The Girls at 17 Swann Street: The Power of Support

the girls at 17 Swann street

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

By: Yara Zgheib

“The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries and the ice cream…”

After years of anorexia and depression Anna, weighing just 88 pounds, seeks treatment at a group home.

This was a hard book to read because being in Anna’s head hits close to home but I also think it’s incredibly important.

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The Astonishing Color of After is Lovely

The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After

By: Emily X.R. Pan

Grade: A

On an otherwise good and regular day of high school Leigh returns home to find her mother, whose been suffering from depression, has taken her own life. Lost in grief and shock she soon comes to believe that her mother is visiting her in the form of a bird spurring her to go to Taiwan and meet her grandparents for the first time.

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Eliza And Her Monsters


Eliza and Her Monsters

By: Francesca Zappia

Grade: B+

It’s a little odd to recognize a lot of your personality traits in a character, understand why they are doing things and they still get on your nerves. It’s also hard to want to like a book more than you did or to feel like you should like a book more than you did. Eliza suffers from anxiety (among other things) and is just trying to stay invisible through the end of school while writing the exceedingly popular web comic Monstrous Sea.

Everything shifts however when she meets a boy who may be Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan.

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A World Without You


A World Without You

Author: Beth Revis

Grade: A

“You are not one person. You are a different person in each moment of time.”

Bo believes that he can travel through time. He believes that the special school for troubled youth his parents sent him to is to help him learn to control his superpower. So when his girlfriend dies he is convinced that she’s really stuck somewhere in time and if he just masters time travel he could save her.

“Doesn’t she understand that the only thing that gives the candles purpose is burning them? That what makes flowers beautiful is the fact that they eventually die?”

Another book that just called out to me. I’ve often thought this- that the people I’ve loved aren’t really gone but left behind. Time moves forward without them but if only it could be bent, broken, manipulated then we could see them again. Save them. Sometimes I can see them so clearly that I almost believe it would be possible.

Yeah, so for me this was a bit of a weird book because I related so much to Bo. And in many ways he’s so understandable. Who doesn’t or hasn’t wanted at one point in time what he wants?

It’s very well written. I liked the supporting characters quite a bit. There is a bit of go between where you do wonder if maybe Bo is right about his life. On a personal level of reading at a certain point for me it was a little too much down the rabbit hole. Bo is a very troubled character and the more the book goes on the more hopeless his situation seems.

Which if you’re relating to a character like I was that’s a fairly uncomfortable feeling.

The other part of this story is told from the POV of Bo’s sister Phoebe and I found her an understandable character but a little harder to connect to. One thing about the brother and sister dynamic and the school itself there were not a lot of helpful adults in this book for some kids who very much needed them.

A World Without You is not just about mental health but grief, suicide, depression, endless hope, family and the many choices and paths a life can follow.

“She missed them in a deeper way, because she knew she’d never see them again. It wasn’t that she was gone from them, it was that they were gone from her.”

Recommend: Yes. I think mileage will vary with this one. It’s a personal book for me but overall I found it very worth the read and could maybe even be helpful in some cases.


if he had only been with me

if he had been with me

I read “if he had been with me” by Laura Nowlin because it was on a list of YA books you must read. This one was frustrating. Was it a good book? Yes. Well-written? Yes. Good characters? Yes. Did it get under my skin? You bet. Have I already talked to friends about it? Yes. I should tell you that on Amazon and Goodreads this book gets mostly great reviews. But it bugged me. If I was recommending it to friends or especially teenagers- it would totally depend on the person.

The story is about Autumn and Finn, next door neighbors born a couple of days apart and best friends through childhood. Until the first day of high school thereabouts when Autumn decides ah, not so much anymore. She doesn’t want to be popular or run with Finn’s crowd anymore and she certainly doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings for him. She’s the story-teller here and it puts you in her head through all four years of their high school experience which does go by a lot quicker than my high school experience did.

Unfortunately I can’t talk about the bugging parts without spoilers so be warned there will be spoilers included below!

1. Teen Pregnancy- I don’t consider myself a prude or anything but I couldn’t help thinking it would be teenagers reading this book… There are two instances of unprotected sex both of which the girl’s blow off protection. One of Autumn’s friends does indeed get pregnant. But the boy is thrilled and they get married and his parent’s give them an apartment and she looks absolutely beautiful during prom at eight months pregnant and he can’t keep his hands off her and everything is wonderful. Hey, maybe it happens and they are only secondary characters but still I was rolling my eyes pretty hard at them.

2. This is the second book I’ve read in a week where the girl wants to wait to have sex and the boyfriend is wonderfully willing and supportive of doing so. Unfortunately it’s the second book I’ve read in a week where you find out said boyfriend is fine with that because he’s doing someone else on the side. Maybe it bugged because it was back to back books but I couldn’t help think it was a good message blown. And come on, not all guys are like that!

3. Autumn has depression in the book and her mom has been hospitalized several times for suicide attempts. This was a great thing to try to tackle but Autumn is very dismissive of it even though she goes to the Doctor and is medicated she doesn’t think highly of him and thinks often that she’s only depressed because it’s winter or whatever. At the end of the book Autumn tries to commit suicide and vows to keep doing it again until she gets it right until she learns that she’s possibly pregnant and then she’ll live for the baby because Finn wouldn’t ever forgive her for that.

I didn’t know what to feel about that part honestly. Was I supposed to think it was romantic? Life-affirming? Sure, I guess. But I found it troubling too. Autumn has some real problems and as a character she felt very real and perhaps close to some of the people I’ve known in my life but tidying up her story with the possibility of a baby wasn’t really a happy ending for me.

So there it is- my issues with the book. But hey, reading is a personal thing and everyone takes from it what they will. The only other thing I would say is that it romanticized some pretty heavy stuff in my opinion and while I found the characters real I didn’t really find the situations realistic.