History is All You Left Me by: Adam Silvera

Summary:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

The Review:

This was another book on my TBR. Earlier this year I read Adam Silvera other book, More Happy Than Not and I really liked it so I was glad that he wrote another book also dealing with gay themes.

History is All you Left Me, like More Happy Than Not deals a lot with grief and death, but does it in the best way possible. It begins with Griffin dealing with the death of his ex-boyfriend Theo, and Griffin feels a lot of grief towards it especially when he meets Theo’s current boyfriend Jackson at the funeral, and they start to sort of befriend one another.

The book also uses the narrative of flashbacks which gives us a glimpse into the relationship between Griffin and Theo, which includes their entire courtship from them both coming out and dating to them breaking up after Theo leaves for college. I thought the relationship was extremely well developed and you actually care about both of them even though you know whats going to happen.

Griffin, was also a well developed character. After the death of Theo he is going through a lot of emotions, and a bulk of the present day narrative he is “talking” to Theo, and is acting like all of his actions Theo is watching him. Throughout the book he is dealing with not only the break up between him and Theo but also his death and him trying to get over it. Griffin trying to befriend Jackson and their relationship was also pretty good with both of them having a shared grief towards Theo.

Another relationship Griffin had is with Wade, a friend of his and Theo’s. It was nice to him have a best friend especially when his relationship with Theo deteriorates and they even are about to enter a relationship until Griffin gets a call about Theo’s death.

What makes the book great is how Adam Silvera writs characters, especially LGBTQA+ characters as normal people and makes them relatable. Griffin was an average teenager who likes video games, comics and Harry Potter. But writing grief was also very well done and seeing Griffin’s inner turmoil is what made the book great.

In the end, History is All You Left Me was a great book that really sets up Adam Silvera has a great YA contemporary author. It gave us well developed characters and I want to see more books by him.

Grade 5/5

 

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Simon vs. The Homo-Sapiens Agenda By: Becky Albertalli

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

The Review:

For the past two years, I kept seeing this in bookstores and I always pick it up, then put it down and never actually buy the book. Last week I decided to finally buy the book. I confess, the reason why I grabbed the book this time is because of the movie that is about to come out soon and I wanted to finally see what the hype was all about, and it didn’t disappoint.

The story is basically a coming of age coming out story, in which Simon is secretly talking to someone online named “Blue” in which he talks about his problems to and they develop a good relationship. He also deals with being blackmailed by one of his classmates, to basically be a “wingman” to him. Simon is a sort of the normal YA contemporary male protagonist, he deals with most problems that high school boy faces but it did a good job at also weaving in a good coming out story. I also liked how much of a Harry Potter fanboy he was.

I felt it was a bit cliched to have a coming out story mixed in with a blackmail plot. That was always a pet peeve of mine in LGBTQA+ story lines in which it always has to deal with blackmail, in terms of coming out and the book already had a good story without blackmail plot.

I also like the use of the internet and how he meets “Blue”, being though Tumblr. It shows how an online can be helpful especially for those who want to escape their actual reality. I also liked Simon’s relationship with his family, especially his sister who pretty much knew he was gay.

The “Blue” reveal was also pretty good. While the relationship seemed a bit rushed once they meet each other in real life, it did seem real and genuine.

In the end, Simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda was a very good book that lived up to the hype. It had a great main character in which you care about and a pretty good story about coming out and self-acceptance.

Grade: 4/5

The Hate U Give by: Angie Thomas

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Review:

This was another book from my Top 5 Debuts I am Excited For, and this was on top of the list, and it seriously did not disappoint, and maybe in the running of my favorite read of 2017, and it also one of the most important books to read.

This book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and it really captures how a police shooting affects, a city in which the shooting took place. It examines how the police was involved within the investigation and how the media interprets what happens..

The shooting takes place right around the beginning of the book where, Khalil and Starr were pulled over by a cop and after some things escalate the officer shoots Khalil, with Starr witnessing everything.

Starr, is an amazing protagonist. I like that she is a character of two worlds, from the prep school during the weekday and the poor neighborhood, where she lives with her family.  When she is at school, she feels as if she has to act a certain way, especially around her white classmates, being one of the few black students in the school. Even after the shooting Starr feels as if she does has a responsibility to let everyone know the real story. But her being a 16 year old girl it feels like a big burden.

The whole story is within a few month period which starts with the shooting and ends after the Grand Jury verdict. Even though Starr was a witness to the events of the shooting , the media starts to twist everything calling Khalil a thug and a gangabnger, which happens a lot within officer involved shootings. Also the reaction of her classmates, in which her classmates use the term “gangbanger” as a way to justify the shooting.

Starr’s character arc goes from witness to activist in the best way possible, and you see how it is guided through her parents, who I think were some of the best parents in YA contemporary. You could tell that they always wanted what was best for their daughter, and care deeply about her. Her father reminded me a lot of one my professors in college that always tends to drop some knowledge on the class.

