8 must-read books

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

We all had lots of time read during this year! Here are my top eight choices of books that I've read during the Quarantine of 2020. These are in alphabetical order because I could not possibly rank them!

I read way too much! But I enjoy opening pages, whether they're paper or digital, and finding myself in a different world where I might learn what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, customs from a culture not my own, or have my imagination stretched to discover new ideas and places.

From Laurie Halse Anderson, in Speak:

(from Mr. Freeman, the art teacher) "You are getting better at this, but it's not good enough. This looks like a tree, but it is an average, ordinary, everyday, boring tree. Breathe life into it. Make it bend -- trees are flexible, so they don't snap. Scar it, give it a twisted branch -- perfect trees don't exist. Nothing is perfect. Flaws are interesting. Be the tree."

  1. Allegedly, by Tiffany D. Jackson This is the author who wrote Monday's Not Coming. Wait, what? You haven't read that one? Well, read it! It's a mystery, it's a social injustice book that goes with the #blacklivesmatter movement, it's suspenseful, and it's really good! Well, this book is sort of in the same genre, but the main character, a teen girl who is pregnant, lives in a group home because a criminal charge from years before. This book will make you angry and sad, and by the end, well. . .tell me what you think of the ending after you've read it.

  2. The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X. R. Pan This book deals with the issue of feeling like an outcast in your own family. The main character is half Asian and half white, and her mother commits suicide. After her mother's tragic death, Leah is certain that she beame a bird. She deals with grief, guilt, and love as she travels to Taiwan to visit her mother's parents, her grandparents. whom she has never met.

  3. Be Not Far From Me, by Mindy McGinnis This is the author of Heroine, which was also a pretty good, but heavy, read. An extremely poor, stubborn and independant girl hikes into the Great Smoky Mountains in extremely rural East Tennessee to party and celebrate the end of school. After witnessing her boyfriend cheating on her late at night, she runs off and breaks her foot. Disoriented and too proud to call for help, she is left out in the woods for fifteen days and must find her way back to civilization.

  4. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and her twin sister Though her parents are divorced Jasmine lives a very privileged life in Miami with her dad, who manages a medical practice while her mother works long hours as a news expose' celebrity. Jasmine's parents are from Haiti, so when she gets in serious trouble at her private school, she is shipped off for an extended stay with an aunt in Haiti at her mother's childhood home. Never have I experienced such rich culture in a book! Anytime two authors collaborate, I am never disappointed, but how much better is it when these two authors are related!

  5. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham Don't knock historical fiction until you've read it. This dual narrative/dual time period book uncovers a mystery from the real 1921 racial slaughter (historically called the Race Riot) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two characters, one past and one present day, are connected in a way that is not revealed until the very end. This is another literary contribution to understanding civil rights and social injustice.

  6. The Library of Lost Things, by Laura Taylor Namey Darcy's mom has a hoarding issue, and her best friend is the only one who knows. She keeps to herself and makes excuses to the landlord about why maintenance can't come in when anything is ever broken, always afraid that if he knew the condition of their cramped apartment they would be evicted. I loved this book because it had many things I love: a bookstore, kind, older people who mentor teens, delicious sounding food, healed relationships, and a realistic approach to real life problems.

  7. One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus Who doesn't love a good murder mystery? What about a murder mystery mixed with the popular 80s cult film classic The Breakfast Club and the popular TV series Gossip Girl? The first best thing about this book is that the ending is not completely predictable. The second best thing is that McManus has published another in this Bayview High series: One of Us is Next.

  8. The Poet X: A Novel, by Elizabeth Acevedo I finally got around to reading this excellent choice for the ProjectLit list. The X stands for Xiomara, a student poet who is constantly at odds with her very religious mother who seems too strict and doesn't understand her love of poetry and need to express herself through it. I love that this book has poetry in it, but my favorite thing about this book is how it deals so realistically with the constant struggle between children and their parents.

  9. Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Lauri Halse Anderson Okay, I lied. This is a list of nine of my top novels read during quarantine. Novels written in verse can communicate feelings and experiences in a unique way. Many teens and adults have read the classic book Speak, about a girl who was raped and then loses her voice, but most do not know that this book was inspired by Anderson's very real experience with rape as a teen. This novel in verse is a raw, real recounting of that trauma.

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