Mini Reviews: YA Contemporaries

Posted November 13, 2013 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 7 Comments Tags: , ,

Where the Stars Still Shine, Crash, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Nichole Williams, Trish Doller

It’s time for another round of mini reviews and this is a set of books that I would recommend to anyone looking for YA contemporaries that are on the series side.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Review Source: eARC from NetGalley
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 5/5 Stars



Where the Stars Still Shine is the amazing story of Callie and her unique childhood. As a young child, her mother took her away from her home and her father to live a life on the run. For more than ten years, all Callie knew was life on the road with her mom. She never questioned her mom when they packed their stuff and went to the next place. She didn’t have friends, didn’t go to school, and didn’t trust anyone. But when her father finds her and brings her home, and her mother gets arrested, Callie must learn what it means to trust again. Callie meets the large family she was taken away from and must come to terms with what her mother did and learn how to depend on people and live within a family. Her story is amazing and it is no surprise that Trish Doller delivers such an amazing journey for a young women learning what it means to be a daughter and friend in a “normal” way. Callie’s voice is honest and natural and believable and the way she deals with the feelings of what her mother did, knowingly and unknowingly, are difficult to read and heartbreaking. But by finding the right people helping her, she learns that most people are good and love can be beautiful. She begins to heal and finds a new way of looking of life. I loved the messages about family and love in this book and would highly recommend Callie’s story.

Crash by Nicole Williams
Review Source: Paperback won from Publisher
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 3/5 Stars


Lucy is the new girl in school. Jude is the resident bad boy. An interesting meeting at the beach before the first day of school creates an attraction between the two that they aren’t sure they can ignore. Jude tries to push Lucy away and Lucy tries to stay away, but forces keeping pushing them together. Plus, Lucy doesn’t believe Jude is the bad guy everyone makes him out to be and Jude doesn’t believe any of the rumors spreading around school about Jude. But miscommunications and trusting the wrong people and unresolved issues from their pasts keep pushing them apart. The big question in this book is whether Lucy and Jude will ever be able to get together in the meaningful way they both secretly, or not so secretly, want. The best thing going for this book is the chemistry between the two characters. No matter what else was going on, I really wanted to know if they would find a way to be together. If the chemistry hadn’t been there, though, I would not have recommended this book. The writing is well done, but there just isn’t really anything original in this book. Misunderstood bad boy- check. Misunderstood no longer rich blonde girl- check. Mean kids at school- check. Secrets in the past- check for both. High school party with drunk assholes- check. Absent, distracted parents- check. And I could go on. But I won’t. Because in the end, I still really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next installment. I think that says a lot about the writing and the chemistry. I’d recommend this if you’re looking for a book similar to Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Review Source: Purchased Audiobook
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Rating: 4/5 Stars



Leonard Peacock is a misfit. He doesn’t really have friends, unless you count the old man next door, a kid at school who lets him listen to him practice the violin during lunch, the home-schooled Christian girl he met at a train station that he has a crush on, and his Holocaust teacher. His parents aren’t around. And his former best friend is now the popular kid in school that makes fun of the other kids. Today is Leonard’s 18th birthday and no one remembered, not even his mother. He’s decided that today is the day he is going to kill his former best friend and then himself. And because he wants his friends to know how much they meant to him after he’s gone, he has a present to give each of them. This book follows Leonard as he meets with each friend throughout the day. With each meeting we get flashbacks to show how each friend has changed him and taught him to look at life a little differently. As the story progresses, we learn why Leonard hates his former best friend and why he wants to kill him and then himself. We also learn the importance of looking into the future and seeing ourselves there. Understanding that while life may be difficult now and there will always be tough times, it’s important to keep holding on because there are good things in the future and you can’t experience them if you aren’t there.

Leonard Peacock is one of those books that is really difficult to read, it’s truly heartbreaking, but also important. The author does an amazing job with mental illness and abuse as well as general teenage feelings. And his solutions aren’t all rainbows and sunshine but honest answers that are very realistic. He also does a fantastic job showing the difference one person can make in someone else’s life simply by listening and being there. Herr Silverman, the Holocaust teacher, is one of my favorite characters ever.

Because I listened to the audio of this, I can’t comment on what it’s like to read with the footnotes. The narrator just filled them in wherever they came up. But if you’re buying the physical book, just skim through to make sure they won’t drive you crazy. The narrator for the audio did a pretty decent job but I was not a fan of the voices he gave to the female characters. Regardless, I would recommend Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (audio or not) to anyone who wants to read a book about serious issues or is looking for books similar to Thirteen Reasons Why or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

7 Responses to “Mini Reviews: YA Contemporaries”

  1. Maricris Patrimonio Dimla

    I’ve read Crash by Nicole Williams and i loved it! Haven’t read the other two books but I’m planning to. Well done for the reviews! ^_^

  2. astri nardi

    Wow.. they got high rating from you… the book look interesting.. i wanna read them too ^^

    I wish they will publish soon in my country indonesia

  3. Sophia Rose

    I’d only heard of one of these, but they all sound good. Thanks for sharing about them. That last one just sounds tragic, poor kid!

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