Two Book Tuesday

images (6)Title: Campusland
Author: Scott Johnston
Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: August 13th
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

A tumultuous and often hilarious first novel about one year of insanity at the Ivy-like Devon University, a blissful bubble of elite students and the adults at their mercy.

Eph Russell is an English professor up for tenure. He may look and sound privileged, but Eph is right out of gun-rack, Bible-thumping rural Alabama. His beloved Devon, though, has become a place of warring tribes, and there are landmines waiting for Eph that he is unequipped to see. The cultural rules are changing fast.

Lulu Harris is an entitled freshman—er, firstyear—from Manhattan. Her singular ambition is to be a prominent socialite – an “It Girl.” While most would kill for a place at Devon, to her college is a dreary impediment. She is pleasantly surprised to find some people she can tolerate in the Fellingham Society, a group of self-professed campus monarchists. When things become socially difficult, Lulu is forced to re-channel her ambition in a most unexpected way – as a militant feminist. In the process, she and Eph will find their fates at odds.

Also in the mix is Red Wheeler, who is in his seventh year at Devon, and is carefully managing his credits to stay longer. As the alpha dog atop Devon’s progressive hierarchy, Red is the most “woke” guy on campus. But when his position is threatened, he must take measures.

All paths collide in a riotous climax. Campusland is a timely and gleeful skewering of the modern American campus and its tribal culture.

Scott Johnston’s Campusland is a satirical look at a prestigious university (just under Harvard) over the the course of one year. Readers are following a few different storylines that weave in and out together before all coming together for the climax.

At it’s core, Campusland is looking to how colleges deal with students today—more like how students deal with colleges. These students are dictating how a university is being run through the use of social media and “PC” culture: triggering “content” warnings, lack of inclusivity and diversity. Baby boomers that are in positions of power at the school whether it being a dean, chairperson, or an investor, are being told how to run their school by millennials and Generation Z. And because it’s all being done using satire, everything is so incredibly exaggerated and hilarious. However, when you look at Twitter or other social media sites, this is exactly what’s happening.

My favorite scene was when all of the different groups—LGBTQ, Asian, Feminist, Latinx, ect.—all came together wanting to take a scheduled scandal and try to turn it around on themselves. It was all so ridiculous, but true in a very heightened way.

I really did enjoy this. It’s definitely not for everybody, but very entertaining. There were very short chapters that made the book fly by very quickly. My one critique probably would be that I wish we had a perspective from  D’arcy, Professor Eph Russell’s girlfriend. She was kind of just forgotten at the end of the novel and I think her point-of-view would have been a great addition—her thoughts and feelings as being a black women, the girlfriend of an accused predator, and the dean’s assistant.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

91B2NAKA7JLTitle: The Silence Between Us
Author: Alison Gervais
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: August 13th
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism.

And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

A deaf teen reluctantly leaves her friends and her great deaf school to move across the country with her single mother and a little brother who has cystic fibrosis. All Maya wants to do is keep her head down and make it through her final year of high school so she can move on to college, she just didn’t expect to actually make friends (maybe more) at this hearing school.

Here’s to some disability representation!!!!! Oh man, I was in it with this book. As someone who is not deaf or hard of hearing, I cannot say how accurately everything was portrayed, but this was an own voices novel—the author is hard of hearing. Maya was a complex character:  she put up a wall instantly and would snap at people who treated her differently. Honestly, I felt like she needed to cut the kids at her new school some slack—they’ve never been around someone who’s deaf. Just like she’s never been to a hearing school, they’ve never had a deaf student at their school. She also contradicts herself frequently. She talks about how it’s a really big deal for her to be comfortable enough using her speaking voice because it makes her very self conscious, but then she uses it in front of complete strangers, more than once.

I thought the author switched between sign language and speaking aloud very smoothly and seamless, something I could have been very confusing if not done well.  I also really enjoyed the slow burn romance. Maya is very skeptical about Beau—he’s a hearing boy, class president, very smart, all together nice guy, and he wants to spend time with her her? She doesn’t get why he’s learning sign language, what’s his ulterior motive? Her feelings felt so authentic and real and I think their whole friendship and relationship was really gripping to read.

My biggest problem is the end. It was so abrupt that I thought I was miss part of it. I think the author could have wrapped the story in a much better way if she added more of an aftermath between Maya and Beau. The epilogue was nice, but I would have rather got a more compelling ending than a time jump.

In all, this book drew me in and kept me excited to read all the way until the end.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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