Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mini Reviews: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Five Total Strangers by Natalie Richards

By Rainbow Rowell and Faith Hicks
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is such a perfect graphic novel for this time of year. I love the color palate--it is quintessential fall. It evokes the season and makes me long for October. Reading it right now during the pandemic, it also has me longing for a return to the time when we can be out doing some of these activities without fear of spreading the pandemic further in our communities.

I loved the acceptance that the characters have for each other--Deja is bisexual and it is apparent to readers that she has crush on Josiah (Josie for short), but he is oblivious focus on Vanilla Fudge girl, Marcy. As an adult, I can see that is completely true--I remember back to my own teen years with this exact situation playing out in my own life. I can see it now as an adult, in my students' lives as they relate to each other, as they work through what we call life. As I tell them, figuring out how to have healthy relationships is such an important part of life, that reading great books that has relationships as themes, is great. Who does not want to feel loved--whether platonic or romantic?

Overall, this is a great seasonal read, but it is also a great graphic just to look at supportive friendships. 

Five Total Strangers
By Natalie Richards
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Natalie Richards has a way of crafting YA Thrillers that keep teen readers engaged and hooked into her books. I think it is because her characters are relatable and authentic--as an adult reader I cannot help but cringe at decisions made because I would not make them, but I am not a teen any longer. As an adult reading a YA book, we have to remember to take a step back and put ourselves back into a teen's mindset--do you remember how impulsive you were? Do you remember making bad decisions? Do you remember what it was like to crush on a guy or miss obvious signs of bad behavior when you can take a step back and observe from a safe distance away? Sure you can, because you have the life experiences to do so. That's what reading great books do for us--they help put us in situations without having to actually LIVE these situations to learn and grow from them. Richards is a master at doing that and it is because of this her characters always ring true and authentic even when I wish they would not make those choices!

Her latest features her trademark style of engaging writing style coupled with authentic believable characters that create a highly readable and enjoyable YA Thriller. I would not hesitate to put this in the hands of any of my students (grades 7-12th). Content warnings for drug use, drinking, and violence. 


  1. I might start making Pumpkinheads a yearly fall read.

    1. Yes! It is such a great seasonal read. These both set the scene for their respective season in their own way.


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