Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Reviews - Connecting with ALL the Feels

Y'all, I'm keeping the introduction short here as this quartet was just wonderful. The common thread was the emotions they evoked, and these are books you absolutely need in your life!

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen was a book I just connected with and loved so very, very much. The story focuses on Codi. Codi's teenage years aren't what she imagined. Namely she hasn't ever been kissed, has never been in a relationship, and she isn't into the party scene. Instead she spends her time with her two best friends Martiza and JaKory mostly watching TV in their basement. One night, Maritza and JaKory go to a party, and they call asking Codi to pick them up. On her way to do this, she stumbles on Ricky, one of the "cool kids" kissing another guy in the dark. Ricky isn't out, so this is a secret he needs Codi to keep. As a gay woman, Codi understands why this is necessary and agrees. With this secret, Ricky and Codi also form a real friendship, and Ricky starts inviting Codi to hang out with his friends. Codi loves this new world, but she also doesn't let her old friends know what she's doing. The story then weaves through Codi navigating the new life she's found, as well as who she was before and just who she is as a human navigating the world. Y'all, Codi just had my heart in this one. I resonated with the shy girl who was trying to figure out who she was. Back when, I also thought I was missing out on some part of my experience - 20 years later, I can assure that I'm just fine, but I transported back to that place through Codi. I also just loved the emergence of the friendship between Ricky and Codi. This was just a wonderful gem of a story all around.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart was one emotional ride. WOW. The story focuses on Coyote and her father. They are traveling the country in a school bus that's been repurposed as their residence. They have been on the road since Coyote (and her dad who goes by Rodeo) lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash. Then, Coyote finds out that a park in her hometown is being demolished. This wouldn't be a big deal except her mom and sisters had buried a secret box there together. Coyote knows she has to go back for this, but she knows her dad won't be on board. She devises a plan to get them there. This plan starts to involve others as they encounter other wayward travelers who need a ride to their next stop. Y'all, this was such a beautiful story of grief and resilience and memory and healing. Quite frankly, I was blown away just how much emotion was plugged into this one, but I also loved how much heart was in Coyote's story. This is one you must pick up as it's absolutely, completely beautiful in its feels and authenticity.

When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert was a book that drew me in mostly because it had an orchestra connection. Anything that involves a high school orchestra is going to take me back to my own happy place and just connect with my heart. Anyway, this isn't about me. At its core, this is a story about growing up, but wanting things to say the same. Beth very much wants that with her groups of friends. Things start to become more difficult when they see an act of violence occur in Jason's home. Seeing his reality creates worry and concern and complexity. Additionally, they're each trying to figure out what's next. The group has a want to enter into the next chapter of life together, but the universe (or college admissions) may have other plans. This was one that was so real in its portrayal of the emotions that come with high school friendship and growing up. I mean, y'all, I really, really felt this one as I read. If I think back to teenage me (who still is inside of me in many regards), I would have loved and very much connected with this angst. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this March 2021 release!

Majesty by Katharine McGee was a sequel I have been craving ever since the last pages of American Royals. This one picks up the moment where the first book stops. I won't tell you what that moment is as I don't want to spoil the journey. Once again, the book focuses on the (love) stories of four young women - Beatrice, Samantha, Nina and Daphne. I don't want to say too much because the joy is again in the journey, and I wouldn't want to give too much away. I will say that this did not play out as I expected. If you would have asked me after the first book what I wanted to happen, I would have very definite answers. Well, this one still had some twists and turns in these stories up its sleeve. I mostly need my friends who read this one to read this now, so I can discuss the many, many feels I have at this one. Specifically, I have strong feelings about one particular outcome. Also, I hope there is another book in this series as I am so darn captivated by this crew!

Onto the next ones!