September 2021 Reading Recap: Celeste Ng, Emily Henry, Margot Wood, and More
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Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
I've owned this book for years. I first bought it back when I was a bookseller because one of my coworkers told me I would like it. She told me it was a story about a teen from a different perspective than you tend to see in YA since it's literary fiction. I attempted to read it back then, but I think at 16, I just wasn't in the right place for this story. I was reminded of the book when I saw it on an Insta story, and it happened to be one of the three I'd taken with me to LA.
When I sat down with the book, I got totally sucked into the world of intertwining stories of a family suffering from the most tragic case of miscommunication ever. Jumping between multiple heads within a single page, this story could be total chaos, but Ng delivers the story with such beautiful, heartbreaking control. Centered around the tragic death of a teen girl, this story looks at the big picture implications from twenty years in the past that can influence one present moment. While not a thriller or a mystery, the book will keep you up late at night until you get to the very last page. I credit it with jumpstarting all the reading I've done over the last month or so.
I wish there were more books like this. I need stories like Fresh that are raw and honest about college and how isolating and difficult it came be to navigate. While Elliot and I could not be more different and are having wildly different college experiences, reading her story was so cathartic, and a good reminder that no matter who you are, everyone starts college scared and lonely which is comforting when you're starting to wonder if you're the only one out there not thriving right away. With the completely present, intense voice and intimacy of YA focused on actual young adult characters, this book spoke to exactly what I've been asking for, and it left me wishing that the industry made more of an effort to publish stories for people my age.
I broke my month long book buying ban to get a digital copy of this book because my library hadn't ordered one yet, and I absolutely couldn't wait to read this one after hearing Margot Wood on First Draft Podcast. It has opened the floodgates on a bad book buying habit (even though the last books on this particular wrap up came from the library).
This book of essays about the online world started off strong but quickly crumbled, unfortunately. I only made it through this book because I listened to it on audio, but by the ending, I was desperate for it to just be over so I could count it towards my yearly tally. I'd seen it recommended somewhere (probably in a YouTube video) for the specific essay that I did find really thoughtful, but the rest of the essays seemed flimsy and overly self important. I still love the concept of the book, but I just wanted more from the execution of it. Ultimately, I found I didn't even have enough positive to say about it to warrant an interview.
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
Of course, I had to read the other Celeste Ng book. I was excited because Little Fires Everywhere was the more popular of her two books and recently got the Hulu show (which for some reason I have no desire to watch). This book is extremely similar to her debut, even though I enjoyed the first book slightly more. This book also centers around danger and a teenage girl with the same all encompassing style and worldview. This book was incredibly impressive as well, and Ng always leaves me with so much to think about. It's definitely worth reading both her books if you enjoy the style, but I guess from all the hype over the years, Little Fires left me with a lingering feeling of wanting a tiny bit more from it.
I want to read more books like Celeste Ng's two. Please leave me any and all recommendations in the comments, to the blog email, or to any of the blog's social media!!! I need more of this in my life.
People We Meet on Vacation
by Emily Henry
This book was a recommendation by Nicole Rafiee whose recent return to and enthusiasm for reading for fun really inspired me to get out of my slump. This romance by an adult and YA author was a fun read. The narrator is a travel writer, and the book follows a best friend to lover trope. While I wanted a little more emotional intensity from this story, I respect it for what it is. A fun, beach read romance that gave me all the great vacation vibes. It just didn't totally live up to the hype for me.