#MustReadIn2016 is hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That:
“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2016. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.). As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”
My plan was to read 5 books between each update, and I was on track until this final update where I only read 3…
(One of my books I decided to skip because I’d put it on the list because I love the author but after reading the summary over and over, I just don’t think I’ll liked being scared. The other one I didn’t read because I LEFT IT AT SCHOOL during Winter Break–ugh!)
However, the three I read are all 3 are five stars!
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Author: Margarita Engle
Published August 4th, 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Summary: In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.
Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.
Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?
My Thoughts: Margarita Engle’s novels-in-verse are some of my favorite narrative poetry out there. She has a way of making the words on the page sing! This title is no different, and I think it is the best I’ve read by her because it is obvious her heart and soul were in each and every word. It was also quite interesting to learn about the historic period of time that Margarita was living in.
Author: Matt de la Peña
Published August 12th, 2008 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Smmary: Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.
Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.
My Thoughts: Matt de la Peña knows how to give voice to the young men who often feel like they do not have one. Danny is such a complex protagonist who is so talented and yet so unsure about himself. The growth he shows throughout the book with the help of the most unlikely best friend is so inspiring, and I loved living the summer with him.
More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Published June 2nd, 2015 by Soho Teen
Summary: In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
My Thoughts: Adam Silvera’s book should be mandatory reading. It has inspired me, and so many others, in ways that no book in a while has. The idea of identity that it puts forth is so thought-provoking and deep. If you have not read this one yet, move it to the top of your TBR!
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Summary: In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.
My thoughts: Whew. What a piece of history. The relevance of this book to today was disturbing and saddening. My parents and in-laws said this was required reading for them in high school. I found it interesting that this book is not taught often anymore. It is an excellent text to read, and I am still thinking about it, months later.
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
Summary: Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, “All will be well,” is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.
My thoughts: I sobbed through much of this book. It made me feel very raw emotions, and I will carry it in my heart always. As others have stated, this is a must-read. I am so glad it was on my must read list this year.
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Summary: In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.
My Thoughts: Ah, so this is why everyone raves about this book! It is gory and great fun. I loved this fairy tale retelling, and I enjoyed the ways in which Adam Gidwitz breaks the fourth wall and talks to the reader often. I’ve recommended this book to a few folks since I’ve read it.
Stop by There Is A Book For That to see the updates of everyone’s #mustreadin2016 lists!
And next week, check out our #mustreadin2017 list!