I first discovered Jandy Nelson through her book I’ll give you the sun. I fell in love with how she depicted her characters and all the feels it gave me. So when I found out she had another published book, I could not pass reading it.
I noticed that sometimes, I read books that have a similar red thread, but not on purpose. Lately, I have been reading many books tackling the complex subject of grief.
My heart broke with this passage:
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
I really resonated with how Jandy Nelson depicted grief. It’s not a feeling that diminishes with time. It comes and goes like waves you have no control over, nor any warning signs that exist to prevent drowning. The love triangle was actually believable. I personally understand how Lennie can be torn between the boy who understands her grief (but who she should not get too closed to) and the boy who simply learns to know her and shares her deep passion for music. I am not a sucker for romance in general, but this story offered some really funny moments, as well as poetically hearbreaking ones.
There’s a movie adaptation
Jandy Nelson was the screenwriter for this adaptation, which is always a positive thing when a beloved book is becoming a movie or a tv show. This is available on Apple tv, which is one of the streaming services I actually am not subscribed to. This means that unfortunately, I have not yet been able to watch the movie to give you my thoughts. However, the trailer looks rather promising!
About the author
Jandy Nelson is a self-proclaimed superstitious woman. Jandy Nelson was a literary agent for many years. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and MFAs in Poetry and Children’s Writing from Brown University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently a full-time writer; she lives and writes in San Francisco, California.
The Sky Is Everywhere
Novel, Young Adult, Fiction
Adrift after her sister Bailey's sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey's boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs... though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.
Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.
As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.
I love it when authors come together on a common project with a nice intention in mind. Blackout was written in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. When I was a teen, I devoured books but never really found some that I could fully identify as the characters. Not that I did in this book, as I am not a teen anymore, but the Black representation is something important in my life. And these authors did it justice. At first, I was a bit scared because of the romantic aspect of the stories. To be honest, romance can easily be too cute for my taste. However, I was pleasantly surprised: it was way beyond love between teens.
Blackout features six stories within one bigger storyline. All happening during one single night in New York City. It is not always clear how they fit with each other, but this actually made it good for me. Because nobody likes when things are too obvious in a book (or is it just me?). I appreciated the fact that each intertwined with the others. However, not all were as good.
I loved Angie Thomas’ “No Sleep ’til Brooklyn“. But I am biased as, so far, I am truly digging her style and her voice in general.
I liked “All the Great Love Stories… and Dust” from Dhonielle Clayton (who actually was the curator of this anthology). I never read anything by this author, so this was my introduction to her writing. I found this story very syrupy. The girl is in love with her long-time best friend and is trying to have the courage to tell him how she truly feels. The one thing I really was entertained by was their habits of betting with each other and how this tied the story in a way that was nice.
I need more from Nicola Yoon. Her Uber-ride story, “Seymour and Grace” was sweet but it sometimes fell into some clichés. However, the philosophical talks between the protagonists were a positive touch for me. It elevated the entire book (in my opinion) and did not make it as a young adult novella as the other stories. I am not sure it would happen like this in real life, without feeling a little creepy, but what do I know? 😉
In “Mask Off“, Nic Stone tackles what it’s like to be Black and also Gay. There is a stigma about being both in today’s age still and I truly enjoyed how the author wrote about it. There is a strong message in this story that I feel is important to think about. I was glad that some of it tackled claustrophobia as well, as this is something I struggle with.
“The long walk” by Tiffany D. Jackson is like the red thread connecting all the different stories. It’s divided into several parts all throughout the anthology. I found it pretty nice to have a storyline coming in between the other ones, connecting them even more together.
The setting of “Made to fit” by Ashley Woodfolk in a senior home was refreshing. I liked the balance of the young main characters blended with the older residents. The family relationship was a nice touch. Of course, the instant-love part of it felt a bit too forced but it still worked out somehow.
More than just stories about young Black teens in love, this is an ode for the city of New York. I have not visited yet as I wrote this, but this book painted what feels like a true-to-life picture of it.
It’s being adapted for TV!
