Welcome to a new mini series: the Express Book Review!
This mini series may also be known as: I read a bunch of books but also got really busy and didn’t have time to give them proper reviews, but also though people should know about them…
The Potential Hazards of Hester Day was nuts. I chose-a-book-by-its-cover on a mad dash on my way to catch a train, and it turned out totally awesome. Our protagonist is bizarre, quirky, and smart– in a relatable, but not always entirely admirable way. The plot and characters are kind of absurd– yet at the same time, they’re not. There is a marriage, public libraries, marriage, accidental-on-purpose child abduction, a first crush/love. All kinds of good stuff.
Just a quickie (even though I think this book deserves more) :
If you’re looking for a super-smart teen protagonist, good (both rich and witty) dialogue, and lots of feelings, check out Beau, Lee, The Bomb, and Me. Our protagonist Rylee is super-smart, but fat and an outcast at school– she ends up going on a surprise road trip to San Francisco with Beau, a bullied gay kid at her school, and Leonie, her bff (of circumstance) who’s basically the class ho with a heart of gold (and as it turns out, lots of really good qualities).
While I didn’t find the entirety of the story 100% believable, lots of the different parts are really heartfelt, interesting, and awesome. Read it. You’ll get through it in about a day, and you’ll totally be googling the author to see if there is more. check it outtttt! Or buy it. It’s on sale for under $7.
This book has a bummer of a title, but it’s all right. Indeed, there’s a dead best friend– and there’s Cass, who’s still alive. Basically, it’s a story about how Cass learns to deal with the loss– and also falls in (teenage) love along the way.
Chapter-by-chapter the narrative flip flops between past and present, which was a little weird. It was slow and funky at first, but It drew more of my commitment by the time I got to the middle. I didn’t find everything completely believable– but I do gotta support a decent librarian-authored book that somehow brings together bike touring, Quakers, drama, and teen lesbians.
Things have been a little wild in my real life lately, and this book was just the comfort that I needed. Our teenage protagonist Rosie got cheated on by her boyfriend, and while burning a box of their memories in his driveway, she might have accidentally set his car on fire. Oops. And she might have also accidentally followed him and maybe called his phone a few too many times… So Rosie ends up with a temporary restraining order. Her court date is in a few weeks.
This is the over-the-top premise that lands Rosie on a parentally-forced cross-country road trip with her goody-goody neighbor and a couple of his friends. Her parents figure the time away from home (and her ex) will be a good thing to ensure that she obeys the restraining order. I found this a little unbelievable, but whatever.
Ultimately this is a teen road trip novel. It’s pretty good, and made me want to travel to see some of the things that were mentioned. Though not particularly lyrical or floridly written, the plot takes a few non-traditional curves that will keep you entertained. Rosie is stubborn, smart, and likable, and the boys who she’s on the trip with have a bit of dimension too. The story is engrossing and comfortable– but not entirely predictable.
Find a copy here
Despite a plot that didn’t really go far enough for me, I found Nevada by Imogen Binnie to be quite enjoyable. The writing is super modern and quirky and on-point. Upon finishing the first chapter, I wanted to return my library copy that I’d waited 3 months for, and purchase a keeper copy.
I found the protagonist, Maria, to be relatable in her interests, self-deprecation, and general world-view. Obviously somewhat based in reality, her life was not unlike the lives of myself and my friends (aside from the, uh, heroin). Maria lives in NY and is trans, and the book tells the story of her dramatic breakup with her girlfriend Steph, and part of the road trip that follows. The reason I began this review with that disappointing first sentence is that the book feels cut off. It stops at an awkward point and there is no resolution. Poor Maria! I would have wanted to see what was next for her.
Despite that, I still am going to keep my eye out for Binnie, because she’s quite good with words.