I've read a ton since school got out last year haven't reported on each book like I intended to. (Plus the note with my entire reading list somehow got wiped from my phone... I'm still really bitter about it!) Anyway, here are just a few titles that I couldn't shut up about. They're worth checking out, I promise!
-The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown: I read this after reading Unbroken since I knew the timelines overlap quite a bit. It's not really comparable in my opinion since there is so much heavy material in Unbroken (even though this book isn't exactly a fairy tale, for sure.) But I loved it and cried like a baby when it was over. It's the true story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington. I was blown away by the demands rowing puts on an athlete, it seamlessly wove the storylines together (including a subplot about Nazi Germany and the elaborate cover-up of the Jewish oppression that had already begun), and reading all the descriptions of places I've actually been in the Pacific Northwest was icing on the cake.
-These Is My Words by Nancy Turner: I read this in August and I was heartbroken when the time came to return it. This is one of those books that I reread passages of over and over (and should probably just buy my own copy.) It's a little surprising that I loved it as much as I did, since all I could think for the first couple chapters was, "Does ANYTHING happen in this book that isn't tragically awful?" (The answer is yes.) It's the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, a young pioneer girl who documents her life on the frontier from the age of 17 to her mid-thirties. Apparently there are more books in this series but I'm almost afraid to read them and spoil how much I love this one.... it's just a spectacular love story. I recommended it to Brook and was thrilled that she loved it as much as I did.
-The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine: I loved this story about a young girl living in Little Rock, Arkansas, a year after the first high school integration in the 1960's. Marlee has never really dealt with racial issues before, but after her first true best friend is taken from her and she sees the ugly side of racism for the first time, it becomes clear that standing up for right is her only choice, no matter how hard and dangerous it is. A great middle grade novel (and I'd suggest Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith as a YA companion read.)
-Wonder by R.J. Palacio: I saw this book at Sam's this summer and glanced at the cover but didn't skim enough to get an idea of what it was about. Finally I checked it out before our road trip a few weeks ago and I thought it was excellent. It's hard to write about a subject as heavy as a middle school boy with a serious facial deformity, and while it has its seriously sad moments, this book is funny and sweet. The mini-sequel, The Julian Chapter, is an absolutely perfect and poignant conclusion. You have to read both!
-After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick: After reading Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, which I loved, I checked out the sequel about Jeffrey, a boy who survived childhood cancer, and loved it even more than the first book, written from the perspective of his brother Steven. These books have the perfect sarcastic tone (right up my alley) and since the entire premise is built on a writing assignment in English class, I had a special place in my heart for the story right off the bat. You wouldn't think a book about a kid with cancer would be funny, but I laughed my head off the entire time. Obviously Drums is the first book, but the sequel was my favorite.
-Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly: I read this at Jonathan's aunt's house and it was absolutely fascinating. I've been on a bit of a WWII kick anyway, so the details surrounding Patton's suspicious death and all the background information about Patton's military career and the way he was treated for his rather outspoken (that's an understatement) views was really interesting. It blew my mind, all the horrible, horrible stuff that happened and the absolutely horrifying way that people were treated. Reading about this time period in general makes me feel like the world's biggest brat for ever complaining about anything when in comparison I have absolutely no concept of human suffering. There were definitely parts that were hard to get through but since it's history and it really happened, I think it's important to be knowledgeable about it. Now I've got Killing Lincoln waiting on my Kindle and I hope it's just as good!
So there are a few titles you should totally read (and then tell me so we can talk about them... I'm dying to spill my guts to someone other than Jonathan, and he'll thank you too, I promise.)