I just discovered that Blackout is becoming both a TV Show AND a movie, produced by the Obama’s production company. It is a deal with Netflix and from my understanding as I am writing this, some stories will be in the series while others will be in the movie. However, there is not much information about it yet. There is plenty of potential in how these stories can be adapted for tv. So now, it’s just “wait and see” right now, I guess.
About the authors
“All six authors who contributed to Blackout during the pandemic have written for young people but felt passionate about this particular project because it removes the usual trauma attached to Black American love stories. The characters simply fall in love. […] Blackout is not just a romance story, although there is plenty of that. It’s a love story to New York City, to being young and Black, to the darkness that hides us and can also set us free. As Clayton writes, “Some stories are better told in the dark.”” (Source: teenvogue.com)
Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon,
Young Adult Fiction
Quill Tree Books
22 June 2021
Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark. Beloved authors--Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon--celebrate the beauty of six couples and the unforgettable magic that can be found on a sweltering starry night in the city.
A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks... A first meeting. Long-time friends. Bitter exes. And maybe the beginning of something new. When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.
I don’t remember how I came across this book but I am very glad I did. You may not know this about me but I spent my entire adolescence in Nantes, located in the west part of France. This is actually where most of my family actually still lives. This is very unusual to read a book set up where I know the places very well so it was a good surprise. This is the story of Brooke, and there is a “now” and a “then“. Most of it is set in her past, as she is forced to recall the year she had to spend in France to study (yea, what a punishment, right?). Her University in the US sent Brooke in Nantes for an exchange program, where she became friend with a popular girl Sophie (whom she admired from afar). They entangle themselves in the rich and luxurious life of Alex and his cousin Véronique. Sophie is not who she seems, but aren’t they all more complex than what they seem?
I have to admit that the character Brooke often had me roll my eyes. She appeared to me as void of a personality of her own and kind of a sheep. Wanting to be loved so badly by Sophie and Alex. I understand though. I loved how Andrea Dunlop incorporated part of the discussions in French, as it made it more believable in my eyes (and the French was perfect, by the way). I don’t consider Nantes my home but it brought a feeling of “I wanna go back to my family and enjoy this city for a bit”, which was unexpected 🙂
About the author
Andrea Dunlop is the author of We Came Here to Forget, She Regrets Nothing, Losing the Light, and Broken Bay. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, where she works as a social media consultant.
Losing the Light
Simon and Schuster
23 February 2016
When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.
As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings—and each other.
But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home.
This book…. was a beautiful read. I got really attached to Ben and their story. Even though I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I am by association and it is something I want to learn more about because I feel like everyone should feel safe being themselves. I wish you all the best is the story of Ben, who lives with their parents after their sister left ten years ago. After finally gather the courage to come out to them as non-binary, they are faced with an unexpected reaction: they are kicked out of their home. Their estranged sister (and husband) take them in, and they start a new life at a new school. But trauma is still there, with a lot of other repressed emotions. Ben meets Nathan, who wants to become instant friends… This book celebrates being different, family trying to do their best, acceptance. I love the passages with the therapist, too. Cheers to book focusing on characters that are diverse. I really wish books like this one existed when I was a teenager…
About the author
Mason Deaver is a non-binary author and librarian in a small town in North Carolina where the word ‘y’all’ is used in abundance. When they aren’t writing or working, they’re typically found in their kitchen baking something that’s bad for them, or out in their garden complaining about the toad that likes to dig holes around their hydrangeas.
I Wish You All the Best
14 May 2019
When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.
