24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Tag: young adult (page 1 of 7)

Abby Reads: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
HarperTeen, 2015, 272 pages
Fantasy Graphic Novel

With the ability to shapeshift and a great admiration for Lord Ballister Blackheart, Nimona has decided it’s time to be a sidekick. Though her origins are hazy, Nimona will not be denied by Blackheart and she eventually wears him down by taking what she wants and showing up to work against the Institute of Law Enforcement alongside Blackheart. With each battle, Nimona wreaks havoc on Blackheart’s plans but there’s something in Nimona that tugs at Blackheart and perhaps something nefarious going on at the Institute of Law Enforcement. With a mash-up of medieval times and science fiction, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a highly original adventure that is far more than it first appears to be.

One of the impressive things about Nimona is that the story is far more complex than I can get into in a review. There are backstories, lies, hidden identities, layers of loyalty, and all sorts of plot subtleties that round out the story as a whole and complete narrative. With an ending that isn’t entirely conclusive, Stevenson leaves readers with the ability to insert their own ending, but not at the cost of the readers feeling lost or unfulfilled.

Another of Nimona’s strengths is its dedication to humor. The stark visual contrast between Nimona, who is short, pudgy, and pink-haired, to the tall, thin, dark-haired Blackheart is enough to make readers giggle to start, but the real gems come in the form of dialog. Nimona, a chronic over-reactor, regularly spurts lines of hilarity that are not, from her perspective, intended to be funny, but are amusing nonetheless. Stevenson’s skill in employing humor in a story that is so complex might remind some readers of Vonnegut, despite the radically different format. Readers won’t just smile from humor, however; Nimona is ultimately a story of heart and courage. The brand of courage in the graphic novel is more of a surety of oneself rather than, say, Men in Black courage of defeating aliens (although, if you liked Men in Black, you will also very much enjoy Nimona, I think). The book is immensely heartwarming at every turn, though particularly in scenes that feature Nimona and Blackheart alone.

Each character is carefully crafted with their own motivations, desires, backstories, and visual design that both serve to mirror and contradict their personalities. Stevenson succeeds a great deal in playing characters off one another, creating a sense of chemistry that is hard to find in other narratives. With the depth of each character, no relationship can afford to be truly superficial, even in instances of acquaintances.

Nimona is highly relevant for today — the attempt at diversity (which seems to be an excellent and still-emerging theme in media more and more) is evident (the story features a female lead who is decidedly not traditionally feminine outside of her pink hair, a woman in the ultimate seat of power, gay secondary characters, and a secondary character with a prosthetic limb — and not only this, but the primary relationship featured in the story is not of the romantic, or even friend (arguably), variety). Characters of color are few and far between and socioeconomic status appears to be a non-issue in many ways, so there are gaps, but Nimona remains one of the most overtly diverse pieces of fiction I’ve encountered in a while.

The relevance does not end at diversity, however. The politics of Nimona’s world are strikingly similar to what we see in many modern governments — a lack of trust between the government (or, more specifically, the Institute of Law Enforcement — the acronym of which you might notice could be anagrammed to the word “lie” — yeah, maybe I’m pushing it here, but still) and the people of its domain features heavily, though ultimately, the government is not acting on the best interests of the people.

Great for teens and adults alike, Nimona is a fresh take on old tropes that is both fun and thought-provoking (and hilarious). Stevenson’s work on the project was clearly done with loads of love and planning, and, from someone, you’ll remember, who isn’t huge on graphic novels, it comes recommended with four hearts.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016, 640 pages
YA Fantasy

Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury follows up on A Court of Thorns and Roses (SPOILERS ahead for A Court of Thorns and Roses). For those who read the first in the series, you might feel like the book concluded the narrative enough to not warrant a sequel — the great thing about the sequel, however, is that it turns everything of Thorns and Roses on its head. I’ve struggled with Maas’s work. I wasn’t a big fan of Throne of Glass and gave up sixty pages into the sequel the first time. But reading Thorns and Roses and its sequel convinced me to revisit the Throne of Glass series (and so far, I’m pretty glad for it, even if I still don’t love it). Mist and Fury picks up as Tamlin goes about protecting his lands from various evil forces. With Feyre still living in his castle, Tamlin determines to keep Feyre inside at all times, for the sake of her safety — this, despite Feyre being an accomplished and capable hunter, proven on multiple occasions. Honoring the deal he made with her in Thorns and Roses, Rhys shows up as Feyre makes her way down the aisle at her and Tamlin’s wedding to pluck her from Tamlin’s court and bring her to his for the week. As Feyre is passed between the two courts, Rhys notices the wear Feyre begins to show as a result of Tamlin’s control.

