Music was a huge part of my upbringing—we are a music kind of family. My first cassette tape that I bought myself was Jewel’s Pieces of Me and my first CD was No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. Most parents either listened to a lot of oldies or the local pop and Top 40 station on the radio. My parents weren’t going to sacrifice their ears to Britney Spears and N’SYNC, so we had to listen to what they wanted to hear—current alternative rock as well as classic rock. Boy bands and pop stars just weren’t a part of my life, except for the greats like Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child.
I think I’ve just read my favorite book of the year. Last year I read How to Make a Wish and I instantly fell in love with Ashley Herring Blake’s writing. A simple story, wrought with so much emotion. Her latest book is no different.
What would you do if you had to choose to believe a best friend or your own twin brother? The only arc drop I carried about at YallWest in May was Blake’s newest novel, Girl Made of Stars. I had high expectations, especially after loving her last novel. Girlfriend did not disappoint. Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.
This story is not so simple. With the #MeToo movement at the forefront of news cycles these days, this novel is extremely poignant. Mara is torn between what she wants to believe is true with what she knows is actually true, no matter how much it hurts her. While she’s grappling with this terrible situation her family is in, Mara and her non-binary ex, Charlie, are trying to figure out what they are to each other: best friends or partners.
Hannah, the sexual assault victim and one of Mara’s best friends, is such a heartbreaking character. She knows how hard the whole situation is on Mara and her family, and all she wants is for everything to go back to normal. She’s so selfless in her feelings, trying to put everyone before herself. My heart hurt for her, it hurt for everyone in this book.
The prose is so beautiful and deserves all the praise. I’m throwing this book at you through the computer screen. READ IT!
So far, I have read 52 books in 2018—meaning I’m halfway through my goal of 100 books for the year!
I didn’t get much out of my trip to the Mayo Clinic in December of 2017. I was there to be evaluated for everything. Having been sick for so long, we were at a point where we would do just about anything to narrow down a diagnosis. I had one of the most elaborate and detailed neuro and general exams, tons of tests, and they took nine vials of my blood! Eight days in Rochester, Minnesota (in the snow!) and all I really learned was that my brain tumor hadn’t grown any bigger and that I was lactose intolerant.
My chronic pain consumes my entire life. It’s absolutely exhausting. I can’t control how I’m going to feel each day. The amount of times I’ve had to cancel plans or bail on my friends and family because the pain is so excruciating it hurts to breathe.
Happy Pride Month!
I do not identify with the LGBTQ+ community, but I am a major ally and advocate. I think the YA community has some incredible stories about teens wrestling with their feelings about their sexuality and trying to figure out what it all means. On the opposite side, there are some books about people who are so sure of themselves. So sure about who they are and what they represent. So, I thought I would round up a list of YA books that center around queer characters. Some of these are also own voices rep. These are all books that I have read and really love, but as someone who doesn’t identify, I’m not the person to accurately judge the representation. Just giving out my recommendations of some great stories and character arcs.
Here are my YA recommendations when it comes to mental health. You can find tons of lists just like this all over the Internet, but these are just a few that I’ve read that really resonated with me. I hope you’ll enjoy, but please be advised ***TRIGGER WARNING*** for depression, suicide, anxiety, and self harm.