Written by Julie Caudle
We’re continuing with our summer reads book reviews! Don’t forget to participate in the #TASLsummerchallenge! Follow @TASLTN on Twitter and Instagram and tag us as you post what you’re reading this summer. Don’t know what to read? Read our summer TASL Book Chat posts! Many of the reviews are of the current VSBA nominees so you can book talk them to your students in the fall.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. Just graduated from high school, she’s more than ready for a break from her loving, but stifling family, and their obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Dimple think she’s found her reprieve when she is accepted to attend a prestigious summer program in San Francisco for teen interested in coding and web development. Dimple is going because this is her passion and a great experience for her future career path. Rishi Patel has other ambitions than career ones for attending the summer program. As a hopeless romantic, he has been told about Dimple by his parents and is interested in a relationship with her. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. So what happens when these two opposites meet?
This was such a fun book with a very sweet romance. Almost like an Indian Pride and Prejudice, I fell in love with Rishi and was rooting for him to win Dimple’s heart throughout the book. I also appreciated Dimple’s ambition and seeing a female so interested and talented in a STEM career. While the two main characters are perfect for each other, they do have flaws and mess up in believeable, teenaged ways. When Dimple Met Rishi is on the high school VSBA list for this year, but it’s completely appropriate for middle school as well. It’s also refreshing to see a high school romantic comedy that’s every bit as good as any rom-com movie and features minority characters. Give this to any reader who enjoys a good romance.
Ada Lahey knows she is different from a young age. Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong, or is it because of climate change and other environment factors? Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious–and dangerous to others–her father teaches her to hide her condition, which involves infrared vision, so that she will not be classified as a chimera. When Ada’s school undergoes a random DNA testing, her secret is discovered and she is ripped from her home and sent to the prison-like home for chimeras, called Genesis. She is not fearful of the other unique beings that live there, some part seal, others part insect. Instead, she is intrigued by them. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. With the tension between humans and chimeras building, Ada must try to figure out who she can trust. The human woman who is in charge at Genesis seems to have ulterior motives for Ada, and a fellow chimera, Gabriel, puts Ada in danger on multiple occasions.
A 2019-20 middle school VSBA nominee, Tentacle & Wing is a suspenseful sci-fi story that is reminiscent of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series or the Virals series by Kathy Reichs. There are some really good science tie-ins about evolution, genetics, climate, biology, and physiology. This book could also lead to interesting discussions about what makes someone human, but the suspenseful conspiracy story will keep students interested. Recommended for high level elementary and all middle school students.