I read all Young Adult lit books this week, except for the first book. Sorry, but not sorry because YA is a good genre that you should probably explore if you haven't yet.
The Night Guest: A Novel
I love books with unreliable narrators, but I'm not really sure if the narrator of this book is unreliable. Maybe a little unreliable with an unreliable antagonist? Either way, it was good. Really good. I would like you all to read it. Ruth is a 75 year old woman who lives alone in a cottage by the sea, who seems pretty well put together, except that she thinks she hears a tiger at night. Her sons are kind of worried about her, so when Frida shows up, saying she's been sent by the government (this takes place in Australia) to help out for an hour a day, everyone is pretty happy. At first, Frida proves helpful, cleaning Ruth's house, assisting with medicine, making meals before she leaves. But then, Frida starts to stay longer and longer hours, on the seemingly small salary paid to her by the government. This was one of those books that had a slow opening, then smacked me over the head and left me kind of chilled when I realized what twist might be coming. This novel is described as a psychological thriller and it is aptly so. I found it even more disturbing than books like Gone Girl or others of its genre, even though it wasn't as overtly in your face. It creeps up on you, but leaves you unable to think about anything else. While the ending wasn't a huge surprise, the relationship between Ruth and Frida and the way this story was written was so well-done to me that I didn't need the surprise. It was definitely creepy and unsettling.
My students had an essay due last week where one of the possible prompts was to compare Divergent to another dystopian novel. One boy asked if he could compare it to Legend. A quick google search revealed that it's a dystopian book, but I figured it'd be a good idea to read it prior to his essay. This book is told by dual characters: Day, a 15-year-old street boy and June, a 15-year-old sister to one of the Republic's top military men. Day is the bane of the Republic's existence in that he's constantly pulling off heists, yet they never come close to catching him. June is thrust into Day's path when he murders her brother. Like any dystopian novel, the flaws in the society are slowly unraveled and revealed as the novel goes on. While there were some plot holes that were left empty, this is also part 1 of a trilogy, so I would assume they'll be answered. I really enjoyed this book and felt like she did an excellent job developing the characters and the horrors of the dystopian world June and Day live in.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Leonard Peacock has one wish for his 18th birthday: to kill his ex-best friend, Asher, then kill himself. Before he can carry that out, he has gifts to give to the few people who he feels have cared about him or helped him in some way: Walt, his elderly neighbor with whom he watches Humphrey Bogart movies; Baback, a school "friend" who allows him to listen to his violin recitals; Lauren, an evangelical Christian who hands out tracts at the subway station; and Herr Silverman, Leonard's Holocaust teacher. As the story unfolds, we learn about Leonard's childhood and what happened to lead Leonard to this place where he wants to kill Asher and himself. This book, honestly, set my teeth on edge, but there was something raw and real about it. I could see Leonard in so many kids that I've taught, where you just hope that they know that someone cares about them. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but sometimes ambiguous endings are good and this is probably the type of book that benefitted from it. I guess a part of me just didn't want to let Leonard go. This is one that will stick with me for awhile.
A Chance for Charity (The Immortal Ones - A Paranormal Romance)
Sometimes my students will recommend books to me and they're books that I would've loved at 13 but not so much at 31. This book is an awful lot like another book that rhymes with Smilight. Charity is 17 (but really she's immortal) and lives with her aunt and uncle, who are also immortal. Her uncle is a doctor. The family has to move around every so often so no one notices that they don't age. They have a lot of money. A mortal boy falls in love with Charity and finds out her secret. Sound familiar? Fortunately no one sparkles in the sunlight. All joking aside, the kindle version is free to download and it was actually an easy, enjoyable read. Good literature? No, but it kept me occupied while I recovered from 13 miles on Sunday.
What are you reading?