Welcome to another edition of mini reviews on Bookish Serendipity. I read quite a few books a year and there is no way that I could dedicate a book review to each. My solution? I occasionally share a bunch of mini reviews within one post. It’s a great way to share my thoughts on a book without writing an essay-length review. Today I’m going to my featuring a few of my recent reads: Friends For Life, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Never Always Sometimes.
Friends For Life by Andrew Norriss
A timeless and uplifting book about friendship, filled with humor and heart.
When Jessica sits next to Francis on a bench during recess, he’s surprised to learn that she isn’t actually alive — she’s a ghost. And she’s surprised, too, because Francis is the first person who has been able to see her since she died.
Before long, Francis and Jessica are best friends, enjoying life more than they ever have. When they meet two more friends who can also see Jessica, the question arises: What is it that they have in common? And does it have something to do with Jessica being a ghost?
Friends for Life is a charming story about perseverance, faith, and learning to find light in the darkest of places. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind middle grade novel to pick up, Friends For Life is it. I went into it not sure what to expect, but I ended up really enjoying it!
More than anything, Friends For Life is a story of hope. The summary only mentions Francis and Jessica, but they both end up being friends with two other kids. All 4 of them have complicated lives, and are struggling to feel wanted. Friends For Life is the story of how their friendships bring them together, and allow them to realize that hope is everywhere.
Friends For Life was a short, but wonderful read, and it gave me a lot to think about. I would definitely read another book by this author.
Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
I confess I knew very little about this book before I got it up at the library. All I knew that was that a) Oreos were mentioned a lot, b) it was supposed to be funny, and c) almost everyone who had read it loved it. I ended up picking Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda up on impulse, and I’m glad I did.
Simon was a very realistic main character. I totally loved reading about him, and his quirks. He was easy to relate to for me, especially since he liked both theater and Oreos, which I like as well. His romance with Blue was very sweet and even though I ended up guessing pretty early on who Blue was, I still really enjoyed it.
This ended up being a very quick read for me. This was not necessarily because because it was a short book, but rather because I was enjoying myself so much that I couldn’t put the book down. It ended up being a fantastic read, and I would love read another book by this author!
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Never date your best friend
Always be original
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
I wanted to love this book so badly. It sounded amazing (I loved the idea of a Never list!) but it ended up being just another fluffy contemporary with overemotional teenage characters for me.
I was initially attracted to Never Always Sometimes because the concept sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the decision to do everything on the list, while occasionally entertaining, ended up mostly causing a lot of drama between Julia and Dave, and not much more. I really liked Dave, but Julia frustrated me with her constant rudeness and unwillingness to be reasonable. Half of the book was told in her perspective, which meant that I spent half the time questioning the reasoning behind her decisions.
I don’t have much to say about this book other than that it was pretty disappointing, and Julia and Dave bothered me. Contemporaries just aren’t working for me these days, which makes me sad.
What have you been reading lately? Oh, and do you have any great contemporary recs for me?