Here’s everything I read in May. (I know I keep posting these a bit late, but I’m determined to keep going.) My reading was pretty diverse this month, as is so often the case, and I also read mostly on my tablet in May. All in all, it was a good reading month.
First up, I read I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zusak, and right off the bat I was pretty skeptical about it. I read and loved The Book Thief several years ago, and I’d heard good things about this one too, so I kept giving it a chance. I kept wondering the entire time where the story was going and if we would ever find out who was sending the cards. I also kept wondering how he even knew to refer to himself as “The Messenger.”
It definitely tried to touch on all the good that people can add to the world in both small, simple ways and through larger acts of kindness or protectiveness, which was noble. I appreciated what this book was trying to do, but I’m not sure to what degree it actually achieved it, at least for me.
Content notes: depiction of rape, severe beating, verbal abuse from parent
I was able to read Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt through Netgalley. This young adult book is about two girls from very different backgrounds attending the same school who team up to fight to make changes to the school’s dress code. One girl is white, moved from Portland a year prior, and is trying to find her voice and step out from her sister’s shadow. The other just moved from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria and doesn’t want to be pitied and mostly just wants to blend in. The dynamic and differences between these two characters makes for some unfortunate misunderstandings and missteps, but these lead to important conversations.
This book covered a ton of weighty themes and did a pretty good job at framing those issues for a teen audience. The characters were flawed, and they grew and learned from difficult experiences. While there weren’t clear resolutions to all the issues that were presented, that made complete sense, especially taking into account that these were teenagers who were still trying to find their voices.
Content notes: brief depiction of sexual assault, its aftermath, and conversations around sexual assault, body shaming, fatphobia
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan was a pretty fun and overall light book about a half-Chinese woman from a very well-off family struggling to find her place in the world and embrace all aspects of herself. The first half of the book focuses on a wedding in Capri and the events that take place there. The second half jumps forward a few years, and we find out where the characters have ended up when they cross paths again.
Most of the characters were annoying in various ways, the plot was predictable, and the settings were lavish. But somehow I still enjoyed it. And it got deep in a meaningful way toward the end and discussed internalized racism and what it’s like for someone to have identities that pull them in different directions.
Content notes: Racist (toward Asian) comments, internalized racism
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is a middle grade novel-in-verse about a Syrian girl who moves to Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother while her brother and father both stay behind. The first bit of the book is about what life is like for her in Syria and what her routine is like, as well as her dynamic with her family. But then, she finds out she and her mother are to move to the States, and she soon has to adjust to a whole new culture, place, and language.
This book did a great job at dealing with a difficult situation and storyline appropriately for the age group it’s meant for. I appreciate that this book exists and that it’s from a first-person perspective so the reader is inside the mind of the main character as she deals with all these changes and tries to adjust to her new life and school.
Content notes: mentions of racism and xenophobia, mention of war, difficulty contacting family member
After having it on my list forever, I finally got around to reading Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. It’s a romance book about Chloe Brown, a 31-year-old with fibromyalgia who realizes her life has been at a standstill and decides to make a “Get a Life” list, which will help her get closer to the life she actually wants.
I figured this would be a cute story, but I didn’t realize how much it would touch me to see a character with fibromyalgia be so fully loved. I teared up toward the end of the story because of how much Chloe’s insecurities reflected my own.
It’s a cute story with very loveable characters who grow a lot and learn to communicate with each other. The love interest was so sweet with her and had such a big heart, and Chloe was such a boss. I love them both.
Content notes: mention of abusive relationship, fear of abandonment, mention of ableism, Fibromyalgia representation, interracial relationship representation
Lastly, I finally finished reading An African American and Latinx History of the United States. I became interested in this book because throughout all of my schooling, I always wanted to know what people who looked like me were up to, both in this country and abroad. This book was a good overview, and I definitely learned a lot.
This book was filled with information and at times felt very dense, but I’m so grateful for its existence and to know a bit more about the positive impacts African Amercians and Latinx people have had both in the US and beyond.
Content notes: slavery, poor working conditions, racism
Do any of these interest you? Don’t forget you can find the full list of what I’ve read this year on my Bookshop storefront.