Being sick means YA binge reading ...

I got the flu and read a bunch of books. -Sarah

A Little Life - Hanya Yanigahara


I don't even know what to say. I loved reading this book so much that I found myself alternately rationing myself out and binging on Yanagihara's beautiful prose. I loved each of the characters so much. They're all really well written and complex. 


I know that this is meant to be a story about four friends, but let's be real: It's Jude. The rest of the characters are told in reference to his character and the slow unraveling of his story. His traumas are horrific, and the scars and lasting injuries they leave him with are significant. But the most brutal part of the things he has lived through is actually the way he has internalized these events. (As a trauma survivor, some of this was uncomfortably familiar to read.) 
The parts that wrecked me most though, were the parts in which the characters reveled their hope and their infinite capacity for love. I feel like i should buy a stack of copies and give them out as gifts. Easily one of the best things I've read this year.


Lumberjanes - Noelle Stevenson


This comic is everything. It's intentionally inclusive racially, including a couple of queer characters and dare I say a trans girl as well? More than that, it's fun and sweet and hilarious. This is everything I want in a comic and I cannot stop raving about how well written and well drawn this title is. There's adventure, supernatural elements, romance, three eyed magical foxes, some mythology, and sibling rivalry thrown in for good measure. It's appropriate for all ages, so after you're done reading it, you might pass it on to a younger nerd. 


The Truth and Other Lies - Sascha Arango


** spoiler alert ** I wanted to like this book. The concept seemed interesting and the writing was pretty compelling. In the beginning, it even seemed a little Irving-esque. But here's the thing: this is a book about a misogynistic sociopath who kills the women in his life, intentionally or not, when they become inconvenient. I'm not opposed to books about sociopaths - if they're written well. I loved both Hannibal and Gone Girl, among others. But Henry kills his wife by accident, and later his mistress when he falls for a younger woman and her place in his life is inconvenient. He lets his stalker live, despite knowing enough to unravel all his lies. I think we're meant to relate or root for Henry, but he's a loathsome character, a murderer (which again, isn't an issue - that's the point of the genre), and a sexist for no real reason. There are non sequitur dropped into the plot that are never resolved and a narrator that inconsistently breaks the fourth wall. I kind of regret the time I spent reading this and am glad I didn't spend money on it.


Vivian Apple at the End of the World - Katie Coyle


This book was so great. It makes such great points about religion and family and relationships and belief without revolving around a contrived romance. There is a road trip, an apocalypse, and an intense religious cult contained in this book. All things that I'm pretty into reading about. I was over the moon when I found out that this is part of a series - probably the first time in recent history that I've been pleased by a sequel. 


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

    
When Ari's brother got locked up, all traces of him disappeared from his house. His parents put away the pictures and letters - they never discuss the circumstances around his imprisonment. Ari feels angry and alone until he meets Dante at the pool. Their friendship is formed around swimming, sexuality, and shared Mexican-American identities. Dante is openhearted and kind where Ari is more guarded and part of this story is told in letters, which I love. I love how intersectional this is, and more than that, I love the characters and the plot. I binged on this book and would gladly read anything else Saenz writes. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han


I expected a fun, fluffy teen romance, I liked this book a lot. I read it specifically because I was attending a We Need Diverse Books event that Han was speaking at, so I was surprised by the lack of diversity in this novel. Despite that, and despite it being totally out of my wheel house, I liked it. The characters were really dimensional and there are pretty impressive plot points not related to the love triangle. I expected this to be about relationships, but it's also about families and responsibility, about friendship and growing up. 


To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han


I don't have sisters, but if I did, I'd want them to be just like the Song girls. The narrator, Lara Jean is adjusting to her life after her older sister, Margot, leaves for college in Scotland. After the death of their mother, Margot stepped up to make sure her two younger sisters were well cared for and in her absence, Lara Jean takes over caring for the youngest sister, precocious Kitty, and their father (who is a surgeon, and keeps long hours). Somehow letters that Lara Jean wrote to her crushes were mailed to ... you guessed it: All The Boys She's Loved Before. Including one to Margot's ex-boyfriend, and one to a popular jock. There's a love triangle here, and this book is probably rightly classified as a New Adult romance, but that does a disservice to people who might read outside of that (pretty narrow) genre. TATBILB is about all the different ways in which you can love the people in your life.