Book Review: A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk To Water, Linda Sue Park


128 pages – Middle/High School – Historical Fiction/Based on a True Story/Global Issues/War

In Short: Based on Salva Dut’s account of fleeing the Second Civil War in Sudan, this brief but intense novel takes readers on a journey across Africa and through time. Park alternates between two narratives: Salva at 11 years old in the 1980s, and Nya’s life in present-day Sudan (2008). Salva’s moving story will draw in readers regardless of age, though the honest depictions of violence and hardship make this novel appropriate for middle school and up. A Long Walk to Water would make an excellent companion for Ishmael Beah’s memoir A Long Way Gone, or Terry Farish’s novel-in-verse, The Good BraiderALTW could also support a unit on war, historical fiction, or interviewing. Continue reading for a more detailed review, and more ideas for bringing A Long Walk to Water into the classroom!

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Book Review: On the Come Up

On the Come Up: A Novel, Based on a True Story, by Hannah Weyer, 320 pages, adult fiction, 4.5 stars, recommended for high school

In short… This wonderful coming-of-age novel, based on the life of actress Anna Simpson, takes readers through the life of a teenager growing up in the projects of Far Rockaway. Through the main character of AnnMarie, readers journey through the foster care system, the projects, teen pregnancy, public school in New York City, dysfunctional relationships of all sorts, the making of an independent film, young motherhood, and more. Hannah Weyer manages to take on the ever-complicated life of this character without appearing to juggle chainsaws, which is impressive in and of itself. Even better is the realism of this story; despite the hardships and trauma of AnnMarie’s life, despite the surprising break an indie film offers, the novel follows a character making a normal life after the flash in the pan has dimmed. Put this in your high school independent reading library, add it to a literature circle unit for students to discuss in groups, or add it to your units on coming-of-age. Paired with To Kill a Mockingbird: the comparisons students could draw between Scout and AnnMarie, the examination of gender in these two societies, the value and influence of setting, and so on! Click more for a detailed review!

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Fat Angie Book Review & WOW!

I’m going to start with the wow. This week has been amazing. When I wrote the post below, I expected about four people, all of whom I knew personally, would read it & say nice things to me about it. As of today, 213 people have viewed that post, & 110 people have shared it on Facebook. That is INSANE. Only 9 of my own Facebook friends shared it, so I don’t know who you other 101 people are, but THANK YOU. I can’t describe how it feels to know that people took the time to read what I wrote, & felt like sharing it afterward. You are amazing & I heart you.

So, I read a lot. Never as much as I want to, but still quite a bit. And while I’ve got a Goodreads account to keep track of what I read, I rarely do more than assign a star rating to a title once I’ve finished it. I get caught up in “why am I writing this review?” & “who is reading this review?” & “shut up, you write too much.” But now that I’m trying to put this lovely stretch of Internet to good use, I figured out the why and the who (unfortunately, still working on the shutting up). These book reviews are for teachers who are readers. They include my reader reaction, my teacher reaction, and how I think the book would fit into a classroom. And they come with a handy abstract that gives you all the key points, so you can check out the details only if you feel moved to do so! First up: Fat Angie.


Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, 272 pages, YA

3.5 stars, recommended for high school

In short… Fat Angie is an intense, eye-opening, gritty novel about bullying, loss, death, and depression, that still manages to be uplifting, entertaining, and amazing. While the author tries to take on a lot in one novel, it does not prove to be so much that the characters and their triumphs are overshadowed. Put this book in your high school classroom library for Independent Reading, use an excerpt to start a whole-class discussion of bullying, respect, families, or self-love, or incorporate it into literature circles or book clubs. See below for an in-(too-much-) depth review!

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