Rummanah Aasi

Description: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
  Enter Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
  When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Review: In Ng's sophomore novel, Little Fires Everywhere, she returns with her critical eyes on suburbia, privilege, and motherhood. The opening chapter opens up with the burning of a home of an seemingly perfect family in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Shaker Heights is an idyllic suburb where residents are happy with the status quo and are resistant to change. Unwelcome change comes barreling into the Richardson family when Mia, a boho, charismatic, and mysterious artist moves in with her teenage daughter Pearl become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents.
  Mia and Pearl live a very different life from the Richardson family. Unlike the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four teen children who live in a big house with white picket fences, Mia is an artist who makes enough money for them to get by and are constantly on the move whenever inspiration hits Mia for a new art project. With the juxtaposition of these two families, we get to see how class and money affects them as well as the mother-child relationships, especially as Mia and Pearl intertwine their lives with the Richards, albeit Mia reluctantly and Pearl eagerly. 
  The book is quite quiet as we observe how these characters interact with one another. It is told through various points of views and it takes it time slowly developing the different bonds between the characters. I really appreciated how the teens and adults are both given enough page time and attention. Many times in adult fiction the children are brushed aside, but they are really important to the story. I liked Pearl for the most part as the everyday girl. I could understand how she wanted to mimic her lifestyle to that of the glamorous neighbors, but I also wished that she had her own personality. Out of the Richardsons, I felt most connected to Moody, the middle child who was reserved and kept his feelings towards Pearl to himself mostly. I also liked Izzy for her tenacity and determination to always stand up for what she believed in but at times she was a bit much.
  The book's pacing picks up when "little fires" are sparked and set fire to the Richardsons'  secure, stable world and how they do or do not adjust their worldviews. A particular fire is when Shaker Heights is the center for a public, legal custody case of a Chinese American Baby. Overall, Little Fires Everywhere is enjoyable and insightful read. It would make a good book club pick as there are plenty of themes to discuss such as loyalty and betrayal, honesty and trust, and what does motherhood mean.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, fade to black sex scenes, teen abortion, and underage drinking discussed in the book. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran, Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Rummanah Aasi

Description: When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him: Joseph almost killed a teacher. He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain. He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her.
 What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl. Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help. But the past can’t be shaken off. Even as new bonds form, old wounds reopen. The search for Jupiter demands more from Jack than he can imagine.




Review: Orbiting Jupiter is a quiet tale that packs an emotional punch to the gut. The writing is simple with short sentences and short chapters, however, the characters' silence and appearance give this story its impact and power. I had my heart gripped in a vise when I read this book and it didn't ease up until the bittersweet ending. There were moments when I had tears in my eyes and I had to set it aside but the story would not let me go.
 Sixth grader Jack has a new foster brother, Joseph, who has a troubled past. Joseph has a history of trouble: he attacked a teacher, was incarcerated at an infamous juvenile detention center, and has a
s a baby daughter named Jupiter whom he’s never seen. It is through Jack's eyes that we observe Joseph who is removed, quiet, and not easy to warm up to. He hates people touching him or walking behind him. It is clear that he has had a traumatic childhood. At school, Joseph is bullied by both students and teachers alike, who presumed that he is nothing but trouble. Joseph, however, is incredibly intelligent and a nice person once he thaws. Soon Joseph begins to warm and open up to Jack's family as he grows to love the daily routine of farm life and learns what it means to be loved in a family. Jack's family may be complete, but Joseph’s single-minded desire to parent his daughter leads to strife and tragedy.
  In less than 200 pages, Schmidt unfolds his complex and heartbreaking story naturally. We don't learn Joseph's story until he is ready to tell it. We watch as Joseph's heart soars when he finally finds security and then plunge into darkness when it's snatched away from him. We too wonder where the angels are when horrible things happen to good people. While the writing is restrained, there are so many things to unpack from this book. I loved the foils and mirrors of male relationships from friendship and familial. This book really gets to the heart of what makes a family and in particular what makes a good father.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There are allusions to physical abuse and sexual assault. There is also mention of teen pregnancy. Recommended for strong Grade 6 readers and up.

