Books Read in April 2020

Picture Books

The Bear in my Family
Maya Tatsukawa
Read for Librarian Book Group

Readers may wonder early on who the bear really is.

Carole Boston Weatherford and Frank Morrison
Read for Librarian Book Group

The illustrations and rhyming storytelling is top-notch in this picture book about the Queen of Soul. But what really pushes the book to greatness is the cover hidden under the jacket.

Young Adult

Rent a Boyfriend
Gloria Cho

Cho imagines a world where young Asian-American women can rent a boyfriend to get their parents off their backs. (This is, apparently, a thing that does happen in Asian countries.)

This was a fun romance.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme
Tiffany D. Jackson

This book is a love letter to a time and place (90s Brooklyn). I had trouble with the back and forth of the narrative, but enjoyed the mystery and the antics.

The Rest of the Story
Sarah Dessen

A great summer-at-the-lake story with observations about class, family, and addiction. I sometimes felt whiplashed by Dessen’s technique of jumping forward and then looping us in, and I wished I had made a character list at the beginning. But the characters were great and they kept me reading.

The Way You Make Me Feel
Maureen Goo

Trying on and shedding personalities is one of the most interesting things about being a teenager. Due to a prank gone awry at her junior prom, Clara starts spending more time with new people and that makes apparent what her current attitude leaves out of her life.

As usual with Goo, really great characters!

Fan Art
Sarah Tregay

This book is set in Boise and I’m pretty sure the high school in this book is standing in for my high school. Aside from that very specific enjoyment, I liked that the main character was out to his parents and not out to his friends. It’s rare to see that combo.

My Calamity Jane
Hand, Ashton, Meadows

Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, and Wild Bill Hickock take us on an alternate history trip as they hunt garou, what we call werewolves. Full of the patented asides the Janies are famous for, this was a great trip, though I suspect Wild Bill’s actual show spent a lot of time talking about killing Indians, not garou, which dampened my enjoyment some.

Grownup Fiction

The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead

Elwood’s life before, after, and during his time at the Nickel Academy is rich with detail in this engaging, heartbreaking book. The acknowledgements have links to connections with the real-life reform school the Nickel Academy is based on.

Young Nonfiction

Paper Son
Julie Leung & Chris Sasaki
Read for Librarian Book Group

Not only the story of pioneering (and uncredited) Disney animator Tyrus Wong, but also an introduction to paper sons and daughters.

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep
Allan Wolf

Wolf provides a good balance of poetry and prose as he tells the tale of the Donner Party.

Gone to the Woods
Gary Paulsen
Read for Librarian Book Group

Paulsen’s memoir of his childhood is rich with language, vivid, joyful, and heartbreaking. Life has changed a lot since Paulsen was a boy and hopefully not as many children lose their childhoods as he did.

Grownup Nonfiction

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Jon Krakauer

Krakauer’s coverage of a “rape scandal” (which really was a lower-than-average series of rapes) is full of things to be frustrated about. New to me was David Lisak’s work on serial rapists and the role of prosecutors in charging or not charging rapists. The women’s stories—all of them—are gasp inducing and the aftermath (legally and personally) is rough. I read this book in a 24-hour period.

Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema
Lindy West

I greatly enjoyed this “objective” tour through modern cinema. Lindy West’s asides and observations brought much mirth to the household as I read.

Translation: the boyfriend heard a lot of this book as read by an up-and-coming Audible narrator: me.

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