One of the biggest achievements of Mist and Fury is, from my perspective, its complexity. While I generally don’t love overly-political high fantasy, I think Maas strikes a pretty good balance with this series, including enough politics to make the plot plausible but not so much so as to drown the readers in policy, diplomacy, and other red tape. It is complex enough that I can’t easily add it in the summary above, but suffice to say, new players and old players come into antagonistic roles that could destroy more than just Feyre’s life. And it makes for a fascinating read.

Like most books with plenty of politics, however, there’s a whole lot of build-up involved with subtle plot turns which later become more significant with context. Except for a few exciting moments (Rhys’s appearance at the wedding being one — really, any scene with Rhys made for good entertainment; Feyre so seldom interacts with anyone due to her practical imprisonment, that really any appearance by anyone made things more interesting), the first three-hundred pages are slow. But by the end of the book, I was fangirling harder than I have in years. We’re talking approaching-Harry-Potter levels of fangirling. It was great.

Back to Rhys. Maas is an author who you can see takes criticism seriously and works to rectify it in her future writing. Characters in Mist and Fury, but especially Rhys, are developed with not just layers, but layers that make sense and tie into each character’s history and their relationships with each other. Fine subtleties in character are sprinkled throughout the book and each choice, from the way a character holds their fork to the way a character chooses to scream or not to scream in anguish in battle, is fantastically deliberate. It’s evident that Maas plans very carefully, and follows characters’ development not just in the immediate moment, but in their past and future.

I do think the exception here is Feyre. Feyre still winds up being somewhat bland and trite as far as (fantasy) female first-person narrators/main characters go. Feyre’s painting hobby comes back into play, slightly (though still not enough to warrant such a cliché, in my opinion). Even her hobby aside, Feyre does not have an extraordinary amount of personality. While her sisters, who appear in only a few scenes, feel far more real, readers can’t get a full look at Feyre beyond maybe-tough-girl who hunts and paints and is stubborn. But these traits are portrayed with superficial passages most readers will find familiar to many other similarly designed characters in other novels. Maybe this is a trait in and of itself: Feyre cannot accurately portray her own personality through her first-person narration. The series conclusion, which will be out in May, I suspect will give readers more insight on this issue.

Whatever Feyre’s deal, I’m eager for the final book, A Court of Wings and Ruin. Not only does the ominous title make me reach for the May release date, but with the amount of fangirling that went on in the final moments of Mist and Fury (really, Feyre doesn’t have more character than she does in those final moments — wow), I can only imagine what the grand finale will feel like.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
HarperTeen, 2016, 432 pages
YA Fantasy

When a great beast begins terrorizing the world of Eurona, the king issues a challenge: he that can defeat the animal will win his daughter’s, Princess Aerity, hand in marriage. Resigning herself to do what is best for her kingdom when the king’s resources are limited, Aerity watches at people from her own kingdom and beyond are destroyed by the beast’s terror. During her visits to the fighting men (and few women) who try to defend Eurona, Aerity meets one contender who, while he has no interest in marrying Princess Aerity, feels he must do what he can to protect his homeland and family. Paxton and his brother hunt alongside the others and there’s no doubt they are good — but Paxton is drawn in by Aerity’s self-assuredness, causing an internal conflict over why he is actually fighting. In a tale that recreates the Grimm Brothers’ “The Singing Bone,” The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins is the first in the Eurona duology.

The Great Hunt came into my life because I was asked to review its sequel, The Great Pursuit. In many ways, especially after having read both books, The Great Hunt felt more like a large prologue to The Great Pursuit rather than its own book even as part of a duology. The Great Hunt lays out the foundation for The Great Pursuit but doesn’t have much of a story of its own. In fact, characters in the first novel are severely underdeveloped. This is especially obvious with the book’s main character, Princess Aerity. With little nuance, Aerity’s primary characteristic is the clichéd defiance many-a-fictional princess exhibits. The slight difference with Aerity is her willingness to go along with her father’s decree for the sake of her kingdom; this is not enough, however, to flesh her into a full being. Aerity’s one hobby — something that might help to better form her personality if done well — is merely a plot device which ultimately serves in one small scene to remove characters from trouble. Its presence in her life has no other purpose and feels, therefore, disingenuous. Other flat areas include the villain and the villain’s motivations, which otherwise begin with promise but ultimately fall.

