I guess it’s finally time. Time for me to stop moping over losing my website and blog and just get started on a brand new one here on WordPress. Everything has a beginning, right? Sometimes it’s awkward and uncomfy, but I know I need to dive in and start my first post on this frigid 2018 Monday morning. I’m kicking off this new blog with a popular meme: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join in every Monday!
Since I missed the first entire month of the year, this will be a long one since I’m catching up with some of the #mglit and #yalit I’ve read since January 1st:
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin: Having worked closely with children on the spectrum (especially in a classroom setting), I appreciated how the hyper focus on prime numbers and homonyms was woven into the story. We feel the anxiety associated with loss of schedule, unanswered questions, rule breakers, and unintended accidents. Young readers catch a glimpse of what it’s like to have to “practice” friendliness, daily — to consider the work involved in exposing yourself to the general population when conversation might not come quite so easily as it does to everyone else. This story also includes two major moments of painful sacrifice, even where you least expect it. Wow! I laughed and cried with Rose. And I’m very grateful for my first read of 2018!
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a fast-paced, heart pounding novel that I could barely put down. Ready Player One was that type of novel. And now I cannot wait for the movie to come out. My 14 year old read it the week after I did and now my 12 year old is finishing it. We have a rule in our family that if you read the book, we take you to see the movie. So March can’t get here fast enough!! 🙂
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin: Suzy loses her best friend in a drowning accident. As she attempts to make sense of the world and the people around her in the aftermath, we sense a deep feeling of loneliness. However, as the story progresses, we discover that Suzy was actually lonely all along. Such a heartbreaking read as distant memories are revealed alongside day-to-day life. And Suzy’s secret is almost too much to bear.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate: From the moment I saw the cover and heard the title of the book, I was extremely excited to read this book. I had it on “hold” at the library for WEEKS before I finally got my hands on it. But after reading it, I can now say that this is NOT my favorite Applegate book. I guess after One and Only Ivan, I was expecting the same level of can’t-put-this-down. But it just didn’t make the cut for me. In any case, it’s a very unique and intriguing story. I simply felt the characters were a tad underdeveloped and I kept wondering if I’d missing something at crucial points in the story.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: So beautifully written, exposing the pain, fear, and confusion that come with such shocking loss. Will is in a tight spot — attempting to follow the rules, but left with little true guidance and mentorship. That is, until he gets into the elevator. I need to let this one simmer as I’m still feeling the rawness and the lump in my throat from, um, things to cannot discuss without spoiling the story. But DANG that ending. Ugh. I might need a #YAlit support group to come to terms with those final… two… words.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe: This book will probably haunt me for a long time. I’ve been to Auschwitz, walked through those barracks and gas chambers, and spoken with a former prisoner of the camp. Then I returned to America, wiped my tears, and shoved the horrors to the back of my mind. This book, based on the real life memoirs of prisoner Dita Kraus, brought up the horrible historic truth all over again. I admit that it took me a few chapters to get into the story. But then it took off and I seriously couldn’t put it down. Dita is entrusted with an important duty of maintaining and hiding their small library. As she ran her hands over the books, constantly checked for damage, and read and re-told the stories, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how fortunate I am to have so many books right at my fingertips. It’s a painful story, but also an important one. I’ll also mention that at the end, there’s a section that shares what eventually happened in real life to each of the characters.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie: Tessa has just moved from Florida to Chicago. Once they settle into their new house on Shady Street, strange things begin to happen. I kept expecting there to be a logical explanation for all of these spooky occurrences, but nope. This is truly a modern day ghost story. So dim the lights, crawl under your covers, and read away…
Dear Martin by Nic Stone: For such a short book, this one packs a PUNCH! Stone addresses so many issues ranging from parental/child relationships, interracial romance, socio-economic factors, gangs, education, law enforcement, legal proceedings, etc. She beautifully showcased racial arguments from various perspectives — allowing empathy over how our background affects our perspective. Without spoiling the main story line, I can say that Justyce (the main character) ultimately discovers that to be like Martin, he has to be himself. However, he realizes that he needs to figure out who he is and what HE believes before he can fulfill that goal.
“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley: I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into until I was a two chapters in. I didn’t realize I was going to love the characters this much or hurt deeply as their individual stories were revealed. And I certainly didn’t know my own children would be asking me if I was okay as I wiped streaming tears from my cheeks, while reading. It’s no wonder why this is a Newbery Honor book! Without revealing too many details, Ada (the main character) learns that it truly “takes a village” when it comes to looking out for children AND adults. People need people — in the best and worst of times. I have always loved historical fiction books and they are quite important for young adults, for obvious reasons. I read this book and The Librarian of Auschwitz back to back, which was especially insightful since they are both written from the perspective of two young women in completely different circumstances during WWII. I now have a copy of the sequel “The War I Finally Won” and it’s definitely on my TBR list for February.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: Aza is a 16 year old girl attempting to juggle everything, including the voice within her head. Her best friend thinks she’s exhausting, but also knows she couldn’t live without her. Aza’s name spans the whole alphabet (A to Z) because her parents wanted her to know she could be anything. But can she? Turtles All the Way Down is a story that weaves together lasting friendship, mental illness, death, poetry, broken families, (somewhat complicated) romance, art, and even a missing person mystery that needs solving. I deeply appreciate a narrative that provides a solid framework for the reader to develop empathy (for a condition most teenagers know nothing about). And this story line does just that. Aza’s personal “demons” were infuriating, but I don’t know how anyone could listen to her self-dialogue and not care and hope for her.
“You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you became a person, and why.”
This is a looooong catch-up post, so assuming anyone is reading, you can expect a much shorter entry next week. I’m really looking forward to connecting with other YA lit and MG lit readers. If you’re one of these peeps, let me know if you’d like to connect on Goodreads! I love keeping up with others (and I’m sure could use the weekly accountability).