I spent May getting caught up on some older award winners and then reading some new novels by writers I LOVE.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
While the story of a teenage minority caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and ending up in prison is interesting, the most interesting thing about this book for me is the format. I love experimental formatting, and this book features a screenplay written by the MC. The narrative goes back and forth between chapters in first-person and the character's screenplay, which chronicles the events in the courtroom and gives us the details of what landed him in jail. I just love when writers think outside the box.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
YA lit, this book follows the unlikely romance between the title characters, who come from very different worlds. The story is told in alternating POVs, which is becoming more and more popular. I love Rainbow Rowell's voice and seriously. Look at this cover art guys. What a great design.
Highly recommended for older teens
Warnings on: language.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I actually read Searching for Alaska before reading The Fault in Our Stars. And it took me a long time to realize that the guy from the Vlog Brothers is the same guy who writes all these great books, but now that I've realized that, I'm reading my way through his body of work. An Abundance of Katherine's is a fascinating peek into the "beautiful mind" of a former child-prodigy Colin, who only dates Katherines. After his most recent breakup, he goes on a road trip with his best friend, stops in Gutshot, Tennessee, and meets a girl named Lindsey. She unexpectedly helps him work on his mathematical theorem to predict the duration of romantic relationships and unexpectedly becomes as interesting as a Katherine. The format (full of footnotes) is great and the prose is hilarious.
Highly recommended for older teens.
Warnings on: language and sexual situations
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Those of you who loved Whaley's debut novel Where Things Come Back need to check out Noggin. Travis Coates, who is dying of cancer, has his head cryogenically frozen so that when the technology is available, he can be resurrected and attached to another body. He thinks this will be very very far in the future, so far that everyone he knows will be dead, if it even happens at all. But the technology becomes available sooner than he thought and he is revived five years later. Unfortunately, this means that everyone has move five years into the future, leaving him strangely unmoored at 16 while his peers are now all 21. This original concept is backed up by great prose from Whaley, in a coming-of-age story that is equal parts quirky, sad, and very very funny.
Highly recommended for older teens.
Warnings on: language
The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis
Ann Dee Ellis is a genius. I don't say this lightly. And if you flipped through her books, that descriptive word might not come to mind, as her prose is deceptively simple. But all of her books are spare and searing and hysterical and get to the incredible heart of the human condition in as few words as possible. This is very hard to do. And Ann Dee does it gorgeously.
I don't want to give ANYTHING away about this book, because a big part of the enjoyment of The End or Something Like That is in the discovery of a surprising development for the main character. To be very brief: as the one-year anniversary of her best friend's death draws near, Emmy prepares to commemorate the event in a unique way. Do yourself a favor and don't read any other synopses or reviews. Just go read it.
Please go read it. If you are like me, you will laugh, you will cry, you will be amazed at the prose, and you will cry again when you talk with your best friend about the book and read quotes to each other, and you will cry again when you tell Ann Dee in person how brilliant the book is and how much you loved it.
Highly recommended for older middle grade and up.