Welcome to part two of my monthly reads post! Let’s get straight into the rest of these wonderful YA books 🙂
The next book I read was ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell (is that not just the best name ever?!) This was another reread for me and it’s still one of my absolute favourites. It’s technically categorized as a YA book but it doesn’t feel like some young adult books where you can tell are trying really hard to appeal to their demographic – I honestly feel like this book would appeal to anyone no matter what their age. It’s a book with a story and characters that everyone can relate to in some way or another because they just feel so real, so raw and honest.
The main character Cath, an avid fanfiction writer, is starting college and her twin sister Wren has told her that she doesn’t want to be roommates anymore – a probably healthy decision but one that Cath is terrified about due to her social anxiety. The story follows her journey in stepping out of her skin in a lot of aspects but also stepping in and embracing other parts of herself. It’s a wonderful story about dysfunctional families of all shapes and sizes, of love and discovery and embracing your nerdiness unapologetically. I think it would be relatable to all students whether you’re an introverted would-prefer-to-stay-in-and-eat-noodles-and-read Cath or an extroverted party girl like Wren. I give this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars. It’s just a really lovely story and, as an awkward, decidedly nerdy, anxious teen, I love Cath and her obsession with ‘Simon Snow’ (aka Harry Potter) will definitely be relatable to some people, I mean I guess, I’m not drawing on personal experience or anything…
Next, I read another book with a great body positive message (much like Dumplin’ in the previous post) and that book is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill. The story starts with Bluebell AKA BB AKA Big Bones, and her mother at the doctors being told by a rather obnoxious nurse that she needs to lose weight despite the fact that she is perfectly happy and healthy as she is. Honestly I wasn’t expecting to love this book. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I definitely did and I would like to apologise to Laura Dockrill for doing so because I actually really loved this book. Bluebell is a really easy character to warm to, she has a really lovely relationship with her younger sister despite the fact that they have very little in common.
And when she’s told that she should lose weight and should start by writing a food diary she goes all out and it turns into less food diary, more actual diary/a massive love letter to food. I also liked the fact that when she starts exercising it’s not with the aim of losing weight, it’s all about her relationship with her body- and when it turns out that she’s lost a little weight at the end she’s completely indifferent to that fact and it doesn’t alter her relationship with her body either negatively or positively. It’s just a really nice story about the important things in life – love, friendship, family and food, it promotes health at every size, as well as having a plot decorated with realistic and relatable characters that are easy to fall in love with. I actually gasped out loud when something happened to one of my favourite characters, something I don’t think I’ve done when reading for a very long time! I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 🙂
Next is yet another reread, ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story.’ This is a story that I first read back in 2014 and really enjoyed. It’s a bit of a strange one, it sounds like it should be a really depressing read when you hear what it’s about but it’s somehow actually really uplifting? It follows a teenage boy called Craig Gilner who struggles with depression, something that results in him taking himself to A and E one night because he feels suicidal. Once there he ends up misunderstanding what a nurse says and admitting himself to ‘Six North,’ the adult psychiatric ward at the hospital where he spends the next six days. There he meets a heterogeneous group of people and ends up finding things that he didn’t even know he’d lost. It’s not one of those books where the character’s mental illness is treated as a subplot, it’s treating realistically for the most part (something I think is most definitely down to the author’s personal experience with depression) and at the end you know that Craig isn’t completely cured, that he’ll still have his struggles but there is a real sense of optimism that leaves you feeling hopeful for the future of the characters and yourself. Craig’s voice feels very true to real teenage boys i.e. not always likable and upbeat, but you still warm to him and his struggles. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
This is a story that is made even more bittersweet by the fact that the author, Ned Vizzini died in 2013 from a suicide attempt. It’s saddening that the optimism from the end of the book wasn’t something Ned managed to sustain in real life. (Please see at the bottom of this post for helpline numbers – suicide should never be the end of anyone’s story.)
My final book for this post, besides the Harry Potters is Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. I have really mixed feelings about this book, it’s portrayal of high school is completely unrealistic in every way, there’s the inherently cliche trope of the mean girls with zero redeeming qualities, the bulling victim turned love interest and another cliche that, to be fair, I didn’t see coming but was still equally ridiculous (I won’t say what it is because it would be a huge spoiler and should you choose to read this book even after my slightly disparaging review I don’t want you to hate me for ruining your reading experience – even though Tamara Stone should take full credit for that 😉 Wow I hope she never reads this review…) I picked this book up because I heard that it was about OCD and was actually quite accurate and it was to a certain extent until it started adding in various elements that felt like they were purely for the shock factor and were even acknowledged in the story by the ‘health professionals’ (health professionals that break every rule in the book – another completely unrealistic aspect to the story) as never being comorbid with OCD. Frankly I found it quite infuriating that an accurate portrayal of OCD wasn’t seen as ‘interesting enough’ for the story and so the author decided it needed spicing up a bit. It really reduced a completely legitimate mental health disorder down to a plot device and not even a good one at that. I give it 2 stars out of 5.
As usual I also read four Harry Potters that I won’t bother reviewing because it goes without saying that I could (and do – sorry to literally all of my friends…) gush and theorize about them for hours at a time, and quite frankly I’ve got things to do! This month the ones I read were ‘Half Blood Prince’, ‘ Deathly Hallows’, ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and ‘Chamber of Secrets.’
And so that concludes May’s ‘What I Read’ post(s), I’m going to try and do some non book posts before I do June’s one because it feels like it’s been a little book heavy lately. So, I’ll see you soon,
Love and hugs,
- Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
- The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90
You can also talk to your GP about anything that’s on your mind as well as calling 111 for non urgent medical advice and 999 if it’s an emergency (and feeling actively suicidal does qualify as a medical emergency – mental health conditions are just as valid as physical ones, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there) x