The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

“Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara

By: Hannah S., Teen Blogger

Alessia Cara Scars to Your BeautifulAlessia Cara’s song “Scars to Your Beautiful” is a song promoting self-love and addressing the dangers of trying to fit in with everyone else. It includes many powerful lyrics and a catchy beat, all while sending an amazing message to people everywhere. The song overall talks about not being able to see your inner beauty and trying to conform to society’s ideals.

It stresses the importance of there being a future of happiness for everyone and an inner beauty within you. One particularly powerful lyrics says “there is hope that’s waiting for you in the dark. You should know you are beautiful just the way you are”. These two lines stress the importance of hope being present even in the darkest of moments and not needing to change for anyone.

This song is amazing for anyone who is self-conscious or needs some encouragement. Anyone with self-doubt or self-consciousness could find great comfort in this song, because it repeatedly reminds the listener of their beauty and ability to have a successful and happy future.

More songs are starting to develop this message and promoting self-love. Some songs like this include Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself”. These songs encourage people to be confident and embrace who they are. These songs have an important role in helping people become more comfortable with themselves. These really shine a beacon of hope for the listener through the inspiring lyrics.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Fright Fest

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Black Cat Peaking Out of a Plastic Halloween PumpkinToday’s fun fact about your teen librarian: I scare very easily. You may think I’m kidding, but I assure you, it’s true. I change the channel when trailers for scary movies come on. I was actually creeped out by parts of Scary Movie. I could barely get through Goosebumps books as a kid. I have genuinely worried about getting nightmares from an episode of Rick and Morty. Believe me when I say, it doesn’t take much.

And yet, something about October, or about Halloween, colder days, and longer nights, actually makes me crave a little thrill of terror (emphasis on little). And I find that a good scary book or thriller is my favorite way to dip my toes in the waters of fright while still giving myself the option of closing the book and taking a break if I venture too close to “unable to sleep and terrifying nightmares” territory.

My personal tastes run towards creepy mysteries or thrillers, but the great thing about books is that there’s so much to choose from. Maybe you find ghosts utterly petrifying, but get just the right tingle of fear from books about zombies. Or maybe you don’t even get a glimmer of dread from vampires, but are petrified at the thought of supernatural powers. Whatever scares you, and however much or little you choose to be frightened, I bet you can find something that will get you into the Halloween spirit on our Fright Fest display, or in the rest of our collection.

If you don’t have time for a full novel, you could go classic with some Edgar Allen Poe short stories and poems, or explore a more recent anthology like Slasher Girls and Monster Boys. If, like me, you prefer subtle chills and psychological thrillers, you might love The Third Twin by C.J. Omolulu or The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison. If you find yourself drawn to the classics, you could check out Dracula by Bram Stoker or a re-telling of a classic with Of Metal and Wishes. Whether you prefer graphic novels like Through the Woods or a dose of humor with your horror like in Tantalize, there’s something a little frightening for everyone on our shelves. Find a vengeful ghost in Anna Dressed in Blood, a vampiric dystopia in The Immortal Rules, supernatural powers in Witch Eyes, a terrifying apocalypse in Bleeding Earth, or the horror of a real life human being in Scowler.

Dog Peaking Out From Underneath a Bunch of Blankets Creep yourself out a little or go all-in for a month-long fright-fest. Whatever scares you or however scared you choose to be, rest assured that I certainly will not be judging you from my blanket fort, but I will be able to help you find the perfect scary (or not-so-scary) book for the season.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Watched – Boy and the Beast

By: Ashley H., Teen Blogger

TV Show Boy and the BeastWhat I just watched: Boy and the Beast  

What is it about?  The tale of a boy and a beast: both lonely, both stubborn, and both strong. For nine-year-old Ren, things could hardly be worse. His mother has passed away in a traffic accident, his father is nowhere to be found, and his extended family is cold and distant. Desperate, Ren runs away to the mean streets of Shibuya to try and survive on his own.

In the beast realm of Shibuten, the fierce warrior Kumatetsu is certainly feared, but not especially liked or respected. When the Lord decides to retire and become a God, Kumatetsu would be a natural candidate to replace him; he and the noble Lord Iouzan are the two strongest in the land. But Kumatetsu is so anti-social he’s never even managed to hold on to a disciple. And until he proves he can, he’ll never be a serious contender.

