In Which I Rant

I was innocently scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw a link to an interview with Chloe Grace Moretz, who is playing Mia in an adaptation of Gayle Foreman’s book If I Stay. Obviously, I had to read this article because I cannot wait for this movie to come out this summer as this book is one of my favorites. As I’m reading the article, I found myself getting angrier and angrier to the point that I actually began seeing red. I can’t even compose a coherent sentence on the first try right now because I’m seething over comments Moretz made about Young Adult literature.

Some special tidbits from the article.

 

“Forman’s novel might occupy a certain part of the bookstore, but Moretz doesn’t love the “young adult” designation. She thinks it diminishes the book’s value” (Bahr, 2014).

And here’s a gem from Miss Moretz herself:

“What’s interesting about Gayle’s novel is that it’s not really that YA. It deals with issues that are much bigger…it’s much darker than I think most YA is,” says Moretz. “I want people to walk in and feel like they actually felt something, and learned something, and realized something different about life that’s more than just, ‘Oh, I saw this love triangle and it’s super sad because she chose the guy I didn’t like. And then the movie was over.’ And you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s pathetic.’ You want to watch something that actually means something and makes you feel and makes you want to be involved. That’s what I wanted to make and that’s what I strive to make” (Bahr, 2014).

Let’s see if I can rant without completely losing my mind.

Ummmm….. WHAT??

First of all: Gayle Foreman’s novel is absolutely YA. The protagonist, Mia, is a teenager dealing with teen issues, A.K.A. high school, college applications, a boyfriend, best friends, etc. While, yes, this novel does have a darker premise (Mia’s in a coma after a horrific car crash that killed her parents and brother, and now must choose whether to stay alive or let go to be with her family), it does not make it better than other Young Adult novels.

And now I shall acknowledge the extremely ignorant comment disguised as an eloquent critique. Young Adult literature does not diminish any book’s value. EVER. This makes me question whether Miss Moretz reads at all. Did you even read If I Stay before you found out it was being adapted into a movie, Chloe?? Did you? Do you even read at all? Young Adult literature does involve romance and some love triangles, but you would be a moron to believe that is all those books are limited to. YA tackles friendships, family, drugs, sex, love, high school, college, politics, religion, along with any and all issues that are related to those mentioned.

So many authors do a fantastic job creating characters with layers upon layers that readers need to peel back throughout the course of reading the book in order to understand the characters they are reading about. My latest author obsession, Melina Marchetta, writes characters with so many levels that I find myself falling in love with each one repeatedly as I’m reading. Just because the protagonists are teenagers and the book is about their adolescent lives, does this mean the writing, characters, and story are not as developed and fleshed out as “adult literature”?

Fantasy, science fiction, dystopian novels, paranormal romance. Books in all of these genres should not be dimissed simply because they are geared towards young adults. Most books address similar themes and issues discussed above, but they set them in imagined worlds (which take a level of genius to create that I can’t even fatham) or futuristic settings that allow readers to immerse themselves into different scenarios. Again, these writing styles do not take away from the books’ value.

I don’t think I can write (rant) anymore without sounding like a maniac.

Here’s the link to the whole article: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/03/28/chloe-grace-moretz-if-i-stay/

You are dismissed, Chloe Grace Moretz. DISMISSED.

My Literary iTunes Library

I make no attempts to try and keep my geek under wraps. I mean, I used to, and then I rediscovered my love for all things YA and decided that it was much too exhausting to try and conceal my geeky side. So here I am. In addition to being an unapologetic geek, I am also a runner. I try to run every day in order to compensate for the large quantities of cheese/bread/chocolate I consume. I realize, this is probably (definitely) not the best system, and it doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like, but I obviously can’t not eat the bread, right? Right.

Back to the point of this post.

