Teen Reviews: March 2010
Slumgirl Dreaming: Rubina's Journey to the Stars
By Rubina Ali
Transworld Publishers, 2009
The movie Slumdog Millionaire had a great plotline, but I wasn't moved. Then the 9-year-old actress who stars as young Latika in the movie, Rubina Ali, wrote her autobiography. Slumgirl Dreaming: Rubina's Journey to the Stars changed my views. In a book written in a childish voice of utter innocence lies turmoil, poverty, and crime displayed in a light that cannot be ignored.
The biography was a culture shock that I couldn't get enough of. In only 198 pages, Ali brings the reader into her world: rat-infested slums and overcrowded living spaces. The simplicity of the writing is displayed in one of the most striking lines:
"My name is Rubina Ali. I don't know when my birthday is, and nor does my father, but I do know that I am nine years old."
The book is more than a retelling of a grim childhood that has continued into the present. Instead, the story becomes a dialogue. Ali appears not as a girl who got a
lucky break into the film industry, but a child who still lives in the slums of Mumbai.
Reviewed by Ajibike Lapite, 18, California
The Snowball Effect
By Holly Nicole Hoxter
Eighteen-year-old Lainey Pike's world is slowly spinning out of control, and she's forced to deal with a LOT of issues right after high school graduation. Her long-time boyfriend wants to help her any way he can, but she can't push him far enough away. So it seems like destiny when she meets a door-to-door salesman who just keeps popping up in her life. Can Lainey really handle a family, a boyfriend, a job and then "“ gulp "“ college in the fall? It's up to her to make things right, but first she has to learn a few things along the way with the help of her friends, family, and above all her dead mother, who seems to keep nagging her to think positively -- even from above.
The Snowball Effect is an amazing book. The characters are beautifully lifelike in everything they do. It's not hard to relate to Lainey's feelings at all when you're reading. When you finish the book, it gives you that "feel-good" emotion that anything is possible if you just reach out and try to make it better. Written almost like a diary, it has a personal vibe that really sucks you in. I couldn't put it down!
Reviewed by Chloe Chidester, 19, Austria
What I Saw and How I Lied
By Judy Blundell
Scholastic Press, 2008
I'm not going to lie: What I Saw and How I Lied is not the greatest book. It is a mediocre read about Evie, a girl who does not know what she wants in the beginning of the story and doesn't seem to grow much, though she claims to. It is a book about love and loss, set in the 1940s after World War II. I found that it lacks the sparks to keep the reader interested. It is a bit slow and focuses on Evie's childlike crush on Peter Coleridge, an older mystery man.
It is said the book is for ages 12 and up, yet I think it is not age-specific. The story and language are definitely for younger readers, yet the message and some scenes are not. The setup is also strange; it tells you right off the bat that Peter dies, yet that doesn't seem to happen until the very end. Probably the only action is at the end, where the plot is better but still not good. The transitions are also those of a young child: it tries to foretell things to come, yet just ruins the book.
Reviewed by Minerva Hernandez, 17, Texas
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