Also troubling is the level of sluts-haming in the novel. Wyneth, who watches her betrothed die, begins to move on with other characters and one hunter in particular. She is not only seemingly punished for daring to kiss her betrothed before he dies, but is on the receiving end of sneers and other mistreatment and judgment as she develops a relationship with the hunter. The importance of monogamy in this fictional society is emphasized to the extent that it makes me wonder if the author was trying to make a point with this. While I’m on the fence as to whether we should portray humans and reality strictly as they are in fiction or condemn actions that are, in our society, generally seen as unacceptable, the fairly frequent talk of monogamy and consequences for stepping outside those boundaries in one way or another (of course more severe for women) was a bit much for me.

Higgins does a decent job with romantic moments despite her characters’ lack of personalities and even pulls off a surprise ending, but the entire premise of the book doesn’t quite add up for me. The king makes excuses for not rewarding land to the winner of the hunt by saying he needs it for his son and his other daughter’s dowry. There’s apparently no money to be had. And so he turns to…selling off his oldest daughter? Surely there were more options and, because Higgins does not explore other potential options (which causes some deficit in the world building area), readers are forced to accept that this is truly the only way.

And while a beast terrorizes the kingdom of Eurona, the stakes never felt quite high enough to warrant the tense action-adventure atmosphere Higgins tries to create. Plenty of moments in the novel are overly drawn out and slow while others are completely unnecessary, adding nothing to the plot or character development. Pursuit was certainly better, giving Hunt more of a payoff than it probably deserved, but I can’t necessarily recommend Hunt beyond that, which is why I leave it with two-and-a-half hearts.

❤❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Show Off: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

With summer approaching, readers of all ages are looking for easy going reads with happy endings. Teen fiction over the last several years has veered toward the darker aspects of life. And no surprise! The recession combined with plenty of world events that have continued to reveal the murkier side of humanity has made pessimists of authors and readers alike. We find comfort and understanding in work that reflects our reality in one way or another.

But sometimes we need a break. We need an escape. So I put together this list of titles that are lighthearted. These stories aren’t without conflict — what is a story without conflict, after all? — but they’re fun reads. Great for the beach, pool side, or a tall glass of cold water, these novels will bring a little sunshine into your life.

Each book on the list is represented as a festive triangular flag.

 

What are some of your favorite lighthearted reads?

Show Off: April Showers Bring Superpowers

Summer means blockbuster movies mean superheroes! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives in theaters next week, so what better time to feature some of the library’s materials on superheroes than now? I put together this board for April, which gave me the excellent opportunity for the “title” of the board — April Showers Bring Superpowers. While I featured a few graphic novels, I also included some fiction and nonfiction to give readers who might read exclusively graphic novels the option of something related, but in a different format. Although this door display is located in the teen section of the James M. Duncan Branch of the Alexandria Public Library system, some of the materials are located in the adult section.

At this library, teen nonfiction is interfiled with adult nonfiction (which is located on the other side of the library). I hoped that teens who might venture over for the adult nonfiction titles featured in this display might come upon some familiar YA stickers on the spines of the YA nonfiction in the stacks and realize those materials were available to them as well. Plus, the adult section of the library always felt so forbidding to me — perhaps if we specifically invite teens to that side, their transition from teen to adult fiction might be that much easier. Of course, the transition need not be a complete transition — my reading is still YA heavy and there’s no shame in reading YA as an adult. But for readers looking for something outside the usual YA parameters, this might strike them as an opportunity.

Take a look at the door below and let me know what you think!

And, for those of you who want to cry out, “You can’t include Batman! He doesn’t have a superpower!” Consider this: Batman’s superpower is being super-sad.

Abby Reads: Maud by Melanie Fishbane

Maud by Melanie Fishbane
Penguin Teen, 2017, 400 pages
YA Biographical Fiction

I received this eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Maud will be available for purchase April 25, 2017 (today!).

