Friday, October 12, 2018

Stories That Stick With You

There are books and characters that tend to stick with you long after you've read the last word. This was a rare quartet where there was so much of this happening. 

Restart by Gordon Korman was shared with me by my sister-in-law who teaches third grade. The focus of this book is a bully who loses his memory. He wakes up after a fall with no memory of who he was before. However, he comes to quickly realize that he was a total jerk. With no memory of what used to be, he heads back to school. In this new normal, the connections he makes vary. People remember who he was before, and they're skeptical of who he is now, particularly as he is drawn to some new hobbies and friends. This one was an intriguing read. I think for kids there's a valuable message in considering what you might do with a fresh start. Also, there's lots to consider when it comes to how it shows the impact of bullying. Even though this one wasn't written for my age bracket (I'm about 25 years over where it skews), I was captivated by this story. I loved the messages it shared through a unique cast of characters. It'd be a great read for kids, but adults could benefit from checking this one out, too.

Read this one if - You're looking for a J read with heart. You want something that explores the concept of second chances. You want a book that looks at bullying from a new angle.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker was mesmerizing. This is the second of the author's books that I have read (the first being The Age of Miracles), and she has a gift for creating captivating stories around (literal) world-altering happenings. She writes the kind of stories that you keep reading because you want to know what happens next, but also, they make you wonder what you would personally do in the same situation. For this one, there is a mysterious illness that is impacting a college town in California. It starts in a residence hall. One student falls asleep and she doesn't wake up. She's still alive, but nothing can wake her from her slumber. Then, another person is impacted, then another, etcetera. With no clear answers, options for solutions emerge. This is where the ethical dilemmas begin. What do you do to help those who are impacted, while protecting those who aren't? The book follows a variety of residents of the town and students of the college to show how they react and how their various interactions with the illness are addresses. Y'all, this one was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Karen Thompson Walker draws you into the worlds she creates like no other author can. They bring you into the dilemma of the world she has created, while making you ask so many questions of your own life. She also does a really amazing job of showing the variety of options that are available, but never emphasizes one of these as the best way to handle. She really helps you see these are complex issues through the beautiful character stories she also builds. This was an advanced read I got thanks to NetGalley, and y'all are going to want/need to check this one out once it's released into the world in January.

Read this book if - You like a fiction book that makes you think "What would I do?" You like books that have a slight hint of fantasy in a realistic environment.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib was an advanced readers' copy that showed up on my doorstep this week. As soon as I received it, I just knew I wanted to read it right away. This book is the story of Anna, a 26 year old French dancer, who is now in St. Louis being checked into a residential eating disorder treatment facility. The book chronicles her experiences at 17 Swann Street as she explores what got her to this point and strives towards recovery. This book is an emotional and honest look at the realities of Anna's life and disorder. The book is told entirely from Anna's point of view and supplemented with a few reports from her medical providers. As the narrator, she shares what is happening, but also her internal musings, so you gain a true picture of the depth of how anorexia has impacted her life. She also explores her past with her family (including some tragedies), her relationship with her husband, and the women she meets in the treatment facility. This book was real about the struggles of a disorder and the realities of recovery. I was captivated from the first words until the very last. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the ARC, and this is one y'all will want to add to your 2019 to-read list for sure.

Read this book if - You want a book that explores the complexity of an eating disorder. You want a book that is an emotional and authentic read.

Today Will Be DIfferent by Maria Semple was just a quirky, emotional, yet enjoyable read. The main character Eleanor is just one of those characters that you can't help but be drawn in by. Throughout, Eleanor is just trying to keep it all together and get through her days vowing that this day will literally be different. However, things keep happening that prevent that from happening. In addition to the happenings of the day, Eleanor is navigating secrets, revelations, and past hurts. This is a book that's honestly hard to summarize, but just know that I enjoyed it. I loved Eleanor, and some of her life observations were so, so right on. Sometimes you just need a light read like this, and for me, this little peek into the world of Eleanor was just what I needed.

Read this book if - You are looking for a unique main character. You're looking for a story that gives you some chuckles, while also some feels.

Again, this was a batch of characters and plots that I really connected with for a variety of reasons, and I hope y'all might find something that will do the same for you!