Recently, much of my time alone has been spent working on my freelance writing or reading. Here is a short list with brief notes and thoughts.
Papertowns: This brandy new young adult release from Co-King of Nerdfighteria, John Green debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers list. (With a little help from his brother, Co-King Hank Green and a whole lot of help from the nerdfighters.) Q, the main character, while journeying to find his missing next door neighbor, Margo, also goes on an existential journey to find himself. What do we project to the world? Who are we under our projections? Do we really know the people we call our friends? What are we capable of? How are we connected? Q, tackles all of these questions as he explores a clue that Margo left behind. "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. John delivers a smart mystery (both the clues and the structure) and his grasp of modern young adult technology and dialogue is spot on.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Wendy Mass: Jeremy Fink also has an existential journey to find out the meaning of life and his place in the world. Jeremy’s father sends him a locked box on his 13th birthday that holds the meaning of life. The problem? Jeremy’s dad died five years ago and the keys are missing. Jeremy and his best friend go on a path that intersects with interesting people and forces them to look at the importance (or irrelevance) of things. This book is best when Mass introduces us (and Jeremy) to interesting characters but I had a hard time believing the structure of the mystery. Without spoiling, it seemed that too many adults were involved in helping Jeremy make the discoveries that were necessary.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: There are few Holocaust/World War II books that I would characterize as light but this is one of them. Let me explain that by light I don’t mean slight or funny but hopeful and accessible. This book is told at the end of the war in letters from a London writer, Juliet Ashton, to her publisher and the inhabitants of Guernsey Island. Their trials and tribulations are made light by Juliet’s positive spirit and the amazing island community into which she is adopted. Readers be warned: there are tears involved. The book was written by Marianne Shaffer who died earlier this year and the task to complete the book was take on by Anne Barrows. A huge thank you to kellyrfineman for reviewing this book and bringing it to my attention. Perhaps she’ll post the link to her review in the comments. There is a video interview with the one of the author’s here.
Rowan Hood, Nancy Springer: An English adventure is made even more believable with the narration of Emily Gray. Rowan is the daughter of Robin Hood. That is what she’s always been told by her magical mother. But is she? In this swashbuckling coming of age tale, Rowan (Rosemary) reconnects with the spirits of the Earth, the Alpha, and taps her inner strength to become a true outlaw.
The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman: Perhaps I am the only one to come so late to the His Dark Materials series but I am truly enjoying it. As any good second in a trilogy, (for movies think Empire Strikes Back or Dead Man’s Chest (Pirates of the Carribean)) The Subtle Knife takes us deeper into the characters and defines the hero’s journey more clearly. It also leaves us with an ending that is less than satisfying but leads us deftly into the third book (The Amber Spyglass) and into the inevitable battle. Pullman introduces worlds upon worlds that all have their own set of rules and characters. This full cast recording was fabulous. The voices help you keep the worlds distinct and also make the listener’s imagining more vivd.
What are your reading?