The Widow by Fiona Barton, I really enjoyed The Child and this was recommended to me before I had ever heard of Fiona Barton during my mystery kick last year. But I have to confess, this one isn’t my cup of tea. I only read about 10% of this one, then read the last chapter. As a 10 of 10 on a gritty scale, my momma heart couldn’t take it.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, loved it as much if not more than the last time I read it. I am having so much fun reading through this series again and catching details that I missed the first time around.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. The ending gave me mixed feelings, but ultimately I’m glad I read it. It’s a delightful tale of friendship, but maybe teen and young adult gay & lesbian fiction just isn’t for me.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward- Had this book not arrived in the gift subscription that my sister sent me for Christmas, I feel certain that I would not have read this. It is gritty and centers around poverty, racism, drugs, and the child neglect and despair that can be at the center of this encompassing epidemic. With that said, this book stretched me and beat me up, and crawled into my heart. This gritty story of loss and hope that truly toes the line between thriller and ghost story is poetically told from the view of a mother and her young son who has to grow up too fast. It won the National Book Award for Fiction and I would highly recommend this one.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. I was so excited to learn that our library selected this author and this book as part of their “Big Read” community reading event for the purpose of bringing neighbors together to be more empathetic, more aware, and more engaged. The culmination of the reading event was a lecture and open discussion forum with Emily St. John Mandel, and it was particularly insightful. She spoke of her inspiration for this story and her writing process, both in general and the research involved in writing this specific story. I was especially intrigued because she has somehow managed to live a successful, creative life on a balanced 9-5 work schedule. And she signed my sister’s books, which delighted my sister immensely.
Turtles all the Way Down by John Green was exactly what I wanted it to be. While slow at first, John Green expertly weaves a tale of love and friendship around the mysterious disappearance of a local billionaire, through the eyes of an obsessive compulsive and anxious (and extremely loveable) teen. He just understands- all the feelings, the self-centeredness, the dialogue. John Green is a master of young adult fiction.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin- Set in the untamed Pacific Northwest at the turn of the twentieth century, the author captures both the time and place with stunning clarity. Two girls escaping a violent life come upon this orchardist, who after losing his own family, takes them under his care and they journey to ultimately build a new family. It’s a rocky and distrustful relationship, and will challenge any version of a traditional family, but their journey is beautifully told.
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. Surprised by how much I loved Sing, Unburied, Sing, I went back to the National Book Awards to find more titles to read. My sister recommended Far from the Tree, and she had a copy, and told me she would send it to me. In the meantime, I went back through Robin Benway’s backlist and chose a couple to keep me busy until it arrived. Emmy & Oliver is a must read, with characters that are real and funny, and like me, you will be sorry this story has to end. These kids were best friends in elementary school when Oliver disappeared. He is found many years later, and Emmy and Oliver have to deal with the consequences of his disappearance on both of their lives, and ultimately discover their friendship again in the process. I loved the parents too. Just loved all of it.
Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart- I enjoyed We Were Liars and E. Lockhart’s twisty, trippy style of writing, and was excited when this popped up from my holds list at the library. It is written backwards in time, which can be confusing if you are the type to read multiple books at once. It’s a story of two girls, Jules and Imogen, but really just one girl with identity issues. I always think it’s a clever trick for the author to make you fall in love with truly unlikable characters. And I didn’t find it too confusing, because I couldn’t put this one down.
Audrey, Wait! By Robin Benway- This wasn’t as great as Emmy & Oliver, but a likeable story nonetheless. It’s cheery teen lit, unsurprising and sweet, and I enjoyed it.
That rounds out the 70 or so books I read in 2017. Mostly fiction, and pretty evenly divided between adult and young adult. It would be hard to rank my top five, but the one that most changed me was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I especially enjoyed Wonder by RJ Palacio and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, because I read them with my daughter. I enjoyed mysteries more than I had in years past especially I Found You by Lisa Jewell and The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. And I’m so excited to continue reading more of the Outlander series in 2018. I loved the quarterly book subscription and am excited to read those selections (although it will be hard to beat Sing, Unburied, Sing.)