Books Read in August 2020

Young Adult Fiction

Who’s That Girl
Blair Thornburgh

Nattie has a crush on a boy, but no real relationship with him. Then he writes a song about her and the song becomes a hit. Nattie feels both weird and flattered.

This was a predictable novel, but with an interesting angle on feelings about being an object.

Our Wayward Fate
Gloria Cho

What a great main character! What a great collection of microaggressions! What a great parent-child disconnect! What a great swoony romance! What a great plot conundrum!

Unscripted
Nicole Kronzer
Read for Librarian Book Group

I read this fast because Kronzer did such a good job illustrating sexual harassment and sexual assault (complete with gaslighting!)

This makes this book sound heavy, and it was in places, but it’s also about a girl who loves improv and who is thrilled to attend a famous improv camp. Books where we get to sink into what the main character loves are always wonderful.

I had a few questions about where the adults were, but Kronzer made it work.

I’ve only seen mixed-gender improv groups and this book really opened my eyes to potential bro-y issues with that form of comedy.

Far from Normal
Becky Wallace

High schooler interning in the city for the summer. Great Chicago vibes and fun romance.

My Eyes Are Up Here
Laura Zimmerman
Read for Librarian Book Group

A thorough examination of the perils of having very large breasts as a teenager. It’s also a very funny book.

Public service announcement: A properly fitted bra will change everything! Find your nearest fitting expert and experience the wonder that is a well-fitting bra!

Burn
Patrick Ness
Read for Librarian Book Group

There was a distinct Story of Owen vibe in this book (though it lacked the Canadian details) where dragons are hired out to do work like clearing fields.

It’s 1957 and most of the action takes place on a farm in Washington state But Patrick Ness likes to throw a monkey wrench into his plot, so don’t settle in too early.

Not So Pure & Simple
Lamar Giles
Read for Librarian Book Group

Del has a longstanding crush on Kiera and that crush combined with daydreaming during church leads him to take a Purity Pledge. This book is funny while also doing a deep dive into emerging male sexuality.

Freshmen
Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Little Free Library Insomnia Read

A duel-narrator novel about freshman year from the perspective of two students who went to the same high school. Or whatever the equivalent of high school is called in Britain.

I was confused about some things because I’m not familiar with the British secondary education system. For example, there seemed to be pressure to find a place to live off campus second year, but there also seemed to be second year people living in the dorms?

This book also disabused me of my notion that British undergrads drink less than those the in the US because the drinking age is younger.

Overall, I loved how much this book felt like a true freshman year experience.

You Should See Me in a Crown
Leah Johnson
Read for Librarian Book Group

I didn’t buy the world that was created here, one of a cutthroat world of Prom King and Queen backed by a $10K scholarship for the winners. I also wasn’t really clear on the town. It seemed to be a small town, and a wealthy town, and a town very close to Chicago?

But the world did its job setting up the impossible scenario for our hero as she stepped out of her comfort zone to chase that scholarship.

It was also a good book to show how race and LGBTQIA+ issues affect life, even if they aren’t the forefront of the story.

Grownup Fiction

Searching For Caleb
Anne Tyler
A Little Free Library Insomnia Read.

Read in the wee hours of the night whilst waiting to fall back asleep and provided to me by the magic of the Little Free Libraries.

Justine and her grandfather are on the search for Caleb, her grandfather’s lost brother.

While depictions of the Black servants are representative of the 1970s publication date (read: cringe-y) this is otherwise a book full of Anne Tyler things: interesting families, rich characterization, odd situations, and a kind of sad ending that maybe passes for happy.

I read a lot of Anne Tyler in the 90s and wasn’t sure if I had read this novel. It wasn’t sounding familiar until I got to the part with a character who always whistled the song “St. James Infirmary.” And I had read it! In the 90s I would have had to track down that song at the library or a record store. But now I’m listening to a version on YouTube.

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan

What a full picture of life in the 1930s and 1940s! I loved the different characters we followed through eight or so years. This was a book that took me a long time to read because I liked to read it in bits and put it down.

Young Nonfiction

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh
Candace Fleming
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fleming uses her usual engaging manner to take us through Lindbergh’s life. While Americans are given the basics about his ocean crossing, sometimes taught about his son’s kidnapping, and might be taught about his America First proclivities, there are so many other things you didn’t know about Charles Lindbergh.

Mostly, those things are disturbing.

Grownup Nonfiction

The 12-week Year
Moran & Lennington

Toss out your annual goals and change over to a twelve-week year to get more focus and get more done. The authors lay out a plan for your success.

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