In celebration of March being Women’s History Month, I aimed to exclusively read female-authored books for the thirty-one days.
With the exception of one book, I made good on my goal and ended up having my best reading month this year. It’s really not much of a feat considering how busy I was in January and February and the complete disregard of my TBR pile that ensued. But, I’ll accept anything remotely close to win—it keeps me motivated 😅.
If you read my Women’s History Month Read-a-thon, you’ll know that the majority of the novels I read last month were young adult (YA) contemporaries. It wasn’t on purpose. ɪ ᴅɪᴅ ʀᴇᴀᴅ ᴀ ʙᴏᴏᴋ ʙʏ ᴏᴘʀᴀʜ. I think it just played out that way because I’m a giant mood reader, so I peruse the blogosphere when picking out my next reads. That results in me repeatedly reading YA since I mostly follow YA-oriented book blogs.
Don’t get me wrong though, there’s nothing wrong with YA. In fact, I made this conclusion after my read-a-thon:
There are so many brilliant women contributing their powerful thoughts for a more competent, diverse, and tolerant society—and there’s no place where it’s more apparent than YA bookshelves.
Anyways, shall we get on with the mini reviews?
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Goodreads Description: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
I could not put this book down. Unlike most YA novels, the plot of On the Come Up got more convoluted, and the atmosphere darkened as the story wore on. It was a very real reflection of the minority groups’ (ɪ.ᴇ. ᴀғʀɪᴄᴀɴ ᴀᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀɴs ᴀɴᴅ ʟᴀᴛɪɴx) struggles it sought to represent. The characters were perfectly flawed in a way that made me think of them as more than just characters.
While the ending was optimistic in true YA fashion, it seemed that all the conflicts in the story were only partially solved. However, I don’t blame the novel. This book addressed issues ranging from drug abuse to institutionalized poverty that can’t be solved by one author in 300 pages. Angie Thomas did what she could do by keeping the ball rolling from her previous and equally revealing book, The Hate U Give, and by being the voice for a community that has been misheard and mistreated for far too long.
Also, if you’ve read this book already, can we just talk about how Supreme always wore shades because HE WAS SHADY.
i loved it
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Goodreads Description: Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.
So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.
Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.
This book is for all you fans of Clueless and Cher
(the main character from Clueless for you clueless ones out there). The protagonist of Always Never Yours, Megan, was a bold and unapologetic social butterfly like Cher, but definitely more promiscuous. It was a jarring change for me to read in a YA novel—𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘺, 𝘢𝘸𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘯—but I appreciated the fresh perspective.
Despite her seemingly confident personality, Megan battled with insecurities brought by her history of failed relationships and was very introspective as a result. While I loved that Megan made strides to find her identity outside of a relationship, she made some questionable decisions that grinded my gears. Another main character, Owen, also had major character development, but his actions towards the end of the book were so far removed from my initial estimation of him, that I struggled to believe it was even in his character to do those things. In the end, I couldn’t be too hard on them because they’re teens and making mistakes is part of the process of finding yourself.
I realize the romance was the main plot point, but I could have done away with it. It was sweet at the beginning of the story, but, by the end, felt forced and rushed. Megan’s internal dialogue and the multiple coming of age stories were enough for me to enjoy and find value in the story.
i really liked it
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Goodreads Description: Can you love someone you can never touch?
Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.
The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.
Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.
What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?
This book is everywhere—and so is its movie! I think we can all agree that the best part of the duo blowing up is that more people are familiar with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and what living with the disease entails. I’m in a medical science course and have yet to come across a patient with CF, so it was particularly enlightening for me to read about the disease represented by Stella and Will—its manifestations, treatment, and the pair’s emotional responses.
All that said though, I had some issues with the book, particularly in the second half. The situations Stella and Will got into were unbelievable and bordered on over-dramatic for the sake of emotional appeal. I found myself skim reading the end of the book because I couldn’t get behind the unconvincing “twists”. Instead, I wish the book expanded even more on the characters’ backstories. For example, one of the characters, Poe, could have been explored more, like how him being a CFer on the brink of adulthood is complicated by him being ward of state.
Nevertheless, Five Feet Apart was commendable for incorporating CF into a contemporary story in order to bring attention to those who have to overcome the disease everyday.