It was a low-read month. We bought a TV at the end of November and some amount of hours have been wiled away catching up on Netflix stuff I’ve missed. I also purposely didn’t read a bunch of picture books when they came in at the end of the month because I wanted my book reviews for 2017 to be done in 2017. There also weren’t a lot of books I was eager to keep reading this month. When faced with the prospect of slogging through another few pages or seeing how the 13 Reasons Why adaptation was, well, the TV was the winner.
First Rule of Punk. I didn’t fully latch in, but it did all the things a good middle grade book should.
Far From the Tree. The book that made me aware I wasn’t loving the other books I had read, as this pulled me right in.
We Are Okay. Also not one to joyfully plunge into, but I’m recommending it because the story is interesting and the writing is divine.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again
I know you’ve been kept up nights wondering about Humpty Dumpty’s life after falling off the wall. Now you can sleep again. And enjoy these delightful illustrations, too.
(Since the rhyme ends with Humpty not being put back together again, this is an alternative version where he is fixed.)
The First Rule of Punk
Celia C. Perez
Read for Librarian Book Group
Malu moves from Florida to Chicago with her mom, leaving behind her dad and all that is familiar. In her new city, she applies lessons learned from her punk-rock heritage to make friends, and deal with unkind people.
This book is chock full of early adolescent quandaries including being annoyed with your mom, making new friends, forging an artistic path, and dealing with the label of “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside.)
The War I Finally Won
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I did not first read The War That Saved my Life (though I’ve only heard good things about it) and thus, a lot of the reading of this book was me being told what happened in the first installment. This, however, is not the fault of the author.
I can see that, had I read the previous story, I would have a deep understanding of the amount of trauma Ada endured. This book tells the worthy tale of her new life.
They Both Die at the End
Read for Mock Printz
In this alternative present book, people who are going to die get a call telling them so. This is handy, as they can get their affairs in order in whatever way is best for them. It’s also tragic. Mateo and Rufus get the call and meet each other through an app. They spend their last day together.
I suspect the title put a healthy amount of distance between myself and the characters. And then, the day left to live was a very. long. day. By the end, I was more than ready for them to die, which is too bad, because a character has a big personal milestone at the end that by the time it happened, I did not care about. Also, I feel like there wasn’t enough leading up to that milestone, making it seem as if it came out of left field.
Far From the Tree
This book alerted me to the fact that the reason I haven’t been reading as much this month is not because of the new Netflix subscription (okay, maybe that’s 20%) but because the books I’ve been reading this month have not been very interesting to me. Within the first few pages I was reminded that stories are fun and that I enjoy reading. And the first two pages of this book have the kind of opening that makes me want to just keep reading and reading.
I enjoyed the plot device of siblings surrendered to the state reuniting. But mostly, it was a pleasure to read: the characters were engaging, the action dribbled out in an attention-holding way, the backstories engaging.
We are Okay
Marin–named after the county–is finishing up her senior year of high school in San Francisco. She hangs out with her friend Mabel, and lives with her grandfather, who has taken care of her since her mother died when she was three.
Marin also is spending Christmas break living alone in the dorms. She’s run off to college with her phone, her wallet and a photo of her mother. She hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the summer.
The past and the present are woven together in a beautifully written novel Marin and the people she loves.
A Dog in the Cave
Read for Family Book Group
Solid nonfiction examining the way humans and dogs have co-evolved. While the writing was good, the book’s layout was maddening, inserting pages of focused information right in the middle of sentences.