Genre: Diverse Reads

Review: History is All You Left Me

Posted February 6, 2017 by Emily in Review / 0 Comments

Review: History is All You Left MeHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on January 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Diverse Reads
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
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four-stars

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

This was my first Adam Silvera book and I have to say, I think his writing is beautiful. It’s easy to get lost within his words and the story he created. His characters are well developed and a lot like people you may know in reality. I remember thinking that I wished this book could be forced into the hands of people who don’t understand that love is love, even when it’s not a heterosexual relationship. If what Griffin felt for Theo wasn’t love, then what the hell is?

This is not a happy story. It is very depressing at times and it’s hard to catch a glimpse of happiness until you’re done and can reflect on everything that you can learn from Griffin’s trials. One may want to be in a good state of mind before reading it. That being said, there is a lot to this book. There’s love, loss, grief, and OCD.

I read in a different review that someone thought the OCD felt inauthentic and just thrown in. They mentioned it being too much to add to the themes that are also a part of this book, but I think that opinion is missing something huge. People who have OCD also love and lose people. The reality is that someone could be facing all of these things at one time, just like Griffin. I personally felt like Griffin’s OCD was very well written because there were so many times when I wouldn’t have ever considered a situation where an obsession with everything ending or being an even number would exist.

Griffin’s way of dealing with grief was so real and Silvera didn’t hold back or sugar coat some of the things we do as humans in situations where we don’t know how to react and therefore make mistakes. Getting over your first love is SO difficult. That’s a harsh reality. Not being the one to move on first makes it that much harder. Griffin found himself facing extreme jealousy when Theo moved on and becoming serious with Jackson on the other side of the country. I think another really important and notable aspect of this situation was how a once happy, healthy relationship turned into something that was selfish and the opposite of what it once was. I truly think this happens often and the individual in Griffin’s position thinks they’re never going to feel that love again and need to wait around for the other person to realize this mistake. This is wildly unfair, not to mention untrue.

Overall, this was a beautiful book in spite of the sadness. This is a solid 4 stars in my book.

four-stars

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Posted November 29, 2016 by Emily in Events and Features, Top 10 / 9 Comments

10 Contemporary Books to Buy to add Diversity to Your Bookshelf

TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on September 29th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 316
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Rashad is absent again today.
That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…
Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.
And that’s how it started.
And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.
Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.
Cuz that’s how it can end.

This book is so relevant to some of the social issues we’re facing in the United States today. I loved the dual perspectives because it made the story not just relatable, but easier to understand because I am white. I highly, highly recommend this one for all ages and races.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on August 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 192
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A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.
Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.
Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.
Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.

This is a middle grades book, but it is so good! If you have kids, are a teacher, or just want some insight on a tween boy who grew up under rough circumstances but found a positive outlet in running track, pick this up.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 400
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This is a heart wrenching kind of book. I enjoy a lot of true crime shows and have found myself watching documentaries on kids being accused of committing murder at  young age, so I was drawn to this one immediately. Mary is black and was accused at age 9 of killing a 3 month old baby and now after years of time in “baby jail” and a treacherous group home she finds out she’s pregnant. This book shows that sometimes the whole story isn’t told and you can’t always judge a person based on appearances.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 384
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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I love this book so much. Definitely top 5 of 2016 for me. A mixture of fate, logic, and interracial love is just the beginning of what makes this book fantastic.

 

TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 391
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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

America’s formerly fattest teen ends up back in school after several years of being out and becomes a target of Fat Girl Rodeo. Little does she know that one of the boys who targeted her suffers from prosopagnosia. When they have to serve a sort of detention together, they discover things about themselves and each other.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads, LGBT
Pages: 293
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In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Recommended by my dear friend, MC from Blame the Books & Cornerfolds, More Happy Than Not is not one that I have personally read but is on my upcoming TBR. This book is focused on a teenage boy overcoming the heartache associated with his father’s suicide. He meets another boy and starts to feel happiness again despite others’ weariness.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads, LGBT
Pages: 352
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The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Another recommendation by MC! This is about a gender fluid teen who feels female  some days and male other days. However, she hasn’t come out yet and is encouraged to make a blog as a way of dealing with her feelings. It started anonymously, but someone discovered her identity and has threatened to out her. She has a decision to make!

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
Published by Razorbill on January 26th 2016
Genres: Magical Realism
Pages: 396
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Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

The diverse representation in this book centers on Native American heritage and culture. It’s mostly contemporary with a bit of fantasy, but the blend and balance is so unusual and makes for an awesome read.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Published by Knopf on February 14th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse Reads
Pages: 320
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I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

This is another middle grades book, but it’s truly powerful. Auggie suffers from facial anomalies and was homeschooled for most of his life. When he finally goes to public school in fifth grade, he faces a lot of criticism. In the end, he teaches the entire fifth grade and those around him a valuable lesson on seeing beyond a person’s disabilities.

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TTT: Holiday Gift Guide 2016Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on June 3rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 218
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John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern's insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

I haven’t read this, but have heard a ton of great things about this book. It’s based on a teen with cerabyl Palsy and another student with crippling OCD.

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