So, as I said in my previous post, I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year. A heck of a lot of reading. So much reading that you’d think my brain would burst, but instead, it expands and makes room for more books. Although I don’t remember every word I’ve read, I remember the important lines (like “three words long” in Eleanor & Park), the details (like that amazing staff in The Serpent King or Auggie’s face in Wonder), the travels (all in the interest of finding a girl who may or may not have left clues to be found in Paper Towns or gallivanting through Rome and Florence to see the sights and find a dude who doesn’t want to be found in Love & Gelato), and an important point (that a romance doesn’t have to involve a boy and a girl to be engaging – see Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda).
What do these thoughts on words have in common? They all come from middle-grade or young adult books! I love reading (and writing) young adult and middle-grade stories because they are a section of literature that has so much talent, excitement, and increased diversity within it. And although I could stand to see more minority voices in young adult and middle-grade literature, I’m happy with the direction its headed in.
Out of all the books I’ve read (so far this year), my favourites are:
How do I love thee Eleanor & Park, let me count the ways: I love that its an interracial couple. I love that there are mixtapes and comic books. I love that in the end Park keeps trying to connect with Eleanor in the only way he can and, after some time, he finally gets an answer. Eleanor’s family is struggling in more ways than one and Park’s family is doing well in more ways than one. Their connection, through a shared love of music and comic books, is a thing called heartwarming and it stays with you long after you finish reading it.
So who knew that a book about a blogger, an intense preacher’s son, and a staff carrying teenager could be such a good read? The best thing about this story is that the characters are so different, and yet they manage to have a connection that is so believable and so strong. Travis, the staff carrying teenager, has a home life that leaves a lot to be desired. Lydia, the fashionista blogger, has a magical homelife but is tired of living in such a small town where nothing but grudges and gossip goes down. Dillard Jr, the son of a freaky and intense preacher who is now in jail, is fighting against people’s perceptions of him and his perception of himself. This was such a magical read for me. I highly recommend it.
I left this on my TBR (to be read) list for far too long. Then one day, while browsing the BMV, I saw it sitting there (strangely enough in the ‘new releases’ section) and I decided that it was time for me to buy it. This is a book that you seriously can’t put down. Once you start reading it you have to find out, not only who the guy is that Simon is secretly emailing (note: they go to the same school!), but also why a mean fellow student thinks its OK to blackmail Simon about his sexuality. I went back and forth between two guys who I thought Simon was email-flirting with, and as it turns out I was right (although it took me some time to figure out because Albertalli really makes you work for your guess). This is such an amazing book. You have to read it!
Let me tell you something about me: I love a good fluffy read. So when I read the title of this book and gave the summary flap a quick read, I knew I would enjoy it. But what I didn’t expect was that I would love it so much that I would be sitting here telling you that you should read it and reread it because it makes you feel so good – with all the memorable and well fleshed out characters – that you want to jump into the book and live with them. I love Lina and Ren. I love Howard, Lina’s loveable ‘father’ who loves Lina’s deceased mother, so much. I love the setting. I love the story. So, what are you waiting for? Go read it.
5. Paper Towns
I first found out about this book when I watched the film. When I googled it, I found out that it was written by an awesome vlogger /author named John Green. Immediately I went out to buy it (because often the book is not the same as the film) and I found that they made changes to the story that I wasn’t entirely on board with. Margo looks different than she does in the book, and Quentin’s discovery isn’t the same in the book as it is in the film. So the film is decent and the book is amazing. Read it now and thank me later.
Oh, Auggie! I love this story, about a boy with a facial deformity that led him to be homeschooled for all his life, because it feels so real. For Auggie Pullman’s 5th year of school, his parents agree to send him to public school. It’s about all the kids he and his face encounter in public school, and how he lives through it. It’s about Auggie learning to make peace with his face. It’s about Auggie learning to accept himself and others immediate reaction to him. Ultimately, his personality shows he’s an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face (and ears). Truly though, he’s an extraordinary character that you don’t want to miss out on.