I’ve been reading and writing in bursts and have finally caught up on a few of the books in my TBR pile:
The Fault in Our Stars and Code Name Verity are both as good as everyone says. I’d heard they were devastating — complete tearjerkers — and I think I was preparing for something overwrought, but they were pitch perfect and true. I finished them with an “Ah… Yes, that’s it exactly.” I especially loved Code Name Verity for its focus on female friendship, which is so rare in YA and such a significant part of growing up.
Also wonderful: See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. I think I’ve mentioned before that there are certain writers whom I admire because their work deepens and grows with each book. You can feel them working through ideas — writing isn’t about churning out material but a way of understanding. Jo’s one of these writers. All of her books have a lot of heart, and this is her best yet. I loved the relationship between the siblings, and I adored Random and poor Cassie. Fern’s big questions and grief are balanced with moments that are touching because they’re so human and true.
For a completely different read (i.e. not a tragedy): Edenbrooke. It’s a YA Regency novel that’s more Georgette Heyer than Austen. Overall it’s a delightful romance, and the Horn Book review teases out one of the qualities that I liked best about it — Marianne is trying to understand her relationship with Philip throughout the novel — it doesn’t magically come together in a tidy ending when they suddenly discover they love each other. Their romance is full of misunderstandings and conflicting loyalties. I had a couple of small character/motivation questions that I won’t go into unless someone who has read it wants to discuss because they’re hyper specific — but it’s charming. Philip’s a wonderful, worthy hero, and Marianne’s a mixed up seventeen year old who’s trying to work through personal loss and find a place where she belongs. (Yes, the title is a dead giveaway.)
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
Gwenda’s a fellow VCFA alum, and we shared an adviser my final semester, so in addition to thinking the book sounds unusual and fun, I’m personally delighted for her. Huge congrats, Gwenda! Can’t wait to read it 🙂