LaRose: A Novel
I was pretty excited about this book because I loved The Round House by the same author, but I struggled to get into this one. Landreaux Iron is out deer hunting when he aims at a buck and instead shoots and kills his neighbor's son, Dusty. In exchange for Dusty, Landreaux and his wife decide to follow the old customs and give their son, La Rose, to the neighbors in exchange for the life Landreaux took. While this storyline itself was solid and I felt could have carried the book, the author shot off in so many different directions that I struggled. You have Romeo, the town drunk, who grew up with Landreaux and his son, Hollis. You have an addicted mother and her daughter, trying to survive on the streets, as well as many other tertiary characters. I struggled to follow along and care, though I was interested in the storylines of the two main families.
Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen)
Sarah Dunbar is integrating an all-white school in the 50s. Following the integration of Little Rock Central High and other schools, she has no idea how difficult her journey will be. Compounding this journey is Sarah's own confusion about her sexuality, especially as she falls in love with the daughter of a very vocal anti-integration activist. I really enjoyed this book, especially having taught about school integration this year. I thought the sexuality struggle added an extra layer to Sarah's voice and made it more interesting.
The Square Root of Summer
I would call this book good, but not great. Following the death of her beloved grandfather, Gottie discovers wormholes and begins reliving days she has already lived. While this concept overall interested me, I didn't feel it was that well executed and ended up confused half the time as to what was really happening vs. what had already happened. Gottie's voice was strong and her struggle over her grandfather's passing, as well as her struggle reuniting with an old childhood friend and crush were believable and carried the novel, but the plot overall didn't engage me.
Katie struggles to fit in, but she does have one goood friend: Esme. Until Esme asks Katie what her biggest fantasy is and Katie responds by kissing her, causing Esme and her other friends to ostracize Katie. In the midst of this, a grandmother Katie never knew she had shows up and moves in with Katie, her bitter single mother, and her 14 year old mildly mentally disabled brother, Charlie. The book bounces back and forth between Katie, her mom Caroline and her grandmother, Mary. As the book progresses, you understand what motivates all the characters and why they are the way they are. I really enjoyed this book and felt the author did a fabulous job developing all of her characters.
What are you reading?