When Ren gets lost in a maze of alleyways and finds himself in the strange land of Shibuten, fate brings these two stubborn and fierce-willed souls together, and Kumatestu re-names the boy “Kyuuta.” Each of them has much they can teach the other, but where these two are concerned, nothing is going to be easy. As Kyuuta adjusts to his new home he finds himself torn between two worlds—two worlds that are far less separate than either the Boy or the Beast realizes. (description from MyAnimeList)

Do I like it? Absolutely

Thoughts: As an anime lover, Mamoru Hosoda is a legend with his original and very creative movies. Summer Wars, Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children are some of his past works. All are amazing in their own right, but I absolutely fell in love with his most recent film, Boy and the Beast. Not only is the animation beautiful but the story itself deserves 5 gold stars. Ren, who is an orphaned child, runs away and finds himself in this fantastical world of beasts, a world where humans should not reside because they possess hearts that can fall into darkness. Unable to find his way back to the human world, Ren becomes the apprentice to the beast Kumatetsu. Hosoda created a coming of age movie that explores the idea of belonging somewhere and finding who you are, as well as addressing that everyone has darkness inside and that’s okay. It just means that you need to find the sword in your soul and fight against it.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – When the Moon Was Ours

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemoreToday’s “What I Just Read” has received a lot of love from a lot of places, and even earned a spot on the National Book Award longlist before it was published. Add that to the fact that I met the author last fall at a conference (and thought she was awesome!) and it was enough to get me to request an advanced copy of a book in a genre I don’t typically care for. Add one more to the win column for “reading outside my comfort zone!”

What I Just Read: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

What’s It About (Jacket Description): To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Do I Like It: This is one of the only times I’ve ever loved magical realism so much

Thoughts: As I alluded to above, magical realism is one of those genres that I typically am not a fan of. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but for some reason, I have a hard time immersing myself in magical realism books, and a harder time connecting to characters than normal. Usually. But When the Moon Was Ours definitely was the exception to that rule, and I adored it.

It’s hard to describe the experience of reading this book. The prose is stunningly gorgeous – the images, sensations, and feelings are conveyed not just powerfully but elegantly. Reading this was a little bit like reading a painting, or a sunset, or a ballet. It was visual and gorgeous and powerful. But I think part of what made me love this book so much is that McLemore never sacrificed character for prose. Sam and Miel are both extremely well-rounded characters, with their own backstories and development that happens in relation to each other as well as independently. Neither of them are perfect, but their kindness, their love for each other, and the level to which they both try to be better is really compelling. And it’s not just Sam and Miel – from the Bonner sisters to Miel’s guardian, from Sam’s mom to the school administrator with only a couple of scenes, all the side characters were equally well-rounded, and they all had some unique traits or moments that made them stick with me after I had finished this book.

While the characters and the prose are definitely the standouts of this novel, another part of why it appealed to me is that it also has an exciting plot, with secrets, betrayals, danger, and excitement. The plot helped bring all the elements together coherently, and even had me on the edge of my seat a couple of times – not what I expected from such a lyrical, almost dream-like novel.

I wish I could say more about When the Moon Was Ours, but I’m still thinking it through. So I’ll just sum up by saying that this is a beautifully written, character-driven, emotional novel, and I highly recommend it. And if that’s not enough, it’s also the novel that made me love and recommend a genre I usually avoid. Maybe it will do the same for you!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

New Trends in Young Adult Literature

By: Ayesha F., Teen Blogger

Hunger Games: Now Everyone Knows How to Use "Dystopian" in a Sentence.In the past decade, young adult literature has evolved from trend to trend, and it continues to change with time. However, these trends that gained much fame are starting to lose the position they once held.

It could be because there are too many novels of its kind, but readers are looking elsewhere for an enjoyable book. Dystopian and fantasy are two genres that gained much attention in past years, but their recent decline in fame could be for multiple reasons.

Dystopian novels all seem to be alike these days. The trend started off with books such as The Giver and The Hunger Games, but soon, hundreds of dystopian books came out with the same concept, only slightly changed. Most have strict governments that limit the citizens’ rights and hold hidden secrets, and a rebellion takes place by the main character to reveal these secrets and to gain freedom. Some books hold a heavier and more unique concept, as seen in Divergent and Cinder. With only some exceptions, dystopian books seem to be very similar and can get repetitive after a while.

Fantasy has always been popular in young adult literature. Since Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, readers have been hooked to the idea of having superhuman abilities and living in different realms. Many fantasy novels have been released, and many have hit big. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments is a more recent fantasy series that has gained many fans. A common plot in recent fantasy novels is having a hidden society of humans with powers, living on Earth. However, it could be that there’s so many novels to read and less originality, but lately it seems readers have begun searching for a new genre they will enjoy.

