Skip to main content

Spotlight Review: 500 Words or Less



500 Words or Less by Juleah de Rosario (384 pages)
Overview: Nic Chen is not whole. Starting senior year, she's a fragment of parts she doesn't know how to reconcile. She's at the top of her class. She's Kitty's best friend. But she's also the girl with "whore" written in bright orange lipstick across her locker. Who's missing her boyfriend. And her childhood best friend who's abandoned her. It isn't until she's tasted with writing everyone else's college essays that she starts to piece together who she really is. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I loved Nic. She sees the world in an interesting and beautiful way. She's critical and analytical, but she is also full of longing and emotional connection. She challenges the double standard and inequality. She questions the people around her and how they've changed- how some have been allowed by the world to change more than others.
The parsing of the parental relationships is also interesting. She looks at people for who they are, or, at least, tries to. This means that there's no evil step-mom dynamic or veneration of her absent mom. She wants to know what went wrong, and she wonders what drew her step mother to her father, but she separates herself from them in a way that almost allows her room to grow closer.

Plot: 4.5 The story of her senior year, and all the character progression that affords, is so entertaining to read. I finished the book in a day. Through her writing everyone else's admissions essays, we get to see her prospective and how she impacts and interacts with those around her. She judges society's treatment of herself and her peers, and how that manifests, either in justice or inequity. The final plot twist, I thought, cheapened the book and lowered the stakes, but that can't take away from the absolutely stunning 88% of the book that comes before it.

Writing: 5 This is only the second novel in verse that I've read, but I love that it's starting to emerge in YA. Juleah's writing is poetic, but also approachable to those who aren't huge poetry fans. She uses quick lines and deep feelings to fill the page and flesh out the world, which allows us to grow closer to Nic. While the line breaks were sometimes awkward, and the novel didn't demand to be in verse, I loved how the form allowed the book's pacing to speed up so that I could race through Nic's beautiful words to get to the end- the final realization- quickly.

If You Liked This Book:
The Poet X: Review Here

Links Of Interest:
Radio Silence: Review Here
Roald Dahl Day: Essay Here
Pride: Review Here
The Lake Effect: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Into YA with Lindsay Sproul

Hi, everyone! I know I've been gone for a minute, but I'm excited to come back with my interview with Lindsay Sproul. Lindsay and I have been working on this interview for a while, ever since I first read We Were Promised Spotlights. I'm so excited to have a more in-depth discussion about the book and get to look at it through this new prospective. It was a super eye opening read for me and probably most other teens my age who weren't alive when the story takes place. If you haven't had the chance to read Lindsay's book, you can check out my review here to get up to speed.


1. The most notable part of the book right from the start is that it doesn’t take place in 2020. It’s set in 1999-2000 in a small beach town. Why did you decide to set it in the near past? How do you approach writing a book for teens who mostly hadn’t been born when the story takes place? 

Aside from the fact that I was a teen in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, I think it’s important for teens to b…

Bi Book Love

I'm so excited about this list and the upcoming list on Aro/Ace/Demi rep because I feel like these areas of representation have grown so much recently. I also feel like it's harder to find these identities on specific lists or super easily, so I wanted to share some of my favorites for those of you who are seeking them out. I've made book rainbows for Pride Month and made general lists (which you can find here), but I wanted to do something different this year. I didn't want to repeat the same list, and I also realized I don't have a complete rainbow of LGBTQIA spines anymore after getting rid of most of my books. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I picked a couple of my favorites that I wanted to spotlight. To learn more about each book, click the title to read my full review.

Verona Comics  by Jennifer Dugan This is one of my new all time favorite books (which I'm extra pleased about because my expectations were sky high from waiting well over a year). …

YA Book Review: I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver 
Overview: Ben is nonbinary. The book opens with them working up the courage to finally come out to their parents. Even though his parents are religious and conservative, Ben feels like it might be okay. Mostly, they feel like they can't keep living with a secret that big. They want their parents to know them fully. Instead of love and support, they get thrown out of the house. Ben calls their older sister who they haven't seen in ten years, but she shows up right away. As Ben transitions to living with their sister and her husband, they have to navigate a brand new school, a new family situation, and a new therapist all at once. While it's a lot to process, Ben comes out stronger, healthier, and happier on the other side. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Ben and I have honestly nothing in common yet I found them so incredibly relatable on a minute detail level. We have a ton of similar thoughts and reactions and just life philosophies, which…

Ace/Aro/Demi Book Love

Last week, I shared all my favorite recent releases with bi main characters. A lot of you commented and shared your favorites as well, and it was so fun to learn about some new books! As Pride Month comes to an end, I wanted to make one my post to celebrate. Today I'm talking about my favorite books with Aro, Ace, or Demi representation. Again, I've found it tricky sometimes to find books with this specific representation, so I wanted to share in case some of you are looking for new books! This is a quick, little post, so if you want to add more books to it, just leave a comment!
Tash Hearts Tolstoy By Kathryn Ormsbee I've been a huge fan of this book since I first read it a couple years ago. It was the first book I ever read with ace rep. Tash is such an intelligent, lovable character, and the friendship story is also strong too. Even as she achieves career success with her scripted YouTube series, she's still navigating what her identity means to her, and being open ab…

