Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Reading on a Theme: American Girls Abroad

These books gave us a serious case of wanderlust. I love to read books about traveling in the summer. They are the perfect books to take on a trip, or, if you aren't traveling, they allow you to dream of exciting new places.

Doha, Qatar:
Zayneb gets suspended for challenging an Islamophobic teacher, and her parents send her to Doha, Qatar to stay with her aunt. Adam is traveling home to Doha for spring break and dreading having to break some bad news to his father. Turns out, Zayneb's aunt and Adam's father work at the same international school, and the two spend their break together and learn to face their fears. I loved S.K. Ali's first novel, and her sophomore book is just as wonderful. I enjoyed so much about this book. I really loved the Doha setting, Adam's kindness, and Zayneb's passion. The "Marvels" and "Oddities" journal format made for a really clever telling as well. Love from A to Z was out April 30, 2019. Review copy from NetGalley. 

London, England:
Shane's college experience isn't going so well. Sure she has fantastic grades and is on track for medical school, but she doesn't have any good friends and her romantic prospects are even worse. Plus, med school is more her parents' dream than her own, so Shane takes matters into her own hands and decides to reinvent herself on study abroad in London. But, in London, Shane learns she's still Shane, and it will take courage to go after her dreams. I adored Again, but Better. I found it so compulsively readable. Christine Riccio's debut brought back all the joy and all the insecurities of my study abroad experience. I loved the quirky characters. I love that they took advantage of their time abroad and saw things and went places. A fantastic tale of second chances. Again, but Better was out May 7, 2019. 

Sevilla, Spain:
High school senior, Emoni Santiago dreams of becoming a chef, and the new culinary arts program at her school is proving that Emoni has what it takes. Emoni desperately wants to go with the class on its study abroad trip to Spain, but with a two-year-old daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, the more responsible thing may be to stay home. I loved Elizabeth Acevedo's debut, The Poet X, and this book is every bit as magical. The prose is a departure from Ms Acevedo's early verse novel, but the narration is still so beautifully lyrical. I loved Emoni's voice and maturity. The imagery in this book is so vivid, and the characters so well drawn. With the Fire on High was out May 7, 2019. 

Kyoto, Japan:
Kimi Nakamura has been keeping a secret from her mother, and when the secret comes out, it seems like the ticket to Japan from her estranged grandparents couldn't have arrived at a better time. So, to escape her mother, Kimi hops on a plane a flies halfway around the world to stay with grandparents she's never met. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn is such a cute read. I love books about family and finding family, and it was so delightful to see Kimi connect with her grandparents and start to see how that connection could help her understand herself and her mother better. There's also a very sweet romance in this book with a boy who occasionally dresses as a giant mochi mascot. I Love You So Mochi was out May 28, 2019.

Oxford, England:
Ella Durran is finally living one of her life-long goals: she's a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. She's also just been offered a job that's got her poised to have a promising political career once she returns to the States. Well-laid plans go awry when Ella falls for her English tutor, Jamie Davenport. At first it's just a fling, but things get real when Ella discovers that Jamie is keeping a big secret. My Oxford Year is voice actor Julia Whelan's first novel, and I found it completely engrossing. The connection between Ella and Jamie is so mesmerizing, and I was on the edge of my seat hoping that things would go right for them. Listen to the audiobook if you can, it's narrated by the author. My Oxford Year was out April 2018.

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