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Shorter Musings Realistic YA

Here are some shorter musings on some recent realistic YA reads.

Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lai
This, like all of Thanhha Lai's work, is excellent. It is historical fiction set in 1981 and follows a Vietnamese teen who has suffered a terrifying journey to America to find her younger brother who was taken from Vietnam as an orphan in the last wave of civilians leaving before the South fell. Along the way she employs the help of a wannabe rodeo cowboy fresh from high school graduation with a brand new truck and a dream. This is a wonderful tale about found family that covers a parts of the history Vietnam and America we often forget about, including that young Vietnamese people were risking their lives to make their way to refugee camps long after the war ended. Many of them paid until costs for this.

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
I thoroughly enjoyed this. This has the appearance (and description) of being a simple YA contemporary YA romance, but it is actually a story about immigration and family. The heart of the book is Rosa's relationships with her mother and grandmother, the expectations on her to succeed, and the questions she carries about her life's history. The idea of the sea and the curse keeping her from the boy she wants are all wrapped up in that. It is an engaging read and Rosa is a fun, empathetic character. She is a lot like I imagine Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec would have been like in high school.

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden
This book mostly suffers from me wanting it to be something other than what it was. I thought Crossing Ebenezer Creek was a riveting and important book. I was looking forward to reading a book that explored the time period after Reconstruction failed. I liked that some of the characters from Crossing Ebenezer Creek were in this book, and from a historical perspective it was quite good. It was just so very dry. I wanted to know the characters more and really get inside their head. The vagueness and jumping over time that worked well as a story telling devices in Crossing Ebenezer Creek didn't work as well for the story being told here. I did really like what we got of Victoria. I just wish it had been so much more.

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
This reads like a Disney series pilot about a cooking school in France. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need a good Disney plot in your life. There isn't much that is deep here, but it is well told and fun. It does rely an awful lot on stereotypes for the minor characters. All of them are a bit larger than life in comparison to the two leads. (This is the element that really made the connection to Disney for me). It is fluffy, fun, and the two leads have excellent chemistry.

Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh
This has shades of Sense and Sensibility but is very much its own story. I like a good tale of sisterhood but there was an element to the writing that kept me from becoming fully invested in either Ginny or Plum as characters. Also, I felt the potentially triggering mental health issues that arose toward the end were shoe-horned in and not dealt with thoroughly enough. I did like the development of the relationship between Plum and Tate. Tate is a far more realistic version of a teenage boy than we often see in YA literature of this nature. All in all, this was an entertaining read; it just wasn't overwhelmingly good or memorable. I would not be opposed to reading this author's future books.


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Shorter Musings YA Realistic

Here are some shorter musings on some recent YA realistic fiction reads.

American Pandaby Gloria Chao
I bumped this up my TBR list after seeing several really favorable reviews for it in a row. I'm so glad I did. This is an excellent story of the child of immigrants trying to find her place in the world. Mei struggles with how to be herself and the perfect, obedient daughter her parents expect her to be. They have already officially disowned her brother. Mei's journey is one of self-discovery, which is interesting since it is advertised as more fluffy and more of a romance that it truly is. (There is a romance, but it is definitely not the central relationship in the book.) I really loved how much this story was about Mei's relationship with her mom and the complications of relating to each other.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kissby Kasie West
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2019 Favorites So Far...

Who can believe we are halfway through 2019 already??? It's certainly hard for me. (Also, where did my summer go?) are my favorite reads of the year this year so far. I'm featuring my 10 Favorites overall and then 5 from each age category I read. It will be interesting to see which of these will make it all the way to the December 31 list!

Top 10 So Far:

 Top 5 MG:

Top 5 YA:

Top 5 Adult: