Book Snap #64

Title: Scythe

Author: Neal Schusterman

Date Read: September 22, 2019

Two snaps!

This is a compelling and riveting YA novel set far in the future. A future in which all disease has been cured, and humans live forever. Except for a few, here and there, who are “gleaned” by a sanctioned group of Scythes who are able to permanently take the lives of people to control earth’s population.

Becoming a Scythe is an arduous process that is closely monitored and governed by a conclave of eternal Scythes who occasionally take on apprentices and welcome them into this elite group of killers.

Neither Citra nor Rowan wanted to become Scythes, but they find themselves as apprentices and then suddenly, pitted against each other in a contest that will prove fatal to one of them.

Shusterman envisions a plausible and complicated future and offers up lots of exciting adventure for his characters! This is a great read, and the first arc in a championed trilogy.

Book Snap #61

Title: Girl Made of Stars

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Date Read: August 12, 2019

Two snaps!

Another win in the YA category!

We all play roles in our lives, and Mara plays many: she is a twin; a daughter; a girlfriend; a friend; a student; and an activist. Although all of these roles have independent names, her loyalties and decisions are blurred as these roles intersect and find themselves at terrible odds.

Mara and her fraternal twin, Owen, are close. Very close. They share stories of the stars from their rooftop together. But when her brother is accused of raping her friend Hannah, it tilts her whole world on an unsteady axis. As she navigates her way through her family loyalty it forces her to deal with the trauma of her own past.

“This. This is why I never said anything. Because no one ever believes the girl.”

(Ashley Herring Blake, Girl Made of Stars)

Herring Blake explores, with compassion, the complicated lives of teens– especially young female teens, as they navigate high school friendships, relationships (LGBTQ), misogyny, and the misuse of power. Mara is a fully developed character with whom we can see ourselves and for whom our heart aches as she tries to makes sense of how to just be with others as each of her roles morph.

One of my favourite passages is where Mara wonders at the types of things that could be inscribed as an epitaph to her as she tries to sort out who she is, and who she wants to be.

Mara McHale, Some type of girl

Maybe I’m the type of girl who likes short skirts.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who likes boys and girls and those who sometimes feel like both and neither.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who slaps a boy in the face when he does something shitty.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who hides and cries in her bed alone, remembering the terrifying day that took away all her control and trust.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who’s tired of hiding and crying alone.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who realizes she’s not alone.

Maybe I’m the type of girl whose favorite person in the world did something unforgivable.

Maybe I’m the type of girl who finally accepts it.

Maybe I’m nota stupid girl.

Maybe I’m just a girl, plain and simple and real.

(Herrington Blake, p.264-5)

We are all, all types of girls. Highly recommended reading! You will love the Girl Made of Stars.

Book Snap #59

Title: Dear Evan Hansen

Author: Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Date Read: August 2, 2019

Two Snaps!!

I inhaled this one!!! It is a sensational YA novel adapted from the Broadway smash-hit. Beware: after reading you’ll want to book a trip to see it on the stage as well!

Evan’s chronic social anxiety leads his therapist to give him a unique homework assignment: write a daily uplifting letter to himself, promising that today’s going to be a great day.

Evan is lonely, he doesn’t fit in, and he begrudgingly completes his letters without much belief that they will ever really help him to cope with life in high school. When his letter falls into the wrong hands, Evan becomes embroiled in a lie that takes on a life of its own. For the first time in his life he is no longer invisible– he is a viral social media sensation and his life at school is remarkably changed as well. But it’s all a lie. And one lie leads to another.

Dear Evan Hansen explores life and how we choose to live it. Do choose to read this book– you will love Evan Hansen!

Book Snap #47

Title: On The Come Up

Author: Angie Thomas

Date Read: March 29, 2019

One and a half snaps.

Another YA novel from Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.

Thomas creates strong voices for her central teenage characters that rap with swagger and trade in inner-city barbs. Maybe that’s what makes me old, unhip, and a little disengaged.

Although I can’t rave about how I couldn’t put this book down, because I did multiple times; I do know it has appeal for audiences much younger (and cooler) than I .

Bri is a sixteen year-old with a passion for rap. She is startled by her own success in ‘the ring’ where she battles line for line with some of the best rappers from her neighbourhood. The pressure however, is palpable– as she is constantly juxtaposed with her successful father who was on his way to success when he was murdered.

Thomas judiciously covers several plots that help her closely examine race, prejudice, and our deep desire to do the right thing– and to stay true to ourselves despite what looks easy and thrilling.

Bri sums it up in this short snap here:

We can’t have any power, either. I mean, think about it. All these people I’ve never met have way more control over my life than I’ve ever had. If some Crown hadn’t killed my dad, he’d be a big rap star and money wouldn’t be an issue. If some drug dealer hadn’t sold my mom her first hit, she could’ve gotten her degree already and would have a good job. If that cop hadn’t murdered that boy, people wouldn’t have rioted, the daycare wouldn’t have burned down, and the church wouldn’t have let Jay go.

All these folks I’ve never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.

And Bri does take the power back with her intelligence, thoughtfulness and skill; she is a wonderfully strong and fully-developed female protagonist. Worth a read if you’re a rap-savvy high-school student!