Dec 2, 2020

It’s the Young Adult Reading Life for Me!

Good day, everyone! As we all know, 2020 was a crazy year and we were quarantined for almost half of it. During this time, I was able to catch up with my to be read (TBR) pile, a large portion of which were Young Adult titles. Below are seven titles I read over quarantine that I am hoping you enjoy! Tell us in the comments below any great titles that you have read over quarantine! 

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Summary: Camila Hassan, known as La Furia on the soccer field, is a young woman living in Rosario, Argentina with her mother’s narrow expectations and abusive father. Neither of her parents nor her pro-futbol playing brother know that Camila has a passion and strength for playing futbol as well. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila begins to believe that her wildest dreams of playing futbol at a North American university might actually come true. Add in Diego, the boy that Camila once loved, who has returned as an international soccer star but with her own passion for soccer rising, things are not the same. Now, Camila has to determine if she can make her place in a world where her dreams and ambition feel like folly. 

What I liked about this book: The female protagonist, Camila, is such an inspiration. As I was reading this book, I found myself not only cheering for Camila but also for myself and for all women who have ever felt powerless/oppressed  to reach out and pursue their dreams. The book also details the heartbreaking everyday life for many young girls and women in Argentina which takes you beyond your own narrow view of the world. The love story between Camila and Diego is one that is honestly breathtaking not only because of the passion but also because of the growth that the relationship undertakes. Every person from every walk of life should read Furia!  

Lovely War by Julie Berry 

Summary: A multi-layered romance that spans from World War I to World War II and tells the stories of four lovers. Their names are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette whose personal trials and tribulations in the midst of World War I converge these four people together. Their story, told by Aphrodite to avoid judgment on Mount Olympus, is one filled with heartbreak and hope, passion and prejudice, and reveals that War, while a formidable force, is no match for the transcendent power of Love. 

What I liked about this book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has been my favorite book for the last ten years but Lovely War just might be giving it a run for its money! This historical fiction novel is so immersive with the author’s language and description. Also, the fact that this love story was told from the viewpoint of not only Aphrodite (Goddess of Love) but also from the Greek gods Ares, Apollo, Hades while also intermingling the points of view of each of the four mortals just made the story that much more immersive and compelling. While our world has seen too many wars, this story weaves the beautiful and true ideal that Love and War always have been and possibly always will be intermingled with each other. Immediately after I finished reading the library’s copy of Lovely War, I bought a copy of my own and plan to read and reread this beautiful story frequently. 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Summary: Theodore Finch and Violet Markey are two very different people who meet on the ledge of the same bell tower and it’s unclear who saves whom from the six story height. Soon, the unlikely pair become close; Violet makes Finch feel like he can be himself and Finch helps Violet to not just make future plans but to live in the here and now before they pass. But, as Violet begins to blossom and grow, Finch’s old demons return full force to tear him down. 

What I liked about this book: While this was not my most favorite book I’ve ever read, I appreciate how mental illness is conveyed in both Violet and Finch. Most people think that those who suffer from mental illness look and behave in a certain way but it’s usually the people you least expect who are suffering and hurting. The dynamic of the relationships Niven conveys between Finch and Violet to Finch and his friends is so well-written in all of their complexities. 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Summary: Piper Fitz-Amobi and the entire town of Fairview knows the story: Andie Bell, beautiful and popular, was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh who then killed himself out of grief. Five years later, Piper is realizing that the inconsistencies in this story outweigh the certainties. For her high school Senior Project, Pip decides to use her hopeful journalism ambitions to investigate Andie’s death with a fresh set of eyes, only to cast doubt on the initial investigation. However, the further Pip digs into the case, the more that dark secrets of the past come to light and Pip finds her own life in terrible danger. 

What I liked about this book: I usually find myself on the fence about crime novels but I decided to give this one a try, just for fun. One thing that I thought was really unique about this book is that it is told from a variety of resources. For example, we see phone transcripts from interviews, Pip’s Student Log for her project, text messages and the like. This made the book read a lot faster for me without taking anything away from the story; if anything, it added more to it. This was a great mystery novel for young adults, or adults! 

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus 

Summary: It’s a Monday afternoon and five Bayview High students walk into detention. But only four come out. The deceased? Simon, an outcast who was known for publishing the Bayview High gossip app that affected nearly everyone. On Monday, Simon died. On Tuesday, he had planned to post juicy secrets on the other four Bayview High students. Could these secrets be terrible enough for one of them to commit murder or are they merely the scapegoat that the real killer is using the hide their identity? 

Why I liked this book: This was a book that I had heard raving reviews about but had never had the chance to read. Then, came quarantine and suddenly, I had all the time in the world. Initially, from the summary of the book, I thought this story was going to be told from a third person point of view but each chapter is actually the perspective of the other four classmates who were in detention with Simon during his death. This gives you an in-depth look into the secrets that the students were trying so hard to conceal and why. I loved the multiple person perspective as well as the build-up of the mystery. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Cath and twin sister, Wren have been obsessed with the world of Simon Snow from the beginning. From dressing up in costume to writing their own fan fiction of the Simon Snow stories, Simon Snow has been there with them through the ups and downs; particularly the downfall of their mother leaving. Now, they’re both going to the same university but ever-shy Cath is shocked when Wren not only doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath in school but is also falling away from the world of Simon Snow that both had loved so much. Now, Cath is on her own to navigate an eccentric roommate whose charming boyfriend always seems to be around, a Fiction writing class with a professor who hates fan fiction and a classmate who loves to talk about words. Then there’s her dad, who is loving but fragile and has never really been alone. Now, Cath has to navigate the terms of her own life and maybe, she’ll create one that’s better than the world of Simon Snow. 

What I liked about the book: For me, Cath was a very relatable character for a multitude of reasons. I am the youngest of four daughters so whether intentional or not, I am often compared to them by family and friends instead of being seen as my own individual self. Also, the world of fantasy, fan fiction, and fiction writing is one that I am no stranger to. While each is a beautiful escape from reality, there comes a point in your life where you realize and embrace that you get to write your own story. Being able to read about another person doing that is truly beautiful. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 

Summary: This is the story of Junior, a budding cartoon artist living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior makes the decision to leave the reservation school to attend an all-white high school where the only other Indian in the school is the mascot. Chronicled through diary entries and the character’s artwork, this story gives an in-depth and heartbreaking insight into the everyday life of Indigenous men, women, and children who live on reservations like the one where Junior lives. 

What I liked about this book: I have always had a special interest in the Indigenous culture and the many injustices that they have faced since Europeans settled on these lands and became the United States of America. I was surprised that I had never read this book before so I thought I would give it a chance. I think I finished this book in one day (maybe a day and a half) because of the poignancy in how it was written. Yes, some of the wording is crude and some of the realities that you are smacked in the face with are uncomfortable but to me, that is what makes great literature is representing real people. I had some definite laugh-out-loud moments during this book but also moments that brought tears to my eyes. All in all, an excellent read!