Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 17


Hello, everyone! It's now full on summer here, just after the Fourth of July, and this week I have a great beech read and one really thought provoking amazing book (but who says you can't read that on the beech?). I've been reading like crazy this summer and have been enjoying both my local independent bookstore and the amazing library here. I suggest you explore the libraries and bookstores in your area! 


It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (444 pages)
Overview: Craig suffers from clinical depression that appeared shortly after starting at prestigious  Executive Pre-Professional High School. He had worked all through his eighth grade year to study for the admissions test, and the day he got the results, a perfect 800 and an acceptance letter, was his last good day. As he starts to attend the school he realizes that he might not be cut out for the rigorous course work and intense pressure of the school. These feelings are only made worse by the effortless success of his classmates. This enacts a downward spiral as he feels he can't balance school work, his friendships, and the other problems in his life. This culminates with Craig deciding he wants to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Luckily, he calls the Suicide Hotline and seeks help at a local hospital where he is thrown into the adult psychiatric floor despite being fifteen. There he meets plenty of interesting people all trying to cope with their own chemical imbalances. It is there, without the pressures of school, potential failure, and bad friends, that he starts to heal and form constructive relationships with his fellow patients that make him realize his will, and above that want, to live. This is a great and important book about confronting your problems and getting help when they become too much to handle alone. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Craig's voice reminded me very much of a modern, and far less profane, Holden Caulfield. He had a blunt, matter of fact attitude and a tangible intelligence. He had a full understanding of his world and what the pieces of his world are. His time in the hospital only helps him grow this understanding and gives him strength to scale back his toxic friendships and remove himself from the situations that sent him over the edge. Craig has defiantly earned himself a place as a highly important character in YA literature.
The other characters in the story are also important and well developed. Each of the fellow patients serve and important purpose for Craig and his self discovery acting as mirrors for him to look in on himself while also playing roles such as comic relief or potential love interest which also serve as foils to characters that exist in Craig's outside world.

Plot: 5 This story is mainly a character driven book, not to say it is devoid of plot, but the plot isn't really the point. Each step is meant to show Craig take a step forward or back and is full of plenty of introspection and notable growth.

Writing: 5 In the first section (there are eight) I wasn't too sure about the writing or the voice of the character (especially concerning the speaker tag "was like"). As the story progressed it really flourished allowing readers to get into Craig's mind and identify with the stressors and pressure he is under. And I came to really enjoy the voice. Not only does this book give great insight into aspects of mental health and mental healthcare, it also shares important messages about the pressure that is put on teens about school and the future and the crippling effects that it can have on young people.


Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (364 pages)
Overview: This light, easy, breezy beech read tells the story of sixteen year old Sarah, or Bean as her family calls her. The story opens with Sarah getting dumped by her boyfriend, best friend since kindergarten, and fellow science geek, Tucker. Tucker telling Sarah that all she does is watch the world (or more accurately the comment she's spent eleven months tracking as her science project for an elite high school scholarship), lights a fire under her, setting the tone for her summer. In an attempt to live life as vibrantly as her older sister Scarlett, Sarah takes to imitating everything from her outfits to her mannerisms to see if she can be popular like her older sister. When she catches the eye of near twenty year old Andrew, Sarah concocts the ultimate lie, that she's eighteen and starting at MIT, so not to loose his interest. They embark on a whirlwind summer romance that draws Sarah into the world and out of the lab, and she realizes that Andrew loves her for her and not her fake Scarlett impression. But with her sister's eminent return from Juliard orientation and the summer coming to a close, Sarah doesn't know how long she can keep her lie up, or how to tell the truth without ruining everything. Can Sarah salvage her relationships before they all crumble apart? Overall: 3.7

Characters: 4 Sarah is a likable, and, at times, relatable character. Her boyfriend Andrew also seems like a quality and realistic guy. While all of these characters lack a certain level of dimension despite the author's attempts at complexity, this light read doesn't really require much development beyond having enjoyable characters.

Plot: 4 This is really a summer beech read romance that follows Sarah through a summer on the cape balancing her secret relationship and newfound social life along with her family that can't grasp that she's evolving. It remained interesting, keeping me reading even through a lengthy, four hour sitting.

Writing: 3.5 It was light and easy to read. The writing felt a bit elementary in comparison to most YA books. It really is middle grade level prose with high school/ teenaged content which was not my favorite, but it was still, overall, a fun, quick summer read.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (210 pages)
Overview: When Justyce is put in handcuffs after trying to get his drunk ex-girlfriend home safely, his world is shaken. He knows that being African American means that some will look at him differently, but it's never been so terrifying or... personal. He tries to sort his out with the help of his friends, teachers, and by writing letters to Martin Luther King asking for advice. Right when he's finding his footing at school again, he and his best friend Manny are shot in a traffic altercation with a white, off duty cop. Justyce never thought that some loud music would put him in a sling and deprive his best friend of the rest of his life. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 Justyce is an awesome POV character. He's very introspective and into understanding the many layers that make up his views of the world. He grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood and was well aware of gang violence, but since getting a scholarship to a private boarding …

