Summer Reads – April

With my semester ending on April 27th, summer started a little early around here! I only had three days, but I zipped over to the library and managed to finish two titles before the months changed. Thus, I present you with the first of my “summer reads” series.

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1. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

This is the story of a girl named Beatrice. Lately, Beatrice’s heart, her emotions, seem to have disappeared, so much so that she has come to refer to herself as Robot Girl. It could be because of the strange way her mother has been behaving, kind of crazy-like. It could be because her dad has accepted yet another job, and has decided to move them across the country again. Whatever it is, when she moves at the beginning of her senior year, Beatrice is not really expecting to open up her heart and find a best friend. That’s when she meets Jonah, or Ghost Boy, a guy at school who is mocked by the other students, and whom she learns hasn’t had a friend since the third grade. There is just something about him and his story that moves Bea, something about him that makes her think she might be starting to feel again. The real question: Is this friendship too late to start a Robot Girl’s heart and to stop a Ghost Boy from vanishing forever?

Although it certainly won’t make it on any of my “top reads” lists, I did enjoy this book. The characters of “Robot Girl” and “Ghost Boy” connected with me in a really personal way, especially “Robot Girl.” I’ve always been teased for having a “heart of stone” because of my practical reactions to sappy and other emotionally charged instances in life. This book reminded me slightly of John Green’s Paper Towns which I read last summer. Much like Paper Towns my biggest issue with this story is the ending, which was somehow unsatisfactory to me. I did prefer the ending of this story to the ending of Paper Towns, but there was still something off about the way it played out. If you’re an avid reader looking for a summer read (and don’t mind YA novels and all they entail) I recommend this book.

 

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2. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This story is told from the dual perspectives of Jill MacSweeney and Mandy Kalinowski, two girls from vastly different circumstances and upbringings, united by an unborn life. Mandy grows up unwanted, raised by a mother who never loved her and instead drags her through a life of poverty moving from one abusive boyfriend to another. Jill is raised in a privileged family with two parents who adore her, that is, until her dad is killed suddenly in a car accident. When Mandy gets pregnant and decides to use adoption to escape the abusive situation she was raised in, and Jill’s mother decides to cope with her grief by opening up their home and hearts to a baby through adoption, the girls lives converge in a beautiful mess of forgiveness, healing, and hope.

Although I had a few problems with the execution of this story, I loved the premise and the characters. Adoption is so close to my heart based on my past and my family, and this story really unveils the truth of what adoptions should look like, and what is means to really love people unconditionally. The ending may surprise you, but don’t allow yourself to miss the beauty of the message it communicates. I definitely recommend this read for everyone, and most especially those whose lives have been touched by the miracle of adoption.

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