If you like this book try: A List of Cages by Robin Roe, The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone. As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Review: Mindy McGinnis's The Female of the Species has been on my reading pile since it's release in 2015. It sat on my pile for almost two years now, not because my interest in it has waned but rather I needed to be in the right head space to read it and appreciate it. This is a book that many people will be uncomfortable reading and for a good reason. It is an unflinching, brutal, and thought provoking look at rape culture, its insidiousness, and repercussions. After reading this book I had several emotions swirling in me such as heartache and anger, but most importantly I wanted to discuss it with someone.
  McGinnis transports the reader to a cage-like, small, impoverish town in Ohio where everyone knows everyone and people have rarely left. Teens seeking to escape their provincial lives turn to drinking, drugs, and sex. The book is told in three distinct voices of teens who struggle with sexual violence, both together and individually. Alex, Jack, and Peekay are three high school seniors looking ahead to life beyond high school. Alex is known as the girl whose sister Anna was raped and murdered. Jack is the golden boy who is blessed with looks, brains, and athleticism. Peekay, (real name Claire) a nicknamed dubbed by her classmates because she is the preacher's daughter, is the everygirl though she strays from her religious upbringing but still believes in the goodness of others. All three teens are haunted by the memory of Anna's murder and their outlook on life change as their relationships with each other shift.
  Alex is a fantastically complex character and the book's foundation. She does not fit neatly into any boxes and her ambiguous morality makes her compelling and flawed. When Anna's murderer walked free because of 'contaminated' evidence, she took the law into her own hands. She stalked and killed her sister's murderer and skillfully evaded any legal repercussions. Alex has become a vigilante (serial killer?) and protector of girls who have been victims of sexual abuse and unwanted sexual advances. So, is Alex a hero? An anti-hero? A villain? I don't know and I keep going in circles in my head, but I really loved her. Her voice is mature and she is keenly aware of her own actions and surroundings. It is very easy for McGinnis to isolate her protagonist to an isolated, cold-hearted killer, but she does humanize her by developing a friendship with Peekay and a romance with Jack.
  Unlike Alex, Peekay is a forgettable, ordinary girl for the most part. It is through her eyes that we see how girls illicit violence, with words instead of fists, upon one another or on themselves, whether it is through slut-shaming others and measuring themselves in sexual currency- where having a male openly and lasciviously gaze at your body is equivalent to self confidence. Peekay finally becomes a more three dimensional character when she comes in contact with Alex who helps her change her outlook, but she still keeps silent when she becomes a victim of attempted sexual assault due to shame. Her friendship with Alex brings the much needed light into this dark suspenseful story.
  Similarly to Peekay, Jack is probably the weakest character out of the three. Through his voice, we are given the male perspective where girls are constantly sexualized and objectified. Overall he is a good guy who tends to make his decisions with the lower half of his anatomy and struggles to make the right decisions. I didn't buy into his romantic relationship with Alex. It still struck me that he wanted Alex because she was an exotic and unattainable object. Like Peekay, he too begins to look closely at his actions and how he speaks as he becomes closer to Alex.
  The Female of the Species is not a perfect book. I had unanswered questions and had to suspend my disbelief on the absence of police officials for majority of the book. The book, however, does ask the reader to look closely to the behaviors that our society has normalized and quietly accepted. Some readers might feel that the topics of sexual abuse and assault are heavy handed in the book, but I disagree. It is treated with sensitivity but also portrayed with the necessary weight and power. This book should make your stomach churn, should make you angry, and should make you want to change our society. It is timely, important, and would make a terrific book discussion with mature teens. Despite my discomfort in reading it, I am glad that I did.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language throughout the book. Brief strong violence including attempted sexual assault, murder, and animal cruelty are mentioned in the book. Strong sexual content and underage drinking and drug usage are also mentioned thorough out the book. Recommended for mature teens only.

If you like this book try: All the Rage by Courtney Stevens, What Girls are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri's mom avoids these questions--the topic of India is permanently closed.
  For Pri, her mother's homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she's ever dared and find the family she never knew.