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (385 pages)
Overview: Eliza is regarded as a freak at school. Sweatpants and oversized clothes with her lanky frame must mean she's dangerous. Kids avoid her like the plague, and that's fine because that's who Eliza Mirk is. Even Eliza Mirk doesn't like being Eliza Mirk, but she loves being LadyConstellation, beloved creator of the online webcomic Monstrous Sea. No one knows LadyConstellations real identity (not for lack of trying) and the online world and fandoms gives Eliza a chance to be the invincible person she can't be in real life. And then Wallace transfers into school, and he's a Monstrous Sea fan. Though weary at first, Eliza hides her identity as she bonds with Wallace and realizes that the world outside of her screen might not be as poisonous as she believed. But with each day, the truth creeps closer and closer to the surface, and disaster strikes when it comes out. Overall: 5+++++++++ (I'm still so in …

Amy And Roger's Epic Detour

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2010)
Overview: Amy needs to get the family car from California to Connecticut where her mom has moved. The only problem is that she doesn't drive. Enter Roger, a forgotten neighbor and childhood friend who needs to get to Philadelphia. With him behind the wheel, and Amy in the navigator seat, they begin their cross country journey that turns out to carry a few extra twists and turns. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed Amy and Roger. They balanced each other well and created an interesting dynamic to fill the long stretches of empty roads. Roger's ex-girlfirend and Amy's family add extra dimension to their journey.

Plot: 4 In the most indirect way, Amy and Roger weave their way across the country. They experience bits of culture, new fast food, and awkward hotel situations that fill the pages with laughs and thoughtful moments. Though it was a bit long, for the most part, it kept me entertained.

Writing: 4 The writing didn'…

What I Want to See More of In YA

As the year comes to a close, I'm reflecting on the books that I read (and loved) this year, and I'm eagerly putting my TBR together for the next. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting about my favorite books of the year, what I'm looking for next year, and a deeper look into some of the statistics behind my reading. While I've been working on those posts, though, I've seen trends in books that I'm drawn to and underrepresented areas in YA that I want to see more of. This post is my ultimate future wish list as well as a call for other readers to speak out about the kinds of books they want to see represented more on the book shelves. Let me know in the comments if some of these are on your list, or if there's other books you want to see!

College YA I'm starting off with my main wish. I absolutely love YA set in college, and there's absolutely not enough of it. Publishers seem to be scared of venturing that murky space after the summer before fre…

Winner Take All

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore (336 pages)
Overview: Nell is always perfect. Because she has to be. She has to prove that she's just as good, no, better, than her rich peers at Prep. She has to prove she's just as strong and smart as the boys. Her mother expects nothing less. This gives Nell a very strong need to win everything as a way of taking control, but after her junior year, her life takes an unexpected turn when rich boy and rival Jackson Hart waltzes into her life in unexpected ways. He alters so much of her world, that she almost loses everything trying to get it back. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 I absolutely loved Nell. She's intelligent, strong willed, and hungry. She'll stop at nothing to get what she thinks she wants. And when she can't have control, she has to grapple with her anxiety and panic attacks. Nell makes a lot of mistakes; she's painfully human. But that's what makes her shine from the pages. That's what made me identify with her …

Little White Lies

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (390 pages)
Overview: Sawyer Taft is not a debutant... yet. For now, she works at a car garage making money to keep her and her mom afloat as runs off with new guys she meets at the bar. It's the only life she's known, and she wouldn't have it any other way. And then Lillian Taft walks through the front door, uninvited and announced, contract in hand. Lillian is her estranged grandmother who she's barely heard anything about, and she gives Sawyer a chance she can't refuse: Come live with her for nine months to complete a debutant year in exchange for half a million dollars toward her education. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 I loved Sawyer. She's sarcastic and blunt. She can't take anything in her new, rich, Southern world seriously, and so she provides the setting both with a Mars like feeling and one of a grounded world. Sawyer meets her new family including true matriarch, Lillian Taft, her aunt, Olivia, her uncle, …

The Poet X

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (361 pages)
Overview: X is stuck in a body that feels wrong, in a family that thinks she's wrong, in a religion that might be wrong, all in her Harlem neighborhood. X only has one thing that gives her relief, a journal where she could release her musings about the world. This book connects her to the slam poetry club run by her sophomore english teacher which may be the salvation X needs, if only she can find a way to stay late to get to the group. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I'm a huge fan of X and her take on the world. She's intelligent and imaginative and she has an incredibly sharp eye for directing the world she lives in and the world at large with her smooth disassembly of every societal norm thrust in her face.
Her family, friends, teacher, and romantic interests work to fill out the rest of her world in a well developed way that made sense to telling the main character's story.

Plot: 5 I completely enjoyed the plot. I read it all in…

Truly Devious

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (420 pages)
Overview: There was a murder in 1936. Not just a murder, but a kidnapping and a double homicide. One victim was a student at the elite boarding school on a mountain, Ellingham Academy. One was the wife of the school's illustrious billionaire founder, Albert Ellingham. The second kidnapping victim who is still missing is his daughter. Despite the cold case and the lingering fear of the Truly Devious who sent a poem foretelling the murder a few days before, the school continued to attract the best and the brightest with the allure of a free, prestigious boarding school.
Stevie's dream is realized when she gets accepted to pursue a criminology curriculum tailored to her because her main case of interest took place on the very grounds she's moving to. Though her original mission was to solve the Ellingham cold case, when a student mysteriously dies on campus, her attention is shifted. Did Truly Devious strike again? Overall: 4 

Charac…