Flawed kid protagonists tell their stories

There are many protagonists in kidlit that are very mature and evolved, and when you read a lot of fiction, this starts to feel normal. However, children in real life are flawed and not nearly as together as most kidlit protagonists are. Kidlit characters can be so developed that when you come across a flawed protagonist, they feel unlikable.

I thought these books did a good job of depicting true and flawed kids. Kids are not always likable and motivated, and it is really great to see protagonist who have attitude and make mistakes. Continue reading

Older teen protagonist get real about trauma

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I am really glad that there is so much amazing YA out there. To me, it feels like authors are creating a new genre entirely. I didn’t feel that anything I read in high school resonated with me. Books like The Outsiders and The Catcher in the Rye are not only outdated, but they don’t relate to today’s teens at all.

I hope books like the ones I read here make it into the hands of teen readers, even if it’s a long way before schools start teaching these books. Continue reading

Realistic and diverse YA

I am so thankful that these books exist. They tell specifict stories and break stereotypes not because the characters do the opposite of what we expect them to, but because they are nuanced and have so many aspects to themselves. I think we are starting to see that minority characters are here not to make a book diverse, but that they can have full range in their own right. The characters in each of these books is flawed, complex, privileged in some way, and most of all, they are fighting internal battles. All of the struggles compounded to make the stories here very powerful, heartbreaking, but also more realistic. Continue reading

YA fever

For the month of June, I decided to branch out and read what I normally don’t read. This includes romance, contemporary YA, and mysteries! I have always wanted to read those genres but as a creature of comfort, it was easy to pick out the realistic and fantasy books I normally read.

Trying something different is good!

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds – What a wonderful debut!!!! This is much more than a teen romance. I love the time loops and the concept of this book is hard to pull off, but Justin did it and we wanted to follow Jack King wherever time takes him. I love Kate, and Franny and Jillian. My favorite thing about this book is that it could’ve become so many tropes and other things, such as winding into a large cast or become gimmicky, but it didn’t. The author showed a lot of restraint and the plotting was A+.

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi -I did not finish this because although the cover and premise are very promising, and looks like a very fun, teen romance read, the writing was not my style. Teen speak is tricky to master and too much of it is usually not a good thing.

Just South of Home by Karen A. Strong – The cool thing about this is that I follow the author on Twitter for a while before I was able to read the book! It’s so cool to know authors as real people who have emotions and witness the work they put in in order to make a book come to life. This was a good MG ghost story! I think ghost stories and horror are going to be the next big thing in kidlit and YA. It’s a way to deal with mature themes, and it’s totally appropriate and respectful too. I loved responsible protagonist Sarah, city girl Janie, cute Elis and mature Jasper. Really nice reading a debut and I can’t wait for Karen’s sophomore novel. Hopefully it will be another ghost story!

Miraculous Miranda by Siobhan Parkinson – This is kid speak done right! I loved Miranda and her fantasies, and I’m always a fan of Harriet the Spy-esque characters. Kids who are cynical and kind of battling life in their own snarky way, with really spot-on observations. Miranda reminds me of Ray from Uptown Girls. You will never catch them being hurt or sad, but inside their steely and sharp wit is vulnerability and fierce hope. I love characters like Miranda.

The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristen Levine – I love books composed of letters, e-mails, other documents, and look like a scrapbook. I did not love Claudia’s dad because what he did was so irresponsible, but I loved Claudia and her friend’s determination to get to the bottom of it. The format of this book reminds me that I would really love books about local history, consisting of documents, yearbooks, photographs, and letters!

What stories catch your eye this summer?

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This was my first ever Angie Thomas book and I totally get the hype now. Reading this book felt like tagging along with Brianna on her journey. I’m a fan of first-person narrators because I like experiencing the world with the character. Brianna’s comments and thoughts about her surroundings felt like her breaking the fourth wall to show us her world. By the end of the book, I really felt that I had been with Brianna through her journey.

There are a couple things I especially loved about the book:

  • I loved the world building–Garden Heights is so developed and believable. We usually talk about world building in fantasy, but a fictional world that’s realistic with all the details is just *chef’s kiss.* Garden Disciples vs. Crowns, Midtown School of the Arts, Garden High, Sal’s Pizza, Mr. Watson the school bus driver–all of these details situated us right in Bri’s world.
  • My favorite part of the book has to be what’s usually called the “fringe characters.” I had so much fun reading about them.
    • Granddaddy’s one-liners and Grandma’s pettiness had me wanting to hear from them more!
    • Milez/Miles/Rapid_one – the manager’s son with his own story was cool. There’s a different side
    • Sonny and Malik! The Unholy Trinity is awesome and I loved their changing and complex friendship.
    • Dr. Cook, the superintendent who wasn’t totally a villain. This made me trust the author– the people who I expected to let us down, were redeemed.
    • TREY and KAYLA!!!! I relate to them because they’re my generation and I felt it so hard when Bri said that Trey did everything right but still has to work in a pizza shop. I also love that Trey was a psychology grad.
  • I loved when Brianna called Malik out. Malik might be an attractive boy and Bri’s best friend, but what he did was not right. I’m so here for more boys being called out for playing with feelings and being uncertain. However, Malik is also not a villain and they were able to patch up their friendship even after that kiss.
  • I was always nervous that Supreme would turn out to do something shady and things would blow up, so I’m so glad that Brianna didn’t get her come up through him.
  • Other things I loved: The memes, Blackout (aka Bossip), Dat Cloud (aka Sound Cloud.) As a pop culture lover I loved this.

Thanks Brianna! Your passion for rap will stand out.