Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Reading on a Theme: Letters from Strangers

This Reading on a Theme could very well be titled "YA Books for fans of You've Got Mail." That's right, all of these books feature correspondence with a mysterious someone.  

Chemistry Deskmate:
P.S. I Like You is about Lily Abbott, a girl who is very bored in Chemistry. Daydreaming in class, she writes a line from her favorite song on her desk. The next day someone has written the next line. Soon Lily and her mysterious pen pal are exchanging notes daily, and Lily starts to develop a crush. P.S. I Like You is definitely a bit on the predictable side, but that does not mean that I didn't enjoy the ride. The ending, especially, was incredibly cute. It wasn't my favorite of Kasie West's books, but I did still find it to be a charming tale. I loved Lily's large family. Her parents are hilarious. Her siblings are great.  

Somebody/ Nobody:
About two years after Jessie's mother died, her father remarries and moves her to Southern California. Jessie now has a new home, a new stepbrother, and an intimidating new private school. Deep breath. Jessie gets an email from Somebody/ Nobody who promises to help guide Jessie through the ins and outs of her new school. Maybe this is a creepy prank? Despite her misgivings Jessie writes back, and soon she and SN are exchanging messages daily. But who is he? I really liked this book. I liked how Julie Buxbaum navigated the newness of everything in Jessie's life. There's a nuance to all the change in Tell Me Things Things that felt so true to life. Plus, the romance is pretty charming.

Simon Spier has a crush on a classmate. There's just two problems. 1) He doesn't know who this classmate is. They correspond anonymously. 2) He's gay and not out yet. Then a classmate finds one of Simon's emails and starts blackmailing him. Things get more and more complicated and soon Simon is lying to everyone. Shouldn't he be able to control when and how he comes out?! And who is Blue?! Awe, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. This book is so beloved, and rightfully so. It's cute, clever, and is choked full of lovable characters. Becky Albertalli writes first love and friendship so well. She also is really good at tapping into high school emotions.

Cemetery Visitors:
Letters to the Lost is the story of two teens who start a correspondence when Juliet leaves a letter on her dead mother's tomb stone, and Declan writes back. At first Juliet is enraged that anyone would disturb her letters but soon she and Declan are bonding and relying on one another through their anonymous missives. This book is achingly good. It is full of heartache and hope and delivered so many emotions. It's a cross between a more serious version of You've Got Mail and The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter--two things I love.  Plus, Brigid Kemmerer is from Maryland, and I always love discovering local authors. 

Bailey is a film geek, and she has a crush on a boy she met on a film forum who goes by the screen name Alex. Her dad happens to live in the same small California town as Alex, and when Bailey moves across the country to live with him, she doesn't tell Alex she's coming. Bailey is determined to scope out Alex in real life incognito, but she can't find him, and she finds herself falling for her obnoxious coworker instead. I adored Alex, Approximately. It is so much fun, super swoony, and a little steamy. The banter between Bailey and Porter is what dreams are made of. My nerdy side loved the museum where they worked. Jenn Bennett's book is the perfect summer read. 

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