The Snail's Junior Readers Circle is our team of teen volunteer reviewers, here to help both parents and kids find great books we think you'll love. Here are a few of our recent favorites.
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"Like Other Girls" is an amazing example of the new generation. It focus on finding who you truly are not not changing it for anyone. It has a huge emphasis on not letting go of your self but at the same time embracing change. I would recommend it to middle school readers because there is some language in there but it also deals with gender equality and middle school is around the time when you start to figure out what that truly means.
(Note on subject matter: includes gender inequality and alcohol)
—Aayushi, Snail Junior Readers Circle, age 15
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is a well written middle grade historical fiction about a girl and her family during the Mexican Revolution. Petra wants to go to school and learn how to read, but with the war waging, it is almost impossible. After her father is dragged away by soldiers, she swears to keep the rest of her family, her younger siblings and her abuelita safe. And she does that. Petra he only 12 during the story, but she is just as strong and determined as some of the older main characters I have read. This story taught me a lot about this period of Mexican history in an entertaining format. I strongly encourage everyone to read this book, but especially older elementary students and middle schoolers!
(Note on subject matter: includes war and death)
—Scarlett, Snail Junior Readers Circle, aged 14
While this book was a little harder to get into than the first, once I got hooked, I loved it. While this story revolves about Ari maturing and becoming a man more than the first, it still includes the evolution of the sweet romance between Ari and Dante. I got to see Ari create the best version of himself and create his own map of the world. The characters go through a lot in this book, but they come out stronger from each hardship. We also get to see Ari open up in this book and let others in. He taught me a lot about how sometimes you just have to put yourself out there a little more than is comfortable for you to gain the kinds of friendships that last a lifetime. This was an amazing novel with excellent writing and imagery and a great continuation of this heartwarming story. This would be a great book for reens over 14 andmost high schoolers.
(Note on subject matter: includes death and grief)
—Scarlett, Snail Junior Readers Circle, aged 14
While this book is a slow starter, once you hit a certain point in the story, it is hard to put it down. Twelve must overcome a lot and learn how to be a better person if not for her sake, then for her dead family’s. There is amazing character development, and you will soon come to love some of the characters that were not very likable at the beginning. This is a great middle grade fantasy, and something people of all ages would love. For older elementary school children and middle schoolers.
(Note on subject matter: includes death of family)
—Scarlett, Junior Readers Circle, age 14
Realm Breaker was a very satisfying book. Though it took a while to read, it was worth every page. I really felt like, by the end, I knew the characters and felt like I could almost predict their actions. Aveyard brought her talent for fantasy to a new level in this book that had me guessing through every chapter. This book is really good for 10-16 year olds who enjoy fantasies like The Lord of the Ring series, the Eragon series, or books like the Dragon Lance series.
(Note on subject matter: includes violence)
—Ava, Junior Readers Circle, aged 15
Libby, a girl from a family known as bullies, seeks to bring change in the world by spreading kindness. As she creates index cards, with drawings and inspirational messages, Libby impacts people from all over the world. This is an uplifting, feel-good story about how small actions can change lives. The novel deals with important subjects in a creative way... grief, finding a place in the world, and being true to yourself are tackled from four different points of view. It was an enjoyable read that inspires making "paper love bombs" and "putting love into the world." I would recommend this book to readers in the middle school age range.
(Note on subject matter: includes death of a sibling and transgender issues)
—Emma Grace, Junior Readers Circle, aged 16
Set in my home state of Alabama, Bea Pearl is a story about a girl who’s brother has been declared dead, but she believes is still alive. Thought the book, Bea Pearl is thought of as crazy and irrational due to this belief. But even with the town’s, and especially her parent’s, disapproval, she continues to search for him. The main character was very relatable because I have a younger sister, and I think my reaction to her “death” would be very similar. This book has a little bit of everything, from cute teenage romance to swamp monkeys. For teens and people who enjoy a bit of a romance but not too much.
(Note on subject matter: includes death of a sibling/child)
—Scarlett, Junior Readers Circle, aged 14
If the Shoe Fits was so much fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed getting into this modern-day Cinderella story. Though many people, including myself, get tired of the same old Cinderella story, as it is one of the most popular stories to recreate, Murphy presents her case in a very refreshing way where the Cinderella isn't a helpless victim and takes control of her own life in a way that had me rooting for her until the very last page. This book is perfect for fans of The Selection, as it is reminiscent of the Keira Cass saga in its plot and the main character's struggle for love. I absolutely loved If the Shoe Fits because it was exactly the fun, light-hearted romance I didn't know I was craving. For 12-18 year olds who are fans of The Selection Series. The romance aspect of the book might not be suitable for younger kids.
— Ava, Junior Readers Circle, age 15
Bookish and the Beast is a perfect conclusion to the Once Upon a Con series. Even though it is not as focused on the con scene, it still has the same wholesome, fangirl feel as the first two. This book had many elements I enjoyed, including an amazing friend group, a strong father-daughter bond, and an enemies to lovers trope. Don’t be put off by the fairytale theme; it is a new twist on Beauty and the Beast. Which is personally one of my favorite stories, and this book is one of the best retellings I have read.
Especially for teenagers who are fangirls (like I am) of books, tv shows, movies, or actors
— Scarlett, Junior Readers Circle, age 14
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Sing Like No One’s Listening is a unique story with intriguing characters that will keep you interested until the end. Nettie Delaney is accepted into a prestigious school for the performing arts. The only obstacle on her way to success...she has not been able to sing in public since her mother's death! Nettie must overcome her grief and other challenges in order to find her voice again.
(Note on subject matter: the loss of a parent and grief)
—Emma Grace, Junior Readers Circle, age 16
A sweet and emotional story that explores many threads such as family, love, and loss. Lydia, a thirteen year old girl, grieving the recent death of her mother, moves in with her aunt in rural Connecticut. Soon Lydia and her new family adopt a crazy, wild, and rambunctious dog, Guffer. Guffer will have you laughing out loud at his escapades! All dog lovers can relate to Lydia and Guffer's journey. Together they come to find healing, a deep love for one another, and an understanding that "bad dogs" are the best dogs. I would recommend this book to dog lovers and middle school aged readers.
(Note on subject matter: deals with animal cruelty and describes abuse an animal faced)
—Emma Grace, Junior Readers Circle , aged 16
Game Changer is a book that you have to read to fully appreciate. The subject matter is familiar, yet sometimes uncomfortable in a refreshing way. This book messed with my head in a purely satisfying way and felt very relevant to the world around us. Shusterman truly achieved something incredible through this book and it is something that everyone should read, no matter who they are, and find something that will resonate with them.
(Note: some drugs, though not extensive, and some violence. I think this book is definitely for kids who are a little older. The subject matter might be a little much for younger readers and the book makes references to events or concepts that younger readers might not fully understand yet.)
—Ava, Snail Junior Readers Circle, age 15