Sophie Apple, illustration by Samantha Hahn

With Hanukkah upon us, Nextbook picked three gift-worthy books for younger readers, and discussed them with Sophie Apple, a 12-year-old critic who lives in Brooklyn. Two of the novels Apple appraises—Jake Wizner’s Spanking Shakespeare; and Dana Reinhardt’s A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life;—follow high school students dealing with age-appropriate questions of identity, responsibility, faith, and romance. Though set during the violent and faraway Spanish Inquisition, the third novel, Alice Hoffman’s Incantation, deals ultimately with the same thorny questions.

Sophie offers her takes on all three and tells us which she would most likely recommend to a friend.

Illustration by Samantha Hahn.