Sarah came for the Book Club and never left. Despite having a somewhat, shall we say, idiosyncratic taste in books, she is completely predictable in reading every epistolary book she can get her hands on now and always (as long as it is not scary).
A Few Favorites:
Marcus Vega is dragged down to Puerto Rico after being suspended, where he connects with his absent father's family (when what he wants is to find his elusive father). Pablo Cartaya captures the experience both of not being accepted in eighth grade and being embraced by family with equal heart. I loved this book and rooted so hard for Marcus as he found what he wasn't looking for but needed and learned to let go of the rest.
Sal! Gabi! I loved the characters and the ridiculousness of the dilemmas and the various shapes and dynamics of the families and the bonkers multiverse. You know, basically everything.
No joke, my love of this book is legendary. Manny is growing up in Los Angeles in 1958, has a solid group of friends and family, but unfortunately gets caught in the web of a racist cop. With themes that are just as important today, Daniel Acosta deftly pulls you in from the first sentence and you will gladly follow.
Snapdragon is one of my favorite characters ever. There is a lot going on in Snap's life and on top of it all, there may be magic. Great characters and a layered story, with great art.
Isaiah Dunn is facing a lot of difficult hurdles while grieving his father's death and his best friend's defection. Told with a gentleness that makes this a great age-appropriate read, while introducing tough subjects like addiction, racism, housing instability, and grief.
I was so charmed by Ryan Hart, who is navigating some pretty big changes with a lot of resiliency and grace. This is another great middle grade book by Renee Watson (I haven't met one I haven't loved yet) and the beginning of a series.
Camino and Yahaira are sisters separated by distance and secrecy. After their father dies in a plane crash and that distance is crossed, they are thrown into the obligation and lifeline, burden and love of family and sisterhood.
Ware is an introvert with parents that have extrovert expectations. Feeling the weight of their disappointment, he agrees to attend the summer rec program but quickly discovers the half-demolished church next door to it. The perfect raw material for a castle and a summer of knighthood, his plans for the church are almost derailed by the discovery that Jolene has already claimed the lot for her own project. Jolene provides Ware with a cause to champion and Ware helps Jolene lean on someone, and as the summer winds down there will be challenges for each that may be insurmountable in the real world.
This is such a great atmospheric read and, like other well done examples, the magical realism feels like realism and there is an effortless suspension of disbelief (even if you mostly hate magical realism like I do).