I’m a huge Stephanie Perkins fangirl. I’ve read Anna, Lola, and (my favorite) Isla too many times to keep track of. I cried when I met Stephanie Perkins. She’s one of my biggest influences as a writer. I wrote this blog post! But I was worried – really worried – when I learned her newest book would be a horror novel. I’m seriously the most sensitive person in the world when it comes to being scared. I didn’t know if I could handle reading it, but I also didn’t know if I could handle not reading it.
Well, in Halloween spirit I picked up the book. And of course, I sped through it. It had everything I love in a Stephanie Perkins novel – a nuanced and interesting heroine, a quirky love interest, the most swoon-worthy, romantic writing I’ve ever seen in YA. It also had someone killing people with a knife. And while I did stay up late to finish the book, I found I could handle it. Continue reading
Julia and her family are grieving the death of her older sister, Olga. Olga was a perfect Mexican daughter to her immigrant parents. She didn’t go away to college. She didn’t move out after graduation. She happily cleaned and cooked with her mother and brought her father water to soak his feet in when he got home from his factory job. With her gone, Julia knows she can’t fill Olga’s role. She dreams of moving to New York City and becoming a writer, and has never been the obedient child her parents wanted. But when Julia discovers a pair of sexy underwear and a hotel key in Olga’s room, she learns that her big sister might not have been the perfect daughter everyone thought she was. In her grief, she focuses on finding out the truth about her sister’s life. At the same time, she struggles through growing pains with friends, the odds against her in applying for college, first romance, and her own mental illness. Continue reading
If you haven’t read Mechanica – the feminist, steampunk Cinderella retelling – yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, it’s so so so good. I’m obsessed with Cinderella retellings and it’s my second favorite one of all time (Ella Enchanted will ALWAYS be number one to me, sorry Betsy!). If you have read Mechanica, then I’m guessing you are already so enchanted by the amazing world building and nuanced characters that you don’t need me to tell you to read this sequel. But I had some thoughts I wanted to write out and this is my blog, so … here we go!
Also there will be some necessary SPOILERS for book one in this series. Proceed with caution. Continue reading
Happy weekend! I am having a huge good book streak. I’m really hoping it doesn’t end anytime soon – obviously. I might be losing sleep, but it’s one hundred percent worth it. Here are some favorite YA books that I’ve read in the last few weeks!
Eliza and her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia, blew me away and kept me up late at night. In some ways it felt like Fangirl on steroids. In others, it had its own special and unique magic. In the story, teenage Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular webcomics on the internet. She doesn’t do friends, at least not IRL, and her identity on the internet is a closely guarded secret. Then Wallace, her comic’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school and they develop a relationship through their shared interest. But he thinks that she’s just another fan and doesn’t know how to tell him. Ugh. This writing is beautiful. Like makes you want to cry and throw up at the same time beautiful. And the story is … I said on twitter that it made me feel like a mix between having a crush and the night before a new Harry Potter book comes out. And I stand by that strong endorsement. More people should be reading this book. Aside from being oh so swoony, it also has some of the best descriptions of anxiety I’ve ever read. Continue reading
I took a YA lit class in grad school with David Levithan. One of the first things he said was to make the details in our writing as specific as possible. More detailed. More specific examples. These were two phrases, I became accustomed to seeing on my personal essays. It’s one of the lessons that I try to keep in the very front of my brain while writing. It’s also a lesson that no one needs to teach Julie Murphy, apparently. Because Damn! Ramona Blue, the latest book from the author who brought us Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, is one of the most specific, detailed, and unique books I’ve ever read.
As with people in real life, Ramona’s history looms large over her present struggles. She was a small child when Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed her family. She’s been a kind of surrogate parent to her little sister, who is now pregnant. She likes girls. She wants to leave town, but doesn’t know if she can now that her sister needs her more than ever. Continue reading
I met Laura Silverman at the end of my orientation at New School. I was a nervous and slightly overwhelmed new student who’d moved to New York City that week and was still scared of taking the subway. She was a confident and wise second year in my MFA program, who told me to check out my now-favorite bookstore Books of Wonder and gave advice about professors. Even though she was younger than me, I definitely looked up to her – and I still do. So it was lovely to lose myself in her debut novel Girl Out of Water this weekend. I started reading it on a sunny day in the park. After having to take a break for a friend’s dinner party, I finished the book late that night. As much as I like sleep, I liked Anise’s story better. Seventeen-year-old Anise loves surfing and is intensely connected to her California hometown. But when her aunt is injured, she and her Dad must spend the summer in Nebraska helping to take care of Anise’s three younger cousins. Anise expects a summer of boredom and wistfully checking up on her friends back home. But a cute, one-armed skateboarder named Lincoln (swoon!) and her growing connection to her cousins, cause her to lose touch with her friends and her surfer identity in Santa Cruz. Continue reading
I have major love for Lara Jean Covey and all the Song girls. I like that she is a shy, quiet, bookish girl who finds her confidence not by losing her shyness or a boy liking her – but through her own journey. I like her relationship with her sisters and the way Margot and Kitty have changed over the last three books. I like the cultural details of being half Korean American that are weaved in and out of the narrative. I’ve said this several times now, but reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was formative to my interest in writing contemporary YA. Hearing Jenny Han speak at The National Book Festival in 2012 was formative to my decision to move to New York City and get my MFA in writing for children and teenagers. So yeah, I’ve been looking forward to reading the third and final Lara Jean book since I found out it was happening. And, as expected, it did not disappoint. Continue reading