Once, young adult readers favored dystopian, fantasy, and realistic fiction, but nowadays, it seems they’re looking for new concepts. As of now, it seems that readers are looking forward to novels that hold ideas of the past, and bring them to modern day. For example, the medieval idea of a kingdom and royalty is seen more in popular novels such as Throne of Glass and The Shadow Queen. There are many memorable books that were published earlier, but are extremely underrated. With the coming of new trends, these books can gain fame.

One trend I predict is the return of classics, but with a modern twist. To make classics more interesting, authors have taken the original story and combined it with modern day concepts to make it more engaging and relatable. Novels that focus on strong friendships and internal struggles will also again popularity in the next few years. Trends I would like to see would be books that focus on Arthurian fiction, with Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. I would also like to see the return of realistic fiction novels that are easy to relate to. New books will continue to be published, and trends will continue to change. Of course, there will always be dystopian novels for those who enjoy them, but alongside them, there will be novels with new concepts and themes for someone who wants a change.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Revisiting Classics

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

(more) abridged classics: The Odyssey - War veteran takes forever to get home then kills everyone. Wuthering Heights - A sort-of brother and sister fall in love. It's foggy. Walden - Man sits outside for two years. Nothing happens. Crime and Punishment - Murderer feels bad. Confesses. Goes to jail. Feels better. Beowulf - Hero kills monster. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Dragon kills hero. Dante's Inferno - All hell breaks loose.A couple of weeks ago, I spent a wonderful day in Spring Green, Wisconsin, watching two excellent productions of classic theater. The American Player’s Theater (APT) is a theater in the woods, so isolated I couldn’t get service on my phone there, and they produce a wide variety of plays every summer performed on an outdoor stage. But the setting is just the icing on the cake–the real magic of APT has always been phenomenal acting and iconic and brilliant plays.

I did a comedy and tragedy double feature, with An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde in the afternoon sun, and King Lear in the dark of night. This was my first time seeing classic theater in a few years, and it was such a joy to re-discover just why these plays are considered so great. King Lear has been my favorite Shakespeare play (or at least, tragedy) since I was a teenager, but somehow I still didn’t remember how powerful, and how timeless, it really is. And although I love Oscar Wilde, I was still surprised by the depth of characters, the hilarity, and once again, the timelessness of An Ideal Husband. It made me think about the other classics that it might be time to re-visit.

I know, I know–as students, you’re assigned classics all the time, and have to force your way through them whether you like them or not. But I’m going to make a case for giving classics–maybe go for those that aren’t assigned?–another chance. Because there are a lot of great reasons that they’re considered classics. And I know I, for one, often get so caught up with new releases and the latest book everyone is talking about that sometimes I forget how much I love Jane Austen, or I never quite get around to giving Toni Morrison a shot, and that’s a shame.

One thing that was clear to me watching the plays earlier this month is that a classic, a true classic, has a timelessness that makes it easy for us to connect with things written decades or even centuries before our time. Who hasn’t experienced what it’s like to see a family fall to pieces, or a loved one come apart in old age? Who doesn’t understand the power secrets hold in our lives, and the worry of disappointing those we love best? Shakespeare and Wilde, respectively, understood those themes in centuries before us, and wrote them in such an accessible way that even today they ring true, despite the differences in language or clothing when we see them performed. And similarly, J.D. Salinger understood what it’s like to be a depressed, grieving, anxious teenager, and wrote truths that ring true today (whether or not you love Holden Caulfield); Zora Neale Hurston understood what it’s like to try and become your own person and make your own life in the face of societal and personal pressures long before the present day, and wrote a character whose struggles we can still relate to; ancient poets like Catullus and Sappho experienced the same feelings of love, heartache, betrayal, and anger that we do today, and gave those feelings a voice that still sounds familiar.

So whether it’s something you’ve read before and want to re-visit, or a classic you’ve heard of but that hasn’t been assigned yet, give yourself a chance to find timeless truths from another era. And don’t worry, this isn’t required reading–if you don’t like what you pick up, you have my official librarian approval for putting the book down and trying another classic. There’s plenty to choose from!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Cartoons and Complexity – Bridging the Age Gap

By: Shay M., Teen Blogger

Adventure Time SeriesTV shows are something that have captivated the whole of America ever since their debut after WWII. This phenomenon of short episodes made it easy and accessible for people to catch a bit of entertainment without having to go to the movies, and still gave the viewer something to, well, view, unlike radio shows. This became so popular that shows were coming out for all ages, with cartoons for the children and pretty much everything else for the adults.

