Jumped In by Jorja Leap

JumpedInJumped in: what gangs taught me about violence, drugs, life and redemption by Jorja Leap

Jorja Leap, a UCLA researcher with a Ph.D in gangs and violence, devotes her professional life to understanding Los Angeles gangs, with the goal of reducing violence and saving lives. Working with current and former gang members, community activists, LAPD, social workers, a priest and others, she explains the origins, organization and shifts in gang culture including the rise and spread of Latino gangs in particular from LA through Mexico and Central America. Her personal life is also closely connected to her work, as she is married to an LAPD commander. Juggling work and home life, Jorja becomes enmeshed in the lives of young adults trying to leave gang life, often with the help of Father Greg Boyle. Father Boyle runs Home Boy Industries and Home Girl Café to give former and current gang members jobs. As time passes Jorja sees the hold drugs take on many of the gangs, both in dealing and using, but maintains hope for the future. Dr. Leap goes behind headlines in her description of her work, making many of the gang members people about whom the reader begins to care. She paints a “warts and all” picture of both the good guys and the bad guys of the gang situation in Los Angeles. This nonfiction book reads like a thriller, pulling in the reader to be engaged in real life issues.

How to succeed in leaving gang life by Jorja Leap

Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor

Bowery GirlBowery girl by Kim Taylor

Annabelle Lee, a young woman in the Bowery of New York City in 1883, has finished serving her jail sentence for attempted robbery of a police detective after he hired her as a prostitute. Mollie Flynn, her best and only friend, excitedly waits to meet Annabelle and celebrate her release. Mollie makes her living as a pickpocket, discovers Annabelle in pregnant when they go to the public bath, and worries how they will achieve their dream of living an honest life and move to Brooklyn. They have an idealized image of Brooklyn as a place with trees where they can rent a room with a window. Annabelle looks forward to reuniting with Tommy McCormack, her boyfriend and father of her child, who is the leader of the Growlers, a tough Irish gang. She hopes he will marry her. Mollie and Annabelle learn a settlement house has opened in the building where the baths are, teaching classes. Annabelle decides she wants to learn to read. After a robbery with the Growlers goes wrong and in which she is involved, Mollie joins Annabelle in classes at the settlement house. Since she knows how to read, she’s assigned to a typing class to learn an honest trade. Even as Annabelle’s due date comes close, they hold onto their dream of Brooklyn and a better life, in the face of many challenges and obstacles.

This true to life historical fiction paints a vivid picture of life among the poor and destitute in New York City during the 1880s. Even though they use rough language and do not live totally honest lives, the characters become people about whom the reader grows to care.

Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

Red Glass by Laura Resau

RedGlassRed Glass by Laura Resau

At 16 years old, Sophie considers herself an amoeba, floating freely without an attachment to any group at school since her best friend transferred to another school. Her drug dealer biological father left when she was a baby and she and her mom were on their own until she was 7, when her mom married her good stepdad Juan. Having been fearful o being left alone if anything happened to her mother, Sophie worried twice as much after her mother married Juan. When Border Patrol calls to say a lone survivor of migrants crossing the desert near their Arizona home is a young boy with Juan’s business card in his pocket, they take him in as a foster child. Their extended family also includes great-aunt Dika, a boisterous refugee from the Bosnian civil war. Barely speaking, on his third day with them the boy says his name is Pablo, weeks later he tells them his age is 6, then says nothing for another nine months. Choosing to sleep outside next to their chicken coop, Pablo starts talking the following spring, telling about chickens in his hometown. Calling the town, they learn he has a large extended family. A plan evolves to drive Pablo, Sophie and assorted friends and family members in a VW bus to Pablo’s village in Mexico. When friends travel on to Guatemala to trace family members missing from civil war, Sophie has to overcome her imagined fears to face real dangerous situations to help them.

Laura Resau has created an amazing panoply of larger than life characters all connected to each other through improbable but believable circumstances. As I read this book I found myself hoping for each of them to reach a positive resolution of all the challenges they faced. Without giving away the ending, I was glad with the wathe book finished.

Reviewed by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

Book trailer by Sarah Rogers

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This debut novel is the kind of book that makes the readers fall in love with the characters as they are falling in love with each other.  Simon is a high school junior living outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  He has befriended someone he calls Blue through a local Tumblr feed and they are sympathetic souls, both being young, gay and in the closet.  Unfortunately, he forgets to close his Google Mail on a school computer, and an unscrupulous boy finds it and begins blackmail Simon in order to try to date one of Simon’s good friends.  Simon could care less about himself, but “Blue” also goes to his school and he doesn’t want him to get outed by Martin.  Even though the boys don’t know each other’s real names, they are becoming friends by sharing their deeper secrets, insecurities and fears. The book follows their relationship through their emails, and Simon’s life with his crazy family and best friends.  Neither boy has come out to their family or friends, and the story follows their attempts to do so in two completely different family situations.

Albertalli is also a psychologist who works with teens, and that experience comes through in her realistic characters.  Their actions and conversations feel honest, and I defy anyone not to at least “fall in like” with Simon.  I highly recommend this book to all teen readers.  I started reading it one afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished it!

Reviewed by Alex Provence

Trailer by Rachael Schoonaert

Social Media Citation Guide

Teachbytes author Aditi Rao shares the visual guide below to help us all understand how to cite social media  in your research. But keep in mind that opinions aren’t necessarily facts, so be sure to quote and cite in the appropriate context.  Click here for the entire article.


Raina Telgemeier Book Talk & Signing

Raina T.jpg.
Raina Telgemeier will be at North Berkeley Library, Sunday, February 7, 1:00! There will be books to buy and get signed. You can also check out her books at the BHS Library.

Men At Arms by Terry Pratchet

MenAtArmsMen At Arms by Terry Pratchett

When the 37th Lord d’Eath dies, his oldest son Edward, who has just graduated from the Assassin’s Guild school, sells what’s left of the d’Eath estates and enrolls in the post-graduate course at the Guild school. He conducts extensive research, although he’s not sure what he’s looking for, until the day he meets Corporal Carrot of the Night Watch on the street of the city of Ankh-Morpork. Cpl. Carrot, a human orphan raised by his adoptive dwarf parents, has come to Ankh-Morpork and joined the guard. He has a positive outlook on life and believes the best about everyone. At the same time Captain Sam Vimes is leaving the watch to marry Lady Sybil Ramkin, a rich woman who spends her days at the Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons. While Captain Vimes loves Lady Sybil, he is regretful about leaving the Guard and even more hesitant about having to socialize with the upper level of Ankh-Morpork society. When a series of mysterious and unexplained murders starts happening, coupled with Edward d’Eath’s belief that Cpl. Carrot is really the rightful king of Ankh-Morpork, the Guard has its hands full investigating, especially since they are training new recruits, including a troll, a dwarf and a werewolf. Fans of Pratchett’s phenomenal Discworld series will love this episode. Newcomers to the series will enjoy this introduction. In the end, everything makes sense in typical Discworld fashion.

Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

NEW ARRIVALS from Terry Pratchet will hit the BHS Library shelves soon!



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