Running every day for an extended period of time tends to lead the same songs being played over and over and over again. So, like every other person on the planet, I have created playlists in order to mix up the music I listen to. Each of my playlists have names that are related to books in some way or another. Some are titles and characters, while others are short lines that I love. There really is no rhyme or reason to these lists; sometimes I create a playlist with a specific book in mind and then add songs that I think go along with the plot and theme. Other times I am just looking to add some variety to my morning runs and create lists with songs I haven’t listened to in a while. If it’s been a while since I created a new playlist, I spend some time thinking about recent books I’ve read and what about them stuck with me, and then come up with a title.

It’s really all a way for me to constantly stay connected with books.

But really, it’s because I’m apparently in the running to be the biggest, geekiest, future librarian. In the world.

My literary playlists

Block 32

Book: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire

The playlist’s name is also the name of the section in Ravensbrück where Rose Justice and her fellow prisoners were forced to reside. I agonized for a longgggg time over what line/character/place to use for a new playlist. In the end, I decided on this one because it was where Rose found her “more than sisters.”

Kiss Me Hardy!

Book: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity

I required no time to mull over the title of this playlist. Anyone who has read- and by read, I mean experienced- this book, knows that this occurs in one of the gut-wrenching, emotionally-destroying scenes EVER. This is one of my favorite lines from ANY book I’ve read; I’ve written it on my bookcases and am considering getting it as a tattoo. It would have been wrong for me to not make this a part of my music library in some way.

Call Me Irresistible

Book: Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Call Me Irresistible (Wynette, Texas #6)

I’m not sure if anyone writes witty banter better than Susan Elizabeth Phillips. This book is the second to last book in a series that actually brings in characters from her other series, which is totally awesome, because in my mind, all of my favorite characters would know and interact with each other despite being in different books.

Full of Grace

Book: Full of Grace by Dorothea Benton Frank

Full of Grace

This isn’t even my favorite book by Dorothea Benton Frank, but I love most- if not all- of her books, and wanted to use a title that was pretty.

Just Listen

Book: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen

All of Sarah Dessen’s books have fantastic titles, and since this one happens to incorporate music into the title and story, it seemed fitting to include it in my library.

Little Earthquakes

Book: Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

Little Earthquakes

As I’m going through my playlists, I’m impressed with how many I’ve named after books that are not actually YA. In my mind, I assume that I’ve only ever read YA literature, but that is clearly not the case. I went through a Jennifer Weiner phase right after I read In Her Shoes, and I remember thinking that this book had so many elements included in the plot, and all of them worked well together and in the overall story. Plus, I just liked the books’ title.

Mockingjay

Book: Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

I’m pretty sure I wanted to put together a list of songs that were fast-paced and would help in my “Amy is a badass” running fantasy. Also, I loved that it was one word rather than a longer phrase.

One the Jellicoe Road

Book: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road

I’ve already discussed (at length) my love for this book, so naturally I needed to create a new playlist using any element of this book. The original title of the book is, in fact, On the Jellicoe Road, so I thought I would mix it up and use that name rather than the one published in the U.S. I know, cray.

Pemberley

Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

It only seemed fitting that I name a playlist after anything that has to do with one of my favorite books.

Primrose

Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

I’m pretty sure that I just wanted to make a new playlist and was still suffering from a Hunger Games hangover, and chose a character with an interesting name. Now I’m thinking that I should have gone with Finnick Odair. Because, great name.

This Lullaby

Book: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

Real talk: Sarah Dessen just comes up with some of the best titles ever. Even though this is one of my favorite titles, I wouldn’t have minded naming the playlist after the book’s main boy, Dexter. One, because I love the name Dexter, and two, because that character was fantastic. Also, as this is another Dessen novel with a title having to do with music, it seemed like an obvious choice.

What You Will

Book (play): Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night

I made this playlist during my junior year of college while I was taking my first class on Shakespeare. I loved that this play had two titles, and both were happy and fun sounding. We had also just come off a string of Shakespearean tragedies and I was so happy to finally read a play that didn’t end with the death of EVERY CHARACTER. This play involves a shipwreck, mistaken identity, romance and a whole lot of comedy, so who wouldn’t want to create a list of songs for such a fantastic play?