Before L. M. Montgomery was the best-selling author of Anne of Green Gables and other works, she was a young woman living on Prince Edward Island. Drawing from Montgomery’s journals, letters, and other artifacts, Melanie Fishbane brings Montgomery to life in her biographically-inspired work of fiction, Maud. Beginning in her early teen years on Prince Edward Island, Maud takes its title character on a journey to the west and on a journey to adulthood. As she encounters family relations, friendships, and romantic entanglements, Maud learns about herself and what it will take to become who she wishes to be.

Although the story is in the third person, Fishbane employs a prose style similar to what was common in Montgomery’s time. The language is simple and carries an innocent air along with it, helping to build the slow, small-town scene which Maud inhabits. This sometimes causes the plot to crawl at a pace that seems slower than necessary, which is only emphasized by a plot structure that heavily relies on thickly-characterized individuals. Fishbane’s attention to the detail of each character makes each evolution fascinating to watch. Maud’s relationship with Will, her second love interest, is particularly fascinating as Will’s demeanor is more mature than most other teenage characters in the story and, while Maud regularly compares him to her first love, the circumstances of the relationship among other things makes whatever love triangle that might exist seem fresh and new.

Aside from the usual relationship woes many teenagers face, Maud is also in conflict with her future and those around her who wish to stifle any chance she has at the future she wants. Though Fishbane’s approach to this central conflict makes it seem more true to life, it’s not clear until the very end whether Maud’s desire to write or to teach is the true conflict. While she wants both and anyone at all familiar with Montgomery knows how her writing desires turn out, which is the primary want is ambiguous until the conflict is solved.

Another conflict, this one relational, is Maud’s experience with her step-mother. As if out of a fairy tale, Maud finds her step-mother to be over-demanding, cruel, and selfish. There are moments of light and kindness in the new Mrs. Montgomery’s personality, but this is one conflict that is never resolved and Fisbane refrains from speculating on the why, for the most part. Is Mrs. Montgomery jealous of the attention her husband affords his daughter? Is she simply prickly from pregnancy hormones? Is there some other issue stemming from the nearness in the two women’s ages that is causing a problem? The root of Mrs. Montgomery’s attitude toward Maud is never truly explained and, while certainly in reality Maud may never have discovered the reason, a fictional narrative of her life is the perfect place to at least make some leading guesses.

Maud is, overall, charming. Though the writing style is perhaps more appropriate for a younger audience than the audience who would find interest in the novel’s content, it’s a wonderful way to incorporate Maud’s personality and to articulate the lifestyle Maud and her contemporaries experienced. Fishbane’s research is evident throughout the book, creating a mostly-satisfying
presentation of Montgomery’s life and leaving readers with a hunger for more, whether of Maud herself or the results of her work.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Abby Reads: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2015, 448 pages
YA Fantasy

Feyre, a human in a world that is not our own, hates faeries. When she happens across one in wolf-form in the woods while hunting for her family, she kills it. Before long, a faerie comes to collect her as she’s violated the treaty with her murder. Her captor, Tamlin, is High Lord of the Spring Court and will keep her for an undetermined time. While Feyre learns about the way of the faeries just over the border, she also learns they are perhaps not so evil as she has been led to believe. Although she still must fulfill the treaty’s consequences, Feyre finds Tamlin to be forgiving as he restores her family’s wealth and protects her from the antagonistic forces of Amarantha and her consort, Rhys, who has taken an interest in Feyre himself.

I shouldn’t be writing this review. I know too much!

Without spoiling too much, I’ll say the following: the sequel to this novel, A Court of Mist and Fury, will completely change how you interpret A Court of Thorns and Roses. You may pick up inklings of how a certain character really isn’t as moral as they ought to be, but you won’t realize the extent of it until A Court of Mist and Fury. I had a lot of complaints about Maas’s Throne of Glass series, which didn’t feel well set-up (or, if it is, the payoff is too slow and not worth the work to get there), but this series blows that away easily.

The fun thing about Thorns and Roses is that it’s in many ways a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” And it’s especially fun because Tamlin and Feyre take turns in each role. Fan theories have suggested that Feyre’s lack of love for other beings (read: faeries) makes her beastly and her journey from beast to beauty is illustrated through her journey from illiterate to literate. It’s interesting stuff and, whether or not Maas intended it, creates a layer of literary-fiction-level-writing (at least for a young adult fantasy) that isn’t present in Throne of Glass.

