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Tag Archives: romance

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

10015384._SY540_In this 2016 YALSA Morris Award winner, theater kid Simon has an online pen pal, known only as Blue, who attends the same school and is also secretly gay. When Simon forgets to logout of a library computer, the boy using it after him, Martin, blackmails Simon into helping him pursue a relationship with Abby, one of Simon’s best friends. As Simon panics about everyone finding out his secret, he also is beyond terrified of the ramifications for the mysterious Blue whom he has grown to love. It’s a beautiful story of fragile identities and strong relationships that will speak to the inner souls of similar teens.

 

This book has been among my must-read-soon books ever since it won awards the year I was helping in YALSA, but usually, it’s heavily checked out, so it’s been some time to be able to get my hands on it! It was everything I’ve expected, especially hearing how much a few librarian friends truly loved this story. While finally LGBTQ teens have a main character who has similar struggles and feelings as themselves and thus will love this brave book, other teens will also find this speaks to them through the similarities of keeping secrets (and secret online relationships), being afraid of rejection from friends for their true selves, and those tender feelings of first love that can make or break you. I enjoyed Simon and Blue’s correspondence and descriptions of daily life, which rang very true to any teen keeping a journal (me! 🙋🏻) though Simon’s frequent apologizing drove me bonkers. (This is a personal hypocrisy as I thoroughly admit I probably would have done the same.) Much of the references to technology are modernly accurate but without being too closely defined, which hopefully will lead to a more timeless quality of a classic YA book of its age. I also quite relished how Simon is so caught up in his own whirlwind that he fails to connect some obvious differences in his friends and the final ending was satisfying for these many revelations. I was horrified by Creek Secrets, Martin’s blackmail, and poor Simon’s spot backed into a corner. There are bullying incidences but a courageous teacher and sympathetic friends make you believe in the power of good.

I had two favorite moments in this book that I can recall:

*context: Halloween and Simon’s talking to his younger sister, Nora*

Nora looks up from her book. “Simon. Eww.”

“It’s a dementor robe over my clothes. I think you’ll survive.”

“What’s a dementor?”

I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”

“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.

Ms. Albright, Simon’s teacher, in response to a bullying incident:

“Okay, well,” she says quietly. “Just know that those assholes are getting suspended. I’m not even kidding. I will make it my hill to die on.”

Look out, because we’re sure to see a trailer for this movie soon, possibly by this Christmas, since it’s set to release in March 2018!

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Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Today, I’m reviewing Flame in the Mist over at Tynga’s Reviews! Check it out!
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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I’m finally getting to review this wonderful book! Check it out over at Tynga’s Reviews!

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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews today writing about Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! Click the picture or here to read!

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

51-HArKnTQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Lara Jean is approaching the end of her senior year. She and Peter are still happily together, and all of her classmates are planning their futures. Lara Jean has dreamed for years about going to the University of Virginia, with its classical architecture and picturesque library. Peter is already headed to UVA after signing with the lacrosse team, and Lara Jean can’t imagine a better future, especially since she’d be only fifteen minutes from home and still watching her little sister Kitty grow up. She does have a few other schools she’s applied to, but in her mind, nothing compares to UVA. Even her best friend Chris is planning on being untraditional and traveling somewhere to work like Costa Rica to explore and enjoy life while she’s young. It seems like everyone has the perfect future planned out, and Lara Jean is anxiously waiting on hers.

She’s also experiencing new changes in the rest of her life. Her father gets engaged to their neighbor and Lara Jean throws herself into wedding planning to keep herself distracted. However, when Lara Jean finally hears from UVA, she hasn’t been accepted and suddenly she doesn’t know where she’s going to go or whether she and Peter can stay together.

It’s our final story about Lara Jean *crying emoji!*. I’m terribly sad about it, but also because I don’t know what Jenny Han is going to write next! I love her books. What I love about this one is how every teen can relate to the feelings of uncertainty about their future–their college plans, their relationships if they decide to move away, the unknown possibilities that could occur. Plus, it all feels very real and heartfelt for Lara Jean and the turmoil she’s in at the end of senior year faced with some big life changes and the unknown. This novel has a lot of great advice for teens approaching this step in life without being about giving college advice. In fact, everyone in Lara Jean’s life sort of teaches her some truths, whether about her relationship, herself, or just good advice for the future.

One of the biggest hurdles in the book (and in the series) is her relationship with Peter. Though she and Peter have been together for quite some time (and gotten back together after the events of the last novel), this new unknown future has affected both of them. Their relationship, while important, may not survive. And Lara Jean’s mother once told her, don’t go to college with a boyfriend because you’ll lose out on a true freshman experience (Articles discussing the case in point: The Guardian, the Independent). When they were both potentially going to UVA, it was easy to see themselves being together, albeit with different lives led at college (lacrosse and fraternity for Peter, friends of her own for Lara Jean and studying at the library and on the grounds). However, Lara Jean’s other choices mean a long-distance relationship for much of the time, even when she is trying to convince herself to transfer to UVA soon after being accepted somewhere else. Plenty of teens have this battle where they know, realistically, their relationship may not survive the stress of being long-distance and/or they might meet someone better suited at college. However, as Lara Jean and Peter discover, it’s not up to others and their opinions. They are the two in the relationship and those decisions are up to them.

The ending was beautiful, and perfectly wraps up the series that began with a love letter by ending with another love letter.

Further note:

This is also one of the few books out there that has racial diversity of an Asian American family but doesn’t deal with issues or a lens caused by race. It’s normal, and that’s great because just a few years ago, there were not books with racially different characters who didn’t have problems through a racial lens. Yay for #weneeddiversebooks.

 

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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