The Book Report: March 2024

Book picks from Emma Liu, Julia Gauvin, Khalfani Campbell, and Jacob Zelinsky

The Book Report: March 2024
Images via NPR, Amazon, and Amazon. Illustration by Kaiden Chandler.

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 Emma Liu, Julia Gauvin, Khalfani Campbell, and Jacob Zelinsky. Interviews are lightly edited for clarity.

Emma Liu's Pick: It Sounded Better in My Head

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Amazon.

Synopsis: Nina Kenwood's It Sounded Better in My Head is a young adult novel about Natalie, who confronts her parents' divorce and self-doubt amid severe acne. Her life gets more complicated when she falls for her best friend's brother, Alex. The story depicts the rollercoaster of teenage emotions, relationships, and the quest for self-acceptance.

Emma says: "What I really liked about the book was the cover and the name of it. It sounded insecure, like it was overthinking. I related to the overthinking. I feel like it’s about high school and the transition from high school to college, with a lot of things we can relate to; family, friendships, relationships and most importantly, [the] love you can receive.

"The protagonist has really bad acne, struggles with insecurity, low self esteem, but she learns how to love herself, to receive love, and learns how to feel deserving of love. In the book, her mom and dad are divorced, [which happened] when she was 18. Learning to accept it, trying to be positive, all really common things for people to go through in the 21st century. It teaches about learning to want the best for your parents and family and accept divorce.

"In this book, I felt like the girl. I thought things would work out, as it usually does for protagonists. But, it taught me about accepting change, to try to be more positive and live in the moment."

Julia Gauvin's Pick: The Girls I’ve Been

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Amazon.

Synopsis: The Girls I've Been is a thrilling young adult novel by Sharpe Tess centered around Nora O'Malley, a con artist's daughter who draws on her past identities to navigate a dangerous bank heist. With her ex-boyfriend and current girlfriend, she's forced to use her unique skills to outwit their captors, drawing on her complex past to protect those she loves.

Julia says: "I chose this book because I like all of the characters and think that it feels very real. I absolutely think others should read this book because it's an easy read with a good message. It's very interesting, and if you enjoy thrillers or mysteries it would be really good for you because it is a good intro to more similar genres. It's a great book for students, interesting, and it really makes you think. It's an easy read on the surface, but [gives you] lots to think about; the justice system, are we protecting the children, and how. It truly is the best of both worlds. Unlike other books, I love that the characters feel real and you can really imagine them as real people."

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Khalfani Campbell's Pick: Weight of Worlds

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via Royal Road.

Synopsis: Weight of Worlds is an serialized web novel by MH Crux about Ravnir, an individual with magical powers. The book features complex fantasy world's and the struggle of a young individual.

Khalfani says: "Unlike other books, I have been reading this book for a while. It has the benefit of being online, so it's constantly updating which can give you a unique perspective of unfolding elements. I have always enjoyed fantasy books, but this one felt different. The character had to stand his ground and leave everything he knew behind including his guiding figure. The story follows themes of poverty, struggle, and coming of age while having to work through a world of diversity. [The book] made me reflect on how my own family is always trying their best for me; they push me to achieve what I want to achieve."

Jacob Zelinsky's Pick: The Three-Body Problem

Illustration by Kaiden Chandler. Image via NPR.

Synopsis: The Three-Body Problem is a science fiction novel that begins during China's Cultural Revolution and spans to an impending alien invasion. The story follows physicist Wang Miao as he becomes involved with a secret military project and discovers a mysterious online game, Three Body, which is tied to the aliens' plans and reveals the physics of their home world. The novel explores themes of science, technology, and humanity's place in the universe as Earth faces the reality of the alien civilization's approach.

Jacob says: "This book was part of a three part series. I first saw people in the science fiction community reference it as a book you need to read because it will change your life. It was highly praised and was something that had that kind of in-depth science fiction vein, which I like. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re interested in science fiction. In general, it’s a very interesting read, and [readers] will learn a lot from it. It follows a problem in physics that centers around concepts of theoretical physics. I found it interesting how it’s all woven together through the book."

"The book is written like a thriller, very well paced, with a mystery unveiled at the end, all concepts that you don’t typically see together but how the author ties it together is really good. It is the most approachable material I have read in recent years. I normally read a lot of fiction but this book made me want to read more."

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-Gracie Peil, Editor of The Book Report