Books I'm Looking Forward To: July

Can you believe it's almost July? I'm shocked that June is coming to a close. Just like last month, June is packed with an amazing set of books that I can't wait to start reading. We're also starting to see some of the spring books that got pushed because of COVID come out, and I'm so glad that these authors are getting that chance, even though conditions are still less than ideal. I've been waiting for most of these books since I seriously started blogging again back in March, and I'm so excited to finally start reading them. I wanted to share a quick list of some of the books I'm most excited to read over the course of the month. I have ARCs for all of these, so expect reviews coming soon. I just started I Killed Zoe Spanos, and I'm already sucked into its atmospheric, mysterious world. 
As always, preorders, especially now, are so important for supporting authors. Many of them are offering fun preorder incentives if you send in your receipts. I&#…

YA Book Review Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Parachutes by Kelly Yang 
TW: Sexual Assault
Overview: Claire and Dani start out feeling like they live on two different planets. Claire has lived a glamorous life in China, cared for by live-in help and constantly picked up after. Every argument with her dad ends in a new purse or pair of shoes, and she's never had to seriously want for anything. Dani and her mom work for a housecleaning service to stay afloat. She attends American Prep on scholarship and works hard to fund her debate travel. Eventually, her mom signs up to host an international student to make a little extra money. While Claire and Dani originally clash, their experiences over the course of the school year make them realize they have more in common than they originally thought. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Every single character in this books was so well drawn and thoroughly paid attention to. Through subtle nuances, even the most minor characters were stunningly clear and realistic. Every character had their fair mix…

I'll Be the One Review

I'll Be The One by Lyla Lee
Overview: Skye loves K-Pop, singing, and dancing. She's studied for countless hours and has gotten really, really good. When the first LA based K-Pop competition starts holding auditions, Skye knows it's her time to shine. While her dad and her friends are supportive, her mom hates the idea. She doesn't believe fat girls can dance. This only pushes Skye more as she's determined to prove to her mom and to all the fat-phobic haters that she can do whatever she wants and be proud of it. Even though the competition isn't an easy road, it's full of fun new friends, self discovery, glitzy performances, and a possible love interest. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Skye is a character that's easy to like. She radiates light and determination without ever crossing into annoying territory. She has a clear view of what she wants, and she's not afraid to work for it. Despite years and years of hurtful, self esteem wrecking comments from her m…

You Should See Me In A Crown YA Book Review

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Overview: Liz never thought she'd run for prom queen. It's a deeply entrenched tradition on the suburb of Campbell, Indiana. Though it's mostly a show of popularity, there is a scholarship for the king and queen. When Liz doesn't get as much financial aid as she needs to go to her dream school, she signs herself up to compete. After many weeks of community service and competitions, prom season manages to change the course of Liz's senior year. Overall: 5

Character: 5 I loved Liz! She was such a great main character to follow because she has the right amount of optimism and reality. She has a lot happening in her life that she has to juggle and keep up with, and I could definitely identify with her feelings of never having done enough. Over the course of the prom season, she forces herself to come out of her shell a little more and get comfortable with throwing herself in the middle of the mix. It also causes an identity st…

My Eyes Are Up Here- YA Book Review

My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmermann
Overview: Greer's life has been governed by body insecurity. She hides in XXL sweatshirts to try to take her chest out of the conversation. It doesn't stop the cruel jokes, the pain, the logistical nightmare with sports, and the impossibility of finding a dress that feels made for her. Over the course of her sophomore year, she starts to test the self-imposed limitations as she gets closer to the new guy, tries out for the volleyball team, and takes her voice back from society and her body image constraints. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Greer is such a fun main character to follow. She is sarcastic and has a worldview that really matches my own, so we clicked quickly. She's a realist with a streak of idealism. A lot of identity comes from her braininess as she leads all her classes, and she uses it as a way to compensate for trying to pretend her physicality doesn't exist. This emerges for a wide variety of societal pressures that is u…

The Gravity of Us Review

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Overview: Cal thinks his life is over when his dad gets a job at NASA and an order to relocate from Brooklyn to Houston. It turns out, his life is only just beginning. Even though he's leaving the city he loves, his best friend, Deb, and his major internship with Buzzfeed, Clear Lake isn't devoid of opportunities. From his cute neighbor, Leon, and his bubbly sister, Kat, who know a thing or two about having to leave their whole lives behind, Cal realizes that maybe it won't be that bad. And, when the famous FlashFame journalist realizes how corrupt the StarWatch TV program is, he sets out to take down the reality show and save NASA. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Cal is an endearing character. Though he has his selfish moments, he tends to put a lot of other people's emotions on himself. He worries intensely about how his arguing parents are going to pretend to be the perfect family for the astronaut reality show. He worries about what will ha…