Monday, May 22, 2017

Recently Read: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2017
Page Count: 452
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

Also By Benjamin Alire Saenz:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 

Sal is about to start his senior year of high school. He loves his life with his best friend Sam, who is really more of a sister, and his adoptive father. But thoughts about his unknown past and a tragedy leave Sal, and those in his life, dealing with grief and uncertainty. Sal doesn't like the way he's dealing with these changes, by throwing his fists at anyone in his way, but is it an inevitable part of his DNA?

I loved Aristotle and Dante when I read it earlier this year and was surprised to see that Saenz had a new release that I hadn't heard anything about! I loved this one, not quite as much and Ari and Dante, but I did love it. 

Of course, this book has great diverse representation. Sal is white, but was adopted by a gay Mexican-American father and both of the other teenage characters in the book are Mexican-American as well. I really enjoyed Sal's father, both as a character and a diverse representation, as parents are usually M.I.A. or unlikable in YA novels. Sal's father is so loving and so kind, and very much likable. 

I love the way that Saenz writes teenage male characters and father-and-son relationships. He doesn't write stereotypical male characters, who hide their feelings and rely of a tough image; his male characters are realistic, but honest about their feelings and gentle. Sal was such a sweetheart, and so was his dad. I loved their relationship and think it's great to see healthy parent-child relationships in YA. 

Another element of this book that I loved was the lack of romance! Sam and Sal have been best friends since they were small children, and even though it would have been easy for Saenz to put them together romantically, he chose to explore their friendship/sibling relationship instead. I loved that, and I really think it added to the beauty of the story. 

This book deals with a lot of interesting and usual YA contemporary topics such as friendship, grief, self-discovery, etc. But it also deals with a few unique topics such as faith and religion, having a gay parent, being adopted into a culture you weren't born into, and platonic male/female relationships. I thought all of the themes and topics were well-done, and are all things I would love to see in more books. 

I thought this book was the perfect combination of sad and sweet. I couldn't stop reading once I got to know the characters; the story flows beautifully and the short chapters make it hard to put down. I definitely consider myself a fan of Benjamin Alire Saenz, and will be keeping an eye on all of his new releases. I highly recommend you pick this up! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Recently Read: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2017
Page Count: 453
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads 

I'm sure you don't need to hear a synopsis of this book since it's been everywhere lately, so I will keep it short. Starr feels like she maintains two versions of herself. The version of herself that goes to a suburban prep school and the version of herself that she is at home in the poor black neighborhood where she lives. One day. Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her best friend by a white police officer, and she must decide if, and how, to use her voice to speak up for her friend and her neighborhood. 

I loved this book, and I'm so glad that everyone else is loving it too. This is one of the only books that I actually thought that the use of slang and pop culture added to the book instead of just being an aspect that will leave the book feeling quickly outdated. Starr talks and thinks like a REAL teenager and I loved that. Of course, I also loved the political themes in the novel and the accurate representation of the current political culture and movements such as Black Lives Matter. I thought the political events and story line were realistic and very well done. I love that teenagers are getting involved in the political culture of today and using their voices through social media, and this story reflected that. 

This book covers many important topics very well including youth activism, police brutality, gang violence, love between different cultures, and the importance of using your voice. Of course this book deals with very serious and harrowing topics, but it also contained large amounts of humor and love. This book never felt too heavy or hopeless, and all of the characters felt real, despite how small of a part they may have played in the story, I couldn't read the second half of this novel fast enough and flew through it. 

This is a book that I would love to use in my classroom in the future, as well as a book I will be buying a copy of to have on my classroom library shelves. I think this book is so important, but also entertaining and heartfelt. It delivers its important message, but it also delivers a message of hope and persistence, which is equally important for the younger generation to receive through art. 

Have you read this? Did it live up to the hype for you? I'm very glad this book exists and is getting the recognition it deserves!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Library Haul (and what I will be reading next)

I've got a few things out from the library right now, both in physical form and ebook form, so I thought I would share them with you as they will be what I am reading and reviewing next. I've really been loving getting my YA new releases from the library lately, especially contemporaries, as those tend to be really hit-or-miss for me.

The Hate You Give 
by Angie Thomas
This book has been everywhere lately, and rightfully so! I've already read this one and loved it! I'll be reviewing it soon, as well as buying a copy for my classroom! 

This book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and follows Starr who witnessed the shooting of her best friend by a police officer. 

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life
by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I'm currently reading this one, so again watch out for a review soon. I didn't even though this book existed until a couple weeks ago, is it just me or is no one talking about it? I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe earlier this year and loved it, so I was eager to pick this one up. It's not grabbing me as fast as Ari and Dante did, but I'm only about fifty pages in. 

This novel focuses on a Mexican-American teenager starting his senior year of high school. Sal is the adopted son of a gay dad, and that's really all I know at the moment! This one has a lot of potential and I have high hopes. 

Piper Perish
by Kayla Cagan
I really don't know much about this one expect the main character is an artist. Art is a book buzzword for me, so I decided to place a hold on it. I've been eager for more YA books with art elements ever since Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun.

Piper is in her senior year and dreaming of art school in NYC. But as things start to shift in all parts of her life, will her art be enough to get her through?

Let me know if you've read any of these!