What I Read This Summer

The Walls Around Us: The unreliable narrator(s) threw me for a few loops! I knew something was off in how I was perceiving the story but I could not figure it out on my own until all the pieces came together at the end. This book switches between two characters: Amber, who is a prisoner in an all-girls youth detention center, and Lena, who is a star ballerina with a sketchy past. We know that Lena's best friend was convicted of murder before being sent to the youth detention center and she died a month after arriving... but the story is told mostly three years past when the girl died. It's rather complicated. The story was intriguing, though the "paranormal" aspect that appeared toward the end wasn't explained enough for me. Overall = B

Everything I Never Told You: Recommended by many internet lists, I finally got around to reading this novel. And it only took me 3 days. Though marketed as a mystery, that part of the plot unraveled so slowly at times I forgot that the characters were trying to figure out why their 16-year-old sister/daughter was found dead at the bottom of a lake. I loved this book for its rich characters, how their complex pasts were shared in ways that illuminated their present life choices, and their complicated (but so real) family dynamics play out amidst tragedy. Ng also weaves intense themes around beloning, gender, and race that were nuanced and realistic. Overall = A

My Sisters the Saints
I'll admit I am still only on chapter three, and I technically started reading this in April. Campbell shares parts of her life and how she connected with various saints at those times. Overall: It's an interesting read with conversational tone. I'd recommend it... I just read non-fiction really slowly. 

The Good Girl: Lately, I'm all about short chapters, and this book delivered. Each chapter not only switches between characters, but they also back and forth in time which allows for the mystery to unfold in a unique way. Lots of twistiness, loved the ending. Overall: A-

Eight Hundred Grapes: Your basic chick-lit novel. It was a quick read with interesting characters, though a predictable plot and annoying ending. I would recommend it if you're looking for an easy beach read. Overall: B-

The Luckiest Girl Alive: The unreliable narrator left me second guessing everything, constantly searching for what the big "twist" would be. I thought this book was entertaining and kept me reading, though the big secret event was revealed to near the middle of the book... the last 100 pages seemed almost unnecessary or too long. Overall: B

Hatchet: I'm teaching a new prep this year: 9th grade Basic English. It's a group of 7 boys who are really behind; they struggle to write a complete sentence and their reading level is around 2nd -3rd grade. Thankfully, I have a bit more freedom with the curriculum, so I tried to find some high interest books that were at a lower reading level. Hatchet fit that niche! A 12-year-old boy, Brian, is in a small plane, flying with just the pilot over Canada to go visit his dad when the pilot has a heart attack. Brian ends up surviving the plane crash and Hatchet tells his 50+ day survival story. (Did I really like it? No... but I think my students will.)

Among the Hidden: 
Another book I read as a possibility for my basic class. Set in a future dystopian America, families are only allowed two children, but Luke is a "third." At the age of 12, he's only been out of his house for a few minutes at a time and once a new development is built close to their home, he isn't allowed to leave the attic..... until he sees a girl peeking out the window in a house that already has two children. Luke eventually sneaks out to meet her and then things get crazy. Overall: Quick paced read that I really enjoyed! I think my students will like it too since dystopian books are all the rage. 

I also started all of these books and quit before page 50... 
I'll Give You the Sun
One in a Million Boy
Between Shades of Gray
The Lightning Thief


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