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Tag Archives: Contemporary fiction

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

coverThe Sun Is Also a Star

A 2017 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and highlights Nicola Yoon as the John Steptoe New Talent Award!

Natasha refuses to give up on the day her family is supposed to be deported to Jamaica due to her father’s one DUI, and though she’s been trying to convince immigration officers for months, she’s still trying. Natasha believes in science, in logic, in Observable Facts. She wants to stay in the US and go to college, not leave the only life she’s ever known just because her father made one mistake and her family is undocumented. When the security guard at the immigration office makes her five minutes late for her appointment and she’s missed it, another man gives her a chance, sending her to an appointment with a lawyer to hear of her case. On the way there, she meets Daniel…

Daniel has always been overshadowed by his older brother Charlie, until now when he’s been suspended from college for awhile. His Korean American parents used to hold his brother up as a measurement to gauge how good Daniel was, and now Daniel has an interview for Yale to live up to his family’s expectations and be a doctor. As he’s making his way into the city, his train conductor forces everyone off the train to “go find God” and Daniel decides to make the most of it. When he gets off, he notices a stream of people making their way around a girl, Natasha, on the sidewalk who is completely oblivious and zoned out to her headphones. Daniel follows her into a record store and intervenes in a conflict with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend who is caught shoplifting. When he saves her life a few minutes later, they start and make a deal. Since Natasha believes in science and Daniel is a romantic poet, he challenges her that he can make her fall in love with him scientifically.

This deal results in one day that changes their perceptions, forces them to confront things they never imagined and ultimately shows how powerful love can be if only in a short time and how it can change the future.

I could read this book over and over again! The minute I read it I knew it was something special and not just because of the diversity of the main characters (though that is wonderful) and the story. Nicola Yoon writes beautifully and with such feeling for the backgrounds and possibilities of even the minor characters and shows how the universe around Natasha and Daniel relates into the past and future. I’ve been pushing this book at everyone possible because it really stays with you and is a eye-opening glimpse at the lives of this Korean American family and undocumented immigrant families like Natasha’s. Perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and for high school age teens and adults.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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At a high school in Opportunity, Alabama, the educational day starts normally with an assembly. The perspectives of four teens describe events on this seemingly run-of-the-mill day, but terror strikes as a student begins a shooting spree.

  • Claire was excused from assembly for track practice. When she hears gunshots, none of the track team are able to call for help as their phones are locked back at school. She and her best friend Chris must run for help from the security guard. When they find the security guard dead, they continue running to attempt to find someone who can help and find the police because Claire knows that if she’s trying to do something, she’s attempting to save her little brother who is trapped.
  • Tomas and his best friend Fareed are breaking into the principal’s office to check their permanent records. When they notice no one returning from the assembly and hear gunshots, they are the only few left who can help. They call the police, but Tomas knows he cannot leave his sister to die.
  • Autumn listens to the principal’s speech with her girlfriend Sylv, Tomas’s twin sister, who is nervous about Autumn’s brother returning to school that day. When Tyler shows up, he’s the gunman and she knows he’s looking for them both…

What follows is a heart wrenching, unforgettable story of bravery, love, and hope in the face of a terrible, unthinkable tragedy. A tribute to the loss of those at Columbine, Newtown, and others is delivered in this straightforward novel that will have your heart ripped out and your mind wondering why these devastating events still occur. This cover is so artfully done and representative of this novel. It captures and holds your attention. Another plus with this novel is the diversity of the students and is perfect for #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Note: This book is exceedingly well-written for the subject and while true to account is not described as graphically, and suitable for a some mature younger readers.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Contemporary fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

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What Light by Jay Asher

Happy Christmas, readers! I’ve been away a bit, but have somehow wrangled some time to write recently! Great news, right?! Here’s a lovely Christmas title full of generosity, hope, and second chances by the author that wrote Thirteen Reasons Why.

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Once a year, Sierra and her family travel from Oregon to California to open their Christmas tree lot, but because the costs are getting too high to open their lot themselves, this will be their last year. For Sierra, this special time means living two lives–one in Oregon with her friends Elizabeth and Rachel and one in California with Heather. However, this year, Sierra meets Caleb, and despite her father’s best efforts to discourage the boys, this one he can’t drive away with a promise of cleaning the outhouses.

As Sierra’s friend Heather warns her, Caleb has something of a reputation. The story goes that he pulled a knife on his sister who no longer lives with him and his mom. Ignoring the gossip but still being cautious, especially when this news makes it to her parents, Sierra can’t reconcile this Caleb with the Caleb she sees buying Christmas trees with his tip money for families who can’t afford it. She notices that he seems to be in pain when the topic of his past is mentioned, and Sierra can’t help but feel the need to help him. As they navigate gossip and judgment, Caleb and Sierra find out that love can create second chances and change everything.

