Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Publication Date: May 10th, 2005
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world. ”

Review:

I’ve read David Levithan before, and  I have to say that this doesn’t feel like something he wrote. I read You Know Me Well, that David Levithan co-wrote with Nina LaCour, and that seemed very serious and real. Boy Meets Boy seemed a little crazy in the beginning. It seemed a little ridiculous and I was waiting for it to get better. I think it did, but not too much for a five star rating.

There were some things that just seemed absurd. I mean this was also released over ten years ago so I tried to remain neutral about how times might not be the same. The problems that this book had seemed adult, and I think that turned it off for me. When I reached about half way through this book, it really started to pick up. There was a specific chapter named “Tony” that really had me feeling like I was going to cry.

There were so many differences in this book and the last book I read. I’m not comparing those two books, I’m just saying that I noticed the differences. You Know Me Well definitely seemed stronger and well written compared to Boy Meets Boy. As this was his first novel, I feel like that was expected.

I think it’s important to show that not every book written by an author is going to be the same. I think that this book was a blurb of David Levithan’s imagination and what it would be like in high school if he had it his way. By the end, I thought this book was good, and I’m going to try another David Levithan novel.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…


Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.”

Review:

Wow. This was super, super sad. If you are an emotional reader, I would recommend having a box of tissues nearby. Marin is a girl who lost her mother at a young age. She was being taken care of by her grandfather and she doesn’t know how to cope when he doesn’t return home. Marin deals with grief and confusing feelings for her best friend Mabel. She up and leaves San Francisco to go to New York, leaving everything behind.

Marin is a young girl that shouldn’t have to deal with what she does. She is left alone and even though she has had many different people that loved her, she always felt alone all of the time. When her grandfather never comes home, she packs and heads right to New York, closing everyone off and not letting anyone in. Not even her best friend Mabel. Mabel, who Marin is in love with. Things get really confusing for both girls.

I think that Nina LaCour did a beautiful job writing how Marin goes through grief. There are seven stages, and I think that each stage was represented. Marin needed help and the author really showed her going through what she was. Things were really hard for her, and because they were hard for her, some parts were hard to read.

I feel like there was something missing at the end of the book. I felt like I was waiting for something, but it didn’t really take away from the book. This is my second Nina LaCour book, and I’m really starting to love her as an author. Can’t wait to read more.

Rating: ★★★★

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time. ”

Review:

Mark and Ryan head out to a club in the city unbeknownst to their parents. Mark and Ryan are something and then, they’re not. Mark wants Ryan, and Ryan doesn’t know what he wants. He wants someone who isn’t afraid to live. However, Ryan is in the closet still. There is a underwear competition at the club, and Mark wants to show Ryan that he can be the life of the party. After the competition, Mark makes eye contact with the girl he’s sat next to all year in calculus, Kate. Kate understands not to tell anyone that she was there and vice versa. This is a story of friendship and the struggles of coming out.

I flew through this book in a day. It was so, so, so good. I love this story and how important it is to have people that support you around you in life. The friendships that this book portrays is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I was hooked right from the start.

The character development in this story was phenomenal. I went back and forth with these characters, especially Ryan. I also struggled with Kate for a little, as well. The best character was Mark. He was absolute favorite. He knew what he wanted from day one, and his head was always on straight. There were times where Mark would be struggling with love and I would be in tears. The authors did such a great job with the characters.

My favorite part of this book was how it was written. Nina LaCour and David Levithan began writing this book back and forth for a few years. They would send a chapter back and forth electronically until it was finished. I think that is the coolest thing ever and I would love to co-write with someone like that one day. I think that takes real talent to pick up where someone left off.

I was going to give this book a five star rating, but I feel like there was just one tiny thing missing. If I say what I think was missing, it would be a spoiler. The book was amazing the way it was, but personally, I wish the ending had a little bit different of a finish.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Published: October 14th, 2008

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.

Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between “normal” and the rest of us.”

Review:

Jeff is not crazy. He’s not sure why he’s in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. After sitting in with meetings of the other members of the ward, he really knows he’s not crazy. So why is he here? He must stay 45 days for treatment since he tried to commit suicide.

