This has been my slowest reading week since the new year began, despite having packed up a house and moved across state lines last month. “Slowest” is relative, really, as this has been one of the most heavy reading starts to a year for me yet. Thank you, never ending winter!
Inbox (Books Acquired)
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (Borrowed from the library)
This book just picked up an Alex Award—a best adult title for teen readers—and as soon as I read the description I knew I needed to pick it up. This is a thriller about a man about to be released from prison with a bounty on his head and how he has to teach his 11-year-old daughter to survive in a world where there’s a target on their backs.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (Borrowed from the library)
There is so much to untangle in the discussion around “confessional” poetry like this not being “real poetry” or about being “too emotional.” But the fact of the matter is, I loved Kaur’s first collection and have been eager to read this one. I plan on enjoying the hell out of it. Her poetry is easy to read, it’s quick, and it’s the perfect book to read between longer narrative tomes.
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Emily Carroll (Purchased)
Technically, I bought this one last week but given the number of people who told me they didn’t know this was a thing that existed, I’m going to pretend I bought it this week just so I can mention it. There’s a graphic novel adaptation of the classic YA tome about sexual assault. And it’s illustrated by the amazing Emily Carroll! The back cover, which has the iconic tree from the original book, is haunting in starkness. The only words that appear there are “I said no.”
Outbox (Books Finished)
Brass by Xhenet Aliu (Borrowed from the library)
This book is a marvelous debut. Aliu’s story focuses on two girls at the age of 17. Elise is growing up in the ’90s in a small town in the northeast where the local factories closed down, causing major economic challenges. She takes a job at the local diner, where she meets and falls hard for an Albanian cook. She becomes pregnant and he leaves.
The second voice is Luljet, the daughter born of that relationship, when she herself is seventeen. Still living in the same small town, Luljet stumbles upon the story of who her father was and the life he had without her in it.
The voices are powerful and raw and real. It’s an intense character study and intensely evocative. Likely one that fans of the film Lady Bird would love, as it allows us a peek into a complex mother-daughter relationship.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (Digital ARC, Available June 5)
I only wish I’d loved this one more, but the premise and idea behind it shine more than the writing did. Claudia’s best friend Monday doesn’t write her all summer and doesn’t show up to school during the fall, but no one seems to believe there’s a problem. But she knows Monday is missing, and armed with that knowledge, Claudia does everything she can to bring attention to the situation.
This story—SPOILER—digs into issues of post-traumatic stress disorder—END SPOILER—but the shifting timelines get confusing. That said, this is the kind of “missing girl” story not told enough in YA, from the voice of an author of color through a main character of color. The book also explores economic inequality in urban environments and how and where that could impact the interest a community has in a missing girl.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Finished review copy, available March 6)
This debut YA novel was engrossing from start to finish. Told entirely in verse, the story follows Xiomara Batista through her life growing up in a religious, Dominican household in Harlem. X wants to break out of the safe, comfortable, highly monitored life she lives, but she’s also compelled again and again to stay within the lines drawn for her, as not to become anything other than a good girl.
But then she meets a boy. And she discovers the school’s new slam poetry club. Then, that boy encourages her to start sharing her poetry.
An excellent example of how verse novels can work. I’m so eager to see this one get a ton of love and attention and to see more books from Acevedo in the future.
So what about you? What’s been in and out of your life book-wise this week?