A fun read about a Chinese girl and a black girl who leave their town of St. Joseph, Missouri to head west. It's not fun as in, this is a fun romp --A fun read about a Chinese girl and a black girl who leave their town of St. Joseph, Missouri to head west. It's not fun as in, this is a fun romp -- it's not, as both girls have tough histories and are on the Oregon trail with a band of cowboys and have to dress as boys to get by and evade the law -- but it's a fun read because it's so different and refreshing.
There's romance here, but it's a romance between friends, as well as a sweet romance that emerges between Samantha and one of the cowboys she's traveling with. This is more about friendship than anything else, and it's about the distances friends will go to help one another secure better lives. Both Sam and Andy are tough-as-nails and their adventures on the Trail prove their mettle.
The pacing is good, though the middle of this one got a little saggy for me (and it's all me, since historical fiction tends to go this route for me, no matter how well-written or compelling). For readers who love historical fiction or who crave a western that is fast paced and completely different than what one thinks of as a "western," this is one they'll eat up. This is an excellent debut novel and I'm eager to see what Lee writes next. I'd call this a feminist western, no problem. ...more
This one is complicated, especially because no matter what I say, it'll be spoiler-y. So be forwarned.
This story features two Latina main charactThis one is complicated, especially because no matter what I say, it'll be spoiler-y. So be forwarned.
This story features two Latina main characters struggling with depression. The biggest pro is their depression manifests SO differently, and it's utterly refreshing to see that. We have Elizabeth, who wears depression out loud and who people assume has an issue because of that. Then we have Emily, whose depression eats away at her from the inside. It's quiet and insidious, and people would never expect she's wrestling with such miserable demons. (view spoiler)[ Maybe the BEST moment is one that's smallest -- Emily misses her period, and it's a big deal because she and her friend think she's pregnant, but it's not that. It's a physical manifestation of what depression is doing to her. We NEVER see this in YA and it's one of those things that's not talked about, either, how depression that's so restricted internally can cause complete havoc on your biology. (hide spoiler)]. I thought how Rodriguez leads readers through perceptions of depression from those outside the experience -- and how she renders it in third person style -- was smart and did huge service to how we think about depression in other people.
There's a suicide attempt. It makes narrative sense, but it's bothersome because it happens so frequently in depression books. Especially recently.
The bigger con for me is the way medication is depicted as being a series of side effects and thus not worth using. Where I can see (view spoiler)[ Emily (hide spoiler)] having these thoughts, I can't help thinking about why she wouldn't ask her doctor or why her doctor wouldn't be forthright about her actual chances of experiencing those things would be. When she attempts suicide, she's hospitalized and she's medicated. Things don't change immediately, but the tune about getting treatment did change a bit. I don't think it undermined the misperceptions of medication and I wish it had.
This one is definitely worth reading, especially because Emily and Elizabeth's stories are compelling. It's refreshing to read such a diverse cast of characters in a way that's normalized because it IS normal. More, seeing people of color struggling with mental illness -- and as Rodriguez notes in (an almost too long and explain-y) her author note, Latinas struggle with depression at extremely high rates and yet, we don't hear these stories. Some of the characters could have been better developed, but they're not problematic nor cardboard, so it works just fine. The mystery was never a mystery to me, but for many readers, I think it will be. But I don't think the mystery element, something that could so easily have been a distraction from the bigger issue of Depression here, doesn't take away from that issue at all. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Told as "narrative non-fiction," Normandy Pale's story is about getting to the bottom of her famous graphic novelist sister's strange return home fromTold as "narrative non-fiction," Normandy Pale's story is about getting to the bottom of her famous graphic novelist sister's strange return home from college. This is a funny -- at times out-loud-laughter -- and clever and yet deep and thoughtful look at relationships, about the intricacies of families, and about truth and creative truth telling. Juby's book is about who gets to tell your story and how they get to spin it, as well as what the implications of those things may be.
A seriously DELIGHTFUL read. It might make some readers mad and it will leave many wanting to talk, but that would nail home the point perfectly. ...more
I loved -- adored! -- the writing in this book. But the story just didn't come together for me in the way I had hoped it would. It ended quite abruptlI loved -- adored! -- the writing in this book. But the story just didn't come together for me in the way I had hoped it would. It ended quite abruptly for me, and I would have really liked more from this. I think the sell as a reworking of Snow White is a little confusing.
That said, I will be giving Oyeyemi's writing another shot because the prose hit all my sweet spots. ...more
A sweet, funny, and cute story about a gay boy coming out and falling in love. This is light and charming, and I loved Simon's parents. Some of the frA sweet, funny, and cute story about a gay boy coming out and falling in love. This is light and charming, and I loved Simon's parents. Some of the friend stuff got a little boring for me, but it was also realistic of high school relationships. ...more
Told through ten separate points of view in a short, vignette style, Knowles writes a page-turner set over the course of a single day. Like Siobhan ViTold through ten separate points of view in a short, vignette style, Knowles writes a page-turner set over the course of a single day. Like Siobhan Vivian does in THE LIST, this is a story about what lies beneath the surface of people we see and encounter every day. There's the boy who lives with a distant father; the just-graduated boy who is counting his time before he can move on to his dream job; the brother and sister who are harassed by their neighbor and who live with a mother who is a hoarder; a gay couple that can't be out and open; the girl who feels like she's nobody; the fat girl struggling with fitting in and accepting herself for who she is when she feels unsupported for it; and more. Knowles masterfully weaves these narratives together using the middle finger -- yes, giving the middle finger -- as her anchor. It's smart and savvy. But it's far more than a superficial gesture.
