And now, for some YA titles.
Kody Keplinger – A Midsummer’s Nightmare
Whitley’s spending the summer after high school graduation with her beloved father – and his new family, which includes the guy Whitley hooked up with on graduation night. Although there’s a romantic plot running through this, there’s also a lot more about Whitley’s relationship with her dad and how unfatherly he’s been to her, which she starts to see, and also some good stuff on slut-shaming and attitudes towards girls and sexuality. (Keplinger blogs wise things about the latter.)
Deirdre Sullivan – Primperfect
The third and final Prim book is as funny and touching and think-y as the previous instalments in the series, with Prim now sixteen and having trouble with Joel – who can’t forgive her for something awful she did to Karen (even though Karen is a wagon) – as well as dealing with love and friends-in-love and terrible terrible things that happen at parties with too many drinks. Relatable and readable.
E Lockhart – We Were Liars
Many thoughts. Oh so many thoughts. Trying not to have spoilers for The Twist, which did work for me. The logistics of the incident that makes The Twist be a thing, however, irritate the hell out of me and feel implausible and stupid, and that took some of the delight out of this book. But. It is still gorgeously written, and the privileged world of this rich family with their private island, and the outsider-boy that Cadence, the narrator, falls in love with, is captivating. Interwoven with Cadence’s attempts to understand what happened two years ago – the accident that led to her chronic migraines and selective amnesia – are stories, fairytales and Shakespearean, that shed light on the family dynamics. It is beautifully done. And then there’s the frustration of the reveal of what really happened that night. So. I think this makes it onto my favourites-of-the-year list, but not without some serious footnoting. (Also, why were they called Liars? Why? It is a brilliant title but not relevant to the story. Frustration!)
Cathy Cassidy – The Chocolate Box Girls: Sweet Honey
The fifth Chocolate Box book – but not the last – focuses on Honey, now in Australia staying with her dad and his new partner, trying to start over after all the trouble back at home. But she misses home – and after several books of Honey-as-villain, it is lovely to get inside her head and see what she thinks about things, and who of her sisters she’s protective of, and what happens when she’s forced to confront someone who’s been making her life hell through hacking into her social media accounts. Everything you’d expect from a Cathy Cassidy book – real problems, and hopeful-but-not-sappy solutions.
Deb Caletti – The Last Forever
Read this, read this, read this. One of my favourites of Deb Caletti’s books, this is the story of a girl who’s just lost her mother and who meets a beautiful boy and whose goal is to keep her mother’s plant alive for as long as she can, because it’s the only thing of hers she has left. This is about loss and love and hope and growth and death, and a seed vault at the edge of the world, and it manages to handle all that without ever getting overly didactic or repetitive. A joy to read.