After months of sitting on the Twitter sidelines, nervous about doing this whole thing wrong, I stumbled upon #IMWAYR this morning and decided I can’t wait forever to get my feet wet.
As winter break wound down this weekend, I returned a stack of some new favorite titles to our local library yesterday (and returned home with an armload more). Here are the middle grades/YA books I enjoyed over break this year:
Last summer, a friend handed me The One and Only Ivan and my reading life was forever changed. When Crenshaw was released in the fall, I made sure it was on my doorstep the day it was released. Like all of my favorite authors, I was discouraged that Katherine Applegate can’t write as quickly as I can read. Home of the Brave didn’t have the same hype as her more recent books, but I decided to give it a try. Several times I shifted it to the bottom of my ‘to read’ stack, not encouraged by the fact that it was written in verse (I’m just not a fan of poetry!) or that it was about a refugee from Africa (How could I relate?). I finally picked this title up on Friday night after my kids went to bed, and couldn’t put it down. The journey I took with Kek was deep and meaningful, a story that anyone who has encountered challenges and change in their life can relate to. This book was beautifully written and touching, one I can’t wait to share with others so that they may also experience the heart wrenching joy of knowing Kek.
Also a fan of Wendelin Van Draanen since reading Flipped while I taught upper elementary, I decided to pick up The Running Dream, a book for older readers about a high school track star who loses her leg in a tragic accident. I worried that the story was too predictable, too dramatic, but then it began surprising me. The unexpected depth to the characters and their actions made this book worth reading.
Gennifer Choldenko’s Chasing Secrets blends historical fiction with mystery and intrigue. This book was a compelling story about fears of the plague in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Between a deep plot line and a strong lead female character, this book was another title that I found difficult to put down over break. Not only did I learn something new about history and discrimination, I felt as if I rode an emotional roller coaster along with Choldenko’s characters.
Today I’m reading Pretty Baby by Mary Kubika, an adult novel about a woman who gets drawn into a mystery involving a homeless girl and a baby she encounters and sets out to help on the streets of Chicago. The woman invites the young girl and baby into her life with potentially dire consequences for her daughter, her husband, and herself. As this story is unfolding, I’m finding it more and more difficult to put down.
As I kick off 2016, I look forward to a great year of reading and sharing!