I absolutely adored this book! It’s beautifully written and had me laughing, crying, and completely giddy. I raced through it like light speeding through the universe.
(SELF-PORTRAIT: Teen Librarian Squealing with Delight)
Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is about twins Noah and Jude. Like most twins, they are incredibly close; they have an uncanny ability to know what the other is thinking and can finish each other’s sentences. Noah is an eccentric artist. He’s constantly drawing or painting, sometimes just in his head. Jude is a gregarious daredevil. She loves surfing and makes friends easily. The story begins when the twins are thirteen, a time when they’re experiencing change and exploring life. It continues through sixteen when they’ve seemingly switched roles. They’re coming to terms with the heartbreak they’ve felt due to tragedy and loss, tentatively living their lives and trying to rebuild. The novel shifts between Noah’s and Jude’s perspectives alternating from early to later years. The voices and viewpoints juxtaposed plainly shows that neither character has the whole story. Throughout Noah’s narration, his artist mind is evident: he’s constantly imagining his surroundings in colors and relays how he’d describe the moment on canvas or paper and what he’d name it. Jude’s are filled with quirky wives’ tales and superstition.
Nelson’s writing is lyrical and expressive. The characters and imagery jump off the page. The characters’ confusion, heartache, and elation are felt through description. Nelson weaves a vivid tale of life, loss, and love intertwined with a message about self-identity and being true to yourself.
This is a must-read for romantics, artists, inspiration seekers, and lovers of words!
“I’m a gamer and I kick arse. No, seriously. I organize a guild online and I’m looking for a few of you chickens to join me.”
In Real Life is a coming-of-age graphic novel that opens with Anda’s birthday. She’s a gamer girl who just moved to a new town and is trying to figure out where she fits in. Enter Liza McCombs – she heads an all-girl guild in Coarsegold Online, a massive multiplayer roleplaying game. Not only does the game provide a place for Anda to explore her identity, but it also allows her to investigate socioeconomic issues around the world and close to home.
Cory Doctorow knocks it out of the park in his debut graphic novel! He highlights complex topics like gold farming, economic inequality, and labor rights all with a feminist message.
Jen Wang’s illustrations are stunning. Real life characters are juxtaposed with their online avatars and in some panels the lines are blurred. The characters’ expressions are exquisite – they convey feeling and humanize the drawings. Her art is dynamic with perfect coloring.
I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. It’s a page turner and will pique interest in “real-life” issues.
I am the second Antone Bazil Coutts, but I’d fight anyone who put a junior in the back of my name. Or a number. Or called me Bazil. I’d decided I was Joe when I was six. When I was eight, I realized that I’d chosen the name of my great-grandfather, Joseph. I knew him mainly as the author of inscriptions in books with amber pages and dry leather bindings. He’d passed down several shelves of these antiquities. I resented the fact that I didn’t have a brand-new name to distinguish me from the tedious Coutts line – responsible, upright, even offhandedly heroic men who drank quietly, smoked an occasional cigar, drove a sensible car, and only showed their mettle by marrying smarter women. I saw myself as different, though I didn’t know how yet.
Louise Erdrich’s The Round House tells the story of a Native American family living on a North Dakota reservation and their coping with the aftermath of trauma. Thirteen year old Joe narrates the events following the attack of his mother. The details of the attack are slow to emerge due to the stress his mother has endured and her unwillingness to reveal her attacker out of fear and complex circumstances uncovered throughout the novel. Joe and his crew of friends work to solve the mystery of who attacked his mother and why, hoping to feel a sense of justice and bring normalcy back to the Coutts family.
The Round House can be read in different ways. On the surface, it’s a page-turner about a terrible crime: sorting out the turn of events and uncovering evidence, identifying the criminal and bringing him to justice. It also provides insight into Native American reservation life. It highlights the strife between the Ojibwe and the surrounding white residents as well as the often unjust outcome of crimes that occur on reservation land due to jurisdictional confusion. Lastly, it’s a coming-of-age story. Joe is thirteen and is suddenly thrust into the adult world. Through his narration, readers experience his struggle with grownup issues like assault, criminal justice, and rebuilding after trauma while exploring the bonds of friendship, sense of self, sexuality, and experimentation with alcohol. Erdrich crafts a superb cast of characters, a rich cultural history, and colorful imagery to deliver a riveting tale. Those with a faint heart, beware. There is graphic content in this National Book Award and YALSA Alex Award winner.
Now here is an oddity. A question for the zombie philosophers. What does it mean that my past is a fog but my present is brilliant, bursting with sound and color? Since I became Dead I’ve recorded new memories with the fidelity of an old cassette desk, faint and muffled and ultimately forgettable. But I can recall every hour of the last few days in vivid detail, and the thought of losing a single one horrifies me. Where am I getting this focus? This clarity? I can trace a solid line from the moment I met Julie all the way to now, lying next to her in this sepulchral bedroom, and despite the millions of past moments I’ve lost or tossed away like highway trash, I know with a lockjawed certainty I’ll remember this one for the rest of my life.
In Issac Marion’s Warm Bodies, readers follow R, zombie protagonist, through a post-apocalyptic, American city. R suffers from the usual characteristics associated with zombies: his body is rotting away; he likes to dine on humans, particularly their brains; he has no memory, no identity. However, unlike the zombie archetype, R longs for something more than brains. He is pensive and looking for a deeper existence for his recently converted zombie persona. Enter Julie a tough, fun-loving human trying to survive and make the best of the dystopia that has become her reality. Together, they explore and exercise their existential beliefs. Overcoming trials and tribulations, they work together to precipitate change and hopefully, save the world.
Warm Bodies is a hilarious retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet love story. R(omeo) is an endearing, likeable character. His narration, which is mostly through thoughts since his zombie speaking skills are lacking, is genuine and poignant. Readers get an honest view of what's on his mind, his feelings of loss and longing. Julie(t), daughter of the general tasked with keeping the living safe from zombies, serves as a perfect foil. She is fearless, not afraid to speak her mind and even challenges her father when they disagree. Marion tells an unlikely zombie tale, one where the “happy ending” doesn’t involve extermination of the undead. If you’re looking for a heartwarming book, creative/unique zombie tale, or enjoy classic retellings, this book is for you!
In time, she would decide what she'd done wasn't madness at all. Was it mad to at least try to live as one wished, or as close to it as possible? This life is mine, she would think sometimes. This life is mine because of good luck. And because I reached out and took it.
L-O-V-E-D this book! The story juxtaposes the lives and backgrounds of Louise Brooks and Cora Carlisle, her chaperone on her first trip away from home to New York. In the summer of 1922, Louise leaves Wichita, Kansas to study at Denishawn School of Dance, but not without the chaperone that her parents insisted accompany her. Cora, with an agenda of her own in New York, sees the trip as an opportunity to answer questions about her unknown past. The novel is filled with history as it covers Prohibition, orphan trains, flappers, the Great Depression and the growing movement for equal rights. It also examines the characters sense of self - how their experiences and actions shaped their outcome. Well written and researched, I highly recommend it!