. Will Huran ever face his fears? Will Freya get over her absent father? Will Nathaniel face the truth?

Overall, this novel had me on the edge of my seat. Of all the characters, I had the hardest time with Nathaniel. His character put me to tears with the internal battle he struggles within this book. Gayle Forman did a great job developing his style and showcasing the challenges of dealing with a loss as epic as his. Huran was the most exciting character, and his trial was one that I had not thought of. I was absorbed in the story of his family, of his siblings, and of his challenge of finding a mate that fit into the boundaries of his cultural upbringing. He faces one of the most significant challenges that isn’t showcased much in literature that I have read, and I enjoyed his character much. Lastly, Freya was one I could relate to the most. The turmoil she faced with her sister and her finally finding a voice of her own is a fantastic story. I enjoyed this entire novel and felt the author did a tremendous job connecting the three characters and focusing on issues that needed to be addressed. I was tearing up at the ending parts of all the characters. This young adult fiction has a hint of LGBTQIA awareness between the pages and information on the importance of building relationships. I recommend this novel to teenagers and up. I personally would have liked more information on Nathaniel’s mother and an epilogue. This only because some pieces left me wanting more.

Happy Reading!


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

night
Image was taken from the following site: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35464020-the-night-diary

Title: The Night Diary 
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Pages: Print 272
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy.


Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.


Final Thoughts:

The Night Diary is a compelling novel that follows the life of Nisha and Amil. Two siblings who mourn the loss of a mother they never got the chance to know. The book is written from the perspective of Nisha. It is written in the form of a diary. Nisha writes about her day at the end of each day, she recaps her favorite moments and shares her thoughts. Nisha is a quiet girl with an immense amount of intelligence; she only speaks when she feels it is crucial. Amil, her brother, is the complete opposite. He is a free-spirited, outspoken, artist who fears nothing but the idea of not being able to be creative. Both siblings live in a large house in India while their father works as a doctor at a local hospital. In this home, they have a servant, and their father’s mother lives with them. In the days leading up to India gaining its independence from the British, turmoil is evident. As communities pick sides, families become divided, and this once safe place will become unsafe for this mixed family. Their home is now Pakistan, and they must leave to avoid being killed. This family must journey long and far to get to a safe place. They will face many challenges and hardships along the way. The only hope for these young souls is to get to a place where they can be safe and get to a moment where their father is free-spirited again. Will they survive the long journey? How far is their father willing to go to protect his family?

The author did a fantastic job with this novel. I enjoyed every moment of this book and enjoyed learning a bit more about the challenges faced by those born by both Hindi and Muslim parents. I have a History degree and love a good historical fiction novel. I have to say that this book made me cry. I completely understand the struggle of losing your mother and mourning the loss of a relationship with a parent you never knew. I may start my diary because of this book. I enjoyed the internal monologue that Nisha had with her mother and the connection she felt to her brother. The author built Nisha into a strong character, and Amil serves as her support. Both siblings struggle and cope with loss differently. Not only are they mourning the loss of their mother but the loss of a connection to their mothers family as well as the loss of the person their father used to be. I commend the author for doing such a great job with this book. I recommend this book to any youth between middle school age and high school. The book focuses on resilience, strength, determination, family, and fighting for what you believe. There are numerous life lessons in this book, and it also encourages youth to get a glimpse of the challenges faced by youth in other countries.

Happy Reading!


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

img_2966Title: The Beauty that Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk 
Genre: Young Adult LGBTQ Contemporary
Pages: Print 324
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★.5


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Random House.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.


Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes when I look in the mirror for too long, I start to look like someone else.” -Logan-

“Sometimes loving someone is scarier than leaving them.”

“Ever since, I’ve felt a little out of control. But there’s something about music that tethers me to the rest of the world.”- Shay-

“I just tell the rose how much I’m going to miss you. How much I already do. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. There’s never an I miss you not. And there aren’t enough petals on the flower. There aren’t enough petals in the world.” -Autumn

Final Thoughts:

This young adult contemporary novel captures the view of loss from the perspective of three different teens. Each must learn to deal with the grief associated with losing someone close to them. They must learn to overcome the guilt, learn to move on with their lives, and face each day head-on. Autumn, Logan, and Shay are three teens who are connected by the music they enjoy and by the grief they have experience. The book starts off with the perspective of each teen following each crippling loss that has consumed their lives.