All of the characters have distinct voices, though not all of their stories have the same resonance. That's not a flaw, but a feature of this book. Different readers will connect in different ways, seeing bits of themselves in some places more than others. But ultimately, it's a book about empathy and understanding the complex situations all people are coming from and more, understanding complexity is itself a complex idea.
This high-stakes, fast-paced historical fantasy set in 1932 Sydney is a bloody and wild ride. Told through the voices of Kelpie and Dymphna, it's a stThis high-stakes, fast-paced historical fantasy set in 1932 Sydney is a bloody and wild ride. Told through the voices of Kelpie and Dymphna, it's a story of survival in a mob-run land, where there's a power battle between two leaders seeking for total control of Razorhurst. But more than being that, this is also a story about social class, about status, about allegiances, dependence, reliability, and more.
And if that weren't enough, this book features ghosts. Maybe "features" is the wrong word. This book has ghosts and those ghosts infiltrate the narrative in a way that we not only see them, but we understand what it feels like to be Kelpie, who can't stop hearing them all around her. We have to instead try to follow Dymphna's lead on how she handles those ghosts.
Woven between those two narrators is backstory into the lives of both girls. At times, the middle of this story sagged, despite the fact it was fast-paced and the entire story takes place in a mere 24 hours. But for readers willing to push through those chapters, the pay off and reward in the end is excellent.
This should appeal to fans of Libba Bray's THE DIVINERS. It's definitely Aussie-flavored, and while read it, I couldn't help do my own research into this period of time in Sydney's history. It's fascinating. ...more
What a powerful, painful exploration of what it feels like to be consumed by your mental illness. This is a long metaphor but it's completely visceralWhat a powerful, painful exploration of what it feels like to be consumed by your mental illness. This is a long metaphor but it's completely visceral. Caden's voice and experiences are not easy to read.
I marked so many incredible passages here, but my favorite line -- and the most poignant, I think -- is this: "Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug." Caden's story isn't tidy, and while there's some hope in it, this isn't a book with a neat bow at the end.
My only complaint with this one is it falls into the "drugs make you numb" narrative which way too many of these books do. More, Shusterman's author note about that particular bit, wherein he notes he experienced this himself by accidentally taking his son's drugs instead of pain relievers, actually makes that comment more problematic.
This book should have people talking this year. ...more
I liked so much about this -- the voice, the characters we rarely see, and a plot that was just enough ridiculous to be believable and fun -- but a nuI liked so much about this -- the voice, the characters we rarely see, and a plot that was just enough ridiculous to be believable and fun -- but a number of things, including the letter-style set up, the length in which the ridiculous-fun plot because tired and over-the-top, and ultimately, a number of underdeveloped characters, left me feeling disappointed at the end.
That said, teens will probably like it quite a bit. This is a hispanic girl in a small, rural, poor town who has to work to make ends meet and in order to get to the college of her dreams, she has to go to extreme measures to make money. Those extreme measures in this case are making and selling moonshine. ...more
Though it tackles some tough topics -- grief and loss in multiple ways -- Venkatraman's novel-in-verse set in India is quite sweet. Veda's a BharatanaThough it tackles some tough topics -- grief and loss in multiple ways -- Venkatraman's novel-in-verse set in India is quite sweet. Veda's a Bharatanatyam dancer and she's one of the best around; she likes to compete. On the day of a huge competition, where she's walked away a champion, she's in a devastating accident and loses one of her legs. But through the power of her spirit and the will to make the most of her prosthetic, Veda relearns how to dance and more, she relearns how to love the art of dance for what it is on a personal level. There's a nice romance here that doesn't feel forced nor does it feel shoehorned in; it's there and part of Veda's story in a very natural, realistic way. Likewise, there's a great thread about family, about the pressure that Veda feels to live up to her mother's standards while simultaneously pursuing her own dreams and desires. ...more
This is a fictionalized account of Malcolm X's youth. It's told in a few different time lines, and the way that his past inforWhat an excellent read.
This is a fictionalized account of Malcolm X's youth. It's told in a few different time lines, and the way that his past informs his current situation and his future, are really woven together nicely.
Perhaps the thing that makes this most stand out, aside from how historically important the story is, is that Malcolm wasn't perfect in his youth and it comes through in the story. But it's done in a way that would be relatable to young readers especially -- people who make an impact aren't perfect but indeed, are human and make poor choices.
Without doubt, this would make an excellent classroom or book club title, and I can see teens picking this up to further what they've read in Malcolm X's autobiography AND picking this up then being excited about picking up the autobiography.
I guess if you've never made lists before this could be useful, as it's definitely 101. Rizzo's tone is kind of annoying after a while, too, and her pI guess if you've never made lists before this could be useful, as it's definitely 101. Rizzo's tone is kind of annoying after a while, too, and her privilege sure shows (so many apps and so many ways to outsource -- great if you have the money or time to do that so you can move on to "more important things" like organizing your fall sweater collection by color).
But it was nice to know some of the things I do make lists about, like things I want to tell someone when I think of them, isn't a me-only thing.
This is a borrow-from-the-library book. No need to pay for it. ...more