I picked this book for the prompt “Book with a book on the cover“. This year, I am trying to participate in the famous Popsugar Reading Challenge (if you have not heard about it, please visit their website) Plus, any book with the main character battling anxiety while loving being surrounded by books more than by people tends to pick my interest *wink wink*
I related A LOT with the character of Nina. I just wish I had as much general knowledge as she does. My father is not dead but I did learn, when in my 20s, that instead of a sister and a brother, I actually had four brothers and a sister on his side (from 2 different women). I love them all but it was a shock, to be honest. I was raised as an only child: I was kind of unexpected. I suffer from anxiety, that can be crippling when it attacks. Coping with it is a struggle and admitting that this is something happening is very hard. I really enjoyed reading this book 🙂
About the author
Abbi Waxman was born in England in 1970. Her mother began a highly successful career writing crime fiction. Abbi went into advertising, working as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York. Eventually, she quit advertising, had three kids and started writing books, TV shows and screenplays, largely in order to get a moment’s peace.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
"Nina Hill's life may not seem like much, but for a person battling anxiety, it's more than enough. She enjoys her job at a bookstore and her small circle of friends. Until a visit from a lawyer changes everything... The father that Nina never knew existed has died, leaving behind an enormous extended family. Nina now has innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and cousins all living within a twenty-mile radius--some welcoming and some not so welcoming, but all demanding her attention. If that's not enough, Nina's talent for worrying is taking the thrill out of falling in love. Tom, a fellow trivia nerd--who's totally into her--is obviously too good to be true. Everything is moving too fast for Nina. Caught in a whirlwind of new people, emotions and experiences, she feels the need to protect herself. But maybe opening her world--and her heart--is a risk worth taking"--
I don’t think I would have picked up this book if it hadn’t been so strongly recommended by Tarryn Fisher and her readers on social media. The cover is stunning, but the title is a little… off-putting, to me. It totally makes sense once you are reading it, though.
The book begins with a flashback to when the main character, Beatrice (“Trixie”) is twelve and is told by a fortune teller that the love of her life will die and leave her alone. So we KNOW from the first chapter that something bad will happen. I think this is one of the big page-turning factor: how will this terrible thing come to be? Something I loved about this story is also the family dynamics we are witnessing. Both on Trixie’s side and on Jacob’s side. My own father issues were reflecting on how I felt about theirs. The characters were all flawed in their own ways but that made them more realistic, too.
I highly recommend God-shaped hole, but keep a box of tissues nearby…
About the author
Tiffanie DeBartolo (born November 27, 1970) is an American novelist, filmmaker, co-founder of the independent record label Bright Antenna, and co-founder of The ShineMaker Foundation. Tiffanie has written three novels: God-Shaped Hole, How To Kill a Rock Star, and the upcoming Sorrow, scheduled for release in October 2020. She wrote and directed the film Dream for an Insomniac, featuring Jennifer Aniston, released in 1996. She also penned the text to the graphic novel GRACE: The Jeff Buckley Story, which was released in April 2019.
16 May 2017
"God-Shaped Hole will change you as a reader, writer and human. It is rare books like this one that remind me why I fell in love with the written word." — Colleen Hoover
When I was twelve, a fortune teller told me that my one true love would die young and leave me all alone...
When Beatrice Jordan meets the unpredictable Jacob Grace, the two wild souls become instant allies. Together they discover an escape in each other's creativity and insecurities, while running from secrets they cannot seem to shake — or a fate that could throw them to the ground . . .
This 15th Anniversary reissue of Tiffanie DeBartolo's classic love story introduces a new audience of dreamers to a quintessentially real and raw vision of spirit, and inspires everyone to live — and love — as vividly as possible.
It’s hard for me to currently pick a favourite book from Colleen Hoover. I was skeptical about Confess at first, maybe because of the title. I was afraid it would be a classical and cliché chic-lit book. But I should have known this is not Colleen’s style 😉
This is the story of Auburn, who experienced a tragedy when she was 16 years old. We meet her again five years later. Her heart is broken, but she’s doing her best day-to-day. And then she meets Owen while looking for a job. Owen has an art Studio where he sells his paintings once a month. Their attraction is strong and undeniable but both are hiding secrets that could completely tear them apart.
This book was totally unexpected to me. I loved that we got to read both sides of the story, thanks to alternating chapters. We don’t know the full secrets until pretty far in the book, which I appreciated. The reader does not have to ALWAYS be omniscient 😉
In the book, the artwork plays a big role. I was so pleased that some actual art was included in the book. The artist is Danny O’Connor and the art is breathtaking.
You can buy prints of the book’s artwork on Colleen’s website: right here.
About the author
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of multiple novels and novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
Thorndike Press Large Print
9 September 2015
Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry. For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?
