On The Hook Book Review

Book Description

“You know I’m coming. You’re dead already.”

Hector has always minded his own business, working hard to make his way to a better life someday. He’s the chess team champion, helps the family with his job at the grocery, and teaches his little sister to shoot hoops overhand.

Until Joey singles him out. Joey, whose older brother, Chavo, is head of the Discípulos gang, tells Hector that he’s going to kill him: maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday. And Hector, frozen with fear, does nothing. From that day forward, Hector’s death is hanging over his head every time he leaves the house. He tries to fade into the shadows — to drop off Joey’s radar — to become no one.

But when a fight between Chavo and Hector’s brother Fili escalates, Hector is left with no choice but to take a stand.

The violent confrontation will take Hector places he never expected, including a reform school where he has to live side-by-side with his enemy, Joey. It’s up to Hector to choose whether he’s going to lose himself to revenge or get back to the hard work of living.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up just based on the cover of it. I’m really glad that I got sent this book and decided to listen to it on audio because I really did enjoy this book. This book was heavy in everything that it covered but it was also really a great story.

I really enjoyed the pacing of this book as the beginning of it set up the background for the story and then suddenly there is a shift and the story changes not just in theme but also in the mood. I think this is a great book for middle school students and its great to start many different and difficult conversations.

Something else that I really enjoyed in this book was the villain because there is more than one villain in this book. There is obviously the villain that we all know in Joey but then there is the villain that Hector becomes to himself. In his ploy for revenge, Hector becomes a villain to himself and gets trapped lost in his feelings of anger and his need for revenge.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book is the way that it shows how hard it is for BIPOC to get away from violence regardless of the life they lead. I thought it was great that we see how everyone constantly points out how Hector is a good student and a good son. I thought them constantly pointing this out but having others ignore it and even Hector forget this about himself added to the story and the pain that you feel for this family. This book shows how sometimes we have false perceptions of youth who end up incarcerated or in reform schools.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Hector. You get to meet some of Hector’s friends and family briefly, and then you get to meet Joey, and some of the people at Furmon Academy.

I really liked the different interactions that Hector has at Furmon Academy with all the different people that he gets to meet. I liked that we got to see a different side to hector through his time there and how different people change the course of actions that he takes. I thought it was great to see how the older generation had an impact on him and also the impact that this place was having on Joey.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with the focus being on Hector. I liked that the narrator was telling us what was happening instead of hearing everything first hand from Hector. I think having the narrator see and tell all was a good way for this book to be told because we get to feel for each of the characters and not just Hector. I also think that this method allows the reader to take a step back though which sometimes isn’t always a good thing. I think its important that while this book is fictional, we remember that this is the life of many BIPOC youth.

Author Information

Francisco X. Stork was born in Mexico. He moved to El Paso Texas with his adoptive father and mother when he was nine. He attended Spring Hill College, Harvard University and Columbia Law School. He worked as an attorney for thirty-three years before retiring in 2015. He is married and has two grown children and four beautiful grandkids. He loves to discover new books and authors. His favorite books are those where the author’s soul touches his. He does not read reviews to his books so you should feel free to write whatever you want. Also, he is genuinely interested in learning about books and life from his friends on this site. He would love it if you find his books worthy to be read, but that’s not why he wants to be your friend.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear Our Voices Book Tours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Author Information

Leah Johnson (she/her) is an editor, educator, and author of books for young adults. Leah is a 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow whose work has been published in BuzzFeed, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, and Autostraddle among others. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and was named one of Cosmo‘s 15 Best Young Adult Books of 2020. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.

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Book Description

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Release Date: June 2, 2020

Genre: Y/A Fiction 

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

You can find this book at:

Goodreads| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I read this book leading up to the election and finished it on election night instead of staying posted on those results because sometimes you just need some joy in your life. This book was such a cute, joyful story full of love and friendship. I really enjoyed how this story took me back to my high school day and a few years after as well. It let me look back on those moments as joyful moments rather than as something I no longer have. Books that make me look back on those moments of my life fondly will always get a special place in my heart because looking back on those moments usually hurts.

