Posts Tagged: Young Adult

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Good Exploration of Grief: What We Leave Behind by Allison McGhee

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A Good Exploration of Grief: What We Leave Behind by Allison McGhee
What I Leave Behind
Alison McGhee
Genre: Contemporary, Grief, YA
Publication date: May 15th, 2018
by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

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After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.
-A copy was provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers for review-

I wasn’t entirely sure what I expected when I started What I Leave Behind and while I haven’t made my mind about the actual content of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the format?? I am not even sure if there a word to describe the style but the story is told in these short snapshots into Will’s mind that are somehow able to paint a bigger picture even though less words are used.

So. What I Leave Behind is the story of Will. It’s been three years since his father committed suicide and he is still processing the trauma while trying to recreate his father’s infamous cornbread. When his friend is raped, he decides that he needs to do something. His need to do something starts to awaken him from his depressive slumber and he starts responding again to the world around him.

I think part of my issue is that while the book is about Will processing his own trauma, it uses Playa’s–his friend–rape as a crucial point in Will’s narrative. There is this moment where Will’s boss Tom apologizes to Will for what happened and that made me uncomfortable because it wasn’t Will’s trauma. The issue for me wasn’t that it wasn’t Playa’s story but how this traumatic event was used to aid Will’s story arc.

There was an instance where the “wise old Asian lady” trope was employed and the wise old lady spoke in broken English and was a generic Asian which was was cool. By which I mean not cool at all. This happens so frequently in books and media and general and I feel like so many of us have internalized it but I am trying to be better about calling these things out because it is important!

Anyway, moving on. I do think that What We Leave Behind is an impeccable exploration of grief and trauma. It isn’t about getting to the point where everything is okay and there is an HEA. What We Leave Behind places importance on the process of healing and understanding trauma. It’s not about getting to the point where everything is okay, it is about being in the process of being okay someday.

Will’s awakening is about him starting to notice the little things his mom has been doing for the past three years, its about him saying him connecting to the people in his environment like the butterfly man and Superman. What We Leave Behind is also about Will reconnecting to old friends who he kind of cut out of his life after everything went down with his father.

Overall, this book certainly has some good things going for it and a worthy read for younger readers (it reads more Middle Grade than Young Adult) but I also think its worth talking about how Playa’s trauma is used as a way for Will to work towards healing. 

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Lackluster Poolside Read: Airports, Exes and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Lackluster Poolside Read: Airports, Exes and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Posted by on 05/17/2018 • 0 Comments

I love a good travel story. I specifically love a good travel story involving airports and things going horribly wrong. Partially because I travel relatively often and because I have a couple of bad travel stories in my own pocket. I don’t think this is really a trend in YA though and it NEEDS TO BE. Jessica Brody’s The Chaos of Standing Still was basically everything I wanted in such a story and I was hoping Airports, Exes and Other Things I am Over would deliver on a similar scale. It didn’t.

The book feels like it’s missing something honestly. It starts with Sari walking in on her boyfriend and his ex kissing. She runs away, doesn’t talk to him and spends an entire week and a half brooding over…

What a Girl Wants with a Twist: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

What a Girl Wants with a Twist: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Posted by on 05/11/2018 • 1 Comment

Rachel Hawkins is an auto-read author for me so I barely even glanced at the Goodreads blurb before diving into this. I just saw her tweet a bunch about it and decided I definitely needed this book in my life. Anyway, so. I dove in. Fell in love and then realized I should probably look up the Goodreads blurb. ANYWAY. SO. A book about royalty!!!! Most books about royalty feature that one character who finds themselves amongst royalty because they have fallen in love with someone who is royal except that is absolutely, 110% not the case with Daisy. Daisy’s sister has fallen in love with the Crown Prince of Scotland. This is not ideal for Daisy, not because she has royal aspirations of her own but because she really…

Diverse Books out April 2018

Diverse Books out April 2018

Posted by on 05/06/2018 • 5 Comments

Helloooooo. Look at me. I didn’t publish this post late this time. Anyway, so. Welcome to the April roundup of Diverse Releases. These roundups focus on Young Adult and Middle Grade releases with the occasional romance release (which, there are way way way better roundups out there of diverse romance books.) I do also include books by authors of color that don’t necessarily have characters of color. Anyway, let me know if I miss a book or include one with bad rep!

                     

 Any of these on your TBR? What are you most looking forward to diving into??

The Summer of Jordi Perez and Rashika’s Favorite Burger Place

The Summer of Jordi Perez and Rashika’s Favorite Burger Place

Posted by on 04/10/2018 • 3 Comments

The Summer of Jordi Perez was everything you can ask from for a summer-y read. Romance, friendship, identity and just a little bit of food-fun, Jordi Perez was truly a package. Also Jordi Perez is the name of the love interest and she was delightful as well.

I always complain about this because I am a whiny baby but it is SO HARD to express feelings in a review for a book you really really enjoyed and Jordi Perez is SUCH A FUN READ. I’ve had a really rough month and a half and have read almost no books this month but Jordi Perez cheered me up when I needed it.

Summer is not going how Abby Ives had thought it would. It’s the summer before senior year and all…

Diverse Books Out March 2018

Diverse Books Out March 2018

Posted by on 04/09/2018 • 4 Comments

March has been a not-so-great month for me so I delayed doing this post by a week (usually done on first Sunday of new month) but I DIDN’T FORGET. So, welcome to the March 2018 roundup of diverse releases. As previously mentioned, these roundups focus on YA and MG books because that’s what is easiest to keep track of for me. If I miss a book, or include one that shouldn’t be on here, let me know!!!

                

Any of these on your TBR? What are you most looking forward to diving into??

Adventurous and Swoony: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Adventurous and Swoony: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 03/30/2018 • 1 Comment

I’ve been reading Jenn Bennett for half a decade now and she’s been one of those authors I basically just read anything by. I don’t need a summary or acclaim, I JUST NEED BOOKS BY JENN BENNETT. This book had the added advantage of having an enemies-to-lovers/friends-to-lovers romance trope and an survival-esque story so like… yeah.

Unsurprisingly, I loved this book but I also got to buddy-read it with a close friend which made my experience reading it all the more better. But as anyone knows, loving a book doesn’t make writing a review any easier. It probably makes it a lot harder.

Zorie and Lennon used to be the best of friends and were on their way to becoming something more when something goes wrong. Now they go out…

An Emotional 24 Hour Journey: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

An Emotional 24 Hour Journey: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Posted by on 03/26/2018 • 0 Comments

I Have Lost My Way was my first book by Gayle Forman even though I’ve wanted to read a book by her for the past 5 years. I guess I am just going to have to go back and read more because I am in love with her writing style. I finished I Have Lost My Way feeling satisfied and warm gushiness from the good vibes in the book. However, upon hours of reflection, I can see that this book is not perfect for a number of reasons.

For starters, I was slightly uncomfortable with the way Forman wrote Harun’s story. Harun is a gay Pakistani-American. Throughout the book, we see his struggle with those identities and I felt like that struggle wasn’t really Forman’s to write about? I felt like she did…