Books Read in September 2021

Young Adult

Any Way the Wind Blows
Rainbow Rowell

This is the #1 book published in 2021 that gets a certain Queen stuck in my head. Rowell does a great job putting roadblocks in the Simon/Baz relationship over three books, yet still has me rooting for them. We’re back in England for this book, and our heroes are trying to find their way in the early adult years.

Of the three, I think the second one is my favorite, mostly for the American road trip flavor. But it has been a while since I read the first.

Fly Girls: Lux, the New Girl
Ashley Woodfolk

Very, very, very short book that might be great for reluctant readers. It was short enough that it felt like only part of a story and it will be interesting to see what the other three volumes bring.

As with all of Woodfolk’s stories, great emotion!

Fly Girls: Micah: The Good Girl
Ashley Woodfolk

Micah tries to meet her parents’ expectations regarding church and god as she balances those expectations with her own desires and thoughts.

This book relies heavily on ellipses and those are a punctuation mark that I find rob a story of rich details.

Fly Girls: Noelle: The Mean Girl
Ashley Woodfolk

As you might imagine, Noelle’s meanness comes from a place.

While I’m all for short, accessible YA stories, it seems the price of the book would be slimmed down to reflect its smaller size.

Fly Girls: Tobyn: The It Girl
Ashley Woodfolk

Oddly, the library had hard copies of the first three of this series and only an ebook for the fourth. The fourth book tells Tobyn’s story and wraps up all three of the other fly girls. And now we have finished the short saga.

I’m hoping for a longer book from Woodfolk next.

Watch Us Rise
Reneé Watson & Ellen Hagan

While things happen in this novel, there’s not a ton of tension—which isn’t a criticism, sometimes its nice to float along through a school year. I also enjoyed the differing views of what the administrators and teachers of a social justice–focused high school saw as justice, vs. the protagonists’ view of fairness and justice.

Instructions for Dancing
Nicola Yoon

Just a big of magic—the ability to see how couples’ relationships end—and sad feelings about divorce drive this sort-of ballroom dance book. I say sort of because we start strong with ballroom, then wander away from ballroom for the middle chunk of the book before returning for the end.

I was all in for the romance.

Young Nonfiction

In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers
Don Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group

I’m used to Don Brown’s books using a laser-like focus to draw attention to a big event. This felt much more diffused. Maybe it’s an event that is just too complex?

Wonder Women of Science
Tiera Fletcher and Ginger Rue
Read for Librarian Book Group

Great things: a wide variety of women scientists working today; profiles include information about their work and their lives.

Not so great: very unpolished and informal writing style including ellipses misused and parentheses and brackets deployed much more often than they should be; sometimes details were stretched to make a point in a way that felt disingenuous, like with the whole “invisible car” discussion; I would have preferred some captions on the photos that were included.

It ended up being a hate read, which was disappointing, because I really liked the concept.

Grownup Nonfiction

History vs. Women
Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams

Sarkeesian and Adams find a host of important women you might never have heard of and give you short biographies about their lives. Each one has a beautiful pencil illustration.

Grownup Fiction

The Visible Man
Chuck Klosterman

Klosterman weaves a gripping tale of a counselor treating a man who can render himself invisible. Uncomfortable feelings abound. I’m curious how counselors who read this book might feel about its protagonist.

The Library Book
Susan Orlean

Orlean’s powers of observation, research, and description bring to life the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library. The book also includes a history of the library along with daily life in the central library.

I listened to the first few chapters during a car trip before switching to a printed copy. I’m glad Orlean was there to read me the chapter of the library’s fire because I don’t think I would have made it through the chronology. So many things lost.

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