I had my last day of work on Wednesday, which means I’m free to pursue all sorts of other activities now. Like laying in bed all day reading. Drinking Spritzers on the lake. Finding ways to avoid working on all the projects I told myself I’d catch up on once I was free.
June will be a bittersweet month for me. It’s my last month in Austria! What waits for me back home? (Probably reverse culture shock, tbh. I’ve been in Austria since Fall of 2015 for the most part.)
I read a lot of heartbreaking books this month… I don’t want to highlight them because of potential spoilers but WOW some major character deaths affected me. I’m determined to escape to happier books for a while–only light-hearted romantic comedies from here on out! (I saw, binge watching a bunch of dark True Crime documentaries)…
For someone who doesn’t read historical fiction or care that much about Jack the Ripper I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper a surprising amount. Noteworthy is the “She’s the Man” and “Pitch Perfect” mashup we didn’t deserve but were gifted with anyway and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet soothed my itchiness to play Mass Effect…a bit.
not pictured: Blood for Blood (Ryan Graudin)
Best of May 2017: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
I could sing praises for this book until I lost my voice but my singing is terrible so I’ll stick to just sharing a few reasons why Upside was one of the best books I’ve read this year. Albertalli manages to cram so much into this book without it feeling forced. The representation in this book! The amount of times I laughed!
But, I mean the greatest appeal for me in Upside is the main character. Molly openly discusses how it feels to be a fat teenage girl–the way others think of your body, the way people talk about your body, and all the other ways in which people try to police you. Molly doesn’t hate her body but she’s aware of how others may view it. I was so happy to see a character who lived in this space of body acceptance in a way that doesn’t diminish the struggles that young people face even when they don’t think they need to change their bodies.
I think there are a lot of people will find bits and pieces of themselves in Molly. In her wavering confidence, in how it felt to be a teenager looking for their first relationship, and in the friendships in the book. It also has some of the best repartee dialogue that’s just so snappy.
Worst of May 2017: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The City & The City sure dodged the Worst of the Month bullet because it was sitting in that position until the end of the month… but I wrote about my feelings for it already so I chose a different book for the slot.
Honestly my main problem with this book is the ending. It’s struggle to figure out how to express this without spoilers but I’m going to give a spoiler warning for stuff under the line even though I’m not going to really be that explicit.
Aside from the plot, I found the writing to be kind of vague and unsatisfying. One of the main criticisms levied by a bunch of people at Upside is that the MC is only obsessed with her crushes and having a boyfriend. But Everything, Everything suffers from this…worse? After the LI is introduced the entire narrative narrows down to only the interactions between those two characters. Many times the MC talks about how her LI is basically her whole world and reason she wishes to live. I’m not sure why Upside was targeted for this and not Everything, except an uncomfortable suspicion that there’s a stronger standard for fat characters to have ‘other interests’ than love.
It feels like there’s so little to the MC outside of her relationship with her LI. All the other facets of her life vanish.
I thought it was really unfortunate how the representation on this story turned at the end. I think there are people with illnesses (sort of) like the MC in this book that would have liked to see themselves in the story only for it to turn out the way it did in the end. It cheapened the narrative, IMO.