As of right now, those are my only playlists with literary titles, but I have no doubt that I’ll be adding more very soon. Especially since I’m buying and reading books like it’s my job. Which is, in fact, not my job. Not yet.

Amy

In Which I Review DOROTHY MUST DIE

So. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to get my hands on this book for MONTHS. Ever since I downloaded and read the prequel No Place Like Oz, I’ve been impatiently refreshing the Dorothy Must Die Amazon page and hoping the release date has changed. Unfortunately, it remains the same. HOWEVER, since I was lucky enough to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference this past January, I managed to snag an ARC of this beauty. I’m proud to say this is the first book I asked for when I walked into the exhibition hall. I basically pushed and shoved my way to the HarperTeen section and immediately asked if they still had copies. And then promptly skipped away whilst clutching my gorgeous ARC to my chest. This is all leading up to me saying that I’ve finally had the chance to read the one book I’ve had my eye on for months. It. Was. Fantastic.

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)

Mini Summery

Years after Dorothy defeats the Wicked Witch of the West, she returns to Oz. However, a small taste of magic and power leads to her desire for more and more until she rules Oz as its dictator. Enter Amy Gumm, a girl from a Kansas trailer park who has basically raised herself and her alcoholic mother. Cue the tornado that literally carries Amy and her trailer off to Oz. Now, with training from the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (seriously though, how awesome is THAT?), Amy is faced with the task of taking Dorothy down.

My Thoughts

YES.

If I could end my review with that one word, I would, but I should probably expand on it just a bit. Danielle Paige has created a new world within an extremely well known and beloved world that has already been successfully built. I had no trouble at all picturing Oz’s new, grim and desolate landscape. Those descriptions, coupled with the violence action- into which she immediately jumps- almost made me forget that this used to be the Oz created by L. Frank Baum.

The main character, Amy, might be one my of favorite new protagonists that I’ve come across in 2014. Let’s discuss why:

1. Her name. I’m a tad bit biased, but whatevs. This is my review and I’ll say what I want.

2. The pink hair. SO badass- no glossy, luscious locks going on here. It’s a small detail, but it totally distinguishes her from Oz’s precious visitor (ahem, Dorothy). One of my favorite lines in the book is actually said during a discussion about who Amy is.

“‘When I first saw you, Amy Gumm, your hair was the thing that gave me hope for you. For all of us'”

(one more)

“‘But you, you didn’t have an ounce of sweetness and that hair was just the exclamation point.'”

Perfection. If you don’t love Amy already, I don’t even know what to say.

3. Star, her pet rat. Dorothy arrived with Toto, and Amy stepped out of her trailer with a pet rat. Again, just helps everyone get an idea who the type of heroine Amy will be.

4. Her total honesty about her feelings towards everything. She may or may not have feelings for one of her trainers, Nox, but she doesn’t hide the fact that- despite acknowledging his hotness- she really doesn’t know how she feels.

“Hell, I couldn’t even figure myself out. Did I want to kiss him or punch him in the face?” <—– I love that we know everything going on in Amy’s head. But Amy also doesn’t know what her feelings are for The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. She knows she can’t trust anyone, but she also desperately wants someone to rely on. I think it’s great that Paige didn’t have Amy simply join up with the Order and agree to amp up her badassness just because they are the first group of people (witches? warlocks?) to pay attention to her.

I think what I loved most about this is that Danielle Paige took beloved characters that we’ve all known to be- and never questioned to be any else but- good, and re-worked them to display them in a different light. In a “what might have been” light.

On that note, I’ll end this review by saying that I was constantly surprised by each new scene. Danielle Paige is not afraid make her characters dive head first into violent, dangerous and bone-chilling situations while keeping them and her readers guessing as to whether or not each one will make it out alive. All I know is that I’m desperate for this sequel and knowing that I have to wait a year to hear more about the pink-haired Amy Gumm and her pet rat is absolutely NOT okay. Guess I’ll just have to read this book again.

Happy Reading!