This entire novel I was captivated by the emotional connection I felt with each character. The author did a great job showcasing the different stages of grief and the challenges faced with trying to move on. Autumn lost her best friend, the only girl that understood her, and now she is clinging to the only person that understands her grief. Logan lost a former lover; he finds solace in alcohol rather than something healthier like music. Shay has lost her twin sister, her partner in crime, her best friend, and now she must move on with a project they started together. Autumn, Logan, and Shay learn to cope with their losses in unique ways. This young adult novel both provides examples of the different stages of grief but also examines the connections of sorrow. Each of these teens is connected to each other by the loss they share and the hope of escaping through music. Logan used to write the most beautiful songs but can’t pick up a pen. Autumn will only listen to specific music but refuses to draw. Shay, can’t seem to get through one music show without wanting to escape. The emotions showcased in this novel feel real, and the connections between each character are meaningful. These teens face some tough decisions they can only overcome with the help and support of family and friends. A loss is unpredictable but having a good support system can help in the healing process. This message is evident throughout this entire novel.

Overall, I thought this was a relatable original novel that had me engulfed in the story-line from the beginning. The author writes each chapter from the perspective of these three teens. I was on the verge of tears after reading about Shay’s sister, Logan’s lost lover, and Autumns best friend. I would have loved to learn more about the death of Autumn’s best friend and the same for the other members lost. I would have liked to see more development of the supporting characters such as Shay’s friends as well as Logan’s friends. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in a compelling young adult novel about loss and connection.



Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

A Cactus in the Valley by Olivia Bennett

img_2026Title: A Cactus in the Valley 
Author: Olivia J. Bennett 
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 387
Rating: ★★★★★

Author Q& A Below: Check out her inspiration for this novel!


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was given a copy of this book from the author Olivia Bennett, in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author.


This contemporary novel follows the journey of the two main characters, Terra and Wyatt. This book is written well and focuses on the lives of both the main characters. Each is struggling with their demons and are forced to face them head on or not survive. The book This novel begins from the perspective of Terra waking up from a terrible plane crash. She comes to her senses realizing that something terrible has happened. We then are shifted to the point of view of Wyatt and his view of waking from the plane crash. In the beginning, both experience grief, strength, awareness, and physical pain all before we get to the first 50 pages. The author spent time explaining each character’s past, using foreshadowing as a method to do so. The reader gains an understanding of the moments leading up to the day of the crash and the moments both characters face to survive. They are both stranded in a desolate area hoping to survive long enough to make it to their families. Terra and Wyatt must decide what they are living for, they must not lose hope, and they must rely heavily on each other. We watch as these two spring into action, noting their survival instincts, rooting for them to survive, mourning their losses, and crying for their pain. A Cactus in the Valley is an incredibly captivating novel, and I recommend this to anyone. The author did a fantastic job capturing the attention of the reader throughout the entire story.


Favorite Quotes

“Take chances, Terra. Make mistakes, because nothing is so terribly messed up that it can’t be fixed.” -Abigail, Terra’s Grandmother

” But eventually, I would get doused with cold water, putting out the flames of rejection and betrayal, downing out the perpetual grief, and overflowing the void left by my parting grandmother. But, I guess that’s a story for another day.” – Terra

In these quotes, I feel Terra’s pain for the loss of the only person in her life that cared for her. There are many quotes like this throughout the novel showcasing the challenges Terra faced in her life before the crash.

” Before long, I was sobbing at the kindness of the truth before me. And that night, I, Wyatt Hartman, came to know the truth.” -Wyatt after a night of partying


Final Thoughts

Overall, this is novel one of my favorite novels. I loved the writing style throughout the entire book and enjoyed the style diary chapters. I was captivated by the dates in each section and the point of view from both of the main characters. These two found each other in a time of grief and let their faith continue to inspire them to have hope. There is a hint of religious influence in this novel, but it is not overbearing. I could tell that the author has a bit of power on this part. The secret that Terra shared at the beginning of the novel was jarring, but it emphasized the hardships she faced and her inner battle. Wyatt is sometimes demanding and other moments loving. These two find solace in each other’s presence and there is a short period in the novel where a natural force separates them. During these moments, each character fights to face the past that continues to hold them captive.  The moments leading up to the crash explained in detail from the perspective of both characters, and we finally get the full details of the accident closer to the ending of the novel. I say that was strategically placed at the end because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. These two characters are developed so well that you have no choice but to get tangled up in this story.


