February Books

February has been an amazing reading month so far.

Out of the four books I’ve finished, I’ve loved three of them to bits.

First up was Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers. When the book opens, perfect Parker Fadley is on probation at school and suicide watch by her parents, but we don’t know what’s driving this ex-cheerleader into her downward spiral. That question–and Parker’s connection with a new boy–drives the tension. But I loved Parker. I could identify with her perfectionism. All through the book, even at her prickliest, I wanted to hug her and take her to a good therapist. I love that the book acknowledges Parker had some issues before the pivotal incident. Love how it doesn’t tie everything up with a neat happily-ever-after. Healing isn’t that easy. This book…oh, it resonated with my inner recovering perfectionist in a huge way. I cried. I explained the whole plot to my husband, but I’m not sure I can explain what a chord it struck for me. The I have felt this, this exactly chord. Isn’t that the most amazing feeling? The characterization felt almost unbearably honest.

Next was Fade by Lisa McMann. I loved Wake and bought this sequel as soon as it was released. As a dream-catcher, Janie moves through other people’s dreams and nightmares. Now she’s working undercover to catch a possible sexual predator at her high school. She and her boyfriend Cabel are wounded and utterly lovable, vulnerable and strong in equal measure. They stayed with me for days afterward. McCann’s writing is sparse and haunting. Every word feels exactly right. This one was darker and more disconcerting than Wake, but I can’t wait for the third book, Gone.

Then yesterday I read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s the heartbreaking story of an orphaned young slave in 1776 New York. Isabel is promised freedom but sold to a cruel mistress. She struggles to protect her baby sister as the Patriots and British fight over New York. The stark hypocrisy between the Patriots’ bid for freedom and their endorsement of slavery is staggering. I wouldn’t quite say it’s an enjoyable read, exactly; it’s difficult and painful. Isabel loses hope sometimes. But it’s an important and exceedingly well-done look at an ugly part of our nation’s history. I’ll absolutely read the sequel, Forge.

What about you? What are you reading?

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