Amy

A Happy Book B-Day to Julie Murphy! Plus My SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY Review

My discussion of this book is based on my review of an ARC I received at the ALA Midwinter Conference.

In honor of this book’s birthday today, I’ve decided to actually organize the many thoughts I had on Side Effects May Vary and put them into a mini review.

Side Effects May Vary

A baby synopsis

At 16, Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, and the outlook is not good. After months of chemotherapy with no improvement, Alice decides to stop treatment and live out the rest of her time without the added stress, exhaustion and nausea brought on by the chemo. In a strange and miraculous turn of events, Alice receives news that she is now in remission. Because Alice spent the last year or so of her life preparing for death, she is now faced with the challenge of figuring out how to live again. This is where the real story picks up, and the rest of the book is told through the alternating POVs of Alice and Harvey, the boy who has been in love with her since childhood and the one Alice recruited to help her accomplish everything on her (somewhat of a) bucket list.

My Thoughts

SO. My review on Goodreads is essentially me trying to muddle through my initial thoughts on the book without really thinking any of them though. This is my attempt to rectify that and provide a tad bit more organization. I’ll start with the plot. I’d like to first thank Julie Murphy for writing a book about a cancer patient that is not The Fault in Our Stars. I should clarify that I have not, in fact, read John Green’s book, but I’ve heard enough praise from sobbing teenage girls (my sister included) and read enough reviews, that I feel like I have. I’m sure TFiOS is very good, but I just have never found myself in the right mood to read this predictable love story yet. ANYWAY, I think that Murphy’s take on the subject to be a breath of fresh air. She addresses the the sadness and heartbreak of Alice’s death sentence, and then spends the rest of the book exploring Alice’s feelings about figuring out how to rejoin the living after discovering she’s in remission.

While that storyline takes place in the book’s “present,” Murphy also writes about Alice in the past. In this potion of the story, Alice recruits her childhood friend, Harvey (who happens to be in love with her… we love Harvey) to help her get back at the people who have wronged her. I have a few thoughts on this. The two people she’s looking to “get” really are awful. One used to be a frenemy, but it turns out she’s actually a bitch for no reason, and the other is an ex-boyfriend who is the world’s biggest ass. Both needed to be put in their places (for lack of a better description), but Alice ends up looking like a heartless bitch in the process. Maybe Murphy wanted to show how Alice’s grim prognosis drained her of a conscience? Perhaps, this was Harvey’s true purpose- to act as Alice’s “good angel” in addition to being her love interest. Either way, I found myself feeling uneasy about this storyline while simultaneously loving the idea of Alice as an anti-hero.

Now for the characters. I constantly argue with myself over whether or not I’m a fan of Alice. At the moment, I’ve decided that maybe I’m not supposed to like Alice, but I kind of understand her… somewhat. We don’t really get an idea of what Alice was like pre-leukeamia. I mean that we don’t know how she felt about school/college, or who her true friends were (if she had any), what she did for fun (outside of ballet). We only see sick-Alice and remission-Alice, which is interesting, but both versions pretty much only showcase Alice’s cynicism and confusion about her life.

This brings me to Harvey. The one glimmer of softness in Alice’s hardened exterior is her feelings for Harvey. However, she is equally confused about Harvey as she is about figuring out her post-cancer life. I actually understand this, though. I mean I don’t like that she strings Harvey along, but I get why this happens. Harvey has been in love with Alice for as long as he can remember, and would pretty much do anything for her. What I like about Harvey is that his character is extremely realistic, in terms of portraying a boy in love with a girl, and catering to her every wish even though he knows that he’s being used. I specifically remember thinking that at least Harvey acknowledges the fact that Alice is using his feelings for her to her advantage. Harvey also acts as Alice’s moral compass and stops her from becoming a completely unforgivable bitch (kinda), which is a lovely component to their relationship. The fact that Alice listens to him, elevates her character a bit more for me.

