Summer's almost over! (Sad face...) Which means it's almost the end of the YA Buccaneers' Summer Reading Challenge. Luckily, I'm down to two squares on my bingo board! Here's my latest update:
Since my last check-in, I reread Anne Lamott's classic BIRD BY BIRD for the non-fiction/writing/craft square, read Jerry Spinelli's YA classic STARGIRL for the book published my graduation year (2000), and read Sherman Alexie's YA classic THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN for my banned book square. Notice that I called all of those books "classics"? That's not an exaggeration!
BIRD BY BIRD is beloved not only for its advice on how to find success as a published writer, but also for its candid words on defining that success, and living with failure, and finding beauty in the mess that creative pursuits naturally entail. STARGIRL spawned a generation of books where high school boys (okay, sometimes adult men too) are forever changed by interacting with a mysterious and magical and hard to understand manic-pixie-dream-girl. THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is an eye-opening, heartwrenching story about a Native American boy who lives on a Reservation, goes to a white high school, and finds himself feeling torn between two worlds. I enjoyed all of them!
I also read two more wonderful Fearless Fifteener books since my last blog post. RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovern is about Rose, whose mother has Huntington's disease, a degenerative condition that is slowly killing her. Even more frightening: Rose has a 50/50 chance of being diagnosed with the disease herself as an adult. When she discovers that there's a test that could tell her, definitively, if Huntington's is in her future, Rose has to decide whether knowing the pain that's in store for her is better than living with an uncertain future. (Meanwhile, there's a sweet and kind boy, Caleb, who's dealing with family illnesses of his own...) I loved this book for its unflinching portrayal of living with a parent with chronic illness as much as for the wonderful relationship between Rose and Caleb. Highly recommend—it's out in November.
LOVE & OTHER THEORIES by Alexis Bass is a very different kind of realistic YA novel. Aubrey and her friends think they've got high school relationships figured out. The key? Never fall in love. Use boys the way boys use girls, and avoid getting your heart broken. But when a cute new guy arrives at school and Aubrey finds herself falling for him, all of her theories are put to the test. This book isn't for everyone—it's sharp and bitter and at times, painful. Aubrey and her friends aren't always nice people. But that's kind of the point. Their theories on love have made them hard and cruel, in the guise of protecting themselves from pain. Aubrey's journey is interesting and frustrating and ultimately surprising. This book felt so true to the parts of high school that we like to pretend aren't happening: the cattiness, the backstabbing, the partying, the casual hookups. I was engrossed reading it. And if it sounds up your alley, it's out now!
Anyone out there reading anything awesome? Do you have book recommendations for me as I finish up the YAB Summer Reading Challenge? Share in the comments!