This divide of “children’s shows” versus “adult shows” is very apparent in some places. For example, it is unlikely you will find a 60 year old man watching Dora while he enjoys his afternoon tea, nor are five year olds likely to be watching every episode of Game of Thrones. Yet in other situations, the lines become a bit more blurred, and has led to some speculation over what exactly differentiates adult and children’s programming.

A recent trend in cartoons has made this discussion more difficult, where the shows have light and creative premises, aimed to capture kids’ attention, but then they also are willing to get a little dark or explore more heavy and complex subject matter, ranging from loss and complicated love on shows like Steven Universe, to extremely complicated ciphers and puzzles on Gravity Falls. In all these cases, this is still light enough for kids to handle, but it has also drawn many older fans.

The allure of shows like these is that they are simple enough for kids to understand and love, but the writers also add elements which make the shows interesting for teens and even adults. More and more these shows take on issues dealing with society or identity, and they do it in a way that is able to balance the emotional tolls with lightheartedness. Less and less are cartoons purely for kids, and now, they are starting to become something anyone can enjoy.

Even if the premise is something as silly as three bears who travel around by stacking on top of one another, as it is in the show We Bare Bears, they can still attract adult viewers by putting a focus on diverse representation in their show, and also allowing social commentary on things like people’s obsessions with technology. This has also created the ability for parents to get involved in the same shows their kids watch, and can end up with the whole family sitting down to watch the latest episode of Adventure Time.

This kind of mature yet friendly programming is widely popular, and is becoming more and more common as people are realizing that they can put more complex ideas in simple shows. In the end, maybe it will become more common for a 60 year old man to watch cartoons as he enjoys his afternoon tea, although it is probably for the best if five year olds stay away from Game of Thrones.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

On the Ensemble Cast

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoLast week as I listened to Six of Crows (which is an excellent book and audiobook) I started noticing something. I was regularly googling fan art and fan casting for the characters in the book. Not just once, but often–like every time I learned new things about the characters, I wanted to re-visit people’s visual interpretations of them. This isn’t often something I do when I’m reading. Sure, I get a kick out of casting news for movies, and I sure do love any art involving dragons, which is frequently fan art. But generally speaking, I’m not someone who seeks out other people’s interpretations of characters, or who cares that much about fan casts. So what was different about Six of Crows?

When I thought back to other books that have inspired me to do similar fan-art and fan-casting related searches, I started to realize something: they were consistently books that featured an ensemble cast of main characters. As much as I may adore Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe or Fangirl, their tight focus on one or two main characters never made me seek out the same visuals as ensemble stories like Six of Crows, The Young Elites, or Harry Potter. Maybe it’s because with that many cast members, seeing actors or even fan art helps me keep the characters more distinct in my head. Maybe it’s because I just enjoy seeing all the different interpretations of that many different characters. I’m not sure what makes me seek out fan art, but it definitely seems to be most common when I’m reading about an ensemble.

This whole exercise naturally got me thinking about all the reasons to love large casts, beyond just fan art and fan casting opportunities. The interplay between that many different main characters, all with their own stories, motivations, and goals, leads to some of the most fun interactions and relationships to read about–and if there’s one thing I love reading about, it’s relationships! Ensemble casts also do a great job of ensuring that almost everyone can find at least one character that they really love or identify with. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to find “your” character. And every character helps build up and expand the world you’re reading about, thanks to their own unique perspective and experience–I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite ensemble books are all fantasy novels. The broad range of characters and the world-building work together to create a wonderful, immersive experience.

You don’t have to care about fan art or read people’s fan casts to enjoy the fun that comes with a great, large group of characters. So next time you need a new read, treat yourself to a story about an ensemble of unique main characters. If you need a suggestion, you can find Six of Crows in our YA collection!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School


By: Ally K., Teen Blogger

Wattpad Readers. Wattpad Readers Everywhere.Every day I open up my phone to see a little orange circle staring back at me in the upper left corner of my phone screen. It sits there right next to Netflix, which means that it is one of my top priority apps. By this point you have probably guessed that the name of this app is Wattpad, due to the title. If you didn’t, then now you know.

Though you may have deduced the name of this app, I have yet to tell you what exactly it is. Wattpad is a huge writing community that allows users to read and write stories, poems, articles, or Fanfiction. There is everything from horror stories to romance novels and users range in age and gender, allowing for a vast audience from all over the world.

One of the wonderful things about this app is that it makes it incredibly easy for authors to share their writing with a huge community of people. As a writer myself, I have researched how hard it would be to get published and it seemed like an impossible task until I found Wattpad. The minute that I found the site I fell in love with its simplicity. Sharing my writing no longer seemed like it was only a dream. With the click of a button anyone can publish what they have written.

