Sunday, August 16, 2020

Book Reviews - Women Navigating All the Things

Each time, I read a quartet, I do really, really like to think of a theme to connect the quartet. This is really tricky because I just go where the pages take me. However, it's a good challenge each round, and I get excited when I am able to find that common thread. For this round, each of these books centered a woman. Each of these woman was navigating something, and each of those somethings was a lot. However, the journey they each went on was powerful and captivating. Read on!

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore was a unique story built around time travel. At midnight on New Year's Eve, Oona will be turning 19. Midnight strikes in 1982, and Oona gets older - except she's significantly older. She's her 19 year old self, but she's been transported to New Years Day 32 years later where she is now 51. This then happens every year. She advances in order inside her body, but the outside experience is happening in non-sequential years. In each of these years, she has to figure out her relationships, her lifestyle, and who can help her figure out what the heck is going on. This also means understanding the impact of choices she's made. And through it all, she can't reveal she is a time traveller. This was such an intriguing premise as with Oona's birthday, you were surprised as the reader just as she was about where age was next. I'll be honest that I did have many logistical questions, but that's just who I am and not so much a critique of the book. I loved getting to know Oona through the literal years and piecing together her life alongside her!

Eat and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo was a graphic novel with a message. It was suggested in a post by my local library, and I decided to pick it up! I'm so very glad I did. The story focuses on Mindy who struggles with body dysmorphia. She goes to get a snack at a convenience store one night and sees an Eat and Love Yourself bar. Intrigued by its message, she decides to buy it. Each time she takes a bite she's transported to a moment in time from her past. With that moment, it shows her how this impacted her feelings about her body. Y'all, these transports are powerful for her and for the reader. I loved how this was a novel that explored an important topic through a medium that's not often used for it. Mindy was given a superpower of sorts, but with that power, she also was given an opportunity for reflection and growth. This was a quick read, but also full of so many feels in its illustrations.

This Won't End Well by Camille Pagan was a coming of age story of sorts - except it was focused on an adult woman. Annie is a successful chemist who is fired due to her boss' deception. Additionally, her fiance Jon has gone off to Paris because he needs some space. With things she thought to be "for sure" Annie is now forced to figure out who she is. Along the way, she also befriends a neighbor and a private investigator. Throughout the story centers Annie's search for answers. In some aspects, she just wants things to go back to the way they were, but in others, she is wondering what more there is for her. For me, this was just a good character-driven story. I liked that Annie was an adult woman exploring these tough questions. Even as we get older, this is stuff we can grapple with, and I so appreciated there was a story to show that experience!

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson was an outstanding, amazing read. I have been continually amazed at the depth, beauty and power of middle-grade novels, and this was one of the most beautiful and powerful ones I've ever read. The story centers Jade, a black girl who has transferred to a predominantly white private school. As part of her scholarship to the school, she is assigned a mentor. Jade struggles with this program and her specific mentor. She questions the program, her mentor's connection, and overall just why this is a thing. It is powerful to see how she grapples with tough and valid questions through something that is touted as an opportunity. Additionally, Jade is navigating new friendships. With these, she is having to navigate her identities and how they are different from her new friends. This means some hard realizations and tough conversations. Y'all, this was an amazing story. I was so emotionally drawn in, and I appreciated its authenticity in exploring how Jade grew and found her voice. I am also hopeful there may be a continuation of Jade's story in the works? I was so captivated by her that I wanted to know more. Again, this is a middle-grade read, but readers of all ages should read this and will get so much from doing so!

Onto the next ones!