BACKSTORY: So, I got super sick on President’s Day weekend and stayed in bed all weekend. Thankfully I had Monday off and could continue to recover. But, since I did literally NO HOMEWORK during the weekend, I had to look at my assignments on Monday. I then looked at the assignment I had due for my YA Fiction class and my heart dropped. I had to read 5 award winning YA books…by Sunday. I am terrible at looking at assignments beforehand. I also thought this assignment was going to be like our first assignment (a paper) and thought our first assignment for specific books was due later on in the semester. Either way I was doomed and had a lot of reading ahead of me.
I did my research on the titles I wanted to read and made a list of where I could get them. Bless my local library which had all of them. But since it was President’s Day I would have to wait until Tuesday to get the books. But thanks to online libraries, I got the eBook of a graphic novel and I already had We Are Okaybecause I wanted to read it for my final project from this class.
And thus, began the week where I read the most than I probably ever had in my life. Here is what I read and my thoughts. Books 4 – 8 were the ones I read for class.
(I did another reading challenge in October, by choice, if you want to check that one out here)
BOOK ONE: Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning
Dates Read: February 16 – 17, 2020
This was not for the assignment, but I had already started it before that fateful Monday. Overall, this was started out super cute and strong, but then got cheesy and fell into the category of average YA book. I thought the main girl deserved better than the love interest. I did really enjoy that the the main character was just able to join the football team and whether or not it is okay for girls to play football was not the main plot. 3/5 stars.
BOOK TWO: break your glass slipper by amanda lovelace
Dates Read: February 16 – 21, 2020
Loved this collection from amanda lovelace! This is a poetry retelling of the Cinderella story where she gets her own agency and takes control of her happiness. I have a full review here.
BOOK THREE: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
Dates Read: February 19 – 22, 2020
I had to read something just for me during this week and picked up a NetGalley romance I needed to read and review. This one started strong, but in the end disappointed me. I am starting to think that Abby Jimenez’s books are just not for me. They start strong and then slowly disappoint me. My full review is here.
BOOK FOUR: The Unwanted: Stories of Syrian Refugees by Don Brown
Dates Read: February 17, 2020
This graphic novel depicts the hardships Syrian refugees face. It starts with a brief outline of Syrian history for context. The full color illustrations in muted colors along with the text showcase the “heartbreaking horror and hope” of the Syrian refugee crisis. I loved this book. I loved how the simple illustrations were about to convey so much emotion and how the author used minimal text to break down the complexity of the Syrian refugee crisis in to an easy to follow story. I have not read many graphic novels and usually am not the biggest fan of them, but the graphic novel format was the perfect way to tell this story. 5/5 stars.
BOOK FIVE: We are Okay by Nina LaCour
Dates Read: February 17 – 18, 2020
First of all this book has been on my TBR since 2017 so finishing this was a big accomplishment! Marin is currently attending college in New York and is anxiously awaiting her friend’s visit because she has not talked to Mabel or anyone from her old life since she left six months earlier leaving that life behind. I thought this book was just okay. I loved LaCour’s writing (this was my first book by her) and she is truly able to pack an emotional punch in a 200 page novel, but I was unimpressed by the plot. I was able to appreciate the themes and LaCour’s writing, but the plot was not groundbreaking in anyway. I originally rated this four stars, but as time passes I think it’s going to get lowered. 4/5 stars.
BOOK SIX: The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Dates Read: February 18, 2020
I keep talking about this one because I want everyone to read it or at least should read the article that the author wrote before the book. Read my full review here. This is a nonfiction book that follows two teens whose lives are forever changed when a chance encounter on a bus leads to one of them being burned and the other being tried as an adult for a hate crime. I was fascinated by the story and the author’s ability to tell this story in such a gripping way. I would recommend this book to those who enjoyed Sadie by Courtney Summer and those who enjoy true crime/legal thrillers. Even though this book is not a thriller itself, it is engaging and gripping due to the journalist narration. 5/5 stars.
BOOK SEVEN: Anna & the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Dates Read: February 17 – 21, 2020
Abandoned by her father’s friend who was entrusted with her, Anna finds the Swallow Man who tried his best to protect her from the dangers of WWII. I did not enjoy this one. I listened to the audiobook which had an amazing narrator and did like some of the lyrical writing. I see why it won an award for its audiobook, but I could not connect to this story and was honestly so bored. After reading teen’s reviews who enjoyed it, I entirely think this was a me problem rather than the book. But, I do not agree with the critics who call this a book for everyone, perhaps a reader of any age could enjoy this one, but unless readers like slow historical fiction novels I would not recommend this one. This is word for word what I submitted in my write up for this book for class and my professor said she agreed with me so VALIDATION for my dislike of this book even though all the “legit” reviews are positive. 1/5 stars.
BOOK EIGHT: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorran
Dates Read: February 21, 2020
Darius is half Persian and half white, battles depression, and has a complex relationship with his dad. When his family finds out that his maternal grandpa has a brain tumor, his entire family goes to Iran to visit. He ends up learning more about himself and his family than he ever thought possible. I always like seeing biracial characters and exploring new countries in books. I loved the depression representation in this book, this is not a book about depression, but it is a common thread throughout the novel. The last 50 pages of this book blew me away and made me love it. I may have cried. I loved how so many of the teen readers could see themselves in Darius and appreciated Khorram’s unique voice. I am happy a book like this exists for teens that does not stigmatize treating depression with medicine and shows mental health in a real way. The author says in a note that he based Darius and his father’s depression on his own experiences. 4.5/5 stars.
Thanks for reading!