OMG, May. What a month for authors who aren’t me. For some reason May was all about reading and not so much about writing. I hardly even blogged. I think because I started the month out by going to Vegas and maybe what happened in Vegas actually did stay in Vegas or something, along with all my ambition, self-discipline and ideas.
Actually it’s not as bad as all that. The truth is a character popped into my head late April and has been torturing me slowly to death ever since. The only escape has been reading about OTHER tortured characters so that’s what I’ve done to the tune of more than twenty books!
I’ll begin with my ongoing commitment to reading books by and about People of Color for the People of Color Reading Challenge. The breakdown goes like this:
KARMA by Cathy Ostlere. I really adored this verse novel about a young indo-Canadian girl getting caught up in the unrest in India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. This is both everything that a verse novel should be – poetic, visual, emotional and lyrical – as well as everything that a novel about a non-white/mainstream culture CAN be; it feels very universal. The protagonist and narrator, 16 year old Maya, starts out naïve and innocent but when thrust into unimaginable danger doesn’t suddenly become Katniss Everdeen. Her reactions and struggles are realistic and not idealized. I loved how romantic this book is too.
MUCHACHO, by LouAnne Johnson. I rather enjoyed this short but uplifting book by the author of the book that inspired the film DANGEROUS MINDS. Notwithstanding the ubiquitous white savior school teacher trope that forms a backdrop to this story, MUCHACHO is a well plotted and fun to read story about a kid who likes to pretend he’s a lot dumber than he actually is, until a pretty smart girl changes his mind. Maybe this book is a bit idealized. It seems a bit easy for Eddie to avoid getting drawn into a gang for example, but maybe that’s just me expecting a stereotyped story. This is surprisingly gentle story that I would recommend for middle graders who are ready to graduate to YA fare. There is some language but sex is treated very responsibly so it would be appropriate for readers from about 11+.
ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Ann E Burg. This verse novel made me cry, which rarely happens. The story of Matt Pin, a Vietnamese boy who is airlifted after the fall of Saigon the story deals with his coming to terms with all that he lost in the family and life he left behind in Vietnam. This is an emotionally impactful book that uses baseball as a kind panacea, a typically American idea, but one that works superbly well in this instance. A quick but far from easy read, but also another great one for mature younger readers.
BOY21 Matthew Quick. Can I tell you how much I loved this book? Here’s another sports oriented story for boys, but one that is so full of fun and mystique and sadness and hope that I wanted to take a great big bite out of it after I read it. I simply loved all the characters, especially BOY21 whose eccentricity and dignity made me want to believe everything he said. Love love loved this book. I would recommend it especially to reluctant boy readers, and apart from some minor language and “off-screen” gang violence themes, has no content that would objectionable to younger readers 11+. The romance between the narrator and his girlfriend is oddly chaste in fact, almost old fashioned. I think BOY21 should marry STARGIRL and fill the YA universe with odd and sweet brown skinned babies.
LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I was not expecting this book to be so harrowing. Brilliant and brutal and unrelenting, the book is about a very disturbed young man’s experience in detox and rehab for alcoholism. The book is emotional visceral and not for the faint of heart, but the characters and relationships are unforgettable. I liked that Zach is really the only teenager in this book (at least in the linear story), which made it less YA-ish and more universal. Little time got wasted and stupid high school politics etc. It was more about the deep issues.
KICK by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman. Sorry but this one didn’t do it for me. Ross Workman, a high school student, somehow managed to convince Walter Dean Myers to collaborate on a book with him and this is the result. Meh. Read like a book written by one writer with no experience and another who was phoning it in. Certainly not to the stellar heights that Walter Dean Myers usually flies. Nicely written, but poorly plotted with weak characterization and way too much soccer. Way longer than it needed to be too. I love Walter Dean Myers but this one, not so much.
So that’s it for books about and/or by people of color. But there was a lot of other reading this month, much of it I tweeted about:
Just read THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LARRY by @JanetTashjian . A clever, pertinent and quick read. Lots of fun and thought provoking.
Damn you @barrylyga I started reading FANBOY at 11:30pm last night. Finished at 4am. Now a wee bit tired. I <3 FANBOY.
Want to tweet and tweet on ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Ann E. Burg which made me cry. But neither she nor her peeps seem to tweet. @scholastic
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS BY Sarah Tregay Sweet easy read, romantic and sexy. #amreading
Holy crap, BOY21 by @MatthewQuick21 is a good book. Irish pride, aliens, basketball, mobsters, astronomy; this book has everything.
THE BIG CRUNCH by @petehautman is the cutest. book. ever. Could not put it down. Love Wes and June so much. They’re adorable. GabriellePrendergast @GabrielleSaraP
Devoured EXPOSURE by @ThereseFowler today.Unlike most contemp YA (omniscient 3rd person POV, past tense) but So.Effing.Good. #unputdownable
@CaroleeJDean COMFORT left me feeling drained but not defeated. Perfect blend of southern melodrama, teen angst, country music and poetry.
My #fridayreads NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT BY @edwardhumes So far, infuriating, sad, and illuminating.
WINTERGIRLS by Laurie @halseanderson. Bleak and unremitting, but something I wish I’d read at 16. #notquiteTHATbad
KARMA by @CathyOstlere 5 out of 5 stars. So beautiful, romantic and poetic. #iloveversenovels
finished @CaroleeJDean ‘s TAKE ME THERE. Pretty unputdownable, esp towards the end.Will now kill for ARC of FORGET ME NOT
Just finished THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by @kaaauthor. Now freaking out about how prolific this author is. Whatever she’s on, I want some.
That’s not all. I read a few other things including some very trashy steamy romance I got from NetGalley. I won’t review those since I’m aiming (and missing by a mile, fuck it all) for PG here.
Anyway, now it’s June, it’s my sister’s birthday. My NaNo book is still not finished. I have another character basically Gaslighting me into writing him out. I’m waiting for notes or news from my agent.
Business as usual.