Looking back on some of the greatest books of the 2023 year

A book that takes place very close to home is “Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed” by journalist and writer Dashka Slater.


A book that takes place very close to home is “Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed” by journalist and writer Dashka Slater. It was recommended by Berkeley High School Universal 9th Grade English teacher Morgan Tigerman. An intimately researched nonfiction book taking place at Albany High School in 2017, Slater dives deep into the details of a real private Instagram account. This account, started by a group of students, spread racist and misogynistic hate against teachers and fellow students. “You see the perspectives and the lives that were destroyed,” Tigerman said, “Predominantly, this group is of African American girls, you get to hear all their voices and you also get to learn a lot about the legal process and about everybody that screwed it up. And it’s a page-turner. You can’t stop reading it.” While never excusing the creators of the account, Slater investigates how the internet and social media have impacted youth forever. Tigerman says he plans to read this book with his class this semester, and believes it will be in schools everywhere. “It’s brilliant,” he said. “It’s an incredible book,” said Berkeley High School Librarian Meredith Irby, about teacher Aisha Abdel Gawad’s novel “Between Two Moons”. The book takes place during the month of Ramadan and follows two teenage twins who live in Brooklyn. Irby described “Between Two Moons’’ as “a really incredible, realistic fiction coming of age story about two twin sisters.” She also noted that this is Gawad’s literary debut. Irby described the book to be about “two sisters, navigating their identity, and their culture and their faith and all the things that are going on inside and outside of their home.” “Between Two Moons” follows these twins as they deal with their family’s delicate dynamic while having an older brother who recently returned from prison as they search for independence and individuality. A story that also highlights the complexities of what it is to be Muslim during this time, in an interview with Ms. Magazine, the book was described by Gawad herself as “a love letter to Arab and Muslim communities.”One of the top graphic novels in 2023 was “Family Style” by Bay Area author and illustrator Thien Pham. It was released in June of last year and recommended by Berkeley High School librarian Allyson Bogie. While the art in this young adult graphic novel is spectacular on its own due to its skillfully used colors and animated facial expressions on each expertly drawn character, according to Bogie, what made this book special was how Pham related his heartbreaking true story to food. The book begins with Pham connecting his childhood memories of fleeing from Vietnam to Thailand in the form of salty sardines and rice. Later, relating new life in California with his family to potato chips. Through the journey of food, whether it be Salisbury steak or watermelon, Pham expresses his personal struggles as he attempts to learn English, make friends, and fit into American society. While a quick read, Pham creates a beautiful, intricate story of belonging worth reading. If you have ever been nervous about the future and what’s to come, this is the book to read: “Where You See Yourself” by Claire Forrest. “Where You See Yourself” is a realistic fiction novel that follows senior Effie Galanos during her final year of high school. While illustrating typical college application anxiety, and social changes, it also provides a unique point of view in that Effie has cerebral palsy — which Forrest has as well — and therefore is in a wheelchair full time. The story brings awareness to how the world has yet to accommodate or even provide for the simple requests that many disabled people need. Throughout the book, you watch Effie grapple with high school and college alike while struggling to fulfill her seemingly simple accommodations. Although a simple read, Forrest does a wonderful job intricately illustrating the challenges of Effie’s everyday life and makes the reader consider the simple things they might take for granted every day. As you read through Effie’s journey and growth, Forrest also does a great job subtly weaving in her personal experiences, adding a special touch of reality to the story. With vivid descriptions of the UC Berkeley Campus, BART, and Downtown Berkeley, “Where You See Yourself” is worth the read.