This type of writing is highlighted by the many, many problematic characters. No one character in this series is perfect (and the ones that supposedly are, are actually flawed because of their perfection). It makes character development absolutely fascinating, even when the plot gets a little flimsy or over-burdened with politics and details from time to time. The characters are not just interesting on their own, however, but each relationship (be it romantic, friendship, or foes), has an exciting element of chemistry I haven’t seen in a fantasy or any novel in a while. It’s electric and really sets apart this novel from others. Perhaps one of the most interesting relationships is that of the Archeron sisters. Feyre, along with Nesta and Elain, create a trio that are strongly different and with dissonant motivations and emotions which heightens the way Feyre interacts with others.

But, okay, the novel wasn’t perfect. Amarantha’s name grated on me. The prose and plot were slow in points, bogged down with irrelevant information that hardly served as a red herring. Feyre’s thing is painting which is just so trite (and, I’ll admit, it does have a sort-of purpose in A Court of Mist and Fury but I’m still not thrilled about it).

It’s nice to get drawn into a heavy fantasy novel once in a while, and this one did the trick. I’m genuinely looking forward to the third book due out in May to discover Feyre’s fate and the rest of the — well, no spoilers here.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Fiction Re: Sibling Loss

*This post will be updated with books as I become aware of them, so keep checking back!

In July 2016, I lost my only sibling in a car crash. As no one is probably surprised, much of how I’ve handled this is by reading, both to better understand my situation and what I was and have been feeling and to escape. A few weeks after he died, I attended an event at the Arlington Public Library at which author Hannah Barnaby spoke about her new book, Some of the Parts, which features the story of a girl whose brother dies in a car crash and how she works through the grief she experiences. Barnaby spoke of her own sibling loss and I was grateful that she took the time to speak with me after, waited while I purchased a book, signed it, and spoke with me a while longer despite others waiting to meet her. A few weeks later she got in touch on Twitter to check in on me. We’re a strange little club, those of us who have lost a sibling.

I only just recently started reading Some of the Parts, not having felt ready until now. And even now, I keep another book — A Separate Peace, something old and familiar and in my favorite niche genre of books ever — by my bedside so I can choose not to read Barnaby’s novel if I’m not feeling up to it in the moment. But it occurred to me others might find comfort in reading stories that reflect their own. So I went to work putting together this list.

Most of these books were selected by doing simple keyword and subject header searches on the library catalogs for Arlington Public Library and Alexandria Public Library, both in Virginia. I de-selected any books that seemed to sensationalize the topic — things like mystery thrillers or procedural novels. There’s a time and a place for those, but they didn’t fit the concept of this list. Incidentally, there were few adult novels who took the subject “seriously.” Those that do appear on the list below are starred. Everything else you see below is typically categorized as young adult. Because the loss of a young child is, in my mind, very different from the loss of a teen or an adult sibling, I did not include juvenile reading materials (though they certainly exist).

Various kinds of relationships and deaths are represented in the list below. Some are about the loss of a brother, others of a sister (I haven’t yet seen any loss of non-binary siblings or otherwise-identifying siblings; please comment if you know of some!). Some are about the loss of an older sibling, others of a younger sibling. Some characters have other siblings, others are left as only children. Some are twins, some are not. There are far too many dimensions to note all of them, so I’ve linked to Goodreads pages for you to view summaries, most of which indicate a good amount of this information. The list is in no particular order. While I considered it, I did not do research on the authors of the books to determine whether or not they have lost a sibling (and I do think it can make a difference).

If you’ve lost a sibling and want to find commonness in literature or if you simply want to better understand what it’s like to lose a sibling, I hope this list will help you find what it is you’re looking for.

 

Image courtesy of Photo Pin

 

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

Eleanor by Jason Gurley*

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat

The Way Back from Broken by Amber Keyser

Breakaway by Katarina M. Spears

The Good Sister by Jamie  Kain

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor*

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee*

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lost for Words by Alice Kuipers

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee

Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël

Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs

The Other Shepards by Adele Griffin

For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Pieces by Chris Lynch

Dr. Radway’s Sasparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart

Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie

Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Displacement by Thalia Chaltas

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows (step-siblings)

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood*

Coaltown Jesus by Ronald Koertge

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard*

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund

The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick*

The New Normal by Ashley Little

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman

 

Show Off: If You Liked Thirteen Reasons Why…

Thirteen Reasons Why is now not only a wildly popular tough-topics book for teens, but a Netflix series, too. There are so many similar novels out there, it wasn’t hard to pull together a list. I started with NoveList, but made use of subject headings including “suicide” and “grief,” too. While most of these novels don’t have the nifty cassette concept or an equivalent, many of them deal with topics many teens face daily. Whether they find comfort in these fictionalized versions of events in their real lives or enjoy the inherently high drama of these stories, teens will likely find at least one book to interest them in this set. Check out pictures of the display below along with a list of books I used.

