Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Monday! What Are Your Reading 9/30/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

I had memorable reads this week that I'm excited to share!

Rec. for gr. 5-8
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan has been getting some Newbery buzz, with good reason.  It tells the story of twelve-year-old Willow, a peculiar, brilliant and uniquely perceptive girl whose already unusual life is turned upside down when her parents are both killed in a car accident.  Willow is a beautifully quirky child before tragedy strikes, obsessing about the number seven, disease, and plants, but when her parents die, everything, of course, changes.  One of the strengths of this book is the cast of characters who come together to support Willow - a pair of siblings whose mother is from Vietnam, a pathetic and barely sympathetic guidance counselor and a quietly heroic taxi driver.  They shouldn't to fit together, but in Sloan's hands, they do.  The ending of this book, I felt, had some flaws which I was entirely willing to overlook because it was otherwise so well put together and imagined.  Willow and her friends are memorable characters and I can't wait to introduce them to my students.

Rec. for YA
The other emotional powerhouse I read this week was Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This book has gotten a ton of attention recently because Rowell was invited and then disinvited to speak to a group of students in Minnesota, just in time for Banned Books Week.  I will say this ever so bluntly: Eleanor and Park is a beautiful and important book about love, growing up, finding yourself, and standing up for what you believe in (amongst other things).  It's also very funny, at times, which is a pretty remarkable feat considering the incredibly un-funny circumstances of Eleanor's life.  Yes, it made me cry, and when I finished it I went back and re-read the beginning, which I do only when I am devastated to have a book end.  Eleanor and Park makes me wish I had the opportunity to work with teenagers, if only so I could hand it to them.

Rec. for gr. 6-12
Another book that made me cry this week, for different reasons, is Poison by Bridget Zinn.  It is the backstory, not Poison itself, that makes this book heartbreaking; Zinn wrote the book as she was being treated for a cancer that she did not survive.  Thankfully, Poison is upbeat and has a ton of humor in it, so one can read it without being too overwhelmed by the author's journey.  It is fun fantasy/adventure that involves a heroine, a piglet and lots of poison.  Kyra is on the run because she tried and failed to kill her best friend, who happens to be the princess.  Along the way she meets a dashing young man who she wants to trust, but can’t, quite.  I loved the strong characters in this and the way it all came together in the end.  I wish there could be a sequel, but Poison stands easily on its own.  

For adults
Finally, I also read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter which is just a fun and fantastic smorgasbord of characters and settings and stories.  Dancing back and forth between Italy in the 1960s and today's version of Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is a love story that doesn't feel like a love story and a satire that somehow also reads as sweet.  

Whew!  This will be a tough week to top as it pertains to reading.  


  1. Eleanor and Park has been receiving a lot of buzz lately, and I can't wait to read it too. Counting by 7s sounds like a book I'd enjoy as well, I'm hoping we already have a copy in our libraries. :)

  2. The only book on your list that I haven't read yet is Counting by 7s. The other three were great! You had a great week and I hope this week is just as exciting.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I am going to put Counting by 7's on my daughter and I's co-reading list. I loved Eleanor and Park, but didn't make it through Beautiful Ruins.

  4. I definitely recommend Counting by 7s! Willow is really a special character... I hope you love it!

  5. There are a lot of good books in this list. I am really looking forward to listening to Eleanor and Park. I have the audiobook but I haven't had time to listen to books lately. Beautiful Ruins is a book that I have been looking forward to reading for a while. I LOVE the cover.