Review: Priyanka “Pri” Das is a talented artist who loves to make comics. She is a bit of a loner and outsider. She wants to know both why her deeply religious mother left India for California so abruptly years ago and her father’s whereabouts, but Pri's mother is very cryptic about her past and refuses to speak of India. When Pri discovers a mysterious pashmina tucked away in her mother's forgotten suitcase and wraps it around her shoulders, she is transported to an imagined, romanticized India. These panels burst with vibrant colors in contrast to the banal black and white images of her everyday life. In the magical India Pri has a talking elephant and peacock who serve as Pri's and the reader's tour guides and introduce us to the country's festivals, foods, and fashion, but Pri knows this isn't the realistic version of India, which is hinted by a ghost shaped woman who appears in the background. In order to find the answers to Pri's questions and see the real India, she will have to travel to India, where she learns about women’s choices—especially her mother’s—and living without fear.
  This is a well written debut graphic novel, but it left me wanting more. I appreciated how the portrayal of Indian culture was well balanced. The inclusion of Hindi words worked naturally in the text though it would have been a good idea on expanding the glossary on how to pronounce the words. Since I am familiar with Hindi already, I didn't not have a hard time understanding the words but for readers who are not familiar with the Hindi language might have some trouble. While the graphic novel touches upon classic themes of bicultural and immigrant conflicts, it also talks about women's roles and their constraints in the Indian culture. Although a lot can be inferred from the panels, I would really have liked if this topic was explored further and we got to see more ways on how the magical pashmina's influences a wide range of women in the graphic novel. I also wondered if Pri's mom was aware of the pashmina's magical abilities and if so, why did she hide it? A character like Pri is rarely featured in children and/or YA books because she is the daughter of a single mother, a family structure that is rarely represented and looked down upon in shame in the South Asian culture; another topic that could have been covered more thoroughly in the book. Though a bit lacking in some aspects, Pashmina is a welcoming addition to diverse graphic novels and I look forward to reading more from this creator.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Rummanah Aasi
  Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! I'm taking a slight detour from the upcoming book releases. Today I want to talk about the upcoming book to movie adaptations that I can not wait to see. I will try to add the release date information if it is available.



A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle is one of my childhood favorites. I remember reading it and being blown away by it in fourth grade. I also developed my first book boyfriend crush on Calvin O'Keefe. The cast of the movie is stellar and diverse: Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Pena just to name a few. I hope to find some time to reread this classic before the movie comes out. The movie comes out on February 3, 2018.

I would be surprised if you haven't seen the trailer yet, but here is it down below in case you missed it:


Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli was one of my favorite debut novels from 2015. Funny, moving, romantic, and emotionally wise, this book will make you sigh in content and have a huge smile on your face when you are finished reading the last page. Though the movie has changed its title to Love, Simon, it has a wonderful diverse cast: Nick Robinson, Keiynan Lonsdale (aka Wally West from the Flash), Alexandra Shipp, Josh Duhamel, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. Though there are aspects of the trailer that have some fans nervous, Becky has told us to trust the film. The movie comes out on March 16, 2018.

I have watched the trailer several times and it just makes me smile. My favorite part is the end. Check out it below:



To All the Boys I Loved Before series by Jenny Han is also one of my favorite YA contemporary romance series. It has wonderful characters, an interesting plot, and the right balance between romance and an coming of age novel. Like Simon, this book will turn your frown upside down. If you have always wanted to try reading any of Jenny Han's books and don't know which book to pick up, I highly recommend this series. The news of this movie adaptation was a complete surprise to me. I had heard nothing of it until the last book in the series, Love Always and Forever, Lara Jean was published. The movie also has a diverse cast and stars: Noah Centineo, John Corbett, Israel Broussard, Janel Parrish, Lana Condor, and Anna Cathcart.

There is no trailer at the moment nor a release date but it will be sometime in 2018 as the movie is in post-production. I can't wait!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is the most talked about YA book and debut novel of 2017. I would be shocked if it did not receive any accolades from the book community and does not appear on any of the best book lists. I have not read this book yet due to the big hype machine, but I do need to sit down and read it because I think the topic is timely and incredibly important. The movie has a great cast: Amandla Stenberg, Anthony Mackie, Regina Hall, and Common.

There is no trailer at the moment nor a release date but I will definitely will be looking forward to it when it comes to the theaters.



Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness was one of the few dystopian reads that I actually enjoyed during the dystopian reading trend. I liked the first book, Knife of Never Letting Go, but I didn't finish the other books in the series. The movie is currently in production and it stars: Tom Holland (aka Spiderman/Peter Parker) and Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars). The movie is set to be released on March 1, 2019 so I have plenty of time to read and finish this series.


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