Their relationship dynamic is actually what makes the book really work. I know this is going to sound grossly cheesy, but these characters sort of complete each other. After you’re done gagging on that sentence, think about it. Harvey is everything that is good, innocent, honorable, and unapologetically loves with his whole heart, while Alice is cynical, bold and protective of her feelings. In order for this story to be completely fleshed out, both of these characters needed page time, which might be why Murphy told the story in alternating perspectives. But not only is the story of the bucket list and Alice’s recovery thoroughly explored through the dual perspectives, their love story seems a bit more complete because we know the feelings of both Harvey and Alice and can understand their actions and reactions.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’ll go with 4 out of 5 stars because I really was drawn into the book, no matter how confused I felt about it. The story jerks you around a bit, but I think that is done on purpose. Alice and Harvey have been jerked around by Alice’s leukemia diagnosis, and therefore their lives for the past year have taken detour from the usual high school-teen route. It makes sense that readers would be confused by how they feel about Alice, Harvey and their story because the characters themselves are struggling to navigate their way through this situation.

If you’re looking for a different take on cancer+high school+romance in YA lit, Side Effects May Vary should be at the top of your list! If it’s not, than you’re doing something wrong.

Happy Reading!

-Amy

In Which I Review SCARLET and LADY THIEF

As a reader, one of my favorite things is stumbling upon a book or series that I haven’t heard too much buzz about, and therefore do not have any expectations. Because I’m essentially a freak and desperately try to keep up with every YA book being published IN THE WORLD, it’s becoming more rare that I find these gems. However, last fall I was perusing Goodreads and found Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. Guys. It’s ah-mazing. Gaughen has taken everything we know about the classic tale Robin Hood, stripped it down and gave it a completely different look.

Scarlet (Scarlet, #1)

Scarlet explores the village of Nottingham and the band of outlaws- let by Robin Hood (duh)- that desperately try to protect the citizens from the cruel and sinister Sheriff. The protagonist of this story is actually Will Scarlet is actually a young woman in disguise- her identity is known only to Robin, Little John and few others. Scarlet clearly has a past and some secrets that she’d like to keep in the dark, and as the book follows the “merry men” and their dangerous escapades, Gaughen is also slowwwwlyyyy unraveling Scarlet’s past along with her true identity.

Why it was fabulous

Scarlet is a kick-ass heroine who is also seriously flawed. She’s stubborn, reckless and rather naive when it comes to romance. Instead of creating a badass female protagonist who scorns love and sensitivity altogether, Gaughen portrays Scarlet as a young woman who is sifting through her emotions and trying to figure out what she actually feelings about certain men.

Which brings me to the romance. UGH. It’s so beautiful and honest. Robin and Scarlet will give you all the feelings, and if they don’t, then I declare you to be a robot. And this is coming from someone who prefers to keep her emotions extremely hidden. But of course, the story and the feelings do not end on this book’s last page. Nonono, you are left with the worst cliffhanger ever (I mean, probably not ever, but it’ll definitely crush your soul a bit), and you’ll need to move on to the sequel.

Lady Thief (Scarlet, #2)

Gaughen continues Scarlet’s saga in Lady Thief, and spends the entire book clawing at my heart. Side note: I snagged an ARC of this book at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia this past January, so my copy is an uncorrected proof. However, I’ll totally be buying the hardcover version eventually, because that’s just the way I’m wired.

Moving on. In the sequel, Scarlet spends most of the book in the worst situations ever. She’s dealing with her sham of a marriage (to the worst man ever), while trying to keep her relationship with Robin on solid ground. That proves to be difficult as Robin’s PTSD manifests itself during the worst possible moments. Much of the sequel deals with unraveling Scarlet’s true identity, her desperate need to find her way out of this marriage, and still trying to protect the citizens of Nottingham.

Why it was fabulous

A.C. Gaughen, do you write stories intending to break my heart? And by break, I mean completely crush. Robin and Scarlet’s love story is so heart-breakingly beautiful, and I’m 87% sure that I didn’t breathe the whole I read the book. I should note that I read this book in one night. It was that fantastic.

