Monday, April 24, 2017

Everything, Everything

Everything, EverythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a perfect light read after finishing such a gut-wrenching book earlier in the week. It was the last thing I read before bed and first thing I picked up all weekend.

The premise of Yoon's book is fascinating, albeit a bit far-fetched, but I loved the creativity of her writing style. The illustrations, the "book spoilers", charts, descriptions of color, and email/IM correspondence were so fun. The book lost me with the big twist, but I enjoyed the overall narrative, and I would recommend this book to YA lovers and, most definitely, my students.

Gotta run because I need to get to my next book.

Happy reading--

Ps. It is rare to have diverse main characters, so I was thrilled to have a part Asian, part African-American main character. Teenagers need to see themselves in their books, and I love finding them quality characters that look more like them than what is found in a lot of mainstream fiction. Just a shout out for my other educator friends who are looking for books for their students.

Pps. Thanks to Ness for sending her book all the way from Utah, so I could read it. Sharing books with my favorite people makes me excessively happy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Underground Railroad

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have spent the week debating what the purpose of a ratings system is. Do we say a book is worth five stars because it's an amazing read? One that carries us away to somewhere we all wish we could go with lyrical words and fascinating characters. Or do we say that a book is worth five stars because the story is powerful and allegorical and one that must be told? This is the debate of books that I love to actually get lost in versus ones that have the power to change the way a society sees an entire era.

The Underground Railroad is one of the latter. Whitehead's narrative is deeply scarring and unconventionally told, and yet it captures the life of a runaway slave in a way that I will never forget. Like Holocaust stories and other tales of struggle, it is not one that I will readily return to, but I can see why Whitehead's book received so much notice and why it will continue to be talked about for decades to come. It is a haunting reminder of slavery's impact on our nation, and why the race issue isn't one that we can just "move on from" as so many are apt to say when racial tensions boil over. This book is a reminder that our assumptions must always be challenged and that when we help others rise, it helps everyone rise.

Happy reading--

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lilac Girls

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I pick up and put down books all the time, so to say that it took me nearly six months to complete Lilac Girls doesn't have to be some dramatic commentary on the novel itself...except that it was. I wanted to love this book. It came highly recommended by people whose opinions I trust, but the book's structure and style were too predictable. The story itself was powerful and the characters compelling. It was fascinating seeing into the lives of women in World War II, whose experiences were far from the traditional war epic that we so often read. That said, without knowing anything about the story ahead of time (two of the three book perspectives are real people), I could see the twists coming and the forced chapter cliff hangers were frustrating.

I would absolutely recommend this book to people who read a lot and love historical fiction, but if you're short on time, there are other stories I'd choose first - All the Light We Cannot See, Nightingale, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Unbroken, etc, etc just to name a few.

Whatever you choose, happy reading~