There were so many moments that I was laughing because of something that someone said or did. I also loved how I could be in the moments that Liz was in, I could feel the way that she was feeling through every word in this story.

Characters: I really loved all of the characters that are included throughout this whole story. How could you not root for Liz through this whole book. I loved the depiction of her anxiety throughout this book and the physical manifestations that you saw because I was able to see my anxiety on the page. There are so many times that I see anxiety presented in media but never with these physical manifestations so it was nice to see this and be able to feel like my response to anxiety wasn’t so strange.

I really liked watching Liz as she developed her relationship with Mack, re-establish a relationship with Jordon, and determine what type of friendship her and Gabi have. I really liked what each of these characters added to this story and how they each played a keep role in Liz’s character development.

I also really liked seeing Liz’s relationship with her family because that was another piece that was important to who she is. Everything that Liz does was done with her family in mind and I loved watching as the dynamic switched and they want to care for her. I liked seeing how this story points out how care goes two ways, you can’t just care about others without allowing them to care about you.

Writing Style: The story is told through the perspective of Liz and you get to see everything through her eyes. I liked not having the other’s perspectives included especially when something did not go according to plan.

We Are not From Here ARC Book Review

GoodReads Summary: A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pulga has his dreams.
Chico has his grief.
Pequeña has her pride.

And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.
Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life–if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.
In this powerful story inspired by current events, the plight of migrants at the U.S. southern border is brought to painful, poignant, vivid life. An epic journey of danger, resilience, heartache, and hope. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

I’ve only ever thought of the U.S. as my home. My parents are from Mexico and El Salvador but my mom came here when she was a toddler. My dad remembers El Salvador as he came here when he was older. I read books like this one not only to learn but also to reflect and really think about the privilege that I have being born in the U.S., having parents who speak English, and having parents who became U.S. citizens when I was a kid. I do not know the experience of migrants from any country, I know my parents experience and even that I find limited. The only way for me to learn more is through listening to others and it is important that I stop and listen.

Overall Thoughts: I really enjoy how Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are keeping secrets from each other and their family. What i liked about their secrets is that the same person is at the root of these secrets and all of their problems.

Something else that I like about this book is the pacing and how long these days seem. I think that as you read you get a sense of how long this time feels for the characters as they live these things.

I think that it is important that this book shows the reality of immigration and the many challenges that come with it. It was important to see three different scenarios as to what can happen throughout that journey and they included the addition of Pequena being female and what that meant for her. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I felt that so much of that is impactful and important to think about when we hear stories of immigration. I thought it was important that it also relayed the reasons why people were fleeing their countries and what kept them moving forward.

Part One: This book starts off with introducing you to the three main characters of this story. It does this by going back and forth between Pulga and Pequena’s point of view. In this portion of the book you find out a little about each character’s circumstances and why they need to leave their home town.

I really like how this book slowly introduces you to the characters and builds their back story. I like that you get to see the relationships that they have with each other and with people they are leaving behind.

Part Two: This part tells the majority of these kids story as they go from Guatemala to Mexico. This tells of the people they encounter and the things they do for a chance to get to the United States. Through this section you see more about each character and learn their fears about staying or leaving the place they live in.

I kept reading about La Bestia in this book and never really looked into it until I asked my mom about it. She searched it on Google and then spoke to me about a news segment she saw I n which this train was covered. I thought it was important to look into this and see what the reality is for people trying to migrate into the United States.

I have heard both my mom and dad’s story of how they got to the United States and they have very different stories from each other. Fascinating and interesting aren’t the right words but I do think it is important to see the differences in ways immigrants come to the United States. I thought it was good to reflect and think about my privilege in being born in the U.S and never having to really fear being sent to a place where my life was in danger.

I really like how each scene is described and how you can feel the characters emotion coming through each word. I like how you are still learning about the ties they have to the place they are trying to escape.

