After the great reading month I had in January, I was hoping to keep it moving, but February really slowed me down. I either felt like I was in a slump, was distracted by other things, or was too busy. I still managed almost 5 books in 28 days, so not terrible, but not as much as I was hoping for. Here’s hoping March will freshen me up! I’m not feeling very inspired by the books I have on my list right now, and I can’t really put my finger on why. Anyways, the books I did get through this month were mostly pretty good, so now let me tell you about them! (Also, I didn’t notice 3/4 had ‘me’ in the title until I put them together for the photo, ha!)
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
I was drawn to this story because it is about a girl who is dedicated to working on her future and is not side-tracked or inspired by a love interest, so that was a major plus because unfortunately it’s so rare in YA. Seriously there was no love interest, not even a mention! Anyways — Jade lives in a poor neighbourhood in very White Portland and believes the only way she can succeed in life is to get out. She’s super smart and talented, and tries everything. When she’s put into a program for “at risk” girls to be paired with a mentor, she’s hesitant, because she doesn’t feel understood. I liked the idea of this story, and I’m glad I read it, but I found that it took a long time to get anywhere and that the writing was quite choppy and not flushed out enough. I barely knew anything about Jade’s mentor, who becomes a big character, but I always felt like I had missed something. I do think that this story will be a comforting read for young women of colour for Jade’s strength and determination.
Still Me by Jojo Moyes
So, I really loved Me Before You. I did not love After You, in fact I forgot what happened for most of it. And now years later, Jojo’s released a third to keep on that dollar train. I love Louisa as much as the next bookworm, but I still think her story didn’t need to continue past the first book, which pains me to say. So in Still Me, Louisa ends up in New York City working for a high-class family, and she’s struggling through trying to keep up a long distance relationship with Sam. It took me a long time to get through this book, it was moving so slowly. I am feeling very bored with very White general women’s literature so that didn’t help. I was hoping I’d be sucked back into Lou’s charm but it never grabbed me. I’m not a fan of Sam or the other potential love interest either so that didn’t help me. I was left feeling pretty so-so about the book.
Don’t Forget Me by Victoria Stevens
Now this book saved February for me — it was absolutely gorgeous, and I read it in a day. I picked this up in the middle of reading Still Me because I needed something I could blast through. It bore a lot of resemblance to one of my favourites from last year, Words in Deep Blue, in that it’s set in Australia and focuses on teens dealing with different kinds of grief while falling for each other. I loved the characters, the writing, everything. Hazel has to move to Australia with a father she only just met after something tragic separates her from her mother. There she finds a new friend group of like, the most supportive friends a girl could find, including the mysterious Luca. Their bond is really sweet but I also liked seeing Hazel’s other friendships and her relationship with her father, as she starts to accept this new place as home. I highly recommend this one.
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
I adored last year’s Letters to the Lost in the same way I loved Don’t Forget Me. I was so excited to get my hands on More Than We Can Tell, which is about one of the friends from Letters to the Lost, Rev. (You don’t need to have read Letters to read this but I strongly encourage it.) I really liked this one, but it didn’t measure up to Letters for me. I admire Brigid’s writing — I blew through 100 pages so fast it was unbelievable to me. It just flows so well, and her characters are so engaging. Rev is still tortured by the abuse he had from his father as a child, so when he turns 18 and receives a letter from him, it sends him into a dangerous spiral. It’s when he meets the super cute Emma when she’s out walking her dog and he’s sulking by a bush. Not creepy at all. Emma developed her own video game that people play, but she’s being viciously trolled by someone there, and she can’t bring herself to tell anyone. One thing about these two is that they’re both suffering silently through serious issues – they feel that they can’t tell anyone for various reasons. When in fact they have support systems but don’t see it. They tell each other a little bit, but not everything. It read as they were stubborn half the time, so it got a little frustrating that these identical type problems were playing out simultaneously, but I also don’t want to discredit their reactions. The way Emma’s place in video game culture was handled meant well but ended on a sour note for me, but I can’t say anything without spoiling. Overall I’d still push this book on anyone who wants a great contemporary YA, but I would preface it with reading Letters first.
I also started Emily X.R. Pan’s The Astonishing Color of After, and have gotten about half way through it, but I might be abandoning it soon. I’m not sure. I’m finding the writing to be too repetitive and not very engaging — for a book that heavily mentions the importance of colors to a character, I’m finding it more tell than show, which is unfortunate because I’m interested in the idea of the story.
What have you guys read this month?