I was also impressed with the scenes between Scarlet and Guy. I won’t try and lie, there were moments when I was like, this man cannot be all that bad. And then he would go and do something unforgivable, and I was like, “NEVER MIND HE’S ACTUALLY A PSYCHOPATH.”

Scarlet also never ceases to be a badass. She continues to protect Nottingham, throw knives and race across tree tops even though she’s actually miserable, because, you know being married to someone you loathe while separate from the love of your life will cause misery. Plus, there is way more to her true identity than anyone- Scarlet included- realizes and it’s quite the emotional ride, trying to sort out who this woman really is. And the cliffhanger. A.C. GAUGHEN, WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME? I refuse to wait a year for the conclusion. It’s unreasonable.

So, if my probably nonsensical rant hasn’t convinced you to read these books, I don’t know what else I can do for you. If you enjoy fairytale/folktale/any re-tellings, you should drop whatever you’re reading and start this series. Now.

Some Favorite Contemporary YA Reads

How to LoveFangirlAnna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Before I FallThe Truth About Forever
Jellicoe RoadMy Most Excellent YearIf I Stay (If I Stay, #1)Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)Along for the Ride

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Told from Reena’s perspective, this book flips from the past to the present and portrays a different way of looking at teenage pregnancy and learning to fall in love again. Side note: I had the pleasure of meeting Katie Cotugno on the Story Crush tour a few weeks ago and she was just lovely.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

College, boys, new roommates, new friends and homesickness are all explored in Rowell’s contemporary novel about Cath- a homebody and hermit who struggles to adapt to her new college life. I’ve already discussed how this book hit close to home for me, and there are definitely more YA’s out there who will relate to Cath’s story.

 

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I won’t lie to you all: I put off reading this book because of the title. I thought it was cheesy and making it painfully obvious that it was YA contemporary/chick lit. I was so wrong. Perkins’ novel follows Anna, a senior in high school who is forced to attend boarding school in Paris and spends the year getting to know herself and discovering what makes a true friend. Plus, her relationship with Étienne is developed perfectly.

 

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

This was my first Lauren Oliver book and it certainly got me hooked on her writing (however, not a huge fan of the Delirium series). The narrator, Samantha Kingston, is one of the most dis-likeable protagonists I’ve ever encountered. She’s entitled, mean and a bully. The book follows Samantha as she re-lives her last day over and over until she can get it right. One of the most powerful contemporary character ARCs I’ve read in a while.

 

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I’ll be honest, I had a difficult time choosing just one of Dessen’s books to discuss, so I went with two- and even that was a challenge. This one follows Macy the summer before her senior year of high school as she comes to terms with her father’s death while dealing with a distant mother and sister. She ends of ditching her library job in favor of the Wish Catering Crew and Wes- one of my favorite Dessen boys ever.

 

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Skipping to the next row, this Dessen book is another one of my favorites. Auden spends the summer with her father and his second wife and their newborn. One of Dessen’s more peculiar protagonists, Auden is obviously socially awkward, and long with finding her place in her father’s new family, Auden navigates new friendships with girls her own age and tentatively begins a romance with Eli (swoon city).

 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I’ve already detailed my unadulterated love for this book. Friendship, loss, love, school and war are all explored in Marchetta’s heartbreaking prose. And if you don’t fall in love with Jonah, Santangelo and/or Jude, there is something wrong with you. That is all.

 

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Told through e-mails, journal entries, text messages, instant messages, and passed notes, this book follows T.C. Keller, his best friend Augie, and Alejandra- the love of his life- as they make their way through high school in Boston. Kluger captures every character’s voice perfectly and will make you love all of them. It’s told through alternating points of view, but you definitely will not love one story more than another as each one is solid gold.

 

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

If you’re looking for a book to give you all the feelings, you can stop because this is it. The protagonist, Mia, tells two stories: her relationship with her boyfriend Adam, and the events that occur right after a tragic car accident that ended the lives of her parents and younger brother, and left her in a coma. As Mia watches her extended family gather in her hospital room, Mia reflects on her life with her family and Adam, while grappling with the choice of either staying alive or joining her parents and brother. Foreman’s writing will make you want to climb inside the book. Literally. Where She Went is the sequel to this book, and follows Adam two years after the events of this book…. just as good.

