My Life in France | Julia Child - This was just the most wonderful story ever. I absolutely fell in love with Julia and Paul Child, so inspired by their zest for life and each other. Plus, the time they lived in, especially in Paris, was (post war) phenomenal. When slow, simple living was still the way life was, and Julia wrote about it in such great detail. She was truly a remarkable woman. If you haven't read this book yet, you're doing yourself a disservice.
Turtles all the Way Down | John Green - This book has helped me firmly decide that I am, indeed, a fan of John Green. This is the fourth of his book I've read, and I've liked them all but been on the fence. While reading this, I've realized that Green is intentionally writing his characters to be offbeat, not quite real, and incredibly interesting, layered people. Whether or not you're into the actual story is really besides the point, because it's the way he writes, the way he thinks, and subsequently the way he makes his characters, that's so fascinating.
Fan Girl | Rainbow Rowell - I just love Rainbow Rowell, she does a truly phenomenal job at immersing you in not just her stories, but in the characters. Most importantly, the dialogue she writes is RELATABLE. I find that to be the biggest struggle with YA books for me: an unrealistic or dramatized version of how teens are (insert: all the angst). This story is about a teen writer and her introduction to college, being different from others and just so great to follow through the story. I was a little sad when it ended.
Grow the Tree You Got | Tom Sturges - I've been on the hunt for some GOOD parenting books that are applicable to my life as a mother, with three children in three very different stages of life. Right now, my oldest is where my focus is, as I hope to help him navigate through the teen years with a little bit of grace for both of us. I enjoyed this book, and while I found it had good "reminders" it didn't really have the cause and effect or general advice I feel like I'm searching for. Really good, though.
The Sun is Also A Star | Nicola Yoon - A great character-driven story in the midst of New York City. Each chapter switches between character's and gives a well-rounded version and back story of the 'why' leading up to present day events. This was a really hopeful story, and while I was hoping for a better ending, the reality was appreciated. Luck doesn't always fall in our laps, despite the fact that most stories depict otherwise, Yoon was honest and somewhat realistic.
Brown Girl Dreaming | Jacqueline Woodson - Written in verse, this book took a bit to get into, but after a short while, I really enjoyed it. Woodson is able to depict her childhood in beautiful detail. She was born during the turn of an era and it was interesting to see the bits of societal and political changes occurring as she was growing up.
Ship Breaker | Paolo Bacigalupi - Upon starting this book, I did not want to continue reading it. If it wasn't for my class, I wouldn't have. It's set in futuristic North America, and by the time I made it through the first 100 or so pages, I couldn't put it down. I finished the book by mid-afternoon. You're thrown into this world and figure out what's going on as you read, but get enraptured in the story along the way. There are some cringeworthy moments, but nothing that lasted too long. It was well-written all things considered and one I instantly recommended to by son.
The Smell of Other Peoples Houses | Bonnie Sue Hitchcock - I was completely, utterly blown away by this story. From four different stories, emerge a beautiful and intoxicating portrayal of young life and the struggles that they endure and ultimately overcome. It's written so well and is incredibly immersive, I couldn't put it down, having to find out what happens next. It's a new top favorite and I highly recommend it to everyone!
Orphan Train | Christina Baker Kline - What a heartbreaking tale of two women, spanning nearly a century, facing life more or less alone. Full of loss and emotion, I couldn't put this story down either, I had to keep going every chance I got. I admire stories written with such detail based on historical events. Kline's research was done well. I read about the events that lead her to this story and was intrigued by the trail of connections that lead to this book, look it up, it's worth reading.
Anything is Possible | Elizabeth Strout - This book started off with some potential. I was intrigued by the selection of characters introduced, but that is literally it. Nothing actually happens. It's the story of multiple characters without a climax, a point to it all, or just anything exciting taking place.
The Outsiders | S.E. Hinton - My YA Lit professor listed this book as one of the first YA break out novels that touched on topics relatable to teens. It wasn't part of the required reading, but I was intrigued and ended up reading it. I'm so glad I did. This is a phenomenal, heartbreaking story of societal classes from a teenage boy's perspective. It was actually very similar to The Hate U Give.