Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reading on a Theme: What the Dead Left Behind

What can I say, maybe we just enjoy shedding a few tears while we read. More on this theme here.

New Habits:
I had heard really good things about Julie Buxbaum's Tell Me Three Things, so I decided to read her 2017 release. One day Kit, who is struggling with her dad's death, decides to sit with the class loner, David. And somehow he says just the right things, and an unlikely friendship begins. What to Say Next is like the YA version of The Rosie Project. David is awkward and lovable, but I also really appreciate that Ms. Buxbaum doesn't shy away from the difficult aspects of David's condition and their very real consequences. In her afterward, Ms Buxbaum she writes about wanting to create a character who looks like her own daughters. That personal connection made the book more endearing.

A Witness:
I decided to spend December reading the books that I really felt like I needed to read before the end of the year. Up first was Angie Thomas's breakaway debut The Hate U Give, which is winning all the things. Ms. Thomas's book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It's the story of Starr who witnesses her friend get shot and killed by the police. The Hate U Give is definitely an issue book, but it is so well done. The book is very nuanced and does a fantastic job really showing the difficulties of the situation Starr is in. The book is filled with fantastic characters. Starr's family is awesome. I'm excited that making a movie. I think it will be very powerful. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Speed of Life is probably my favorite middle-grade read of the year. After her mother dies, Sofia begins writing to Dear Kate, the advice columnist for Fifteen magazine. Soon Dear Kate is a very important, but very secret, part of her life. Then she finds out that Dear Kate, Katherine Baird, is her father's new girlfriend. There was just something so sweet about this book. So many things change for Sofia over the course of the book. And, the title really is so fitting because the book is about how fast we grow up. Carol Weston's book reminded me of Goodbye, Stranger another middle-grade coming-of-age story that I adore. Review copy from NetGalley.

Missing Memories:
When Genevieve wakes up in the hospital she can't remember the car accident that killed her boyfriend, Dallas, an aspiring musician who had just gotten his first big break. To escape the media frenzy that follows, Genevieve goes to live with her dad in Southern Utah. No one there knows about Dallas, and she starts to heal while working at Zion's National Park, but then the memories begin to return, and it's hard to escape the internet. I've really enjoyed all the books I've read by Paula Stokes, and I was looking forward to This Is How It Happened. Even though I didn't like this book quite as much as I expecting, I appreciate the examination of media and the consequences of internet shaming.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

Suzy's best friend died over the summer in a drowning accident at the beach. Suzy believes that Franny's death was caused by the sting of a rare jellyfish, and she plunges headlong into an investigation to prove this is the case. The Thing About Jellyfish is a strange and lovely tale. Suzy's grief is so tangible, and it's made even more so by the secrets that are slowly revealed as the story moves back and forth between before and after Franny's death. Suzy is an intriguing character, and one gets the sense that Suzy's inability to cope is tied up with some greater personal challenges. Ali Benjamin's debut novel is truly an emotional journey. Review copy from NetGalley.

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