I haven’t done a ton of reading in August, but it‘s because of something wonderful. My mom treated me to a trip to Europe! We traveled to Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava and Prague and had an amazing time. I checked out a good number of literary spots, including the National Library of Austria and an enormous tower of books in Prague’s Municipal Library. Check out pictures of them on my Instagram account.
I was able to squeeze a few books on the planes to and fro, and since I’ve been back, I’ve been furiously reading middle grade books in preparation for this year’s mock Newbery at my school. So, here’s what I’ve read so far in August:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
I’m not sure why I didn’t read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn during my younger years, because it would have fit right in with my love of books like Anne of Green Gables; books with strong female characters, a historical setting, and beautiful language. I am glad I finally picked up a A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and had the chance to experience the tremendously difficult life of Francie, a girl from a destitute family (including an alcoholic father) in early 20th century Williamsburg. But as much as I sympathized with Francie’s struggles and applauded her growth and accomplishments, I think I would have connected with the her and the story more if I had read it when I was an adolescent. That being said, I deeply appreciated the book and will recommend it to all the young women I know!
Camino Island, by John Grisham
This was my first John Grisham book ever! Since most of his writing focuses on law (not my favorite topic), I’d never been inclined to pick anything of his up. However, Camino Island’s literary-themed description caught my eye. The story centers on the heist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s manuscripts from the Princeton library and the investigation to get them back safe and sound. I don’t want divulge too much about what I thought of it since I will review it for my Worth the Read? series, but overall, I’ll say it was a light, quick read.
Lucky Broken Girl, by Ruth Behar
This is a middle grade book that’s gotten buzz as a potential Newbery candidate for 2018. The book is based on the author’s own experiences as a Jewish immigrant from Cuba in the 1960s. This was a perspective I’d never read in literature before, so I was intrigued from page one. In the story, Ruth is in a terrible car accident that leaves her in a full body cast for the greater part of a year. She has to learn how to live this new reality and in the process discovers many truths about herself, her family and life in general.
Although this book isn’t very long, it packs an emotional punch. Plus, it has a beautiful cover 🙂 I have high hopes for it as a Newbery contender.
The Ethan I Was Before, by Ali Standish
The Ethan I Was Before is another middle grade book that is getting attention as a possible contender for the 2018 Newbery awards. The story opens with Ethan and his family moving to a new town for a fresh start after a tragic accident involving Ethan’s best friend, but little detail is given about exactly what happened. As the book progresses Ethan makes a new friend, Coralee, who brings her own mysteries to the table. Like most middle grade books, all questions are answered by the end, but not in a forced or overly happily-ever-after way. I think it is a solid read for kids age 10 and older.
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
I know summer isn’t over yet, but I’m willing to declare that Crazy Rich Asians was my all-time favorite read of the season. The story follows Rachel Chu’s trip to Singapore with boyfriend Nick where they will attend a wedding and meet his family, but she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Nick’s family is actually one of the wealthiest on the island and their extravagant lifestyle is almost incomprehensible to Rachel. Nick also happens to be one of the most sought-after bachelors among the city’s catty rich girls, and they aren’t going to let Rachel whisk him away without a fight.
I laughed out loud over and over again while reading this book. Kwan’s satirical narrative was spot on and a delight to read. Being half-Asian, I especially appreciated his commentary on the less-than-progressive aspects of the culture, while still honoring the positive elements (like the amaaazing food!). I’m not usually a series reader, but I can’t wait to read the next installations, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. I got both for my birthday, so I will enjoy them soon!
What have you been reading lately? Share in the comments section below!