Part Three: This is where the tears begin and everything gets even more emotional if that’s even possible. I don’t want to include too many details as that would make this spoilery.

I enjoy how you get to see each scene play out as these kids get further in their journey to the U.S. I thought it was good to see the reality of these trips and how dangerous it can get for everyone. There were moments in which I stopped to take everything in and to read real people’s immigration stories as I had not done that in the past.

The only stories I really know are the ones in books or my parent’s stories but even they say that they had it a lot easier. I think its important to listen and learn about the range of immigration stories people have and how coming from different places differs.

Part Four: I think its important that we see this kids never being allowed to grieve. There is no time for them to mourn anything they leave behind and this shows the dangers if they were to give themselves that space. I think it was important to note all of Pulga’s contradicting feelings and the blame he places on himself. I thought it was important to give him the space to mourn his loses in the privacy of his thoughts and how that showed him becoming a different person to those around him, especially Pequena.

I also like how you can feel their pain through each moment in this section of the book. I thought it was important that each minute seemed to drag on just as their days were going on forever.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book to read. Be prepared for tears though.

You can get this book at Eso Won books or look for it at your local library.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington Book Review

Summary: Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. 

Thoughts: Thank you to Harper Collins and Katherine Tegan Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review. I decided to follow this one along as I listened on audio which was great.

I have not read a book about baking yet so this was a nice change. I really liked how the whole book was more complex than just being about Zoe’s baking. I like how it includes her feelings about her dad being in jail and how this complicates her story. I liked how it turned into a story about family and friendship more than just baking. It’s a story about trust, hope, and more.

Something I really enjoyed in this book is how supportive all of her family is. Its really sweet to hear about how all of them pitch in to try and help her meet her goals. I love how it started with them all being supportive of her baking and wanting to help her get what she wanted out of baking and then it shifts to it being about them supporting her regarding her dad.

I love the relationship that Zoe has with her grandmother and how the grandma is understanding of Zoe wanting to communicate with her dad. I like that the grandma explains things to Zoe regarding her dad and tries to help her stay connected with him. I really enjoyed how the grandma stepped in to explain herself regarding Zoe’s dad and to defend her actions to her daughter.

Its really heartbreaking to watch as Zoe learns about injustice and racism through her grandma’s words. It was interesting as Zoe learns about her father and how the justice system worked against him. Its such a moving story to see how she grows up quickly because she is black. It was great to see Zoe never give up on her dad even when obstacles got in her way, and how she always believed the best of him even if she had never met him.

I recommend this to those of you looking for a book with a black main character and black author. I also think that children ages 11 and up would enjoy this book. Its a great book to introduce racism, injustice and the prison system to middle aged children.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or look for it at your local library.

Light It Up Book Review

Summary: This story is told through a series of vignettes after a cop shoots and kills an unarmed thirteen year old girl. Shae Tatum was on her way home with headphones in, a winter coat on, and in a rush but she never made it home. The community comes together in protest against the senseless taking of black lives by law enforcement and the injustice of the system that was created to protect.

Thoughts: This book was so moving and addressed such important and real issues. It addressed the ever-pressing issue of police brutality, and the ongoing problems black people face with Law enforcement just for existing. It does this in a manner that speaks about the issues through multiple different eyes and from all perspectives.

At first, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow with so many characters and so many storylines but that added a lot to the story. I loved hearing from each character and watching how events change them. I loved watching Robb come to the realization he reaches after a very pivotal moment in the story. I also found it sad, moving and a lot to take in to watch so many of the children become adults overnight. I thought it was important that the police officer’s daughter had her viewpoint shown and to see how conflicted she was about the actions of her parents.

Something else I enjoyed was watching the story play out on both sides. I liked hearing not just from the main cop and his family but also another cop, people who thought they escaped their old town, and people in the middle of it. It really showed the importance of community during those tumultuous times. I liked watching as all of their stories came together to create the bigger picture and watch the roles that they played in each other’s lives.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.