 

Just after this I got straight to work on straightening the YA graphic novels.

 

The Good Sister Jamie Kain
Please Ignore Vera Dietz A. S. King
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia Jenny Torres Sanchez
34 Pieces of You Carmen Rodriguez
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
Ghostgirl Tanya Hurley
Love Letters to the Dead Ava Dellaira
Boy Proof Cecil Castellucci
The Spectacular Now Tim Tharp
Teach Me to Forget Erica Chapman
The Memory of light Francisco X Stork
The Last Time We Say Goodbye Cynthia Hand
When Reason Breaks Cindy L. Rodriguez
Falling into Place Amy Zhang
And We Stay Jenny Hubbard
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Matthew Quick
Fall for Anything Courtney Summers
All the Rage Courtney Summers
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead Julie Ann Peters
Suicide Notes Michael Thomas Ford
Stay with Me Garret Freyman-Weyr
The Beginning of After Jennifer Castle
After Kristin Harmel
The Beginner’s Guide to Living Lia Hills
A Map of the Known World Lisa Ann Sandell
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ned Vizzini
Challenger Deep Neal Shusterman
Saving Francesca Melina Marchetta
Waiting for You Susane Colasanti
Before I Fall Lauren Oliver
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Gabrielle Zevin
The Body of Christopher Creed Carol Plum-Ucci
Willow Julie Hoban
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Kat Rosenfeld

Abby Reads: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016, 336 pages
Young Adult Fiction

With many, many brave young women coming forward to share their stories of sexual assault, Courtney Summers’ All the Rage certainly finds extreme relevance in the lives of young adult readers. Romy, living in a small town where the wealthy get away with what they will and she struggles to get by after her trauma, is one such girl. But after bringing her story to people in authority, the town turns on her. Left with remnants of relationships and the gentle heart of a boy at work, Romy is shocked when an old friend goes missing. Already condemned for coming forward, Romy prepares to once again confront the actions of her assaulter with the hope of preventing more sexual violence.

Summers craftily moves Romy about in a timeline, back and forth with sleight of prose to place the reader in a confused and unsteady mindset. With flashbacks that may or may not be flashbacks and history repeating itself, the story does not always move in a linear fashion, but rather
keeps the reader grasping for one anchor or another to determine the order of events. As frustrating as this is — especially if you’re reading this over a long period of time or reading other books concurrently — it has a significant hand in setting the tone and mood for the book, which might
not otherwise pack quite the punch that it does. Readers are with Romy, not just in her story, but in her emotional journey from chaotic trauma to control.

While the book does have a little bit of a thriller angle to it, the treatment of sexual assault is overall sensitive, if gritty. Fairly graphic depictions may deter some readers, but the novel remains an important work for those of us wondering what we can do to better support survivors of sexual assault. Summers creates a rich and realistic world as she handles layers of intersection in the lives of Romy and those who know her. Poverty is clearly an issue in her hometown, as is racism, which we see with Romy’s black sort-of-boyfriend (and his awesome dentist sister, who is miles away from any stereotypes I could think of — yay!). The book deals with privilege from so many different angles, but it never feels bogged down with it. This can be a great opportunity to start conversations for readers who might not know where to start on such topics.

Characters are breathed into fully with symbolic quirks that pull them from the page and onto the couch next to you. Romy’s continuing theme of nail polish as a sort of armor helps outline her character in a way that, while perhaps a bit overdone, is absolutely clear. The same is true for her mother’s boyfriend and all other characters throughout the novel.

All the Rage isn’t perfect. Its excessively unclear at times and can be a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism, but as a piece on a topic that is difficult to discuss and even more difficult to experience, Summers’ novel doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of humans. Summers successfully makes the topic real for those who haven’t experienced it and spurs them to action while providing a tale of strength in the face of vulnerability and pain for those who have.

❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

Older posts

© 2017 24 Hour Library

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