There were so many things I LOVED about this book! I was first drawn towards the cover while we were in Palm Springs last January. I did not buy the book at the time though but added it to me “Want to read” list on Goodreads (don’t hesitate to add me there, by the way).
The main character, Norris (and not “Morris”) is a Black teenager (in Junior High) who lived in Québec all his life before his Mom moves both of them to Austin, Texas (which is like the other end of the weather spectrum). His Dad and his new family live in Vancouver, BC. My family and I moved from France (=me, my Husband and our two daughters who were then a baby and a toddler); we are immigrants even though we now are Canadians as well. We lived in BC for 7+ years before moving to Québec 3 years ago, so both cities are dear to us. And for 9 years, my Husband travelled to Austin on a regular basis. So it was too strange of a coincidence not to be intrigued by the book’s setting. I told my Husband some of Norris’ thoughts on Texas, from a Canadian point of view and was met with plenty “oh gosh, this is so true!”. The story is told from Norris point of view so we progress in the story at his pace, and discover the other characters as he does. He is witty and snarky, and the idea of the notebook to jot down his thoughts or whatever he wanted when he arrived in his new school was a great idea. It truly feels like a field guide 😉 Norris has a strong opinion on everything and well… everyone. It was meant to go wrong at some point, this point being prom. I have to say that once again, I loved the Mom in the book. This book taught me that everything is a matter of perspective and that we can change our mind once we learn that there are two sides to every coin. I got a plot scare when the story goes in a direction that I did not really see coming but that I firmly did not like. The ending was… bleh. However, I enjoyed two-thirds of the book very much and it makes up for it.
About the author
Ben Philippe was born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, Qc, Canada, and now resides in New York. He is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and holds a BA in Sociology from Columbia University. He won the 2013 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and his writing has appeared in Observer, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, and others. He still doesn’t have a valid driver’s license.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Young Adult Fiction
Balzer + Bray
8 January 2019
Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs. Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris…like loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris, or Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. Not to mention Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who might, in fact, be a real love interest in the making. But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart. -- A hilarious contemporary realistic YA debut novel about a rather cynical Black French Canadian teen who moves to Austin, Texas, and experiences the clichés and joys of the American high school experience—including falling in love. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and When Dimple Met Rishi.
I have to admit that I have a thing for books tackling young adult LGBTQ+ characters. I am not a Christian anymore, however reading about Faith is something I am still very interested in. Especially when coupled with matters like sexuality or more broadly, someone’s identity. In Georgia peaches & other forbidden fruit, Jaye Robin Brown asks us: is it okay to put aside the core of who you are to fit in a new environment? To please your family wishes. The main character, Joanna has been openly gay for years now. Her best friend is very exuberant and queer as well. It has never been an issue with her father, who is a Pastor. She’s both gay and a Christian teenage girl and lives with it perfectly…. until her father remarries and they move from Atlanta to a very traditional Christian town in Georgia. Some parts of the storyline felt wonky to me, but it was not to the point of making me want to walk away from it and overall, I really enjoyed reading about Jo’s journey.
About the author
Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life– jeweller, mediator, high school art teacher–but is now living the full-time writer life. She lives with her wife, dogs, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she hopes to live happily ever after.
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Jaye Robin Brown
Young Adult Fiction
30 August 2016
Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
Emergency Contact has been on my “To Be Read Pile” for a very long time. But I had to wait for it to be available at the public library to be able to read it. Do you know how sometimes you have high hopes about a book but fear of being disappointed? That’s how I was feeling about this one. I found out that either people loved it, or hated it… I am part of the “I really enjoy reading this story” group, though. The two main characters, Penny and Sam, were relatable in some ways and I grew attached to them. I can totally understand how easier it can feel to be yourself through texts than in-person, as an introvert woman. The characters are quirky and even the secondary ones, like Jude and her best friends, become quite likeable. I usually enjoy Young Adult books where the parents still have a part in the story, and this is the case in Emergency Contact. It was a book I enjoyed reading, and the characters were in my thoughts even during my day. That’s usually a good sign of how much I get into a story 🙂
About the author
Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer.
Mary H.K. Choi
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
March 27th 2018
For Penny Lee high school was a total non-event. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.