6 years of Fictionforteens.com: Musings on Consumerism and Curriculum in 2021

The moment when 13-year-old me, daydreaming whilst staring out of the car on the way home one dark night, decided that she would combine her love for opinions and writing with her bookish obsession is a moment I’ll be eternally thankful for. 6 years later, I can well and truly say that creating this website has been the catalyst for my continued love of writing and reading, a passion that I hope to take to a professional level one day. Reading and reviewing books has undoubtedly improved my writing for essays at school and university, prepared me to create another blog, opinionalwrites.wordpress.com (cheeky plug I know), and enabled me to write for my university’s student newspaper. Being an avid reader alongside a keen reviewer has given me an insight into the bookish world over time, so I thought I’d share some of my most recent thoughts with all of you, and the resolutions that these have prompted. 

I can confidently say that my library card is one of my most treasured possessions. As a young child, I was lucky to be able to visit my city’s library, and peruse a wide selection of books written about and for people my age. Later on, I went to volunteer in that library, creating some of the magic that had nurtured my love for reading and had encouraged me to delve into mysterious and magical worlds designed to enthrall younger readers. From the readers that I know, there seems to be quite a strong consensus: libraries are incredible, and the source of the majority of the books that we all read. In an era of public service cuts, I feel a duty to support and utilise my local library to access the books that I read for pleasure and review. So, when I heard about some of the discourse on Twitter about consumerism on bookstagram (the book-related side of instagram) I was immediately hooked. 

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

This was something that had been on my mind a while – I had set up my own instagram account, and ended up following a wide variety of fellow bloggers and some book influencers. My feed was flooded with immaculate and vibrant photos of stacks, shelves and spreads of the latest, hottest books, all adorned with bookish merchandise, figurines and beautiful flowers. I didn’t feel like I could keep up with these photos – there were only so many angles you could take a picture of a smallish bookshelf from. 

I feel lucky that I own books, and the ones I do own are cherished and appreciated; I hope to hold on to them all for a long time. Likewise, if you are willing and able to spend a lot of money on books, then good for you – they’re one of the best things to be spending your spare cash on. What I take issue with is the unspoken narrative that to be successful on these platforms, you have to be “hauling” 10+ books a month. I’d like to see more bookish people with influence to be promoting the use and establishment of libraries (particularly in lower income areas around the world) and for bookstagrammers to feel like it’s okay to only buy one book once in a while (or none at all). As the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world. I’m going to make one of my 2021 resolutions to promote libraries through my platforms. I’ll post photos of books borrowed from my library, and research more into the issues surrounding access to libraries both in the UK and worldwide.

This year has caused the bookish community to take a long hard look at their bookshelf and reading habits, and consider whether they’re reading a wide range of books, written by authors from under-represented communities. In the wake of widespread BLM protesting, anti-racist reading lists have spread online to encourage people to learn more about a difficult but important topic. This focus on diverse and reading widely made me reflect on the books that I’d read as part of my school curriculum. I can’t think I particularly loved any of them, and I was amongst the keenest of readers in the class. For GCSE, we read Inspector Calls, Romeo and Juliet, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and a selection of poems on the topic of war and conflict. We’d previously read Jane Eyre and Kiss the Dust, the latter of which was probably the best out of them all because of the relevant themes explored. 

This made me think of the role education has on life-long reading. Angie Thomas’ words immediately comes to mind; she’s an incredible storyteller and truly inspirational. In one interview, she says that “there’s no such thing as a reluctant reader. They just haven’t found the right book.” This is spot on. It saddens me when people think that reading is boring, only because of the books they’ve read at school. Of course, it’s fine to prefer other hobbies, but I think there’s a book out there for everyone. Books set centuries ago with archaic language may be great for students in further study and students that are keen readers, but I think that YA fiction and diverse books are the way to go for students that are yet to find the read for them. Give students magical worlds, with intricate and mesmerising detail. Give students diverse characters and storylines, so everyone in the class has an opportunity to feel seen. Give students incredible plots that will have them eager to read on. So, in 2021, I’d like to recommend more books to people that are struggling to find a place to start when it comes to reading, and really utilise my blog for easy use so everyone can find exactly what they want. 

2020 has been a testing year, and I hope and plead that 2021 will be better for everyone. This was quite a lengthy post, so if you’ve read this far, thank you. To everyone who’s ever read, followed, liked my work – thank you. It really does means a lot. Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to another year of fictionforteens.com.

Take care,


With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – Book Review

Aspiring chef Emoni has a lot on her plate – work, looking after her young daughter, and school. Juggling all of this is tough, but when she is in the kitchen, her mind is transported somewhere else as she unleashes her creativity on dishes drawn from her Puerto Rican roots, following her gut to make mouth-watering food full of flavour. When the opportunity to take a Culinary Arts class in school arises, Emoni can’t wait to get involved and see if she has what it takes to take her passion professional, but life seems to keep getting in the way of her dreams. She’s going to have turn her fire on high if she’s going to do her talent justice and show everyone what she can really do, regardless of the obstacles that the world throws at her.

