June 8, 2015

Recent Reads

61. Good as Lily
This Young Adult graphic novel is a fun and fast read, and I especially liked that the story focused on a Korean-American girl and her story.

Something strange happened to Grace Kwon on her eighteenth birthday. She runs into (literally) herself at three different ages - specifically at ages six, twenty nine, and seventy. Her life is complicated enough, what with applying to colleges, and trying to save a school play, and now she has to deal with her past and her present selves colliding as well.

Take a moment and think about what would happen if your past and present selves met today. There are so many avenues and themes that this story could have explored, and I was disappointed that it did not delve into any of them. Yes, it is a YA book, but surely teens can deal with more complex themes than this book portrayed no? The black and white illustrations are sketchy and effective. So while not a book I loved, it was refreshing to encounter some diversity in this genre. Rating: 3 stars.

62. Sandrine's Case
This was my book club selection this month, and I am clearly the wrong audience for it. If it had not been for book club, I would have bailed on it about 25 or so pages in.

Sandrine is dead, and her husband is on trial for her murder. But I'm not sure I'd classify this one as a mystery, or even a crime story. It is more an exploration of a long term term relationship, what the people in it know and do not know, and whether any of our relationships could withstand the scrutiny of a trial. 

I have many complaints about the writing, the lack of character development, the lack of emotional credibility, the unclear motivations of the characters, and the sheer tedium of reading a story I cared not one whit about. However, having read to the end, I did find some nuggets that added an extra star to my rating of this book. Rating: 2 stars.

63. Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look At High School
Education is a subject near and dear to my heart, and as a person who taught for a couple of years in an urban school system, I know that whether a student succeeds or not has as much to do with what happens outside the classroom as within it. 

This is graphic memoir of a long time teacher at Wildcat Academy - a school in New York City where students are all considered at-risk, and are given their very last chance at graduating with a high school diploma. I liked the honesty of this book. The author takes an unflinching look at her students, their environments, and the education system, without giving herself a halo or wings. The black and white illustrations work well, though I did have a tough time telling some of the kids apart. 

As a society, the education of kids affects us all, and every parent should feel comfortable having their kids attend any school. If we do not, we might ask ourselves why that is. I'd highly recommend this book to parents, teachers, and anyone interested in education. Rating: 4 stars.

64. The Fifth Gospel
Murder, mystery, Vatican shenanigans, the Shroud of Turin - all of these should be right up my alley, but after 100 pages, I could care less and am bored. So bailing on this one. Oh well. Rating: 1 star.

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