This book had a very interesting standpoint. I enjoyed this book, but I felt like I was reading the same chapter over and over again. It wasn’t until the end of the book that it became strong and won me over. I hate when that happens because I have to drop my rating. Finding out what actually happened in the end, and how everything adjusted, was very good. I wish it was that good throughout the book.

The characters in this book weren’t my favorite either. There were a few that I didn’t like and then later in the book, I actually found to be good people. This shows good character development and I love that in a book. If I can switch back and forth from hating to loving and back to hating again, the author did a good job.

I really expected a lot more out of this book and I’m sad that I can’t give it a higher rating.

Rating: ★★★

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Published: February 21st, 2012

“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

Review:

Things with this book were a little tricky. Aristotle and Dante meet when Aristotle is swimming at the pool in their neighborhood. It’s quite obvious from the beginning that Ari is dealing with a lot. Dante is very, very carefree and happy. They are nothing alike at all. However, the chemistry between them is noticeable from the start. Dante knows who he is as a person. Ari struggled through the entire book to figure it out.

I was very surprised with this book because I felt like I almost stopped a few times until about halfway through. The first half definitely dragged along, but once I hit about halfway, it flew by and got very good. I needed to see what was going on and how things were going to be handled. It was awesome to see how things played out because they were exactly how I expected them to. I wish the whole book was as strong as the second half because I would’ve given it a five star rating.

Rating★★★★

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Published: August 30th, 2016

“Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?”

Review:

Joanna Gordon is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. I picked up this book thinking it was just another LGBTQ+ high school story, but I was wrong. This is the story of a young girl who knows who she is and what she wants, but she has to be silenced. Her father, a priest who speaks on the radio, asks her to lie low when they move to a small new town of Rome, Georgia. Coming from Atlanta where Jo was known and loved, she agrees and tries to fit in with the high school crowd.

“Rome, Georgia, is definitely where queer girls go to die.”

This is the story of family and what it feels like to be closeted (which is horrible). In this book, you watch this out-and-proud girl become unsure of herself and who she is. Her whole life is flipped upside down. She is leaving her comfort zone where her best friend is (who is also out), her father got remarried to a new woman who’s family doesn’t necessarily agree with Jo’s lifestyle, and the worst: she is falling for a girl at her new school when she promised her father she would lay low.

This was an amazing book that I read from start to finish in a day. I couldn’t believe how great this book was. There’s a few things that I’d like to point out in this story:

Characters: The characters in this book were awesome. I love when a book has good character development. For example, I didn’t like Jo’s father’s new wife or her best friend in the beginning. I automatically didn’t like them because I felt like they were bad for her. Then, I switched and liked them both, and hated her father. At the end, everything was great and all characters developed beautifully.

Joanna Gordon: I wanted to give her a separate point because she is one of my favorite characters ever. She is this beautiful, young woman who portrays herself in such an amazing light. She is so strong and wonderful. Ugh, I love her and I would love to reread this again just to grasp the strength she has.

High School: I think Jaye Robin Brown wrote about how high school can be in an amazing way. High schoolers can be extremely vicious and especially if they found out a secret that no one was supposed to know about. I can understand why Jo’s father asked her to hide herself because he was afraid for her, but I felt like it went deeper than that. Read this and you’ll find out why.

Overall, I wish I could give this book a hundred stars. It really, truly deserves them. But since I can’t: 5/5 all the way!

 

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Published: May 30th, 2017

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

Review:
I very, very much enjoyed this book. A modern day Breakfast Club with a deadly twist. Something I’ve never seen in a novel’s story before.

I just want to start off on how this book made me feel like I watching an action movie and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. It was a little slow at parts, but the ending saved it for me. I couldn’t put it down.

Next, the characters. The CHARACTERS. There were so many different developments with each individual character and I absolutely loved that. There’s nothing more wonderful than having a love/hate relationship with a character that you want to see succeed.

Lastly, the ending of this book shocked me. Some might see it coming from the beginning, but you forget about it throughout the book. When you hit that gasp moment, and you know what I mean when you read it, you will think back.

Loved this book and would recommend it to anyone!

Rating: ★★★★★