You might know that I devoured 17 books in August and had plenty of favorites, which included the following 2 adult fiction reads and my non-fiction read of the month: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Rodham is for sure a read that divides readers. This adult fiction reads follows a young Hillary Rodham and what her life could have been like if she didn’t marry Bill Clinton. The first third of the book or so does follow Hillary and Bill’s relationship until their eventual break-up and Hillary’s personal life and political career from that point on.
Many readers & reviewers have questioned how the ethical the book is, since it is a fictionalized account of Hillary’s life and includes depictions of many real figures. However, I can’t help but I admit that I absolutely loved this book and found it so thought-provoking! It’s clear that Curtis Sittenfeld put a ton of research behind Rodham, since the book does take into account Hillary’s real life and many real people. I thought it was so clever how Curtis Sittenheld meshed the real and fictional together. The book takes place from Hillary’s graduation from Wellesley College and all the way through the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this is especially where Curtis Sittenfeld really makes her own alternate reality, but it was just so, so fascinating to think about what could have been. Although I loved it, I know some readers might again recognize that some readers might not feel comfortable with Curtis Sittenfeld’s choices, especially when it comes to Bill Clinton and his depiction, specifically regarding his relationships with other women. I think I did a biography report on Hillary Clinton back in middle school, but I admit that immediately after I finished Rodham, I went into a Google deep dive about the Clintons! Rodham would make for such an interesting and endless talk-worthy book choice amongst friends or a book club! I could see myself picking up Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep or American Wife in the future. Read More »
Summary (from the publisher): From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.
The story that I thought
was my life
didn’t start on the day
I was born
Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.
The story that I think
will be my life
Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?
With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I really can’t come up with a YA title to compare Punching the Air to because it is just so, so different from what is out in the YA book world. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that follows a protagonist who is incarcerated, let alone one that deals with such timely themes and conversations. Co-written by Ibi Zoiboi and Yuself Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a YA novel told in verse following Amal, a teenager who is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel begins with Amal’s court case and decision and soon transitions into his life living in a juvenile detention center.
Punching the Air caused me to have so many visceral reactions, especially in stanzas when Amal is describing the violence and depression he experiences inside juvenile detention. The reader really begins to feel his frustration and anger, especially when talking to the social worker and other adults who can’t comprehend what Amal is going through. There are so many important stanzas centered around race and discrimination, as Amal identifies as Black and Muslim. Amal is also an artist, and he often attempts to work through his frustration with his (white) art teacher who never understood Amal or his desire to learn about artists with a similar identity as him. Amal tries to rely on art as a form of escapism while in prison, but he often prevented from doing so because it is seen as privilege there.
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Summary (from the publisher):
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail in this charming and hilarious rom-com following two teen booksellers whose rivalry is taken to the next level as they compete for the top bookseller bonus.
Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.
When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.
Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.
But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Everyone knows that I’m crave bookish YA books, which made Laura Silverman’s Recommended For You one of my most anticipated releases this fall… not to mention that it takes place during one of my favorite times of the year, the holiday season! Shoshanna Greenberg is spending her winter break at her favorite place in the world, Once Upon, the local bookstore where she works. When her boss announces that the employee who sells the most books will receive a holiday bonus, Shoshanna is ready to up her book recommendation game even more so she can finally fix up her beloved car. What’s preventing her from doing so is Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake, both for that fact that he doesn’t even read and his charm.
Recommended For You is one of the cutest enemies-to-lovers books that I’ve ever read! It had such a fantastic atmosphere, between the holiday season and the bookstore & mall. The book takes place over the week leading up to Christimas, with Shoshanna’s family wrapping up their Hanukkah celebrations and Shoshanna working every day leading up to Christmas. Although I haven’t worked in a mall, I have worked in retail and Laura Silverman perfectly summarized the chaos surrounding last minute holiday shopping. Shoshanna’s best friends also work in the mall, and I loved their food court hang outs.
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Summary (from the publisher):
Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?
Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?
Or just because?
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
The first line of the synopsis for A.R. Taylor’s Jenna Takes The Fall instantly caught my attention. The novel begins with twenty-four year old, NYC newbie Jenna falsely owning up as her billionaire boss’ mistress when he suddenly dies to hide the identity of his true lover.
Jenna Takes The Fall was really different from most books that I normally read. It was this interesting cross between thriller and contemporary fiction, especially because the book begins with Jenna’s role in her boss’ death. The book is split between her life working at a newspaper conglomerate as an executive assistant of sorts to her new life after being bought out by the company’s law team. The reader definitely needs to suspend their sense of disbelief that Jenna is so willing to cover up the identity of a fellow co-worker in what would’ve been a huge cheating scandal without knowing really why she must do so.
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