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Teen Volunteer Book Reviews

I Will Always Write Back

By: Caitlin Alifrenka, Martin Ganda and Liz Welch


I Will Always Write Back is a dual-memoir that explores the extraordinary comaderie between Caitlin Alifrenka and Martin Ganda, two individuals who forged an unbreakable bond after becoming penpals for a 7th grade assignment. When All-American girl Caitlin and Zimbabwean boy Martin wrote to each other, they never expected that their letter exchanges would lead to them becoming best friends. Over 5 years, their friendship is tested by their economic and cultural disparities, distance and time. Their memoir provides an intimate glimpse into significant issues, including poverty and the price of an education.

Review written by Belén


By: Neal Shusterman

Science Fiction

What would you do in a world where disease, hunger and war were eliminated? In the year 2042, death has been eradicated as a result of revolutionary advancements in technology. To maintain a balance in the population, individuals, known as Scythes, are chosen to end life. Neal Shusterman’s imaginative novel follows teenagers Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch’ apprenticeship as they master the art of taking life, all while uncovering the dark truth behind their utopian world. Shusterman creates an unforgettable story that reflects on the meaning of life.

Review written by Belén

Brown Girl Dreaming

By: Jacqueline Woodson


Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir consists of a collection of poems detailing her upbringing as a woman of color in the United States and how it morphed her aspirations to become a writer. As a result of her parents’ divorce, Jacqueline was forced to move from Ohio to South Carolina, and eventually to New York. Her travels opened her eyes to the racial injustices provoked by the Jim Crow Laws and how the lives of millions of individuals were impacted by the Civil Rights Movement. Her memorable coming-of-age story parallels the lives of several individuals and reminds readers to fight ceaseslly against life’s obstacles to achieve their dreams.

Review written by Belén

Realm Breaker

By: Victoria Aveyard


When assassin Sorasa Sarn and immortal prince Domacridhan of Iona reveal to Corayne an-Amarat, the teenage daughter of a pirate, that she's the only one who can save the world, her life is turned upside down. Realm Breaker follows a rag-tag band of heroes, working together to save the fantasy realm of Allward before Taristan of Old Cor causes colossal damage. I recommend Realm Breaker to lovers of magic, fantasy, intricate world-building, lovable characters, witty banter and to anyone who wants to escape into a magical realm of spindles, elders, pirates, and more.

Review written by Rani

The Poet X

By: Elizabeth Acevedo

Poetry/ Fiction

The Poet X follows the life of Xiomara, an Afro-Latina poet, who is struggling with navigating the world as a teenager while dealing with a highly religious mother and a checked-out father. She escapes her world through poetry, pouring her thoughts into her notebook and falling in love with the art form, but hiding it from others. Elizabeth Acevedo authentically captures the complex experience of present-day teenagers and successfully reminds readers of the power and beauty of words.

Review written by Rani

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

By: Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is a beautiful coming of age story that recounts the author’s experiences as a young woman during the ___. Satrapi’s memoir provides a unique lense into Iran’s history, as she discusses her experiences as a young girl navigating her personal and national identities during the Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq War in the late 20th century. She delves deep into the ramifications of the Islamic Revolution - in particular, how it led to the overthrow of Reza Shah’s authoritarian reign and the institution of the Islamic Republic in 1979. Finally, she describes her family and country’s struggles during the Iran-Iraq War, which was provoked when Iraqi armed forces invaded western Iran in 1980.

Memoir/Graphic Novel

Review written by Belén

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By: Suzanne Collins


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to the Hunger Games Trilogy following the life of the story’s main villain Coriolanus Snow. Collins provides an eerie and haunting look into the unraveling of the character that would grow up to be President. It is dark, exciting, and even sometimes strange, providing a haunting insight into what happens to a person to truly make them evil. The delusion and desire for power of this villain is brought to life, as readers are continuously reminded that “snow always lands on top.”

Review written by Rani

The Color Purple

By: Alice Walker

Epistolary Novel

The Color Purple chronicles the life story of Celie Harris, a woman who gains control of her life after overcoming the physical and domestic abuse she received from her father and spouse. Walker crafts her story in epistolary form, delivering an intimate glimpse into the life of its protagonist through her letters to God and her sister, Nettie. The Color Purple is a beautiful synergy of different female narratives, all of which challenge the notion that women are incapable of achieving a higher education, financial independence and a unique identity separate from their relationships. Alice Walker creates an uplifting and beautifully imagined tale that testifies to the redemptive possibilities of love and reminds us that we must first discover ourselves to achieve the lives we desire.

Review written by Belén

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