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!
Last week was a big week for me, since it was my first week to participate and I was catching up on what I read throughout all of January. So this week’s post isn’t quite as busy. 🙂
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart is a story about a young boy named Mark. From age 4 to now, he’s gone from having cancer, to remission, back to cancer, back to remission, and finally, back to having cancer. Before he meets his end, he decides to make good on a promise he once made to climb Mt. Rainier. Meeting people and encountering new places all along the way, Mark documents his journey with a series of photos and haikus. Of course, I cannot tell what happens to him in the end, but it’s quite a story that will be well preserved and passed on with the help of his best friend, Jessie.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore begins in Harlem where twelve year old Lolly (Wallace) is mourning the unexpected death of his older brother, Jermaine, from a gang-related shooting. Meanwhile, Lolly is experiencing a typical high school life of school and complicated friendships. One day, his mom’s girlfriend surprises him with bags and bags full of Legos. So he begins building elaborate cities in a storage room at the community center while inventing detailed stories. He eventually teams up with Big Rose (Rosamund), another student at the community center, and they build a masterpiece together. One important note is that at the end of the story, the author explains that he lost his own brother in 2011 and he had a long journey to recovery. So Lolly’s journey of self-discovery and his expression of emotions in this story are in some ways a reflection of the author’s experience. I imagine writing this book was an important part of his healing.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is set in the Mississippi Gulf coast, this is the story of a mixed race family with a painful history. With each chapter being written from a different character, we get a pretty well-rounded experience. 13 year old JoJo and his toddler sister, Kayla (short for Michaela), live with their black grandparents (Mam and Pop). Their mother, Leonie, is black and their father, Michael, is white. Their main journey in this story is one back to the prison to pick up Michael. But this is the same prison that grandfather was in many years before. So the story actually spans three generations and includes unexpected ghosts.
This novel really challenged me. Because while the characters were real and round throughout, their lives and experiences were so incredibly depressing. I was utterly heart-broken at times and struggled through the sickening pain in the middle of the book. In the end, I was grateful that I persisted — because that ending. Oh my. Shivers…
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus was a fast-paced, heart-pounding, speculate-until-the-end while keeping-you-up-all-night-reading (even with your 3 year old in your lap) kinda of story. Since this has hit the #1 best seller spot, most probably know that 5 teens go into after school detention and only 4 come out alive. Who done it? As the plot thickened, I kept re-reading the first sections of the book, thinking I would uncover something I missed when I first read it. But I recommend you just keep going because there’s so much more to be revealed, throughout. I enjoyed all the characters’ perspectives as each chapter switched hands. There’s so much growth and change that a person experiences when the whole world learns their deep, dark secrets. And stereotypes are demolished when everyone is shown to be a legit human being. Karen M. McManus does a great job revealing slow personal development of each character throughout the book.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon is the story of two Jewish fraternal twin sisters: Adina and Tovah. They are both considered overachievers — one is a musical prodigy and the other is awaiting her acceptance to Johns Hopkins to become a medical surgeon. Their mother has Huntington’s Disease and is slowly deteriorating right before their eyes. Meanwhile, the sisters have been preparing to have the genetic testing done (at age 18) to find out if either of them carry the gene that will give them the same cruel fate as their mother. This is a very well-written first novel from a brand new author — I will definitely be following Rachel Lynn Solomon to see what else she has up her sleeves!
Thanks for visiting! I look forward to seeing what you’ve been reading, this week.