What it’s about: A teen girl watches her oldest friend as he is murdered by the police. She contemplates Tupac’s concept of THUG LIFE (The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everyone) while struggling to stand up for her community.
What made me pick it up: This has been getting crazy good press so I scooped it up as soon as I could.
My favorite things: Starr’s voice is genuine and her heartbreak palpable. Thomas captures the essence and urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement without exploiting or forgetting the real lives that have been lost. The current movement is tied to the past through more than Tupac’s words; reminiscent of the response by Bloods and Crips to the Rodney King verdict, local opposing gangs band together to protect their communities and join in protest against the violence they face at the hands of the state. The overall effect is both breathtaking and devastating.
Who it’s great for: Teens and adults looking to understand and process the violence faced by communities of color in our society.
What it’s about: A collection of excerpts from several different series of comics. Each focuses on the lives and identities of different queer and gender-nonconforming people and their relationships with the the author.
What made me pick it up: It sounded cute and I liked the cover. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My favorite things: I love the artistic style! It reminds me of those filters you can use to make a photo look like a painting. There is also a great range of topics, from crushes to fashion to pronouns, each handled with both lightness and care. This reads like a beautiful celebration of queer identities.
Who it’s great for: Anyone looking for graphic novels with diversity in gender and sexuality. Fans of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs.
My favorite things: This book is an excellent blend of old lady recounting her history like in Lillian Boxfish, unique individual who sees the world different and behaves oddly like Rosie Project, and heartfelt relationship building and personal transformation like in Ove. There is so much to like, but it is tempered a bit by the fact that the loss here is of a young child. More than anything though I loved how much this author illustrated that we are all fallible humans trying our best while living unavoidably messy lives. We might do anything for those we love but maybe not the best way, or maybe not at the right time. It is heartbreaking story of loss but also of hope.
Who it’s great for: Fans of any of the books listed above. Readers looking for solid fiction.
What it’s about: A previously unpublished collection of stories by the multitalented late writer Kathleen Collins on love, family, and relationships.
What made me pick it up: I’d heard good things about the collection and it was nice and short so I knew I could get through it quickly and easily.
My favorite things: Collins seamlessly moves through different voices and perspectives, lending each an air of honesty and authenticity. Her stories sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes mundane, but always moving
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for stories about love and relationships that don’t ignore the complexities of race, gender, class, and sexuality.
What it’s about: Legendary marine biologist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau.
What made me pick it up: As a child I was enamored with Cousteau and hellbent on becoming a marine biologist just like him.
My favorite things: The illustrations in this book are fantastic. It’s a great introduction to Cousteau for younger readers. I especially enjoyed how clearly his curiosity came across on the page. Also, I had forgotten he invented scuba! I’m smitten all over again.
Who it’s great for: Fans of Cousteau. Kids who like animals of all varieties, but especially sea creatures. Anyone brimming with natural curiosity.
What it’s about: A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Cincinnati, Ohio.
What made me pick it up: P&P is one of my favorite books ever so I knew I should read this. Needing a new book on vacation made it finally happen.
My favorite parts: This book is straight up fun. Lizzy and her sisters enjoy more independence and autonomy due to the present date and their story lines reflect this, including interracial relationships and LGBTQ characters. I really enjoyed their increase in agency and how the small changes Sittenfeld made to modernize the story actually removed some of the unnecessary drama from the original. CrossFit and reality TV are also incorporated into the story.
Who it’s great for: Austen fans. Fans of modernized classics. Independent women or lovers of them. Anyone up for a good fiction romp.
What it’s about: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as a young boy who wants to travel to space, but is afraid of the dark.
What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of Hadfield. He was so informative and entertaining while in space, and he is such a supporter of science and humanity now that he’s back on the ground. I highly recommend his great TED talk.
My favorite things: I got this as an ebook with narration read by the author, so I got to have it read to me which made it even more fun. I really enjoyed the all-too-familiar kid who is afraid of the dark storyline and how he realizes he’ll have to face that fear to go into space like he dreamed when he grows up. It’s a simple, sweet story.
Who it’s great for: Fans of Hadfield. Kids who dream of being astronauts. Littles afraid of the dark.
What it’s about: A Syrian refugee and her many tales of suffering and escape.
What made me pick it up?: It was on one list or another about refugees.
My favorite things: This book is stunning. I cannot believe how much struggle this woman has gone through. The author tells the story of Doaa and her family and their experiences masterfully. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. If you or someone you know doesn’t fully understand the crisis in Syria it will be indelibly etched in your brain after reading this. It will make you feel powerless and driven to enact change all at once.
Who it’s great for: This has horrifically violent scenes so it’s better suited for mature teens or adults. Anyone interested in learning more about the refugee crisis or the long war in Syria.
Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.
What it’s about: Merricat, Constance, and Uncle Julian are an odd, reclusive family, ostracized by the people of their community after the rest of their family die of arsenic poisoning.
What made me pick it up: This was a deep dive into my TBR backlist, but the audiobook was available on OverDrive so I went for it.
My favorite things: This isn’t a complex story, but it is elegantly told. Merricat’s narration is simple, uncomfortably direct, and quietly unsettling. And yet – her fears and anxieties feel valid and worthy of consideration. More sinister than odd, the Blackwood family still demands pity. Jackson was a master at creating creepy but believably human characters.
Who it’s great for: I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a reading slump, or really any kind of slump, I need a creepy story or two to kick me back into gear. If that’s true for you then you should definitely grab this the next time you need a pick-me-up. Good for fans of gothic novels, horror, and mysteries.
What it’s about: A collection of short horror stories told in a graphic novel format.
What made me pick it up: This is one of my favorite graphic novels from the past few years, so I picked up back up to help me out of a reading slump.
My favorite things: The stories are short and simple but absolutely haunting. Each time I read them I end up with goosebumps and a distinct feeling of unease. The art is beautiful and bleak, using color only sparingly and to great effect. Reading this is like experiencing some of your creepiest nightmares on the page.
Who it’s great for: Adults and teens that enjoy graphic novels and want creepy horror stories. Fans of Audrey Niffineggar’s illustrated works.