Mini-Reviews: Books of the Week

This week, I read three new books and re-read one.

A longer post is in the works about the re-read (Ender’s Game, which I gave away 20 copies of on Tuesday), but I thought I’d do mini-reviews for the other three.

What I Read this Week

1) Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
Slam by Walter Dean Myers
(Read a library copy.)

Greg Harris – better known as Slam – is most at home on the basketball court, but not very comfortable anywhere else. Not in his mostly-white, mostly-not-from-Harlem magnet school. Not with his childhood friend, Ice, who he is sure isn’t in the drug scene (he knows better!), even if he is driving an awfully nice loaned car. Not with his mother, who is dealing with her mother’s illness. Not even with his girlfriend, Mitisha, who seems like she is always expecting something from him.

This is a great book for basketball lovers – I enjoyed it because Slam is a compelling character and is beautifully written and plotted like all Myers’ work that I’ve read, but it was sometimes hard for me to follow the detailed on-the-court action, since it used basketball jargon. It definitely brought back memories I’d forgotten I had of my own middle school, B-team basketball experiences! Slam’s love for basketball is magnetic and catching, and you definitely root for him as he struggles to gain the same confidence in the rest of his life. No easy answers, but a positive and hopeful ending. It felt real.

2) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
(Read a library copy.)

What if a girl who is fully, oddly herself showed up in the middle of your school and started serenading people with her ukelele on their birthdays? AND, she’s named Stargirl! What would you do?

If you are protagonist Leo, the answer is: awkwardly, slowly, and then fully fall in love. And then, as the initial haze wears off, wonder if you can handle being fully yourself, too.

This book is beautiful. It’s a love letter to everything in it: the desert, high schools, young love, making mistakes. It is readable and lively. Highly recommended.

3)Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
(Read a well-loved copy loaned to me by the youth who had recommended Stargirl, after I gushed about it to her. :))

Zinkoff is not a cool kid, but by golly he is enthusiastic and earnest! This book, told in a semi-omniscient narrator viewpoint, chronicles Zinkoff’s life from his first, free steps outside through 6th grade. In its pages, you see the world through Zinkoff’s eyes and marvel at his simplicity, innocence, and beauty.

Not as plot driven (although there is a plot), I can’t help but compare Loser to Stargirl, which I read first and Spinelli wrote AFTER Loser. I liked Stargirl more, personally, but I see the ways in which the two books are similar and different and find them fascinating. Stargirl is much more talented and aware than Zinkoff, but both reveal Spinelli’s fascination with the nonconformists and those who don’t note or care what others think about them.

Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in the Near Future:


The Hobbit by Tolkien – I’m halfway through and loving it! I look forward to continuing to read it. 🙂

V for Victory by Teresa R. Funke
Several books by Teresa R. Funke about the things children and youth did to help out and the experiences they had during WWII. Funke generously sent me several of her books, and as I’m settling in to my new house (and have found most of my books!) I look forward to reading them and learning some more about WWII.

Neversink by Barry Wolverton
Neversink by Barry Wolverton – I won a copy during his book tour a couple weeks ago! Can’t wait to read it. The arctic animal adventure sounds very appealing and I’ve heard good things.

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers
All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers – I won a copy on a Goodreads giveaway! I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Myers, so I’m looking forward to devouring this new book of his.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – I got it from the library after reading a compelling review! I’m looking forward to a Dexter-esque YA action read. (See the review here.)

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel – this sounds really good! Fantastical YA adventure. This review made me want to read it.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness I have been on the hold waiting list for this book for LITERALLY MONTHS. I was, like, 25th in line. I am so excited to finally get it! Especially since A Monster Calls was SO amazing (it’s by the same author).

So, phew – looks like I won’t be getting through all of those by next weekend!! 🙂

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Filed under Bookish Review, List, Middle-Grade Lit Review, YA Lit Review

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