The meaning of birds, by Jaye Robin Brown

The Meaning of Birds Book Cover The Meaning of Birds
Jaye Robin Brown
Young Adult Fiction
HarperTeen
16 April 2019
368

“An evocative story of the thrills of first love and the anguish of first loss. This will break you and heal you.”—Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ Not to be missed by fans of Nina LaCour and Becky Albertalli, this powerful novel—from the acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit—paints a poignant portrait of love in the past, grief in the now, and the healing power of art. Before: Jess has always struggled with the fire inside her. But when she meets Vivi, everything changes. As they fall for each other, Vivi helps Jess deal with her anger and pain and encourages her to embrace her artistic talent. And suddenly Jess’s future is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities. After: When Vivi unexpectedly dies, Jess’s perfect world is erased. As she spirals out of control, Jess pushes away everyone around her and throws out her plans for art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever. Right when Jess feels at her lowest, she makes a surprising friend who just might be able to show her a new way to channel her rage, passion, and creativity. But will Jess ever be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi? A beautiful exploration of first love and first loss, this novel effortlessly weaves together past and present to tell a profound story about how you can become whole again when it seems like you’ve lost the most important part of yourself.

Sometimes, I read books back-to-back that have a common theme without knowing it in advance. Does it happen to you as well? Most of the books I read come from the banQ in Montréal. I see a book I think I’d like and borrow it, or I put a reservation until it’s available. This is how I sometimes end up with books like this.
This is my second book by this author, the first one was Georgia Peaches & Other Forbidden Fruits. She is queer herself, so I know that she writes about subjects she actually understands. It’s important to me.

In The meaning of birds, Jessica is our main protagonist. She’s in high school and has been dealing with anger issues for years. They are probably the result of unexpressed grief from her father’s death. Then, enters Vivi. She is passionate about birds, about going to college and lifts Jessica up. Plus, she encourages her to take the doodles Jess’ therapist encouraged her to do to an other level.
The book is created with alternating chapters: Now and Then. This is how we get to understand Jessica’s story better. Because in the Now, she is spiralling out of control, lost in her newest grief. How to continue living when the love of your life just died, even though you’re still a teenager?
This was very beautifully written and I felt for the characters in general, not only Jess. It’s the kind of story that sticks with you, even when you’re done reading the book.

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.

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Chapters-Indigo

What you left behind, Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind Book Cover What You Left Behind
Jessica Verdi
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
1 August 2015
368

Seventeen-year-old Ryden's life was changed forever when his girlfriend discovered she was pregnant and stopped chemotherapy, and now, raising Hope with his mother's help and longing for the father he never knew, he meets smart and sexy Jodi and gains a new perspective.

“What you left behind” is the story of Ryden, who became a single father at 17. His girlfriend, Meg, died the day she gave birth to their daughter, Hope.
Ryden was not ready to become a Dad, but his Mom (I love her!) is very supportive and does her best to make him connect with his daughter.
Ryden dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and to attend UCLA on a soccer scholarship. Juggling being a parent, school, work and practice is a lot. We follow him as he navigates his relationship with his co-worker, the quirky Joni. She does not know anything about his situation and feels like a breath of fresh air in his shattered universe.
Ryden is in search of answers: finding his father, who he does not know. Finding diaries that maybe Meg left behind for him to find and that would explain a lot of things.
This book was heartbreaking. I felt for Ryden and his difficulties to bond with his daughter. His life took a turn he absolutely did not ask for or saw coming and it’s really hard for him to accept it and to become the father he needs to be. His mother is amazing, by the way.

About the author

Jessica Verdi is an author of young adult novels and children’s books about identity, family, acceptance, and love.
After nearly ten years in the NYC theatre world, she got an idea for a novel. That novel was an adult magical realism story, and while it will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner Paul and dogs Billie and Gloria.

Amazon.com
Chapters Indigo

The field guide to the North American teenager, Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager Book Cover The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Ben Philippe
Young Adult Fiction
Balzer + Bray
8 January 2019
384

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.

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.


Amazon.com
Chapters Indigo

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit Book Cover Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Jaye Robin Brown
Young Adult Fiction
HarperTeen
30 August 2016
432

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?

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.

Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2VqRQ9G
Chapters Indigo |Georgia peaches and other forbidden fruits

Emergency contact, by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency contact Book Cover Emergency contact
Mary H.K. Choi
Young Adult
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
March 27th 2018
Hardcover
394

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.

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.

Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2Wlc8h0
Indigo Chapters | Emergency Contact

Mud Vein, by Tarryn Fisher

Mud Vein Book Cover Mud Vein
Tarryn Fisher
Fiction
CreateSpace
1 January 2014
Hardcover
284

When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat...and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.


I discovered Tarryn Fisher via the book series she co-wrote with Colleen Hoover, Never Never. These two are best friends in real life and if you’re on Instagram, I urge you to follow them both. They’re honest, funny and unapologetically themselves. Plus, #girlsquadgoals !

There were two things I wanted to know badly: an explanation regarding the title, and what the cover actually meant. I won’t spoil anything but know that both are talked about in the book.

The book tackles trauma in a way that I have never read before. It made me cry, tightened my throat at several occasions but also made me smile and hope for a good outcome. Tarryn Fisher’s writing is unapologetic and raw which makes her voice even more unique, to me.

Another fact that instantly drew me in even more is the use of music in the storyline. And not any kind of music: songs that are part of what I call my “life soundtrack”. They play a pretty big role between the two main protagonists and I absolutely loved it.


About the author

Tarryn was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. She immigrated to America with her parents when she was 13, and spent the next eighteen years in South Florida where she earned her degree in Psychology, wrote her first novel, and had two children. In 2012, on a whim, she moved her family to Seattle, Washington where she currently makes her home safely away from the sun. Tarryn is the founder of Guise of the Villain, a fashion blog, and has written ten published novels. Tarryn is a Slytherin.

Amazon.ca | https://amzn.to/2FgAP79
Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2U3DZnW