Question and Answer with the AUTHOR:

1.What was your inspiration for the novel?

I don’t think I had a direct inspiration for A Cactus In the Valley, but I was inspired by other survival stories, both real and fictional. I saw that there was potential for a good story in the heightened emotions and desperation that came with the territory. But overall, I wanted to create an allegory of my own experience becoming a young adult, finding oneself, and overcoming the past.

2.Is there any other novels in the works?

There is! I’m actually in the process of editing the companion novella to A Cactus In the Valley. It centers around Harper, Lilly, and Nick as they grapple with the loss of Terra and Wyatt. It kind of tells the story of what goes on behind the scenes. I’m planning on publishing it this summer!
3. I saw a bit of a religious aspect in this novel, is this stemmed from you have a religious background? 

I am a Christian, but I also know that life isn’t all sunshine and roses, so why should I write that way? This novel does stem from my religious background of being nondenominational/charismatic Christian.

Because of my circumstances, I find myself around people (and Christians) who don’t conform to the squeaky-clean Christian stereotype. I ultimately saw a need for gritty, real fiction for broken teens. I hope to bridge the gap and create a new genre of fiction that’s too secular to be Christian but too Christian to be secular.
Special thanks to the author for agreeing to answer my questions and for sending me a copy of this book!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Disclaimer: This review is solely my honest opinion. I purchased this book on my own from iBooks and checked out the audiobook from my local library. Here is a link for you to buy the book from Amazon. The opinions in this review do not reflect the views of the author.

The beginning half of this review gives you a background of the main two characters and gives away information about how the story begins but not how it ends. Proceed with caution as there is information that is not in the synopsis of the book. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is an adult historical fiction novel that follows the life of Vianne Mauriac and her sister Isabelle during World War II in France. This compelling book showcases acts of kindness, bravery, struggle, and the real meaning of family. These two ladies go through great hardships and showcase their strength by pushing themselves to the limit to do what is right and protect their families. The novel begins in America with Vianne, now old, in her home cleaning out her attic with her son as they prepare to move her to an assisted living home. She goes into her attic and finds a trunk with old items, and this is where we were taken back to France in 1939. We are transported back in time to V’s home in Carriveau with her husband Antoin and daughter Sophie. This is during the time in which we find out that Antoin has been drafted to go to serve in the war. V has never lived on her own and must learn to adjust to life without her husband. During this time we learn intimate details about V’s character, learning about her past, her relationship with her father, the location of her mother, and her relationship with her sister Isabelle. Vianne’s character is developed well in this story, and it is so heart wrenching to hear about her struggles to find a place she feels loved. The story then takes us to the point of view of Isabelle, who is a spunky eighteen years old stuck in a boarding school. She is continually trying to find her place, being shuffled from one boarding school to another. She is then expelled from her last one before she is sent to Paris to live with her father, a bookstore owner. The war is nearing France, as many hope for the end, but that is something we will soon find out is not shortly. It is after Isabelle has moved in with her father that they find out in 1940 that the Germans were coming into Paris. Isabelle’s father tells her to pack up her belongings and get ready for a journey out of Paris and head to stay with her sister. Isabelle will make a treacherous trip to Carriveau, meeting many people on the way. Throughout the rest of the story, we learn so much more about the challenges faced by many women during the war. The hardships of those who were born Jewish during the Nazi invasion of France. The women of the war made a huge impact and were underestimated by the Germans significantly. I do not want to give any more information away, but I hope the beginning of half of this review provides some background of the characters.

This book was amazing. I know that it is historical fiction, but it is one of few that I can say I enjoyed. I have a BA in History, and the tale of the Nazi’s entering France is nothing like I have read in the past. Kristin Hannah does a fantastic job of capturing the attention of the reader and bringing awareness to the war efforts made by women. These two women are amazing. Isabelle does some very risky maneuvers in this story, risking her life and the lives of others to save many. She starts out as a rebellious character and continues with this mentality throughout the entire story. She stood up for what she believes in and continued to surprise me throughout the whole novel. I loved the development of both characters and the backstory provided. I could not have predicted that through so much tragedy there could be bonds formed. I could gush about this book for hours and talk about how it was outside my usual realm of Young Adult books, but I just wanted to tell you that you need to read this. It is so wonderfully written, captivating, emotional, and thrilling that you must go get this book.

I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in historical fiction books or anyone looking to read something outside of their comfort zone.