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On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – Book Review

On the Come Up, Angie Thomas’s second novel, stars sixteen-year-old Bri, who dreams of becoming a rapper. Inspired by her late father, pursuing a music career feels like the only way to get her family out of their desperate financial situation.

The odds seem stacked against her: her mum was a drug addict during Bri’s formative years (and Bri’s worried that she’s relapsing), and even though her brother has a psychology degree, he only earns the minimum wage at a Pizzeria. Compounded with the constant stereotyping and racial profiling that she faces at school, she must carve her identity and make her voice heard in order to get her come up.

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

On the windswept island of Thisby, capaill uisce, or water horses, dominate life. Every year, these water horses emerge from the surf on the beaches lining the island, and are caught by islanders to race in the infamous Scorpio Races; an often fatal race of the brutal creatures in which the victor gains glory and riches.

Sean Kendrick knows the races well: he’s a seasoned racer, winning four times out of the six that he’s taken part in. His ability to calm even the most agitated or violent of the capaill uisce has earned him a reputation on the island for his abilities.

Puck Connolly has never ridden in the races, but this year she feels like she has no choice – the money from winning the prize could be life-changing for her family. The first girl to race, she’s no idea what the races really entail.

Both lost parents to the capaill uisce. Both are struggling to get by. Drawn together in a time when you can trust no one, this is more than just a race.

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Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart – Book Review


Jule isn’t your typical protagonist. Comfortable with lying and cheating her way through life, she’s definitely not someone you’d want to be opposite in a fight. She meets social butterfly Imogen, and the unlikely duo instantly strike up an intense friendship. Before long, Jule is ingratiating herself with the social circles that Imogen is a part of and weaving her web of lies as she meets more people and must maintain the façade that she has created. Jule is a Genuine Fraud. You can’t get away with that forever, surely?

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

In Norta, the colour of your blood defines you – your social status, your occupation, and whether or not you have superpower-like abilities. The elite Silvers exploit the Reds, sending them to the front line in the North and using them as their servants in their lavish residences.

Mare is a Red, and every day she becomes closer to being conscripted on her seventeenth birthday. After a chance encounter, she finds herself serving the King in his summer residence. One day, however, something happens to Mare that makes her question her identity – she appears to have Silver abilities but Red blood, so the royal family decide to declare her as a long-lost princess, to prevent any questions being asked. Mare is thrust in to the Silver world, engaged to a Silver prince. She now has the chance to take down the oppressive system that has caused her family and community so much pain and suffering. This won’t be easy; she must dodge the jealousy, lies and rivalries of the royal courts to try to bring justice to her people.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – Book Review

In John Green’s latest novel, Aza is faced with a dilemma when the billionaire father of a childhood friend becomes a fugitive. When her best friend Daisy hears about the $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, the pair begin to look into anything that may lead them to his whereabouts. However, through the investigation, Aza becomes much closer to the fugitive’s son and childhood friend, Davis Pickett. Being a supportive friend to Daisy, a good student and investigating the case is a lot, but Aza must also learn how to cope with thought-spirals and intrusive thoughts caused by her anxiety and OCD. 

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Book Review

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After meeting online, Simon Spier has been in contact with the elusive Blue over email, sharing their experiences of coming out with one another. It’s not long before the pair are really close, sharing secrets that they wouldn’t even tell their best friends. What’s more, not only do Blue and Simon go to the same school, but they are in the same year – as Simon begins to fall for Blue, he wants to know Blue’s real identity…

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Book Review

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To allow her to express her feelings, Lara Jean decided to write 5 letters to all the boys she has had a crush on in the past. Of course, these letters were never meant to be sent. Until one day, when they mysteriously find their way out of her special hiding space, and all of a sudden, her next door neighbour and her sister’s boyfriend, Josh Sanderson, and the popular loved-by-everyone Peter Kavinsky, among others, know the intense feelings she once had for them. Now she must face the boys who once meant so much to her as she begins to realise that some still do…

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One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus – Book Review

One of Us is Lying

Monday afternoon, detention. Four completely different students – Yale hopeful Bronwyn, sports ace Cooper, homecoming princess Addy, Nate, who always seems to be in trouble for something, and Simon, an outsider who maintains a gossip app. This is not the usual, uneventful detention – only four students walk out alive. It isn’t long before fingers are pointed at Addy, Nate, Cooper and Bronwyn. They decide to work between themselves to solve the case, revealing a lot of secrets in the process…

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