 

Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

Allyson Healey is another character to whom I can relate. She’s been sheltered her whole life (some of that is self-imposed) and finds herself yearning to break free of the mold she and her parents have constructed for her. She finally manges that while on a final school trip in Europe where she meets Willem and goes off for an adventure in Paris. However, the story does not end the way Allyson would’ve liked, and once she’s back home, she finds that her journey towards self-discovery has only just begun. I read this book while on a flight home from Italy and it only made me want to turn the plane around and head back to Europe. Allyson’s character development is great and you’ll find yourself with a HUGE case of wanderlust once you’ve finished. I have not yet read the sequel Just One Year, but I have it sitting on my nightstand just waiting to be opened.

 

What are some of your favorite contemporary YA book?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Which I Need to Talk About JELLICOE ROAD

THIS BOOK. This book right here —>

Jellicoe Road

This book broke me. Over the course of reading Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (and by “course,” I am referring to the two days it took for me to complete), the characters, relationships, descriptive passages and storylines BROKE ME. I mean, they crushed my soul and made me want to weep ugly tears. BUT, by the time I read the last page, I was whole again.

Wellllll, let’s be clear: my tear ducts were this close to collapsing, but I was no longer devastated for the characters, I was simply (“simply” is being used rather loosely here) devastated that there were no more pages for me to read. How dare Melina Marchetta end this story at all?? Doesn’t she know that her characters are now my (mine. no one else can have them. ever.) friends?? I must continue to be a part of their lives forever and ever. UUUGGGHHHH.

I suffered a book hangover for about—- JK LOL I’M STILL NOT OVER IT.

While I’m sure you all would love for me to continue feeling and flailing all over the place, I’ll stop.

A (short) summary: Taylor- abandoned by her single mother at age 11- attends the Jellicoe School on Jellicoe Road in Australia (town/city not specified). In my mind, this school is the Hogwarts of Australian boarding schools. As one of the oldest students, Taylor is basically named the leader of all the boarders at the school, putting her in charge of any/all plans involving the territory wars.

Ah, the territory wars. Probably one of the best plot lines in the book. (lolol- all the plot lines are phenomenal) The territory wars were established an undetermined amount of time ago, and involve the Jellicoe School boarders, the Cadets (boys from, what I’m assuming to be, a military academy close by) and the Townies (kids from the actual town. Duh.). These three groups spend their school year “playing war” and fighting for different territories around their homes. Jonah Griggs- the leader of the Cadets- has somewhat of a turbulent history with Taylor, adding another layer to the story, while Santangelo leads the Townies.

Paralleling Taylor’s story, is the story of Narnie, Tate, Webb, Fitz and Jude. Written in italics, Marchetta details the past of these friends as they also attend the three respective schools. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that these characters existed roughly two decades ago and are important to understanding the present story.

I went into this book knowing that the first few chapters would be a bit confusing. Several fellow book lovahs told me that once I pushed through, the story would become less confusing and I would immediately become enthralled. Everyone was so right. The first couple of chapters were confusing, but I didn’t mind- I just let the story unfold and wash over me, not even trying to figure out what was happening. After the dust settled, the characters and their stories slowly fell into place.

Marchetta’s characters were fantastic. I fell in love with every single one and wished so hard for them to be real people. The romance was played out perfectly and I believed everyone’s love story. Jonah. Jude. SANTANGELO. They were all perfectly flawed and fantastic. The friendships between the characters were great, because they were all friends without realizing it at first. By the end, they all knew their friendships were essential to their individual existences.

All I can say is that I will now read every single thing that Melina Marchetta has ever written. I’ve only heard great things about each of her other books.

Mystery, romance, loss, heartbreak, humor and unlikely friendships are seamlessly woven together to create one larger story that you will never want to end. You’d be a fool to never open this book.