This book is like a sugar cookie, warm from the oven, slowly melting in your mouth. Curl up with this one by the fire tonight (if necessary, a fire on tv) and a cup of hot cocoa or wassail and be happy. After finishing this book, I’ve discovered I love this cover and the message it sends. The Christmas lights? Just look at the cover again once you’re done reading it and see what you notice.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2016 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

EverythingEverythingCoverEverything, Everything

Part of this year’s Teens’ Top Ten voting (currently ongoing!), and such a sweet book full of first (maybe forever) love, new experiences, and making choices for your own life. I highly suspect this book will stay with me, and I’ll be trying to put it into everyone’s hands. (Thanks to Rachel from my TTT group who so highly recommended it!)

When a new family with an interesting teenage son moves in next door, eighteen-year-old Madeline cannot stop watching them from her window, firstly because Olly is captivating with his street gymnastics and secondly because she has SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – and cannot (read: never) leave her house. Basically, she is allergic to almost everything: chemicals, spices, perfumes, etc. Her only interaction with the outside world is through her mother and nurse, Carla, and occasionally (rarely) a teacher, like her architecture professor. Schooling, friends, other social interactions–all done online. However, when Olly notices her peering out her window at them, he can’t leave it alone. He and his sister Kara try to bring Madeline a bundt cake, which fails spectacularly (good thing too, because the bundt was as inedible as Hagrid’s rock cakes). Since Maddy’s mother refuses to allow contact with Olly, they begin to write messages to each other, first on their windows and then by email and IM. Carla finds out, but instead of telling her mother, she helps Maddy and allows him to come in. Their friendship blooms into love despite Maddy’s illness and prompts her life to change in unexpected ways. When Olly’s alcoholic father has a particularly bad episode of domestic abuse that causes a face-off between him and Olly, Maddy cannot stay in her bubble. She runs out the door to help him, shocking herself, him, Olly’s family, and most of all, her mother. Luckily, Maddy doesn’t get sick, but she does get grounded. Severely grounded. She cannot see Olly, IM, or email. Suddenly, there was life before Olly and now life after Olly. She can no more go back to her old life and her isolation than stop breathing. As her distance from Olly grows and she watches him bring home another girl and even cry on his front porch, she realizes she has two choices: the choice to be protected and safe forever with her mother but without Olly and the new Maddy that created, or the choice to live. Ultimately, her life is up to her.

(Maybe Spoilery talk below)

This book is so perfect for fans of Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Gus, and fans of Stephanie Perkins or Huntley Fitzpatrick. It is uplifting and light yet carries a deeper, inspiring message. Maddy is everything that is innocent and yet joyful, like a child. She just delights in her experiences. Olly is practically perfect in book form (definitely book boyfriend material), but is still a complex character. I loved how Maddy kept discovering things about him, and yet didn’t learn of a few of his secrets until after he was gone. One of the best things about Everything, Everything is the artwork. It is gorgeous. From the cover which is like a microcosm of beauty, life, and possibilities. It shows perfectly the symbolism of Maddy’s life before vs. after Olly. Don’t mistake me however. This is not a book all about the boy. It has feminism and Maddy merely learns what it is like to live – from the time of her isolation to her world expanding. Below are a few other gems of the unique nature of this story, which actually reminds me of the varied media of Illuminae. I am terribly excited to read my ARC of The Sun Is Also a Star now (coming Nov 1st).

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The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright

25517283The Heir and the Spare

Evangeline Gray has graduated from high school and is on her way to Oxford, finally embarking on her mother’s mysterious adventure to discover her heritage. Evie’s mother had died some years earlier, and each year on her birthday Evie had received a letter from her. Usually her father knew about these letters, but this last one he did not, and Evie intended to keep it that way. Her mother’s family had never liked her father, and so Evie knew nothing about her mother except she was English.

Now in England for school, Evie makes a few friends: Suzy, Edmund, Preston, and Caroline.  Edmund, who loves museums and art much like Evie, offers to take her on the next leg of the mystery, touring about London. After a wonderful day and plans for the future, Evie discovers her new friend is actually second in line to the British throne! Following more clues left by her mother’s lawyer/best friend Anton, Evie confides in Edmund about her mission to learn more about her mom’s childhood. As she grows closer to Edmund and to revealing her mother’s secrets, Evie finds she really loves her life in England, and yet… things are more complicated than ever. She’s falling for a prince who is promised to another, and her grandmother hates her but keeps asking for her. Evie has hard choices to make, but will she make the right one, and is that one her family would be proud of?

A brilliant teen read-a-like for one of my favorite books The Royal We that is charming, witty, engaging, and totally a beach pleasure read that still carries a few setbacks to make things less of a sappy fairytale.

 

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