Good YA books this month, a book club book finished and an atrocious add-on to a classic book.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
John Green & David Levithan
I found David Levithan’s depressed/unable-to-capitalize-words Will Grayson off putting and annoying at first, but warmed to him as the book went on. I completely loved John Green’s Will Grayson from the first page. John Green’s Will Grayson has the advantage of having one of the best larger-than-life sidekicks named Tiny Cooper whose antics had me snorting with laughter. There are some great memorable and moving moments within this book: observations about a girl you want to be in a relationship with; Will Grayson’s coming out to his mother; the tryouts for the musical Tiny Dancer: The The Life and Times of Tiny Cooper. The performance of the musical was funny too. The ending got a little too tie-it-up for me, but the middle of the book gave me that “squee” feeling of happiness.
The Other Wes Moore
I figured the trajectory of the two Wes Moore’s stories before I started to read this book. One was a Rhodes Scholar etc. etc. etc. so he clearly had the stable-er home life and the loving-er family and on and on. The other is serving life in prison for a robbery/murder and he clearly had the less stable home life, inattentive family etc, etc. I knew there would be a clear line drawn and errors pointing, one to the life of the “good” Wes Moore and one to the life of the “bad” Wes Moore.
Once I started the book I realized I was wrong. This cognitive dissonance is, of course, the book’s success. If the path to the good Wes Moore life was that obvious, it never would have been published. My take away from this book is not to decide that an “if only” would have saved the life-in-prison Wes Moore. My take away is to look at every child, even the ones that seem to be on the “bad Wes Moore” path and expect of them that they finish school, procreate responsibly, find work that suits them and live a happy life. To expect less is to give in to the throwaway society we have created for a large subset of our children.
This is a rip-roaring finale to the Hunger Games series. There is more strife, more fighting, more indecision, more propaganda, and an ending that is devastating and hopeful. Are you telling me you still haven’t started reading this series? What are you waiting for?
Why I Wake Early
I like Mary Oliver’s poems, but something was brought into focus while I was reading this book. I am a city girl. I was raised in a city (albeit a small one) by parents who were themselves raised in cities (also small ones.) We did not hike on the weekends, we camped sparingly. I rarely, if ever, wandered through any “wild” area. None of this is bad, but it did shape me. To this day I enjoy walking about my neighborhood more than driving to some wilderness to “hike.” Urban environments grow and change just as natural ones do.
So after reading poem after poem about birds and fields and puddles and what have you, I realized that something inside of me was crying out, “Where are the buildings? Where are the cars? Where are the other people?” I’m happy that Mary Oliver gets so much from her wilderness and I’m happy that so many people enjoy her poems she writes. I am also happy to realize that for me, Mary Oliver’s poems are best enjoyed in small doses.
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet
The review I mentally wrote while halfway through this novel was much more scathing than the review I am writing now that I have finished the book. I enjoyed rejoining the Bennet family twenty years later, but I thought the characterizations of Mr. Darcy were too harsh and I found the main plot to be entirely preposterous. McCullough manages to tie things up rather neatly, even for Miss Caroline Bingly, but the fact that I sputtered through most of the story doesn’t really bode well for this book.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
Cohen & Levithan
Though this book did not pack the heat that Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist did, I enjoyed it just as much in different ways. The concept of the dares (which were very clever, in of themselves) was a lot of fun and seeing how Dash and Lily, two very opposite people, react to each other via paper was enjoyable and at times hilarious. Set at Christmas in New York City, this would be a fun book to read in early December, just to set a good Christmas Mood. Or to set an anti-Christmas mood, if you are more like Dash.
Started, but did not finish.
This won the Printz award this year and people have raved about it, but I have read many too many tense YA novels in the last three months. My nerves couldn’t deal with Nailer’s conundrum.