The Book Report: February 2024

Book picks from Ellie Henry, Layan Faraj, Ezran Williams, Loralei Bishop, and Jayden Tapia.

The Book Report: February 2024
Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Images via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Welcome to The Book Report, a monthly round-up of book reviews and recommendations from the students and staff of MSMHS. In this edition, reporter Gracie Peil talks books with Ellie Henry, Layan Faraj, Ezran Williams, Loralei Bishop, and Jayden Tapia. Interviews are lightly edited for clarity.

Ellie Henry's Pick: A Whale of the Wild

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Amazon.

Synopsis: A Whale of the Wild is a captivating story by Rosanne Parry that takes readers into the lives of a young orca, Vega, and her brother, Deneb. Set in the Pacific Northwest, the book explores the bond between Vega and Deneb as they navigate the challenges of survival in the ocean. It's a tale of family, friendship, and the beauty of the natural world. 

Ellie says: “I picked up this book because the subject of orcas stuck out to me. The book is read from a unique perspective of the orca; this gives readers a look into the mind of the animal and provides you with a new way of thinking. This book made me view the ocean — and all the little things we do that we take for granted — a lot differently.”

“We can have a significant impact on the ocean, humans have to realize that we aren't the only sentient being on earth and animals have relationships with one another. We need to know that we have a responsibility as humans on this earth; the small things we do that aren't sustainable, although it may seem harmless, build up over time and can be detrimental to our environment.”

Layan Faraj's Pick:

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Amazon.

Synopsis: A Thousand Splendid Suns, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, takes place in war-torn Afghanistan and follows two women, Mariam and Laila, as their paths cross and their lives become intertwined. The story explores themes of love, friendship, and resilience as they navigate through the hardships and challenges of their lives, shedding light on the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity.

Layan said: “I picked this book because I feel it is a novel that takes you through Afghanistan's history, while providing two different perspectives of challenges that arose. It is one of the few books I've read that I have made an emotional connection with. I believe it is a really important book to read because it educates individuals on the problems that arise in the world.”

“I think this book is important for people to read. It presents readers with flawed and utterly real characters, while being eye-opening even for people who already know what's going on. It's important to not be ignorant about the world and what people are going through because everyone is human. It made me view things differently because we see the struggle that's present in Afghanistan, but it's absolutely necessary to understand that hope is being regenerated and no one should have the mindset that there is nothing you can do in the face of distress.”

Ezran Williams' Pick: Spear

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Goodreads.

Synopsis: Spear is a fantasy novel by Nicola Griffith set in prehistoric times. It tells the story of a young girl named Rhiann, who is born with a deformed arm but possesses incredible strength and determination. As she grows up, Rhiann becomes a skilled warrior and leader, challenging the traditional gender roles of her tribe. The book explores themes of identity, power, and the strength of the human spirit.

Ezran says: "I first picked up this book because it is similar in concept of another book I really enjoyed. Spear focuses on a female character and her upbringing in a humble and unique way. The book follows the reimagining of the Percival story (Knights of the Roundtable) mixed together with Mulan, in the sense that it is about a strong woman on a journey while being seen as a man.

"I didn’t know it at the time, but it is somewhat of a queer story blended with these elements of love and deep mythological themes. I would recommend this book if you're into fictional action-driven stories focused on interpersonal relationships and the inner workings of a character."

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Loralei Bishop's Pick: The Naturals

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Barnes & Noble.

Synopsis: The Naturals is a thrilling young adult novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It tells the story of a group of teenagers with extraordinary abilities in profiling criminals, following Cassie, a girl with a natural talent for reading people, as she joins a secret FBI program. Together, the group solves cold cases and hunts down serial killers. It's full of suspense, mystery, and unexpected twists.

Lorelei says: "I found this book really interesting because it is similar to the series 'Criminal Minds,' bringing the reader into the mind of the killer and allows them to understand their crimes. I would recommend this book to those interested in crime on the teenager level, but it’s important to know that it is not a true crime. You should pick up this book if you're looking for something exciting yet easy to read and want to gain a unique perspective on the minds of killers."

Jayden Tapia's Pick: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Amazon.

Synopsis: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age novel written in the form of letters from the main character, Charlie, to an anonymous recipient. The story follows Charlie's experiences as a high school freshman, dealing with friendship, love, loss, and mental health issues. It's a heartfelt and honest portrayal of adolescence, exploring themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and the power of human connection.

Jayden says: “I think this book is a great starter coming of age book that can get you into reading and out of a reading slump. It's a novel that really draws you in because of the various plot twists and its ability to make the reader feel so many things at once. I originally watched the movie, but the book delves into the complicated relationships and uncomfortable topics in a deeper sense and aids the reader in understanding everything in a deeper context.”

“It is easy to relate to as a freshman in high school (especially at a magnet school like our own) and gives you insight on how to branch out when you feel alone. The book allows readers to connect with the characters in an intense way that gives you a look at their inner thoughts.”

Thanks for reading The Book Report, a publication of The Current. For more news and updates, follow The Current on Instagram!

-Gracie Peil, Editor of The Book Report