Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters March 11, 2016

Steep and Thorny WayThe story begins as Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and a black man, sets out with a small handgun hidden under her skirt to kill her father’s murderer. It’s almost too easy- Joe Adder is naked, bathing in the small pond behind the shed where he’s been hiding out since getting out of prison. But before she can pull the trigger, Joe tells her he’s innocent… and the true killer is closer to her than she might think. Hanalee needs answers and finds surprising friends and foes along the way. The Steep and Thorny Way is an atmospheric tale of racism, fear, intolerance, and friendship set in rural Oregon in the early 1920s.

This is my third Cat Winters book, and it’s been my favorite so far. Her books have all featured a strong female character who defies social norms and are historical fiction with a spooky supernatural twist. This book tackles some big issues (bigotry, the KKK, eugenics, homosexuality) in an interesting and engaging way. I appreciate historical background and author’s note at the end; they added context and acted as a springboard for further research on the subject. I also appreciated that story was romance-free. Yay, no stupid love triangles! I could see this as a good book club choice- lots of good discussion points. I would recommend this to teens and adults.

5 out of 5 stars


Red Glass by Laura Resau September 26, 2011

In the middle of the night, Sophie and her family receive a phone call that will change their lives.  Pablo, a six-year-old Mexican boy is in the hospital with dehydration; he is the only survivor of a group trying to cross the border into Arizona.  For some reason, he has Sophie’s stepfather’s card in his pocket.  The family cares for the little boy until one day he reveals where he came from.

Shortly after this revelation, Pablo, Sophie, her aunt Dika (a refugee from the war in Bosnia), Dika’s boyfriend, Mr. Lorenzo, and his teenage son, Angel, set off in a van across Mexico to the small village of Pablo’s birth.  Sophie has always been afraid of everything and this journey has the potential to go very wrong.  She could get food poisoning, they could be in an accident, they could be arrested, or, worst of all, Pablo could decide to stay with his family instead of coming back with her.

When an accident happens, Mr. Lorenzo and Angel need Sophie’s help.  Will she be able to overcome her fears and face danger to save the people she loves?

Red Glass was a heartwarming story of a teenage girl who has always worried about everything overcoming her fears and seeing herself how others see her.  It has love, trust, adventure, and danger.  Bad movie plots had me expecting the worst, but Sophie’s journey contained conflict without being too scary or traumatic.  I will recommend this to middle and high school girls.


Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt November 16, 2010

Louise and Dottie are best friends, but their friendship is interrupted in April of 1942.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entrance into the war, Dottie and her family, who are of Japanese descent, are taken with many other Japanese American families to an internment camp.  Louise begins a scrapbook with newspaper articles, pictures, mementos, and letters between Dottie and her for Dottie to see upon her return to Bainbridge Island, Washington.

This is a unique presentation of the stories of two 14-year-old girls during World War II.  The epistolary format grabs the readers’ attention and helps them learn about the history of this era in an interesting way.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang November 12, 2010

Have you ever wished you were someone else?  Someone better looking, more popular, someone who just fits in?  The Monkey King can relate; he was humiliated when he was not let into a party just because he was a monkey.  Jin Wang can relate; he is one of the only Chinese kids at his school and his dream girl has eyes for a guy with blonde hair.  Danny can relate; his cousin visits from China every year just to embarrass him at school with his weird accent and gross food.  The stories of all three outcasts are in this graphic novel.   See what happens when they try to deny who they are and try to be just like everyone else.


%d bloggers like this: