The Book Reviews – Website

January 18, 2009

Margaux with an X

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Margaux with an X

Author: Ron Koertge

Page Length: 165

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: On the outside, Margaux’s life seems to resemble perfection. She’s gorgeous, every guy wants her, every girl wants to be within her circle of friends, and she’s smart. In reality, Margaux’s harboring a terrible secret. She’s tired of playing Sara’s popularity games with groping boys, seeing her mother engrossed in the shopping channel day after day, and hearing about her father’s latest gambling activities. Then she meets Danny who is a scrawny, anything but fashionable guy who dedicates his life to rescuing animals. Could it be love at first sight? Will Margaux reveal her terrible secret?

REVIEW: This book took an interesting look at a number of important topics. One issue addressed in the book is the price Margaux has paid for her father’s addiction to gambling. Also, Koertge teaches the reader that being beautiful isn’t as glamorous or as easy at it seems. Yet another topic presented in the book is that self-discovery can be painful but gratifying. Both Danny and Margaux have endured hardships and are discovering who they are and how their past has shaped them. Overall, the book is interesting, the plot is well developed, and the final parting message is good – the path of least resistance isn’t necessarily the best.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  character traits, cause and effect, author’s purpose, sequence of events, sarcasm, vocabulary development

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Dad offering Margaux a joint (p.22), “he tries to feel my boobs… just a semi-slut instead of a full-on hoochie” (p.87), destroying a car out of anger (p.142), “you’d drive me over to Tony’s house and let him take pictures of me in my underpants” (p.150)

RELATED BOOKS: Where the Kissing Never Stops, Stoner & Spaz, The Brimstone Journals, Shakespeare Bats Clean Up, The Arizona Kid


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

January 17, 2009

The Girls

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The Girls

Author: Amy Koss

Page Length: 121

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Have you ever wondered what it’s like to hang with the popular girls? Or even what makes someone popular? The Girls is a look at the lives of three girls who center all of their attention on Candace – whatever Candace wants she gets. Pleasing Candace isn’t always easy, but the girls don’t even seem to notice when they cross line. Is being in the “light of Candace” really worth the sacrifice?  

REVIEW:  This book was a great look at the typical narcissistic young teenage female. The book shows what being completely self-centered would be like. The other end of that spectrum is that it could be a useful tool for teaching how to avoid being suckered in by the seemingly charismatic group leaders some teens seem to fall in to easily with. This book would be a good assessment tool for looking at personality traits and assessing the causes and effects of their actions and thoughts.

The realism and the differing points of view will give almost all girls someone they can relate to.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, character analysis, sequence, point of view

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: the concept of being left out of the group

RELATED BOOKS: The Trouble with Zinny Weston, How I Saved Hannukkah, The Ashwater Experiment, Stranger in Dadland, Side Effects, The Cheat

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Mean Girls, Pretty in Pink


REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

April 2, 2008

Shattering Glass

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Shattering Glass

Author: Gail Giles

Page Length: 215

Reading Level: 6.2


REVIEW & PLOT SUMMARY: The front cover of the book boasts the review “suspenseful, disturbing…” Disturbing is definitely a description I would use also. In a nutshell, the story centers around the popular crowd in a Texas high school. Rob is the ring leader who determines the actions of all the other members. He deems who is to be popular and who is not; his followers do as he asks without question. Stepping outside his usual realm, he deems it necessary to completely usurp and demean the former most popular guy in high school, Lance. He hatches this scheme by making the most ridiculed boy in school, Simon Glass, popular. With a makeover, new clothes, and lessons from Rob, Simon couldn’t be better received. Simon and all the male characters, suffer some parent issues – especially with their fathers. Simon steps outside the lines when he begins to think for himself. He discovers Rob’s untold secrets and perhaps the motivating factor behind is excessive need to control and dominate everything. Everything begins to unwind as the competition for class favorites concludes at the dance. Secrets are revealed and alliances shattered. How far will Rob go to keep his secrets? Who will pay the ultimate price?


AREAS FOR TEACHING: From a teaching perspective this book has some strong points. For example, it is a powerful example of how blindly following others can go wrong. The book completely illustrates how hurtful and inane cliques can be and how devastating the consequences of seemingly harmless actions can be. Giles also details how making a wrong turn (a bad decision) can quickly spiral out of control; one bad action leads to another and another. This book is great for teaching life lessons and for examining the consequences of actions – and for really discussing how often we should pause and consider the repercussions of our actions before making decisions. The letters that begin each chapter are beautiful examples of foreshadowing. Another huge discussion point is presented at the end of the book when justice is meted out unevenly.


TOUCHY AREAS: On the other hand, the book deals frankly with some touchy subjects – namely, molestation of boys by fathers and camp counselors. It also exposes the cruelty of cliques through negative comments and treatment of others.  This book is disturbing because it exposes the potential darkness within a hurting and damaged heart. The characters lose their sense of self and even of right and wrong. We witness one character breaking up with his girlfriend because it’s part of the master plan. Teenage sex and the disappointment characters had with their first time are also discussed— but decently. Be wary – this is loaded with issues – but on the other hand it’s certainly not the average read.



(consider the video book trailer as an assignment – this has a lot of potential ***)


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


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