Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
What is described as a book about the unlikely event in which two teenage boys both named Will Grayson meet on a Chicago street corner one cold night, ends up being an enchanting read in the hands of the masterful John Green and David Levithan. These powerhouse YA authors create a wonderfully funny, uplifting, and earnest coming-of-age story about friendship, love, and one epic musical. Written in alternating chapters between the Wills, the voices of the characters are distinct but the plot never feels choppy. I don’t expect anything less from these great writers and you shouldn’t either. Read it.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer is a coming-of-age graphic novel that tells the story of Rose and Windy, two girls whose families vacation at the same beach every year. They swim, watch movies, and BBQ. But this summer is a little different. Rose’s parents won’t stop fighting and the girls get caught up in some of the small town secrets. This story does a very good job walking the line between childish innocence and young adult tumult. The art is gorgeous and helps portray the feeling of carefree summers mixed with confused emotion, sadness, awkwardness and ultimately hope. It’s a good summer read.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
From the back of the book: “Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if I loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?” Vera Dietz’s best friend, Charlie, died and now he is haunting her. A thousand ghost Charlies show up in her car, in the bathroom and at the pizza place where she works. Vera is damaged and trying to get by without being noticed too much. Beneath good writing and captivating narrative, Ms. King’s novel is about growing up and how to forgive. Her writing is in the same vein as John Green. It feels authentic and her story deals with real issues. I liked the pacing and overall emotional weight of the story. I recommend this to most everyone as a good coming-of-age story and especially John Green fans.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Review: Even though this is the third John Green novel I’ve read, I’m still amazed at how real his writing feels. It has an integrity to it that, so far as I know, is uniquely his. Emotional without being sappy; profound without being superior. “Looking for Alaska” is no different. The characters were flawed and believable. The story was engaging, sometimes funny and sometimes sad. Mr. Green certainly knows his way around a coming-of-age story.
BONUS BOOK REVIEW!
Reprint of my review in honor of the movie release this Friday!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Review: Charming. Painful. Romantic. Real. Heart-wrenching. Smiles. Tears. So. Very. Good.
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Review: Very nice little beach read! I read this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ms. West created a contemporary, YA-romance/coming-of-age story that felt fresh. Yes, I knew that it was going to have a happy ending but it still felt original. I especially liked the heroine, Caymen Meyers. She was sarcastic and real. I think my only complaint—and it’s minor—would be that Caymen worked in and spent a lot of time in a porcelain doll shop. Every time I read about the dolls, I would picture some in my head and it was a little creepy. But who knows, maybe Ms. West meant for her readers to be thrown off-guard by the dolls.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Review: Simply put: Wonderfully done. I thoroughly loved this coming-of-age story about a nerdy, awkward college freshman who spends most of her time writing fanfiction for a Harry Potter-like canon. Intermixed with the plot were little snippets from Ms. Rowell’s version of a magical school teaching a boy destined to overcome a great evil along with excerpts from the heroine’s own fanfiction. It was imaginative and impressive. Classify this one in the “Can’t Put it Down” category.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Review: Nostalgia alert! This was my favorite book growing up so read this review through my rose colored glasses. It’s hard for me to point to exactly what speaks to me about this story but I still end up crying at the end. It’s weird because I don’t necessarily relate to the two main characters and I don’t really think I ever did but what they go through seems to engross me. The coming-of-age story hits me with its focus on friendship, the importance of having someone accept you for who you are and the power of imagination. Even after all these years, still a classic for me.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Review: Can something be both happy and sad at the same time? I feel like this book is a clash of emotions. It was romantic yet antagonistic. It was poignant but unnerving. Moreover, after all the ups and downs, the ending was satisfying but at the same time I wished there was more to it.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Review: This was a good first novel from Ms. Fitzpatrick. I liked the coming-of-age and first love aspects of the story. It also had some nice surprises in the character development. There was a lot of drama toward the end and I felt that the ending was rushed but nevertheless, it was satisfying.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Total Reading Time: 1.5 hours
Review: I haven’t read many graphic novels but this one was definitely a tour de force. It deals with some pretty heavy topics in such an emotionally real way. The graphic novel medium really lends itself to emotional expression. Mr. Thompson created such poetry in both words and art. This novel was incredibly brave, beautiful and heart-rending.