Annie On My Mind

Author: Nancy Garden

Published: July 1982

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Local Bookstore

Key Words:  LGBTQ+, YA Lit, Romance

My Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. The book has been banned from many school libraries and publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.

My Thoughts:

First, I have to say that I’m stunned it took me until almost 40 years old to read this book. As a lesbian, it feels like one of those books we talk about in our circles, we all say we need to read, we all rave about and one that all of our elder lesbians give us for birthdays and holidays and we see it on the ‘top LGBTQ+ book lists’-but somehow, as a lifelong reader, I never picked it up. WHAT?! I knew I needed to remedy this before someone came and took my lesbian card away (completely kidding here. Don’t @ me), so I purchased it back in June- for one of my Pride month purchases. Well…it is now February, but I finally picked it up and oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did. It is relevant (although thankfully, not as relevant as it was in the 80’s), it is magical, it is honest and so sincere, and it is spot on to what a lot of us went through as we were discovering our sexuality. I just keep telling everyone, it’s the book I wish I had read as a teen. It would have saved me from a lot of confusion, sadness, hurt and questions about whether I was “normal” and it would have allowed me to see myself in a piece of fiction. It might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but never seeing myself represented in movies, books, television, or if I’m perfectly honest, in real-life situations either, this book would have changed my world. I’m sure it did for many young lesbians and the thought just makes me cry happy tears.

I’m so thankful that more books with LGBTQ+ representation exists now, but this book should still remain right up there with these newer ones. It’s been one of the top banned books and still remains banned in many places today. So make sure you check with your local libraries to see if they have this one (and check it out so it stays on the shelves). Talk to your local schools and bookstores and make sure it is still a book available in your community. It’s a perfectly relatable book for lesbians and I’ll forever be grateful to Nancy Garden for providing the world with this gift, even if it took me a hot second to finally pick it up 🙂

bookishfolk…read instead.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Published: February 21, 2012

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Coming of Age, Family Dynamics

My Rating: 5 stars (more if I could)

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t have loved this book any more if I tried. First, it was so beautiful (both the writing and the characters), it was real, brought out true emotions in me and highlighted diverse characters- more of this please! Second, life lessons are strewn throughout this book, but not necessarily as stand out points, but in this subtle way that makes you think, as a reader, you came to the conclusion yourself, but in reality, it’s the writing and characters that led you there. It’s so real. Third, the pace was slow and intentional…and exactly how life really is. So many novels, especially YA novels, take you on trips and adventures and show you characters who have made insanely large life decisions in 200 pages, but this book felt more true to life. More true to a teenage life with small, but important things happening, a few big whammies, and then a lot of mundane things in-between. Also…both sets of parents are everything. It’s rare to see genuine, honest parenting depicted in YA books, but here we have it and it was refreshing to see.

To be honest, I didn’t even know how much I was loving this book until I finished it. I’m not a huge crier during books, but I audibly wept and haven’t stopped thinking about these characters since I finished the book. This would be an excellent book club choice to explore identity, acceptance, family dynamics and how it feels to write your own life story, instead of following the life story that has been laid out for you. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages. I’ve said this multiple times to multiple people, but if more books like this were written, I truly believe the world would be a better place.

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

 

The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Published: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Shuster)

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Fantasy, YA lit, Paranormal, Witches

My Rating: 4.5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

My Thoughts:

When I hear Book Riot describe this YA novel as, “The Salem witch trials meets Practical Magic meets Hocus Pocus” – I’m in, full force, 100%…and I was not disappointed. First, let’s talk about this cover art. It’s shiny and amazing and hooked me in from the second I saw it on #bookstagram. Plus, there is a bit of black and white art at the beginning of each chapter that I really loved. I used to dream about creating cover art, so I’m always drawn in to these aspects of a book. Plus, if anyone says they don’t judge a book by it’s cover…I want to meet you and see how the other side lives. Second, the writing swept me off my feet. (Well, not literally. I’m positive I was in a horizontal position for the majority of the reading of this book, but you get my point). It’s enchanting and gorgeous and provocative – just like a witchy book should read. And don’t get me started on the setting. It was dark, and gloomy, and wet and Sparrow Island was steeped in legend, traditions, folklore and magic. As I read, I was immediately placed in the setting. Living in Colorado, we don’t get much of that dark, gloomy, wetness (I’m not complaining, but the 300+ days of sun can sometimes put a damper on that New England, witchy, gloomy vibe that I periodically crave)…so I’m always obsessed when reading about it. I was also entranced by the way Ernshaw weaved the past and present throughout the book. It was engrossing and kept me totally engaged while chanting “once more chapter” into the wee hours of the night. There really wasn’t one thing that I didn’t like about the book. I’ve read a few reviews that people didn’t necessarily think the romance was realistic, but I’m here to remind us all that this is a YA novel. Yes, the romance happened quickly, and no, it’s not necessarily realistic to many adult lives, but are witches that steal girls bodies and kill the boys in the town really realistic? I don’t know…so let’s just agree to read the book and love it for what it is. If anything, the only small caveat I had was after I finished up the book, I just kept thinking (in my 38 year old brain)…so where in the hell were the parents when these kids were drinking and swimming and partying on the well known night that the Swan sisters are wreaking havoc on this little town?! But then I thought…who cares 🙂

If you like YA novels, witches and magic, I would highly recommend this book. And bonus-Netflix just won the bidding war to turn this into something-a show, series, or movie-YES! I can’t wait!

bookishfolk…read instead.