Recent Reading

2017 continues to be an excellent year for reading, even if the rest of my life got so busy I neglected to update in a timely manner, oops. Here’s what I’ve been reading in the last few months, with links to Goodreads for actual synopsis.

George by Alex Gino [MG Contemporary]
A young trans girl wants to play Charlotte in her school production of Charlotte’s Web. A sweet, bittersweet, triumphant book that I would highly recommend to any young reader, especially anyone who might be curious about gender identity. Which makes it sound like this is an “issues” book, but it’s not just that. It’s funny and warm and absolutely wonderful.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake [YA Fantasy]
Three sisters must battle each other for the crown of their kingdom. I am generally not a fan of third person present POV but this one sucked me in right away with beautiful prose and an intriguing promise. It was slightly slower-paced than my ideal but I loved the characterizations and just sort of dwelling in the world. I will be keeping my eye out for the next in the series.

Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis [YA Contemporary]
A girl and her foster sister have to learn to live together. It was the prickly relationship between the two foster sisters that really won me over here. I loved them both so much! Also some meaty and thoughtful explorations of family, race, and class.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson [YA Contemporary]
A black girl from a poor neighborhood negotiates the possibilities and the indignities of her scholarship to a rich, mostly white prep school. Such a great and powerful voice! There’s a lot packed into this book but it all works. An interesting companion to the below, which covers similar material but has a very different feel. Both are excellent and thought-provoking and compelling in their own ways.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas [YA Contemporary]
A black girl attending a mostly-white, mostly rich high school finds her two lives clashing when she’s the eyewitness to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black boy by a police officer. This was just as amazing as everyone has been saying. I am so happy this book is getting attention. Voice and characterization are both fantastic, and in spite of all the many different elements included the story is always there, always organic. Yes, this is a book inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement, but it’s also a book about a girl who feels completely real, whose life and choices matter.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi [Adult Historical]
The story of two African half-sisters– one who marries a British slaver, one who is sold into slavery– and their descendants, tracing both family histories to the present day. Fascinating and heart-wrenching. I am so impressed by the immersive detail of the settings, and how quickly Gyasi could pull me in each time the narrator changed.

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker [Adult Romance]
A fun and fluffy (in a good way!) romance set against the backdrop of the London west end theater community.

The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde [Poetry]
Rich and mythic and intense.

Binti and Home by Nnedi Okorafor [Adult SF Novellas]
I am having trouble coming up with a short description of these novellas, because they’re so wild and rich and unexpected. But they’ve got an awesome, smart mathematician protagonist, deadly tentacled aliens, and a galactic university. I loved both these stories, even though the second one ends in a massive cliffhanger (hopefully that means there is a third novella coming!)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson [Nonfiction]
The real-life story of Bryan Stevenson’s experiences as a young, black lawyer working to defend those trapped by the legal system– including the poor, the wrongly condemned, and children sentenced to life in prison. To be honest, this may be the most challenging book I’ve ever read in terms of the raw and brutal depiction of the horrendous racism in our legal system, but it was definitely a book I was glad to read. I wish everyone would read this and reconsider what we define as “justice.”

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly [Adult Nonfiction]
The book that inspired the (excellent!) movie! I’m glad to have read the book, because there’s so much more detail that didn’t make it into the movie. These woman were amazing, and I’m so glad that they are no longer quite so “hidden.”

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