by Mandi Harrison
I recently went on a reading spree, and read every book I could get my hands on. Fiction, Non Fiction, whatever. The majority of my reads, however, were from my favorite genre, YA, and I found some new faves.
YA, or Young Adult, novels may sound childish, but I've found that this genre's authors are unafraid to discuss subjects that a lot of people want to skate around or just flat out ignore. Things like race, violence, bullying, standing up for your beliefs and sexuality. Discovering who you are as a person in this world and what you believe in makes for fascinating storytelling. The coming of age genre is my favorite in books and movies, especially the stories that tear your heart out and keep it long after it's over.
I discovered an author during my reading marathon that did just that. His name is Adam Silvera. He has three books out now, with his fourth releasing in October. I couldn't read anything for a week after finishing his first book, More Happy Than Not. I became a fan after his second novel, History Is All You Left Me. His third, They Both Die At The End is one of my all time favorite books now and has made Adam one of my favorite authors.
Adam's writing has a definite voice. He is kind of nerdy, which of course I love, and there is a slight sci-fi element to the books, which you don't really notice other than it sets up the (slightly) alternate universe New York City. His protagonists are going through the defining moments in their life, big moments, but they already know who they are at their core.
They Both Die At The End wrecked me. I cried for thirty minutes after finishing it. One of those really cathartic cries. The theme of the story is there can't be life without death and love without loss. In this story's reality, you receive a phone call on the day you are going to die so you can prepare. The two leads, Mateo and Rufus, do not know each other and each have received that call. They meet on a website that connects people who have received THE CALL and decide to stick together so that neither will be alone when it happens. Mateo and Rufus help each other make peace with their pasts and deal with their impending fate, growing closer as the day comes closer to the end.
I know it sounds unbearably tragic, and you're thinking WHY WOULD I WANT TO PUT MYSELF THROUGH THAT? It is tragic, but it is also hopeful and hilarious. It makes you think and appreciate the moments you do have.
This book, and More Happy Than Not really remind me of one of my favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind written by Charlie Kaufman. They use a slightly sci-fi notion but at its core, it's a story of love and loss and they all are so beautifully told. There is a fine line between heart-warming and heart-breaking and Adam, like Charlie, knows how to walk it. He is so visual in his writing; it's almost like watching a movie. It's now a goal of mine to work with him in adapting one of his novels into a screenplay.
Books by Adam Silvera
Currently in theaters as Love, Simon. It's the story of Simon Spier, a normal teenage boy who has a secret- he's gay. He must come to terms with revealing his secret after someone discovers the truth and threatens to expose him.
Watch the movie. Read the book. The movie is like John Hughes. And the book is very biting angst and introduced me to Elliot Smith. I love them both equally and differently.
Willowdean, the plus-sized daughter of a former beauty queen, joins her small town's pageant as a form of protest and she inspires others that aren't the typical definition of beauty queen to join. It is full of Dolly Parton references and drag queens- what more could you want?
The movie adaptation is coming out later this year, with Danielle McDonald (Patti Cake$) as Willowdean and Jennifer Aniston as her mom.
Starr Carter witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend, and must decide whether to do the easy thing or the right thing. It's funny and full of warmth, but it's very true to life and heartbreaking. It's very thought-provoking. I really recommend reading this book, especially before the movie comes out.
Chris read Celeste's first novel, Everything I Never Told You and told me I had to read it. It just kept me on the edge of my seat- so much family drama and mystery. I immediately got her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere and I couldn't put it down. It's the story of two families and how they become intertwined and how all their secrets come out. Reese Witherspoon recently announced that she and Kerry Washington are developing a limited series based on it and I can not wait. It's so intriguing.
I really hope you pick at least one of these books to try; they all kept me glued to the page. I recently picked up Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed; it's about a Muslim teen dealing with racism, her family's expectations and discovering her identity and I can't wait to read it. What have you been reading lately?