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The Hate U Give ~ Angie Thomas

May 7, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
ISBN: 9780062498533
464 pages
Source: Target

I wanted to wait until the end of my first year of school before diving into The Hate U Give.

I thought I was perhaps being a little bit dramatic but, upon finishing it, just now, I can assure you that I was right on target. It is definitely a book the requires the reader’s full heart.

The story is built around 16-year-old Starr, a student who drives 45 minutes from her neighborhood to her fancy private school due to her parents’ safety concerns. The dichotomy between the way her identity plays out at home and at school (between code-switching, the company kept, and other defining elements) is not an uncommon one, especially in the south, but it isn’t one that is really talked about, openly in popular culture.

Though the book is built around Starr witnessing her friend being shot by a police officer, there is so much more woven into the story. Race, class, education, violence, loyalty, family, and community pull together to create this gem of a novel.

And that’s the point.

It’s never about one incident.

It is never that simple.

One of the things I think we forget when the (white) media grabs hold of a police-involved shooting, is that human element of the victims. We immediately victim blame which throws all empathy out of the window, moving us far away from being able to take the perspective of the very real human being on the other end of that shot. As a social work student, I can promise you there are countless reasons for that habit, but the end result is still the same and it creates a divide between communities in a harmful way.

If you’ve ever watched or heard interviews with Angie Thomas, you’ll have a better understanding exactly what she was working with as a foundation. Even if you haven’t seen the fantastic Thomas in action,  the message is pretty clear: empathy changes the game.

That is the magic of the Hate U Give: the readers are given the packaged gift (thank you for that emotional labor, Angie!) of watching the shooting from the side the media tends to vilify.

Thomas does an incredible job breaking down Starr’s feelings around the shooting, as well as her struggle to balance the multiple revolving worlds, spinning and shifting around her so fast, even I felt dizzy.

It is heavy and real but has its moments of humor and levity and it is a must read if you haven’t read it.

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Sunday Wrap Up

May 6, 2018

I finished the semester this week! Woohoo! Y’all, that was a doozy but I made it. I’ll miss my cohort so much over the summer but I’m also really grateful for the down time. I’m also grateful for the reading time. It’s taken me most of the weekend to wrap my head around the fact that I don’t have to go in to internship on Monday, nor do I have anything to prep for the classes I don’t have ok Wednesday and Thursday. Hooray!

My only obligations, this week are getting kiddos to school and watching this precious little doodle. Her parents are on their honeymoon so she’s bunking with us.

Last week, I finished up the third book in The Iron Fey series.

I also read The Glittering Court which was way better than I expected.

And, A Court of Frost and Starlight finally arriced and i read it in all but one sitting. Whoops!

I also read Olivia Twist which was phenomenal and send my memories right back to my high school production of Oliver!

Right now, I’m read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and I love it so much. She’s so brilliant and on top of her game. It’s the perfect Social worker downtime book.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Olivia Twist ~ Lori Langdon

May 5, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blink
ISBN: 9780310763413
336 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

If my little kid self could have written fan fiction, it would be this book.

I was obsessed with Oliver Twist when I was little and was then in Oliver! the musical in high school. It’s definitely a dark story so I expected something similar going into Olivia’s retelling. It certainly delivered on that end.

The premise is built on the foundation of the original but in the reimagining, Oliver is born female. She is immediately an orphan and her caretakers are advised to raise her as a boy in the event she ends up on the streets.

Years later, she is adopted into a family that ranks pretty high up in London society, living a completely different life, this time as a girl.

It seems like a dream come true until she runs into an old comrade, The Artful Dodger, of course, whose own life has changed just as much.

Both of the, now young adult, friends have gained much but have also come into their own heaps of trouble. Between secrets, lies, and hidden identities, they may be the ones to undo each other or the only ones who can save the other.

It’s basically what I wanted to happen when I read and watched the story as a kid. I always had a crush on Dodger, but I also wanted to be one of the parentless boys in the crew. This is pretty gloriously perfect.

Oliva is done so well, as a genderfluid rendition of the original character. Both she and Dodger have street smarts and tough exteriors but they each have their soft, sweet spots, especially when it comes to protecting the little boys who are living the life they once knew. One of my favorite parts of the book was that unyielding vulnerability that manages to sing softly throughout.

If you haven’t picked this one up, yet, do it, soon. You won’t regret it!

A Court of Frost and Starlight ~ Sarah J. Maas

May 3, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/High Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK,
ISBN: 9781681196312
272 pages
Source: Amazon

Oh, my heart.

