Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

… is a really precious book I wish I had in high school. I am not even going to review it, because I want you to read it yourself. All I will say is it is not perfect but even its flaws make it worth reading. if you read the book, I have had a similar experience to Claudia and it really struck a chord with me. If I read this as a teenager, I would have identified as a feminist earlier in life.

As a bookseller, I will be recommending this book to all kids of all genders, and parents and aunts and uncles and people who like YA and people who don’t. I think this is a really quick, but important read that could justify or change your perspective. I would love to hear your thoughts, and hope you might purchase this book upon its release.

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we are okay – nina lacour

we were miraculous
we were beach creatures
we had treasures in our pockets and each other on our skin

p 113 we are okay

Ever since I read The Disenchantments, I have loved Nina Lacour for her honest and vivid depictions of young girls in love, and in friendship. I love her so much that I cannot pick a favorite Nina book, because they are all unique and beautiful in their own way, even from each other. The first few pages of We Are Okay did not grip me, but once I got into the flow – I am glad I stuck around because We Are Okay is no exception to my previous statements.

I could not put this book down. As the story of Marin and her grandfather, (and Marin and Mabel) unfolded, I was heartbroken and hopeful all at once. The plot centers around Marin and Mabel as they reunite in Marin’s desolate dorm after the heart shattering death of her grandfather.

When Lacour writes about Mabel’s family, she brings them to life. They are not merely characters on a page, especially Ana, who was my favorite character. She is a mother and artist who Nina gives life to through vivid descriptions of art – Ana’s own black canvases with silk waves, tattered butterfly photographs, and Frieda Kahlo’s work described intermittently in high detail, perhaps this was my favorite…

If you have ever wanted to read Nina’s work, or if you have, but not all of it, then pick up a book today, get some chocolate and your favorite beverage, and curl up on the couch in your sweatpants. You’re about to begin an amazing night in.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, gave me “all of the feels.” I had been mildly interested in reading this book (as I am mildly interested in reading most YA books, and actually most books!), but it was the August selection for Forever Young Adult Bookclub. I read this book in one night, one sitting. Just a few hours of my time for a delightful, emotional non-cliched story about Simon, a mysterious penpal, and Simon’s real-life non-internet friends.

What I really liked about this book was Albertalli’s pacing and her ability to switch between light and serious matter non-abruptly. This novel revolves so much around the ups and downs of friendships in your teens. And yes, the novel is about being true to yourself. But Simon doesn’t try to be anyone he’s not. The hurdle is telling his friends he is gay, but he doesn’t have to break any hearts to do so. And when he finds out who he’s truly been conversing with online, there is the best meet-cute ever, followed by Albertalli describing Simon and Blue’s relationship as I imagine she would write about a straight relationship. Nothing seemed forced or over-compensated for.

I would definitely read this book again.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng Sparkles Celestially ;)

Everything I Never Told You is a novel by woman of color, writer of color, Celeste Ng, that discusses the limitations of race and gender in the 70’s, but is sadly still relevant today. Although the character whom this book is centered around dies in the beginning (not a spoiler), it is evident that Lydia wants to do everything her mother ever told her… but what about everything Marilyn never told her, and vice versa?

Marilyn has had to make a painful choice between “right” and “wrong,” career (passion) and family (duty). Men often get to choose if they want to be fathers, but women still don’t get to choose whether they want to be mothers. Marilyn and James have three children – Lydia, Nath, and Hannah. Lydia is blue-eyed and light skinned, making her the favorite. She’s the one who is expected to go far, and make something of herself that her mother never could. Nath is an aspiring astronaut, but his parents often neglect his feelings and thoughts to set their attention on Lydia – who desperately does not want the attention. Poor Hanna is lost in the shuffle, but will she be found?

 

There are mother-daughter, mother-son, father-son, father-daughter, and mother-father/husband-wife, motifs to explore and more, not to mention the relationships between siblings.

 

Ng writes evocatively and completely understands show, don’t tell. She doesn’t say people are/were racist. She doesn’t say why Marilyn and James are constantly fighting the urge to let their kids grow, and try to change them and mold them. The reader has all of the context clues. I was born in 1990, long after the events of this novel take place, but through Ng’s writing I was able to acutely understand the culture and timeframe. My mother is a white woman, married to my stepfather who is a Chinese man. Together, they have my youngest sister. The subtle and not so subtle racism in this novel was on point. Towards the end of the story, I was a puddle. I cannot explain enough how perfectly Ng gets the family dynamic, the racial dynamic, and the time period, let alone how wonderful the pacing of the novel was. it never got boring, or too much too soon. I will definitely be picking up another Celeste Ng novel in my future.

 

Enjoy some quotes:

 

P137

 

“If her mother ever came home and told her to finish her milk, she thought, the page wavering to a blur, she would finish her milk. She would brush her teeth without being asked and stop crying when the doctor gave her shots. She would go to sleep the second her mother turned out the light. She would never get sick again. She would do everything her mother ever told her. Everything her mother wanted”

 

p 143

 

“As the young woman closed the gash with neat black stitches, Marilyn’s hands began to ache. She clenched her teeth, but the ache spread into her wrists, up to her shoulders, down her spine. It wasn’t the surgery. It was the disappointment: tha lie everyone else, she heard doctor and still thought – would forever think – man. The rims of her eyes started to burn… Marilyn blurted out, “I think I’m pregnant,” and burst into tears.

release

Dear old best friends,

People I spent precious moments of my life with,

People I loved dearly,

Stared into your eyes,

Told you my deepest darkest secrets,

Opened up to you,

You opened up to me,

We were so innocent

And naïve,

And we let it all go by without appreciating the moments

The good times,

I let the sadness get in the way

The betrayal

In the heart of a teenage girl means so much more than

What it would mean now as an adult

It is immature to keep holding on,

To keep letting you hurt me,

To keep letting me hurt me by dragging it on

Walking through the coals

Of dark hearts and wasted youth

So I release you

Into the wild

Where you belong

On your own soul searching adventure

As I am on mine

And hope that one day

When we’re ready

We meet once more on the sunlit path

And embrace.