It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/24/16
It’s Monday! What better way to start the work week than with books. Last week on my blog was book-filled. Check out the 5 Things That Motivated Me to Have My Best Year in Reading (spoiler alert: you, IMWAYR community, are part of it!) and my Best Books of 2015, many of which were recommended by IMWAYR posts.
Here’s what I’ve recently finished:
Stand-Off by Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith’s Winger is my all-time favorite young adult novel. I knew it was my favorite book I’ve ever read when I found myself walking to work with my nose in the middle of Ryan Dean’s story. It was that awesome. I’ve read interviews with Andrew saying that he won’t write a sequel to the much-loved Grasshopper Jungle, so I figured the same would be true with Winger. I am so glad I was wrong.
Ryan Dean is a senior at Pine Mountain. Easy classes, a beautiful girlfriend, and this private boarding school thing basically figured out, Ryan Dean is ready for an effortless year. But when the tragedy that happened to him in Winger follows him, his new acquaintance, NATE (next accidental terrible experience), haunts him with regular anxiety attacks. Without his best friend and with new anxiety issues, he withdraws from both comics and Annie, the aforementioned beautiful girlfriend. He is also forced to switch positions in rugby. More than that, Ryan Dean finds himself with a FRESHMAN roommate who is 12! Senior year is not going as planned.
With wonderfully hallmark teenage moments, Andrew Smith does it again. I absolutely adore Ryan Dean and loved the continuation of his story. Now I’m really hoping that Andrew writes about Ryan Dean’s college years. Please, Andrew???
Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
This book came highly recommended from my grade sevens. When I say highly recommended, I mean I was a rock star walking down the hall with the book. They love this series! Yet, after reading the first book, I was utterly disappointed to be left with little character development AND a cliffhanger. In fact, the plot didn’t even start! I know I can continue reading the series, but when I read a novel I want a complete novel, not a gimmick to get the next book.
Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio
R.J. Palacio’s Wonder is a beautifully poignant novel with a great theme, choose kind. Not wanting to write a sequel, Palacio penned a companion novel with three stories from secondary characters in Wonder, Julian, Christopher, and Charlotte.
The Julian Chapter was first which told Julian’s perspective explaining his motivation to treat Auggie the way he did. If you haven’t read Wonder, Julian was the antagonist who incessantly bullied Auggie who has a facial deformity. While I liked how Julian was made the protagonist of his own story, I didn’t really buy it. The narrative wasn’t as strong as the other perspectives in Wonder and it just felt too preachy. The second story with Auggie’s childhood friend was more realistic, but still preachy.
However, Palacio hit the nail on the head with Charlotte. In Wonder Charlotte played a very minor role, but I loved her story in the companion novel which centered on friendships. Absolutely believable and realistic, Charlotte has a very strong narrative and voice, a wonderful ending to the book. When Charlotte’s very best friend Ellie gets invited to sit with the popular kids at lunch, Charlotte understands, but she can’t help but feel left out. Wanting her own VIP invite, Charlotte tries to remain neutral in the massive boy war happening between Julian and Auggie. But when Charlotte wins the audition and gets to dance in Carnegie Hall, she finds that one of the popular girls is also part of the three-person dance team. Charlotte can’t help but feel nervous, especially when she feels like she has a target on her back.
Learning a lot about how to navigate the convoluted and complicated relationships in middle school, Charlotte’s story was one I wanted to keep reading. I wish that the companion novel would have excluded the first two perspectives and simply kept to Charlotte’s story.