As graduation approaches Mike and his friends just want to make it through all of the mundane end of the year rigamarole so they can continue on with their lives. Unfortunately there are a group of kids in his town lovingly referred to as the “indie kids” who seem to be all of the chosen ones.
In The Rest of Us Just Live Here Patrick Ness brings us the story of the kids in the background. Basically this is the Perceys and the Larrys of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Ness gives a few nods to BtVS throughout the novel which brought me joy. This book was great and had one of the most diverse character spreads I have seen in young adult fiction. None of which felt forced or tokenized. The fact that all of these kids are just trying to have fun with their friends and do their thing in order to graduate I present a lovely poppunk song about dealing with high school and getting out alive, Doing Time by MxPx.
Reading stats for June 2016
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Real World by Natsuo Kirino
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
George by Alex Gino
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
Total finished: 9
Borrowed from library: 5
LGBTQ Authors: 4 (Books w/LGBTQ characters: 6)
Women authors: 7
POC authors: 1
In translation: 1
Favorite: The Sunlight Pilgrims (I’ll be writing more about this one soon.)
Reading stats for May 2016
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Shrill by Lindy West
The Girls by Emma Cline
Total finished: 4
Owned: 3 (2 obtained from BEA)
Borrowed from library: 1
Women authors: 4
POC authors: 2
Favorite: The Girls is a major standout but I truly loved everything I read in May.
Let me start off by saying that I am incredibly sad to hear that Books on the Nightstand is ending their podcast in June after a super long run. Ann and Michael’s thoughts on the book world and their recommendations will be sorely missed. The fact that they announced this on the same day as summer book bingo probably saved a lot of fallen tears as many of us were too excited about downloading new bingo cards to cry for long.
For those unfamiliar with summer book bingo, you can download a card here. The object is to obtain a bingo by reading books that match the categories (open to your interpretation). In the US we have two holidays which bookend our summers, Memorial Day and Labor Day (if you are outside of the US think the last weekend in May through the first weekend in September). That is the time frame in which you have to play.
I am posting my card below. Leave a comment with your suggestions for what I should read in these categories! Last summer I completed 3 rows, I hope to meet the same goal this year.
It was the fall of 2012 when Green Day’s album, Uno, was released. As soon as I heard the opening track, Nuclear Family, I felt as if I related to it. The thing was I wasn’t relating like I normally do with Green Day songs. They’ve been my favorite band since 1993. When I relate to a Green Day song strongly I am generally in a heap on the floor crying inconsolable tears. This was different. Like I was relating to some other part of me. A past life? A dream?
It quickly hit me. Tris Prior. Back in July of 2012 I had read Divergent by Veronica Roth and absolutely loved it. It filled the void that finishing the Hunger Games trilogy had left in me. A girl faced with saving her world from a corrupt system.
In the world of Divergent, one must pick what faction they are to become a part of and serve for the rest of their life. Will they stay with the faction they were born into or will they take their place in the world elsewhere? This is where the “death of the nuclear family” lyric comes in. This mother and father raised you, but you can break out from that family and essentially choose a family. No more mother, father, sister, brother. And can you not just see the obvious parallels of “riding the world like a merry-go-round/ like a ferris wheel like it’s breaking down.” Not to mention riding that Dauntless train through Chicago, “Can you hear the sound coming over the hill? Gotta move my feet, it’s coming in for the kill.”
If I had any skills in video editing, I’d definitely be making a music video of scenes from the Divergent film. No one likes a montage better than a kid born in the 80s!
In celebration of I Read YA week:
I don’t feel old in my mid-30s, but I have aged out of being able to call myself the target audience of young and also new adult. During my time as a teen in the 90s, the young adult genre was only an inkling of what it has become in recent years. In the past, I read a lot of coming of age novels, which were mostly male authored with male lead characters. A few of my favorites as a teen were Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin and Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne. I was desperate to grasp onto any fictional character who could validate the mess happening in my brain in my fight to deal with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. I was dealing with thoughts and feelings that I didn’t feel safe divulging to judgemental and gossipy friends, so I turned to fictional friends as an alternative.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve obtained a more trustworthy circle and learned more about the best ways to keep my mental illness in check, some of my old fictional friends aren’t the best to go back to. Just like most toxic relationships, it’s best to cut the cord. So long Holden Caulfield. You have a spot in my heart for holding my hand through junior year, but we’re over. The genre of young adult fiction has exploded in recent years. With that, we’ve seen a slow but growing uptick in diverse authors and thus characters. Where I had to settle for literary friends at one time, I can now seek out heroines and heroes for which I don’t have to compromise. If a character is a misogynist, I can toss them aside and not fret that I may not find someone in another novel with values closer to my own.
To this day, I have to focus on recovery from the traumas and mental illness symptoms I had in my younger years. In addition, my mental illnesses are those that require constant work and treatment in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. What I have found in many current YA titles are characters who are dealing with these same symptoms. These characters are facing traumas that I faced. Not realizing others shared these experiences, I have taken to voraciously reading these novels in adulthood. I have hurts from that time in my life which still need to heal. Recently I read The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork and was absolutely blown away by the way in which he crafted the experience of depression through the main character, Vicky Cruz. Her depression had an air of guilt engulfing it. She questioned why she had suicidal ideations when she came from an upper middle class background. She could see other people had a more marginalized position in society and didn’t understand why depression could exist in her. This was something I struggled with from external sources in my teens. I was thus able to let go of the hurt I still carried from people who asked me why I was depressed when I had what appeared to be a comfortable life.
I find that the gap in my mental health treatment is slowly being closed by meeting new characters in YA fiction. Whether it’s the inspiration to continue working for the betterment of society despite PTSD from Katniss Everdeen, or persevering to fight the bad in our world when having trouble fitting in to a certain societal mold from Tris Prior. When given a fictional character that mirrors our own struggles, we can take cues in how we might heal from the past or conquer the future.
Reading stats for April 2016:
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
No Mud No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Already owned: 2
Library books: 3
Women authors: 4
POC authors: 2
Books with subtitles: 3
Favorite: I will be coming back to No Mud No Lotus for years to come.