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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Difficult Reads

Trigger warnings, or content warnings, are statements usually created by the author, or a reviewer of a book to warn potential readers about the sensitive topics that are presented in the title (whether it is only mentioned or a theme throughout the book) that could cause a reader to not feel good (anxiety, stress, or could be harmful mentally).

I usually do not talk about why some books are difficult to read due to sensitive topics that can be triggering and because for many of these YA books, it could be a spoiler.

The titles that I am presenting in this blog are difficult reads that deal with complex and tough topics, but they are written in a sensitive way that many may find healing or feel seen or learn about or learn from.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Enchanted wants to be a singer more than anything, even though she knows it might be unrealistic. When famous singer and R&B artist, Korey Fields, hears her audition, he thinks he can help her get her start in the industry. Korey also begins to show Enchanted attention and affection and wants it to be reciprocated even though Enchanted is underage and Korey is much older than she is. So, begins the toxic, controlling, and scary relationship and a situation that causes Enchanted to be isolated and abused. All the readers know from the beginning is that this will not end well for anyone.

This is such a difficult read, but an important one. Tiffany D. Jackson provides content warning: “mentions of sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, and addiction to opioids” so, just be aware that this book has this content. A fast read that will make readers want to know what will happen.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

One hour is all that it takes to change everything. Autumn, Sylv, Tomás, and Claire are all connected by either their familiar relationships, past romantic relationships, or just casual classmates of Tyler. Tyler plans a mass school shooting and when he decides to go through with it, anyone can end up in the crossfire.

This was a scary and heartbreaking book that kept me on edge long after I finished. As someone that remembers media about school shootings as a student and was a teaching during other tragedies, this was scary. This is a very tragic story that hits a little too close. Some trigger warnings include: mass shooting, violence, death, and sexual assault.

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and Hoopla, and available at the library* for checkout.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Finch and Violet meet on top of a bell tower, and it is unclear who was about to jump; Finch has been suicidal, but always finds a reason to live. Violet is still reeling from her sister’s death and feels like her and her family’s life will never be the same. Finch and Violet become friends and must work on a project together that will take them all over the state. As they become closer, there maybe a distance that cannot be reached.

This begins like any contemporary YA book with romance, with our two main characters meeting under a serious circumstance, but Jennifer Niven delves into the topic of being a teenager and suicide with seriousness and care. This, like all the books listed, was difficult to read, but I think it is important. Content warning: depression, grief and loss, and suicide as a theme.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.


Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis lives several lives: the one in which she stays behind and decides to go to a local college instead of her dream college to stay with her sick grandmother; the life of living as an Ojibwe girl (her father’s side of the family) and her mother’s wealth and privilege that was marred by a scandal. The life in which Daunis refuses to be interested in any hockey player because they are trouble, but begins to fall for new boy, Jamie. When Daunis witnesses a murder, her life will never be the same.

This slow burn of a book has a huge payoff in character development and relationships between the characters and the past. There are difficult moments that made me stop reading to catch my breath. In the author notes, Angeline Boulley describes the violence that Daunis suffers is something that a large percentage of Native women go through. Content warning includes: drugs, murder, sexual assault and rape.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda has struggled to find her voice after she is blamed for calling the police during an end of the summer party, and she ruins her reputation beginning high school. She had her reasons, but it seems like no one cares about her side of the story. Follow Melinda throughout her freshman year: finding her love of art, trying to make new friends, and finding the strength to finally talk.

This book is not an easy read—there are emotions and pain, Speak tackles bullying, depression, rape, and family dysfunction. This book has stayed with me throughout the years and was probably the first book that presented such difficult, but prevalent issues.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys

From Lithuania, Lina is living a normal teenage life until one day the Soviet Union officers capture her and her family and force her to live in deplorable situations by working in a Serbian labor camp. Lina worries about the lives of her family after being separated from her father and feeling like she must take care of her mother and younger brother.

This book was an emotional read for me. There are tough subject matter and graphic scenes, but in the end, add to this harrowing story. Ruta Septys is an amazing author that will make you feel more than just the words on the page.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

*check the link for available copies or to place on hold



Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, I like to talk about what I’m reading to my family, friends, and coworkers. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.