Okay, a preface, for those of you who care:
I read these books for Aentee’s DAReadAThon (a diverse books read-a-thon which ends tonight @ midnight!!) and I completely forgot that reviews would give you extra points, so I have to push up all the reviews I had scheduled for later to today.
So that’s why I’m reviewing three books in one day. It’s fine. It’s all good.(Jamie is terrible at time management: part 100000.)
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Published: June 9th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
Diversity Factor: Main character with mental illness (social anxiety)
I love literally everything I’ve read by Sophie Kinsella, and this was no exception. It’s not an #ownvoices book (meaning the author does not have the mental illness of the main character), so I was a little hesitant going into it. But it worked! Yay!
The thoughts of the main character Audrey were reminiscent of my own (since I also have social anxiety), especially the re-occurrence of her “lizard brain” which she describes as this intrusive part of her mind that makes her freeze up and run away from social situations. And the therapy sessions were so intricate and realistic, which really showed that Sophie Kinsella put a lot of time and research into this topic.
None of the book felt patronizing or stereotypical of social anxiety, which I really appreciated. And Audrey’s family, as eccentric and quirky as they were, all supported Audrey and their whole family dynamic was the so great and so heartwarming to read.
However, there was one big problem I had with this book. [SPOILER!!] Audrey’s social anxiety is miraculously cured by a boy. Which is…ughhhhh. That’s not how mental illnesses work, Sophie!! Although, to be fair, Audrey still had her ups and downs and she wasn’t magically illness-free by the end, but the boy aspect really sped up the process of Audrey becoming more confident and extroverted (like, really fast. Like, as soon as they started dating fast), which was…unrealistic, to say the least.
Title: Not If I See You First
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Published: December 1st 2015 by Poppy
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary
Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.
When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.
Diversity Factor: Blind protagonist
This book…it was okay. It wasn’t anything special; really, the only memorable aspect was the blind protagonist. (Which, to give it credit, was actually super interesting.)
I don’t think I’ve read a book from a blind person’s perspective, which unfortunately hindered my reading experience because I kept thinking why does she keep jumping when someone touches her? and then having to remind myself that oh yeah, it’s because she can’t see them moving towards her and having to reread scenes. So, if anything, this book definitely has me itching to read more books about blindness because 1. I need to and 2. it was definitely the most intriguing part about this book.
There were actually a lot of good, refreshing aspects this book had, like:
- Character growth! So many characters became better people throughout the course of this story and I was so proud of them in the end. And so many girls realized their self-worth, which I am totally here for.
- Female friendships! Yesss. So many. So good.
- Realistic romance! Sure, the romance at the end was left really open-ended, which I didn’t like, but the romance in this book could have so easily slipped into love triangle territory but it didn’t, thank god.
So why is my rating so low?? I don’t really have a good answer for you. It was just a bunch of little things. This book went down an unnecessary path where Parker (the protag) and her best friend Sarah have a falling-out over the stupidest thing. The romance, while realistic, wasn’t doing anything for me. The writing style was just okay.
Title: When the Moon was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Published: October 4th 2016 by Thomas Dunne
Genre(s): YA, Magical Realism
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
Diversity Factor: A LOT!! The two protagonists are a Latina girl and a trans Pakistani boy
First off, and most importantly, I loved the diversity. And there was so much of it! I especially loved that it wasn’t just diverse for the sake of being diverse, like those books with an all-white cast and, like, one black friend. This book actually delved into the two main characters’ cultures. For Miel, it was her family’s Spanish history and the bruja curse. For Samir, it was his experience with the Afghanistan and Pakistan tradition of bacha posh. I learned so much from reading this book, and it left me wanting to learn even more. Also, while this story is generally a happy one, it by no means shies away from the racism and ignorance these characters face.
He’d never take down anything that was letting this town’s children sleep. But he was a dark-skinned boy, a kind of dark they could not place, so when he threatened them, they believed him.
Judgement for girls, hate for boys. And because this town would not know what to do with Sam, he’d have to take both.
This was definitely one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. While reading this, you could really tell how desperately the author wanted to tell this story and how much love and care she weaves into her characters and the setting. She chooses each word carefully and after much consideration, and strings them together to make some of the best quotes I’ve ever seen. I loved it. This book is so immensely passionate it will leave you dizzy.
Okay, there was only really one thing I didn’t like, but it was burdening my reading experience so much I had to dock this book a star. Noticed how I said “quotes” instead of “writing” in my previous paragraph? That’s because… I kinda had a love-hate relationship with the writing. There were some parts that utterly blew me away, but for the most part, it was repetitive and complicated and just flowery. Which is weird, because I usually love descriptive books (The Night Circus), but I didn’t connect to this one. At all. It was just too much. Par exemple:
Aracely was a slice of color against the window. Her hair was as bright as the fruit of a nectarine. The brown of her skin looked like raw gold stripped from quartz. And she stood tall enough that she looked like she could meet the gaze of the sky out on the horizon.
It was like that the entire book, similes and metaphors thrown in everywhere. And when the characters spoke in modern dialogue it would clash so spectacularly that it caught me off guard every time.