Post BEA Book Binge

What I've (Sarah) been reading. 

Warren returns home, divorced and defeated. Home, in this case, is a dilapidated mansion left to him by his father. Almost immediately, he meets a daughter he didn't know existed and lands a job at a mixed-race charter school so he can afford the tuition. Warren is biracial, and until meeting him, his daughter, Tal, has assumed that she's white. There were parts of this book that made me laugh out loud, and other parts that were so tender and poignant. Loving Day isn't just a story about families and race; it's also a ghost story, a comedy, and a sweet and unexpected romance. 

Well written, if occasionally fluffy middle grade book about a boy crazy gay teen and the madcap antics that happen during his summer internship for a Broadway star.

Funny enough, thought Hart is occasionally dismissive or ambivalent to queer people and sex workers. Nothing new for straight, white, cis comedians - all in the name of a laugh. I enjoyed parts of this book, but felt like kind of a hypocrite for doing so.

Mira, Jeremy, and Sebby are all complicated and conflicted in different (and occasionally compatible) ways. It would be easy to call this a love triangle, but it’s more than that. Each of the characters is dancing with an assortment of dysfunction – mental health, poverty, sexuality, addiction, and religion among others. Fans of the Impossible Life is about the ways in which we fall in love with our friends and how complicated and multi-faceted that love can be, regardless of whether we call it platonic, romantic, or sexual. It’s about crashing and burning and hoping to survive. Each one of the characters in this book is dynamic and nuanced and beautiful, as is the writing, the story, and the resolution. I finished this book and couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

I love the characters, the plot, and the gorgeous art. This is everything I want from a graphic novel. Nimona and Ballister Blackheart are among the most complex characters of this beautifully drawn comic. I love the many, many ways that Stevenson challenges the idea of what “good” and “evil” really mean. Is it better to blindly fight for king and country or to rage against them to feed an old grudge? This is appropriate for older middle grade readers, but there is a fair amount of violence. It’s a good place to open up conversations about what friendship means, and how beautiful relationships can actually be. 

Madeline lives in the safe bubble of her home, unable to venture outside due to an incredibly rare disease. Olly moves in next door, pursues Madeline with a bundt cake (not in the way you’re expecting), and they fall in love. The love story is central to the plot, but there’s a twist that happens later in the book that took me totally by surprise. Past that point, the book was unputdownable, and I finished it with hope in my heart and a hunger to live in Maddy and Olly’s world for just a few pages longer. 

This is the sequel to Han’s previous novel To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. If you haven’t read that, the basic premise is that Lara Jean’s secret letters to boys she loved got mailed. There was a love triangle and she ended up with the not-always-likable Peter. Her older sister is studying abroad and her affable but semi-absent father leaves her mostly in charge of her younger sister, Kitty. And just as LJ is starting to get her shit together, a boy from the past emerges.

So, yeah, there’s a love triangle. It’s a big part of the plot. But the important relationships here are platonic and familial. This is what I love most about Han’s writing. It’s not simple, and it’s shockingly beautiful. Because there’s an element of romance and because it’s market to a younger audience, it’s easy to write off as a YA romance, but if you pass on it because of that, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. 

I’m not sure what happened to the all-consuming obsession I had with comics in my twenties. I guess the honeymoon phase wore off and I got tired of white dudes in capes. Between Lumberjanes, Bitch Planet, Ms. Marvel, and Saga, I’m finding myself all swoony about the medium these days. There aren’t a lot of really great portrayals of parenting in comics – not one where parents are the main characters. I love the relationship between Alana and Marco, how stupidly in love with one another and their family they are. I love the unbelievably creative settings and characters and not knowing what will happen next. There are a lot of concurrent storylines running at the same time, but somehow Vaughn and Staples manage to juggle them gracefully enough that I found some empathy for even characters I loathed at first.