A Court of Frost and Starlight is just this magical little sliver of peace and happiness and I am in love with it.

I guess the running joke is that this is the maximum number of pages Sarah J. Maas can write without something going horribly astray.

You know what, though? I’ll totally take it.

Velaris is slowly being rebuilt after the war but the physical place isn’t the only thing being pieced back together. Ever so slowly, the crew of The Night Court, including the three formerly human sisters, begin to pick up the shattered pieces of their souls, cobbling together bits with art, music, laughter, and a lot of Rhys’s good wine.

There were so many references to The Fandom that the book just seemed like a 229-page love letter to Mass’s readers.

Without giving too much away. my Social Worker heart was just brimming with joy at the references to the fallout of war and the lingering effects of the mass chaos of Book Three. Along the same lines, Feyre’s artist side played a prominent role in this installment in a very therapeutic way, not just for the High Lady but ultimately for Velaris.

With all of the gushing, I feel like I do need to do the required whining, here. I need the next book and I need it, now, and this was too short, and someone come hold me. Oh, my goodness.

The Iron Queen ~ Julie Kagawa

May 1, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 9780373210183
358 pages
Source: Half Price Books

Meghan, my darling half-blood.

You appear to be in over your head.

Iron Queen, as is par for the course on third books, and in that regard, everything I wanted.

For those who haven’t read the first two books, go head and turn away, now. I’ll give you a second.

Here’s your second.

Ready?

Ok, so, When we last left our band of outcasts, they were literally just that. Ash, Meg, and Puck had all been banished by their respective bosses and assorted family members, doomed to the mortal world forever.

Right, but this is young adult fantasy and “forever” lasts about four pages.

Ash and Meghan (and eventually Grim and Puck) reband and rebound, back into the Fae abyss, this time at the behest of an Iron rebel with somewhat questionable allegiances. Meg is tasked with saving not only her friends but the entire Oldblood world from the Iron Kingdom which, for fluff’s sake, just won’t go away.

Onward they go, and now I really am going to stop before I tell you everything.

I didn’t think I would enjoy these books because they’re sort of a mix of fantasy and contemporary and that’s usually not my thing. I’m like a little kid who doesn’t want her peas to touch her mashed potatoes (Be quiet. I don’t know what “But….Shadowhunters?” means…) but Kagawa makes the magic happen.

Meghan is an incredibly realistic hero in that she has faults and reservations and doesn’t succeed all the time. She rolls her eyes at a lot of the fey pomp and circumstance yet throws her whole self into the fight for those in trouble. I feel like she’s probably the most relatable character I’ve read about in a long time which is saying something.

One more book left in the series and I have no idea where she’s going with the ends left loose at the end of book three. I can’t wait to find out!

The Glittering Court ~ Richelle Mead

April 30, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 9781595148414
416 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

I carried this book around with me for months before I actually dove into it.

I think it might be the almost too precious cover or the debutante-from-the-ashes trope.

But, rest assured, I have, yet again, learned my lesson about judging a book by its cover (or blurb).

Adelaide, a countess’s heir to wealth, does a 180, Prince and the Pauper type switch with her lady’s maid, taking her place in a sort of mail-order-bride service, that trains and ships off ladies to be wed in the New World. Adelaide is pretty sure that being married in the frontier is better than whatever her Grandmama has planned for her, nuptial wise.

There is a bit of scandal involved in keeping her identity hidden but the real adventure begins when allegiances are revealed and forged across and water when the ladies arrive in their new home.

Though the beginning feels a bit like a Jane Austen novel, the plot picks up to a pirate’s pace by the second half. There are so many plot twists and broken alliances that I almost started keeping a flow chart.

I was delightfully surprised at how much race, class, gender, and general identity and politics were worked under such a delicate premise.

There is a sequel, of sorts, out, now and the third comes out in June. Each book focuses on a different girl’s story so I’ m super pumped about that.

 

Sunday Wrapup

April 29, 2018

Well, kiddos, by next Sunday’s post, I’ll be done woth my first year of grad school! What? Yes! I knoe. It’s magical.

Didn’t get a LOT of fiction read, this week, but made my way into some awesome stories.

Starting with The Iron Daughter which was a great second book in the Iron Fey series…

…and then the awesome new Ace of Shades from Amanda Foody…

..AND LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT!!!!!

I’m almost done with The Glittering Court which is just wild and fun.

That’s about it. Not a long wrap up because I have papers to write but there you have it!