Teen Book Reviews

Teen Book Reviews are written by local Puyallup teens in exchange for volunteer hours. If you're interested in becoming a volunteer and getting hours for reading and writing reviews, learn more on our teen services page to get started. All reviews are out 5 stars, 5 being the best. All reviewed books are available for checkout in the YA section.

Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill


Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, and vegetable oil. By themselves, they are things that you would find in an ordinary kitchen but put together, they make a wonderfully delicious vanilla cake. Any good relationship is like a cake. Layers upon layers of perfectly measured ingredients that from the outside look effortless, but the chef knows the hours it took to make, bake and frost it. In Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill our head chefs, Reese Camden and Benny Beneventi, are summer interns at Friends of Flavor, a major food network. They are both hoping to get the one fall internship spot. But as tensions rise and sparks fly, will their friendship hold strong or deflate like one wrongly cooked soufflé? Love from Scratch is for the feminist romantics that want to destroy the patriarchy at noon but still have crepes at two. Hill’s writing is intriguing and inventive with many cheesy puns, see what I did there? She is very good at pulling in the reader and holding them close like a yummy Bundt cake she doesn’t want to share. Love from Scratch deserves a well-earned five Michelin stars for the tasty morsel that it is. So, dig in!

Reviewed by Marisa, grade 10.

Prepped by Bethany Mangle


Do you ever read articles on people who "prepare for the end of the world?" Well, for eighteen-year-old Becca Aldaine, that story you scroll through is her everyday life. Her days are nothing like yours or mine. They are full of training, inventory, and taking care of her younger sister Katie. Katie is too young to start training at ten, and Becca would like to keep it that way. Becca's dad is the leader of their small town and is always harder on Becca than Katie. Then there's Roy. Roy is the boy that Becca is paired with for an arranged marriage. Becca is not having it. But something is changing. For the better or, the worse, Becca does not know. Prepped is most certainly a well-written, structured, and rounded story. But I think that some things could have been written differently to avoid trauma triggers. There are some parts that could have been written in another way to convey the same emotions and ending. But Bethany Mangle did a wonderful job writing Prepped. Prepped is for the YA readers who love a good suspenseful romance with a touch of mental abuse thrown in for fun. Prepped most definitely earns a rock solid 4.5 stars, and I would recommend this book to many of my friends with only a few exceptions.

Reviewed by Marisa, grade 10.

You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Have you ever lost someone and just wanted one last conversation, one last sentence, one last word? For senior Julie, she wants that more than anyone could imagine. When her boyfriend of three years dies tragically in a car crash, she simply wants to hear his voice one more time. So, she picks up the phone, just to hear Sam's voicemail. But is she getting more than she asked for? The writing style of Thao pulls at the heartstrings of the reader again and again throughout the novel. It makes us develop a strong emotional attachment to the characters that are just not there in other works. Romance and loss are the biggest players in this novel, so be ready for a good cry. Without a doubt, You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao deserves five stars alongside the best of the best.

Reviewed by Marisa, grade 9.

Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach


I would give Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach a 4-star rating. This book was an easy-going read. It is not one of my favorite books because it didn’t really spark any big emotions or anything. However, I still gave it a 4-star because it is still somewhat interesting. I would say that it is the same level of “action” as a previous book I reviewed called Of Curses and Kisses, which is also available at this library. I do have to say that this book also has a lot of swearing and was unnecessary in some sentences. Not Here to Be Liked is about a girl named Eliza who prioritizes her high school paper a lot, which makes her a perfect candidate for editor-in-chief. She already had the position in her hands until Len DiMartile, an ex-jock, decided he wanted to run for editor-in-chief too. Eliza then writes an essay to herself to relieve her anger on the belief that misogyny was the reason Len was chosen. This book also talks a lot about feminism, which I think is important and wonderful, but I do think that the definition of feminism was a bit stretched out. There were some lines and moments where the characters define feminism, and I think it doesn’t fit.  But I don’t want to say anything for sure since I also do not really know much about the topic other than the big idea. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a drama-type book that is easy-going and not too action-packed.

Reviewed by Lina, grade 11.

XOXO by Axie Oh


I would rate XOXO by Axie Oh 5-stars. I read this book within 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have seen other reviews on this book saying that it is like a K-drama, and I can definitely see the book turning into one. I actually kind of hope that it would because I have been watching K-drama’s ever since I was little. This book is about Jenny, who is a cellist, that finds that she has a crush on a stranger that she just met who is named Jaewoo. She then must fly to South Korea because of her sick grandma, where Jaewoo said he lives. When she gets there, she meets Jaewoo, who she finds out is one of the biggest K-pop idols. Jenny must choose if she is willing to risk Jaewoo’s career for a relationship. I appreciated the real-life moments that this book has as well. Obviously, it is not common that you will meet a K-pop star that you think has a spark with you, but I liked the types of relationships that Jenny encounters with her friends and family, as well as the experiences that she has at her school in South Korea. XOXO also really brings light to what celebrities and K-pop idols deal with in their real lives, and how they have to watch their every move in fear of a scandal that could crush their whole career. There are some cheesy and corny bits in this book, along with some cliché lines but it wasn’t super cringy. There were parts in the book that made me smile widely waiting for what happened next as well as moments where I had to turn the page in anxiety. Every time I put the book down, I was excited for the next time I would pick it back up. I really loved this book and would recommend it to friends who enjoy romance K-dramas, because it is basically the same thing in book form, and romance book lovers.

Reviewed by Lina, grade 10.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur


I would give The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur a 4.5-star rating. This book is definitely a mystery and adventure book. It contains heart-racing scenes that will keep you reading. I like that this book is a historical fiction book (originating in 1426) because it is based on real events but with fictional characters. It is about a girl named Hwani, who is a daughter that is trying to find her missing father, as well as solving the case that may have caused him to go missing. The case where there are 13 missing girls and a disturbing crime scene in which Hwani and her little sister, Maewol, are involved. When I first started reading this book, I was a little bit confused about what was happening in the beginning, but as I continued reading, I understood more. I really enjoyed that this book has a lot of imagery. There were many scenes that I could perfectly picture in my head, at least my version of the description. This book also gives readers closure on what happens to the characters at the end. I also really loved Hwani and Maewol’s characters in the story. They are both very strong independent women with brilliant minds well represented. I recommend The Forest of Stolen Girls to any mystery and adventure book lovers that enjoy a well-detailed story.

Reviewed by Lina, grade 10.

They Went Left by Monica Hesse