Ibi Zoboi’s American Street is very nearly exactly what a YA novel should be.
The protaganist, Fabiola Toussaint, boards a plane from Haiti to the US along with her mother, planning to move to Detroit to live with family members. During a routine security check while changing planes in New York, Fabiola’s mother is detained by immigration officials and Fabiola’s left to go on to Detroit alone. There, Fabiola’s left to navigate her American cousins, a romance and her attempts to secure her mother’s release.
I have no experience as an immigrant – while I did complete a Study Abroad during college, I have lived my life as a citizen and resident of the country of my birth. I can’t speak – at all – to how real to life Fabiola’s experiences actually are. But I can say that the book felt so real to me – I felt as though the events could actually happen.
Back in April (May?), I won an ARC of Grant Ginder’s The People We Hate at the Wedding as a Goodreads Giveaway. Because I am, as always, somewhat behind in my reading, I didn’t get a chance to read this until a few days ago.
If one only looks at the cover image – the headless figures of a bride and groom atop a wedding cake, you would guess that the novel centers on the a bride, a groom, and preparations for their wedding. You’d be wrong. The groom actually doesn’t figure into the story much at all – The People We Hate at the Wedding centers around the bride, Eloise, her mother, Donna and her half-siblings Paul and Alice in the lead-up to the wedding. Continue reading
I read far, far more than I blog about it.
If you follow my Goodreads profile, you’ll know that I’ve read 44 books this year and I’m in the middle of a few more. And I’ve blogged about perhaps 4 books on the site. Last year, I cleared 95 and blogged about perhaps 10 of them, if that.
On the bright side, I guess I’m doing better this year.
I’m apparently terrible about actually keeping this up to date. It’s a weird tangle of events that lead to this, I think.
One, I’m terrible – terrible – about keeping a journal or notebook in which to keep track of my thoughts and book quotes. I tend to read when and wherever I can find the time. I’m often reading during lunch at work. Last year, I carried about a book journal and I was determined to take notes on every single book I read. That lasted for about perhaps 3 months.
Secondly, I read a lot of literary fiction and classics and it seems that people just don’t get excited about reviews of those things like they do for YA. But perhaps that doesn’t matter. My enjoyment of YA seems to be waning, for the most part, and the classics and literary fiction are seriously my wheelhouse.
Also, there’s a general malaise which sets in and affects me. I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from depression. I also suffer from anxiety and a personality disorder. It’s difficult, at times, to get things done – even if I may actually really want to get it done – as the energy simply isn’t there. When it’s there, there’s typically also a healthy dose of doubt. This is one of the reasons I have yet to finish my novel and why I have about 5 screenplays in various stages of completion. The lack of energy makes everything super difficult to complete – basically, it takes all I have to get out of bed and go to work each morning.
But I want to do this. I don’t really have a lot of joy in my life – there’s that depression! – and books and reading a few of those things that give me joy. I want to talk about books; I want to share my love of them with others. I’m want to do better about updating this – I have to do better. I’ll be better.
Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is completely, utterly ridiculous. I loved it away.
Attachments also happens to be the first Rowell novel I genuinely, wholeheartedly love. I’ve read Fan Girl, Eleanor & Park and Carry On. After a pretty rocky start, I ended up liking Carry On well enough. On the other hand, I found both Eleanor & Park and Fan Girl completely underwhelming.
Attachments, though? I love, love love it!
I’ve seen many folks make the argument that the novel’s premise is basically creepy and unrealistic. And they’re completely right!
A while back, I read Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star.
By “a while back”, I mean I finished it in the first few days of January.
It’s been a while.
I enjoyed Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything – it was a bit too sweet and a bit too syrupy and so not me, but eh, I loved it anyway. Everyone needs the literary equivalent of a diabetic coma every now and again, right? Well, Everything, Everything was mine. When I read that Nicola Yoon was releasing a new novel dealing with immigration, I was pretty sure that it’d be up my alley. When The Sun is Also a Star turned out to be one of Book of the Month Club’s picks, I thought it was simply kismet and made it my selection.
To my sadness and frustration, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.
Yoon is a competent, strong writer and she’s got great ideas and knows how to carry them out – I didn’t feel as though the novel were half-baked or un-done in some strange fashion.
About 3 months ago, I was lucky enough to be approved for several YA ARCs. While I’ve read several of them, I’ve been incredibly remiss in actually getting down what I think about the lovely books publishers have allowed me to read.
First, I started with Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited.
Sometimes, a novel will surprise you. That in and of itself isn’t really a surprise. What is a surprise is how the novel surprises you. Do you hate it when you thought you’d love it? Was it not as wonderful as you heard? Or was it better than your friends told you it was?
And, sometimes, the surprise is that it’s so much more than you ever anticipated.
When I requested an ARC of Miranda Emerson’s Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, about 85% of the thought process that went into that decision was based on the over. I mean, look at it – it’s lovely!
The other 15% percent was the synopsis – it seemed like it’d be a fun romp. I only expected what I was promised – a group of people, lead by the titular Anna Treadway traipsing around London, investigating the disappearance of an actress, Iolanthe Green, who may or may not wish to be found. What I found within the pages was much more than this.