Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. This book always takes me back to fifth grade (I’m pretty sure), and reading it with Susan and talking about how we loved the name Winnie. I loved this book back then, and I have to say it holds up pretty well. I reread this book this summer after hearing some songs from the musical version that came up on my Spotify playlists. The music was really fun and the girls were asking me tons of questions about what was happening in the show, so I thought a reread was a good idea. The book is a nice story, with a child narrator (always my favorite), about immortality and family. Winnie is the main character, who is living a boring, secluded life. She meets the Tucks by accident, and is drawn into a grand and dangerous adventure. She has to make some big, romantic decisions that were fascinating to my 5th grade mind, but a little creepy with my grown-up perspective.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. My friend Sara lent me this book, so I finally got to read it. I’ve been wanting to for a long time. It is another book that jumps between different points-of-view, so that was fun. I really like books that do that. It also has child narrators, so another plus in my book. I think the reason I liked this book, as a middle school teacher, is that it really shows how everyone has their own perspective on problems, and that people shouldn’t just assume they know the truth of a situation. The obvious main story is that of Auggie, who is a boy with severe facial deformities, and how he navigates going to school for the first time. The more engaging story is that of all the other people whose lives connect to his, and how they navigate their own, unique connections to him, and their own unique struggles and successes.
The Forgetting Spell by Lauren Myracle. This is the second book in a series that I started in the spring (Wishing Day was the first), and it follows the next Blok sister, Darya, as she approaches her 13th birthday. She is a bit more cynical than Natasha was in the first book, but she ends up having her own reasons to be this way. I don’t think I liked this one as much as the first book, but I’ll still read the third book when it comes out this spring.
Angelfall by Susan Ee. This was a book club selection. Apparently angels are the new vampires. This was a weird book about a teenage girl, Penryn, living in California after the angels have attacked the humans in an apocalyptic rage. She meets up with Raffe (who ends up being Raphael, the archangel, spoiler alert) and they need each other to survive in the world. Raffe did something to piss the other angels off, and Penryn is just a human, so that’s bad. As happens in young adults books these days, there’s some sexual tension between a mortal teenager and an immortal hottie. It’s so weird. He’s thousands of years old and an archangel, but still it might work out in the end? Speaking of the end, the end of this book is off the rails weird.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I picked this book for book club a few years ago, and decided to reread it when I was looking for something to read. I loved this book, and thought the premise was so clever. Ursula is such an interesting character, and seeing all her different lives is heartbreaking and lovely. Somehow, Ursula is able to be reborn and live her life over again when she dies. This creates so many different and fascinating scenarios for her life. I want to map out everything that happens during her lives and see how they intersect and collide. Like when she runs into people in lives where she’s never met them, but gets a weird feeling about them. I need to read the companion book soon.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. This was my first book from Book of the Month and I love John Green. I haven’t actually read many of his books, but I love his presence on YouTube and how he uses his status as a successful young adult author to inspire and engage his readers. This book is such a good representation of that. Aza is the main character, and she is very is very relatable. She has anxiety and other mental health issues that are important to be addressed in this way. Green doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff that our youth are living with these days, and gives them the gift of reading a book about someone who has the same doubts, pressures, and unexpected triumphs that they experience in their lives.
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. After Jake died, Hannah picked this book for our book club to read. I’m so happy she did, because I learned so much about grief and resilience from this book. The main takeaway I found was the idea that Option A isn’t an option anymore, no matter how wonderful and perfect that option felt, so we have the right and the opportunity to move forward to find Option B. There are some amazing ideas of how to support friends when they are experiencing grief (at times, this book made me mad – like how she name dropped so much. I mean, I’d love to take my friends to my private island like Mark Zuckerberg did for Sheryl, but I can’t really do that), and perspective on how we can have expectations on how other people should grieve, and how that’s a pretty shitty thing to do.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang. This was a great book. It had that magical realism that I love so much. It was another Book of the Month selection – by the way, I love Book of the Month and I’ve really enjoyed all the selections I’ve gotten. This book centers around Weylyn Grey – a boy who was raised by wolves and has some peculiar powers. Again, the perspective shifts around between people who interact with Weylyn during his interesting and uncommon life.