Starr’s relationship with her boyfriend, Chris was also well done. While Chris was white, he still was trying to understand what she was going through. I also like that the relationship while still well developed didn’t take too much time away from the plot of the book.

DeVante is another good character. He is someone who is in the gangbanger lifestyle and is always struggling to get out. His arc mainly deals with his dealings with the neighborhood gangster, and looks to Starr and her family for support. The book really does a good job at dealing with the issue of family, especially living in a poor neighborhood.

In the end, The Hate U Give was one of the most important books I have ever read, and I usually don’t pick up contemporary books, but I am glad that I read it. It has a great story, a great main character and provides a commentary about a real life issue that is going on today.

Grade 5/5

 

More Happy Than Not by: Adam Silvera (TW: Suicide, Depression)

Summary:

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?

The Review:

Adam Silvera is an author I have heard some great things about. I know a lot of people are reading his new book History is All of Left Me, so before I wanted to read that book, I decided to read More Happy Than Not.

This is a contemporary book, which is a genre I don’t normally grab onto but I heard great things about the book, that I had to read it to see what the hype was about and book definitely lived up to that hype.

Aaron is dealing with depression mainly due to his father’s suicide and thinks he can get help. I like Aaron as a character. He likes video games, comics, and is basically a normal teenager. That’s what I like about Adam Silvera’s writing is that he writes him like a normal teenager and have him talk like a normal teenager., which is very lacking in other contemporary YA books.

Throughout the book you see Aaron go through many phases of his depression. He always blames himself being gay for his father;s suicide, which is why he wants to go through the Leteo procedure, to forget his fathers suicide and maybe try to “straighten” himself out. He is also hoping that the Leteo procedure will make him happy again.

His relationship with Thomas is also well developed, you see it start as a friendship and than in develops into something more, and he is still struggling with his sexuality, especially since there was another boy, Collin who he had a relationship with and it didn’t end well. He also has his girlfriend Genevieve, who I felt was a good character and was always there for him but she could have used a bit more development. I also like his relationship with his mother, while she only has a few brief scenes you could tell she really loves her son.

The Leteo procedure is sort of like the procedure used in “Eternal Sunshine” in which it makes people forgot memories and it specializes in trauma and trying to suppress traumatic memories.I like the concept of institute because it really makes you think if you would want to go through that procedure and will it cure your depression. It was a really great concept that the book explored.

In the end, More Happy Than Not is a great book that deals a lot with depression and sexuality and it flows in a great way. It also has a great plot with amazing characters.

Grade: 4.5/5

Fangirl by: Rainbow Rowell

Summary:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

The Review:

This is another book from mt TBR list, and it was my list for a while ever since I read Eleanor and Park a few years ago, and like Eleanor and Park I really enjoyed this book.

This is also a contemporary book, which is a genre I don’t usually go for, but after reading a ton of fantasy and dystopion books I realized that it is time that I needed to get back to reality with an enjoyable contemporary book.

Let’s first discuss the character of Cath, or Cather. She is a super-fan of the Simon Snow series (which is basically Harry Potter) in that universe. She rereads the Simon Snow books and even writes fan fiction. If I say that I relate to Cath it would be an understatement. While I haven’t wrote fan fiction is a while, but I could say that I was and am a part of many fandoms within the internet. Also the fact that I would rather be at home reading than going out with friends. Rainbow Rowell did a good job at making Cath introverted but likable at the same time.

I also like some of the inclusion of her Simon Snow fan-fiction. I know Carry On goes more in depth and writing Simon and Baz in a relationship. So I may read Carry On.

The book mainly takes place during Cath’s first year of college and going through the motions of anyone’s first year and even dealing with a roommate, Reagan and her sister Wren. I like the relationship that Cath has between those two characters. With Reagan, she was the roommate who she doesn’t really like but tolerates, I also like that didn’t make Reagan the typical bitch character like you see in other books. Her relationship with Wren seemed strained because you see that Wren wants to move on and make new friends while their in college.

There is also Cath’s relationship with Levi who she meets through Reagan. I like that the relationship was more than just physical attraction and it was more based on mutual interest and I like that it didn’t get into the insta-love. My only gripe with the relationship is that Levi was originally Reagan’s boyfriend and it almost seemed like it was breaking “girl code” even though Reagan was okay with it.

I also kinda wish the book digged deeper into her relationship with her parents especially with her mother, in which you out she left the family when Cath and Wren were young. But she only has a few scenes with the girls and they were brief. I did like the inclusion if their fathers mental illness and each of the girls were affected by it.

In the end Fangirl was a great contemporary read and I enjoyed it. The main character was very relatable, and a developed supporting cast. It gives us a great insight into fandom and fan culture.

Grade: 4/5