Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Book Review Club (September 2020)

Welcome to the September 2020 meeting of The Book Review Club! These are strange times indeed. I spent much of the summer in lockdown. So, I'm really glad to be here today...with all these book reviews of recommended reads. A little slice of normal on the first Wednesday of the month. Enjoy the reviews. Take care of yourself and those around you.

SAVE ME A SEAT (Middle Grade, Contemporary)

I listened to the audio version and read the e-book. The takeaway: I loved this book. It was on the master list for 10 state awards. So, I'm in good company. :)

SAVE ME A SEAT takes place over five school days. It's told from two points of view, in alternating chapters. And it was written by two authors. Each author was in charge of a POV character. How fun is that?! 

The Story Behind the Story: Gita Varadarajan turned in a short story for a writing class taught by Sarah Weeks. Sarah Weeks thought the story could be a book and suggested they write it together. And they did.

In a Nutshell: Ravi's family moved from India to New Jersey. The book opens with his first day at his new school. He doesn't understand some US customs. He has trouble fitting in with his classmates. He's an outsider. Joe sits behind Ravi. Joe has been a student at Albert Einstein Elementary his entire academic life. His two friends moved away, and he's facing fifth grade alone. He deals with an auditory processing disorder. He is also an outsider. One huge thing the two boys have in common: the class bully.

The Takeaway: This is a story about inclusion, discovering what you have in common with others, finding your place in fifth grade and helping the bully have a very humorous comeuppance.

And here's a link to Phyllis Wheeler's review of SAVE ME A SEAT.

(Dear FCC: library)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Jody Feldman: A WISH IN THE DARK by Christina Soontornvat (Fantasy)

Phyllis Wheeler: LIAR AND SPY by Rebecca Stead (mystery)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: ICEAPELAGO by Peter Brennan (Eco-Thriller)

Lucy Sartain: THE VANISHING HALF by Britt Bennett (Historical Literary)

Patti Abbott:  THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Hatchett (Literary)

Ray Potthoff: AS THE STARS FALL by Steve N. Lee (Contemporary)

Sarah Laurence: OLIVE, AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout (Literary)


Margy Lutz: WILD FIERCE LIFE by Joanna Streetly (Memoir)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I like the concept of the story and like that it's told by two different people (it all but ensures the POVs are distinct! :) ). But, I wonder about the ethics of an instructor cashing in on a story idea presented by a student. It's one thing to suggest a short story might work as a bigger, longer story and to kick around ideas with the person. It's another to finagle a payday out of it. But maybe ithat's just me.

    1. The to points of view are very distinct. That worked really both the audio and print versions. In terms of the other, I guess we'd have to know the nuances of the conversation. It did sound as though the two of them really enjoyed creating together. Slightly off topic, it did make me think about collaborative writing and how fun it could be.

    2. I think collaborative writing could and would be fun as well. And you're right, the nuances to their conversation would be important but it just sounds a little sketchy to me without that context. That's all I'm saying.

    3. Yup, I totally understand where you're coming from, and you make a good point. Lucy. :)

  2. The title brought back a funny memory. Leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver there was controversy about getting tickets. First, you had to enter a lottery just to get the opportunity to purchase them. Next, the cost was so high that many locals couldn't afford them. One resident along Highway 101 that runs up the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver to Powell River created a mobile billboard. The message was "Save Me a Seat" with five toilet seats making the Olympic rings. It was parked by the road for over a year and wasn't removed even when new Olympic protest rules were enacted. That probably was due to it's location far from the Vancouver tourist area. Here's a link if you want to see it. - Margy

  3. Ha! Thanks for the link. Slightly different vein....but the title Save Me a Seat gives me warm, fuzzy friendship feelings. During these Covid times, I'm wondering when will I next ask a friend to save me a seat. :(

  4. That book sounds marvelous! Even though I don’t usually read middle grade unless it’s in Spanish or written by my talented crit partners, I do think I’d enjoy this one. I love that the author paired up with a student in her workshop, pulling her up.

    I’m going to have to postpone blog visits to the weekend. We’re moving out of our rental home tomorrow, which is also the first day of my virtual class! I spent hours tonight remembering how to write in Spanish. I’m looking forward to getting more book recommendations from this group soon!

    1. Happy Moving! Glad you got into your Spanish class! Thanks for taking time out to review Olive, Again on your blog.

  5. OK, now I have to read this book! Sounds like just my kind of book! Thanks for telling me about it.

    1. I do think you'd enjoy this book, Phyllis. Let me know. :)

  6. Thanks for hosting, Barrie! I'm a bit behind what with having the grandkids!!!

    1. Great reason to be behind! It looks as though you're all enjoying yourselves. :)


Comments are always welcome!