Books Read in October 2021

Two books this month with characters named Bug!

Middle Grade

Being Clem
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Read for Librarian Book Group

Clem’s father is killed in the Port Chicago disaster (an event I learned about by reading Steve Sheinkin’s book The Port Chicago 50) and we spend a few years with him and his family as they adjust. Langston, from Finding Langston shows up halfway through, and I seem to have missed a book, but that character is present too.

Too Bright to See
Kyle Lukoff
Read for Librarian Book Group

The not-scary haunted house book I read in October. (White Smoke was the scary one.)

A summer with Bug, who is mourning her dead uncle and experiencing terrible dreams. This is a compact book with a lot of feelings. Well done.

Frankie & Bug
Gayle Forman

Venice Beach in 1987. The summer that wasn’t quite to Bug’s liking, but turned out just fine. Props to Forman for including a serial killer subplot in a middle grade novel and making it not scary.

The Many Meanings of Meilan
Andrea Wang
Read for Librarian Book Group

Outrage achievement unlocked! I really felt for Meilan in this story. She’s in a tough place because of family drama. We’re there to see her adjust to her small Ohio town, so different from Boston’s Chinatown, her home since birth.

Young Adult

Firekeeper’s Daughter
Angeline Boulley
Read for Librarian Book Group

I groaned when I saw how many holds were on this book, and I groaned when I saw how long this book was and I also didn’t love the cover. Then I started reading and was all in. It was the kind of book I put off other things so I could keep reading and I was wrapped up in Daunis’s life.

This was the kind of story I was looking for with the movie Wind River. With that movie I was hoping for a story set on a reservation centered on something besides the white protagonists and written by someone with experience in the community. The Firekeeper’s Daughter’s author is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and this is grounded in a Native woman’s experience. It’s also a crackling thriller, an exploration of identity, and a romance. Boulley has a lot of irons in the fire (especially for a debut novel) but she can tell the heck out of a story.

Good Enough
Paula Yoo

Patti is doing all the things to be successful and get into Harvard/Yale/Princeton in this story of parental expectations, young people identity, music, and a huge crush.

The friend character was underdeveloped, but otherwise, it was a solid novel set during the senior year of high school.

Why We Fly
Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Aside from showing the consequences of taking direct action by kneeling during the national anthem during a high school football game when you’re a cheerleader, this also shows senior-year cracks in friendship brought about by different wants and skin color privilege/discrimination.

Provides great points for discussion about differing outcomes due to race, and has me wondering how being the girlfriend of a sports star is even a thing when everyone assumes the girlfriend is a gold digger.

Bluebird
Shannon Cameron

Cameron was a master at getting me to read just one more page in this post-WWII saga about a newly arrived immigrant to the US.

White Smoke
Tiffany D. Jackson

This took some time to get through because I had to read it during the day—it was too scary otherwise. I loved how Marigold was authentically not to be trusted by her family. It made the haunting that much more complex. Sadly, the ending was rather abrupt, but the ride getting there was tons of daytime reading fun.

The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
Tim Madigan & Hilary Beard
Read for Librarian Book Group

A deep dive into the terrorist acts perpetuated on Black residents of Tulsa. Infuriating. Also, the ease with with it was swept under the rug was fascinating. And infuriating.

I would have liked some pictures.

Grownup Fiction

Caroline: Little House Revisited
Sarah Miller

It’s the Little House on the Prairie story from Ma’s perspective. An interesting choice, as I think that book is the most anti-Indian. It’s also the Laura Ingalls Wilder story set in the real Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life (three years old, Carrie born in Kansas), not the fictional Laura Ingalls Wilder (five years old, Carrie born in Wisconsin). So many layers!

Ma is known for not saying much, so we get to spend a lot of time in her head. There is a lot of attention paid to chores and the work it takes to make a life on the prairie. I found it interesting to see the events of Little House on the Prairie from an adult perspective.

Young Nonfiction

Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter
Veronica Chambers
Read for Librarian Book Group

This is a gorgeous and informative book that is a size I found hard to hold while reading. I enjoyed the mix of photos and text and found the chapter topics very interesting. There are fun things like a throwback protest playlist and a BLM protest playlist.

I didn’t love that the history section skipped from 1968 to 2012 with no comment.

Run: Book One
John Lewis, Andrew Ayden, L. Fury, Nate Powell
Read for Librarian Book Group

On the one hand, there were too many random names. On the other hand, there were a ton of great details I never would have learned because I haven’t gotten around to reading longer books about John Lewis or the events depicted here.

I loved learning about the use of the Black Panther, the details of the SNCC discussion that ousted John Lewis, and the description of James Meredith as “kinda strange, really.”

Because of this book, I learned about Jennifer Lawson and I’d love to see a biography of her. She sounds like she had a fascinating life.

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets
Sara Miller

The title says it all. Miller’s usual excellence is on display. And if she want to carve out a niche as highlighting adults exploiting children for their own gain, she’s got a lot of stories to choose from.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians, but Were Afraid to Ask
Anton Treuer
Read for Librarian Book Group

A handy question-and-answer format that provides a lot of information about Indians. I found it to be very interesting reading.

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