The app also allows for other users to comment on your stories and give you instant feedback on your writing. This is incredibly valuable because as new writers people are always skeptical of whether people will like what they write. The comments help tremendously with editing and it is always nice to know when someone likes your book. Not only can people comment but when you are reading a chapter you can click a little star and vote on the story. A vote essentially translates to a like. Both of these components are helpful and encouraging to new and old writers.

Another feature that I absolutely love about Wattpad is that instead of publishing a whole book at one time, authors publish one chapter at a time. This allows for busy writers to have some flexibility in their writing schedule. It no longer takes years before someone can read what you have written. You update when you have the time without having to dedicate all of your time to writing a book so that you can be exposed as a writer while you are still alive.

Writers can achieve even more exposure by entering contests, whether they are run by the Wattpad staff or individual users. The Wattpad staff runs stories for every genre and fandom there is. Not only are there the traditional contests, but there are also contests where users come together to create a collective story by submitting chapters to Wattpad. The chapter that wins is the next chapter in the book and it grows from there every few weeks with a new chapter from a new writer.

I just covered the writing half of Wattpad, but there is also the reading half of the site. Readers can add stories to their private library or public reading lists. Using reading lists readers can share stories that they like and make it easier for people to find stories that they want on a particular subject.

All in all, Wattpad is a wonderfully helpful app for aspiring writers to get a taste of what it is like to publish what they create and have people read and react to it. The Wattpad community is a massive group of people who all share a passion for reading and writing, which creates the perfect environment for new writers, bibliophiles, and fangirls/fanboys.

Personally I have always loved to write, but until I discovered Wattpad, I never took the initiative to put my writing into the world. Wattpad has sparked my devotion to the art of writing. Not only that but Wattpad is a positive environment that encourages me to keep writing and updating my stories. The same goes for every user that I have had the pleasure of talking to. The people on the site are encouraging, kind, and understanding. My only question is: “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something that wonderful?”

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – If I Was Your Girl

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoIf there’s one thing I love more than reading a good book, it’s finding a book I would love anyways, and then loving it even more thanks to stellar narration on the audiobook. Today’s What I Just Read fits the bill, and while I always recommend reading in any format, if you’re up for an audiobook, this is a good one.

What I Just Read: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Do I Like It: Loved the book, loved the audiobook even more!

Thoughts: This book just ticked so many of my boxes, it was practically guaranteed to be a favorite. Strong and complex main character? Check. Sweet romance? Check. Lush setting (a hot Tennessee summer and beautiful fall)? Check. Well written and realistic parent-child relationships? Check. And of course, always my favorite, incredible and complex relationships between friends? Check, check, check.

Don’t let the description of If I Was Your Girl fool you—this is not a romance, although there’s some good romance in it. This is Amanda’s story through and through, and honestly, her relationships with her parents and her friends are every bit as important to the story as her relationship with Grant. The story is told mainly through a linear narration, but interspersed with flashbacks to Amanda’s life and journey before coming to Lambertville (which is where we get some of my favorite scenes, between Amanda and her mother). This gives us a much fuller picture of who Amanda is, and how she became that person, than we would get just with her Lambertville life. It also lends a harsh reality to what is—as the author admits—an overall rosy picture of life as a transgender teen in the South. While things go pretty decently for Amanda in Lambertville (with exceptions, of course, including a particularly harrowing scene near the end), what brought her there in the first place was a lifetime of bullying culminating in a brutal assault.

But it is her Lambertville life that the book is really focused on. It’s beautiful to see Amanda forming normal high school friendships and relationships for the first time, as well as repairing her estranged relationship with her father. Her group of girlfriends are all interesting characters in their own right, who never fail to surprise the reader as much as Amanda when they defy stereotypes and demonstrate deep friendship. Amanda herself grows in confidence as she experiences what it is like to live, not without fear, but with less fear, and with support that she never had growing up. And of course, there’s Grant—like every other character, there’s more to him than we see at first, and as the book goes on it’s easy to see why Amanda falls for him. Despite that though, the highlight of this book for me is by far and away Amanda’s relationships with her new friends.

Not only was this book a joy, but Samia Mounts’ narration was impeccable. Her Southern drawl brought the setting to life, each character had a distinct voice and inflection, and she absolutely nailed every nuance of Amanda’s voice—all in a spot on teenage girl voice. So if you’re in the mood for a book that will leave you feeling uplifted, for incredible character development, for amazing parent-child relationships, for sweet romance, for a great audiobook, or for some seriously awesome and heartwarming friendships, If I Was Your Girl is a perfect pick.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School