I’ve been on a YA binge this week. #sorrynotsorry
I want to say that it’s because life is just so much simpler in a YA – but these YA books certainly were NOT! So I’ll just be honest – it was the love stories that drew me in. There. I’ve said it. I adore teenage love stories. One of my finishes this week is much more overtly a love story than the other, but I’ll talk about that soon.
Teenage love stories transport me back in time. If it’s done well, I can remember those feelings and the excitement of it all. And in my opinion, both of the books I’m discussing today were done really well!
Eleanor & Park is the story of two teenagers. Eleanor is new in school, has big beautiful red hair (although, at that age, you can guess how the kids at school react to it), and has a heart breaking home life. Park has been going to this school and living in the same neighborhood all of his life. His father grew up here and is a big hulking Korean War veteran; his mom is from Korea and is a tiny, beautiful, elegant woman.
Eleanor and Park bond on the school bus over music and comic books. Slowly, each becomes the center of the other’s world. You remember that feeling, right? Their minds are always on each other, and neither can really believe that the other really likes them.
If this was what the whole novel was about, it would be too mush-gushy, even for me! But Eleanor’s home life is interwoven throughout this story in ways that are powerful and thought provoking. She is living with her mother and her abusive, alcoholic stepfather with four siblings. All of the children are sharing a single room with one bunkbed, which means that some kiddos are sleeping on the floor. They have no money – Eleanor’s most prized possessions fit into one wooden grapefruit box, which is where she hides her life with Park.
This looks like a fat book, but you will speed right through it. Rowell is fabulous with dialogue and carries you through sweeping ideas and engages you without looking back. This book is thoroughly 80s and a mix of Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club – with a dash of your own first love.
The Raven Boys is something that I thought I would never read. I’ve seen people gushing about it on social media so my interest had been piqued, but I always thought that it wasn’t really my thing. But I decided to pick it up because I wanted something light and fun – and I really enjoyed it!
The Raven Boys refers to a gaggle of high school guys that are attending a prestigious prep school in town. One of the boys is particularly interested in an obscure occult belief and the other three guys are along for the ride.
Blue Sargent is a local girl going to the public school in town. Her mother and nearly all of the women in her life are psychics or have some sort of clairvoyant power. She’s always been told that if she kisses her true love, then he will die. Through strange circumstances, she becomes one of the gang on the magical quest and her own powers help the Raven Boys in unexpected ways.
There are some truly frightening scenes in this novel, so watch out! One of the things that was difficult for me is how the characters accepted the paranormal aspects of this story without question – it didn’t seem very realistic to me. But I’m not a person that requires my reading to be realistic, so it wasn’t a deal breaker! It’s a super easy and engaging read, and by the time I was about 50% through the book, I couldn’t imagine putting it down. I was left with a lot of questions, so I’m hoping that they’ll be addressed in future books and that I didn’t just overlook them in this one.
I’m not sure when I’ll pick up the next in the series, but I’m sure that I will at some point.
As of this morning, I’m not actually reading anything! I think that I want to leave the YA world for a little while, but I’m not sure where I’ll go. I’m trying to decide out of The Goldfinch, The Romanov Sisters, a re-read of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Three Sisters, Three Queens – the new Philippa Gregory. Help?!