I just realized I am guilty of a thing that I hate that other people do: not putting Goodreads links (or Amazon or wherever) for books I’m currently reading. I will no longer make that mistake.
Hello! This has been a whirlwind week. First, I have to say I am officially OFFICIALLY on vacation now. I know I said I was on vacation last week (and I was), but I had to wrap up some search committee work, which meant I had to go to work twice. TWICE. That does not count as vacation, especially since I had to (a) set my alarm and (b) go to work and do work. Interviews! Work.
Anyway, it’s over now, and I have three months with no teaching or search committees ahead of me.
A funny thing keeps happening to me. I cannot for the life of me remember what I am planning to do in my classes in the fall. I always remember three of the four assignments I have planned. And it’s only ever three. Usually it’s the same three, but this time it’s a different three. My plan is to put the missing assignment in my phone as soon as I remember.
But I digress.
I think I have mentioned it before, but Mom (CBS) is one of my favorite shows (and one of the few shows I watch that survived the Great Television Slaughter of 2016. But I digress). Since it comes back tonight (9 p.m. Eastern time!), I figured I’d post some books that people who like the series might enjoy.
That means it’s almost over.
That means soon I’ll be able to breathe.
I don’t think I have ever looked forward to winter break more.
In other news, this week I got to meet literary goddess and living queen emoji Meg Cabot. She is every bit as funny and amazing as you would imagine. Also, she thinks I rule.
I’ll just admit up front that this is my first time reading this book. Judy Blume wasn’t really on my radar when I was a kid, so I’m encountering most of her books as an adult.
What do you say about a book that you really liked but don’t have a lot to say about? I don’t know, but I’ll try.
The book is deceptively simple in its prose. However, main character Davey is dealing with a lot. Just…a lot. I loved the examination of fear and how it operates at a deep level of control and hypocrisy.
I was nervous about Davey’s relationship with Wolf (he’s significantly older than her), but the cover was misleading in that regard, and their connection is well-developed and believable.
There’s a great examination of race and class here as well as, of course, the look at grief and the different ways it manifests. I love reading older stories because Davey “hyperventilates,” which, today, we would call having a panic attack. It’s just interesting to see how language changes.
I understand that styles shift over time, but I really do wish more current YA was written this way. Not all teens are super introspective nor do they use lyrical prose to describe what’s happening with them. Still, they deal with a lot and process a lot and have astute observations about life that aren’t necessarily dressed up and made pretty.
I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s hard to imagine this novel being published today–yet I find it more authentic and relatable than what’s out there now.
Of course, that could be because I’m an old. Oh well.
And yes I know about the movie. I’m planning to watch it soon.
I recently finished I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, which is mostly about a girl falling in love with a Marine with PTSD, but which is also about a girl dealing with her alcoholic mother. And as I was reading the book, something started niggling at me about the way the mom’s alcoholism was described/treated. It sounded really familiar.
In the past year or so, I have read the following YA books that deal with a parent’s alcoholism:
- I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
- 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody*
- This Side of Home by Renee Watson
- Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer*
- The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder*
- The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer
- The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The Year of My Miraculous Appearance by Catherine Ryan Hyde
I just have to say up front that Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is the type of story I love to read, and the type of story I want to see more of in YA lit. It’s about a girl who goes to college and has to navigate the new setting, relationships, and teachers she has. She also needs to figure out her old relationships with her family. No super heightened craziness, just regular everyday life.
In fact, it hits on quite a few of the items on my YA reading wishlist:
- mental illness – Cath’s dad has bipolar disorder, and I love the way it’s revealed and the way that it explains so much of Cath’s issues.
- alcoholism – One of the characters gets busted for alcohol poisoning, and the whole discussion about how she isn’t going to stop drinking because “everyone else drinks” is classic alcoholic behavior (the idea that s/he can drink like everybody else).
- nerdy/quirky teens unashamed of their nerdi-/quirkiness – Cath loves Simon Snow, wears her Simon Snow swag, and is just fine talking about Simon Snow. She may not tell everyone that she writes fanfic, but she’s not ashamed of her love or knowledge of the world.
Bonus points for exploring the bullheadishness of students and their lack of awareness when it comes to (a) plagiarism and (b) not following directions. Oh, and female friendship, of course. Oh, and learning disabilities! Also, Cath is so codependent.
Extra bonus points for having a romance in the story and not letting the story become about the boy. Cath’s relationship with the boy is one of the many relationships she navigates, but it doesn’t overshadow or become more important (narratively, I mean) than her relationship with her sister or her father or her other friends.
Also, Rowell’s love affair with redheads continues. There are TWO in this book.
A couple of things that didn’t quite work for me:
1. The story starts out slow because Cath spends the beginning of the book being a mopey hermit. Rowell keeps the narrative from getting too bogged down by showing Cath’s forced interactions with her roommate and classmates. Yay for dialogue.
2. Several times in the story, the characters comment that Cath has online friends, but there’s nothing that shows Cath’s online friends are her actual friends. There’s this undercurrent that those friends don’t count. Cath is a BNF (big name fan), so she would be interacting with her online friends A LOT. This idea of online fans as being isolated in real life but not online is important, and I wish it had been explored more.
3. I liked the excerpts from the Simon Snow books and fic as framing devices for the chapters. I absolutely HATED that huge chunks of parts of the narrative was Cath reading her fic out loud to someone and what she was reading was transcribed in the book. I am not a big fanfic reader of the shows and books that I actually know and love. To read fanfic about a world that doesn’t actually exist–about characters I had zero investment or interest in–felt extra pointless.
All in all, though, I found Fangirl to be a solid read, and I breezed through it. Loved the characters, loved the relationships.