I’m a total sucker for cute, lighthearted contemporary reads. They’re fun, happy, and stress-free. But then there are contemporaries that carry such important messages while narrating a fantastic story. There are some books that resonate deeply within our society today, books that I believe everyone should read and take something from.
1) What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
What’s it about? Photos of Stacey Stallard passed out over a boy’s shoulder at a party circulates through social media at her high school. The next day, Stacey charges four boys with rape. What We Saw is told from Kate Weston’s point of view as she follows the rape case and observes the way it affects her school life and relationships.
Why should you read it? What We Saw is a powerful novel that is inspired by true events. It explores the way we perceive sexual assault in today’s society and it’s enormous reach. Navigating the intricacies of victim blaming, slut shaming, “boys will be boys,” and many other familiar- yet terrifyingly accurate- reflections of our society, What We Saw is an absolute must read.
“Remember,” Mr. Johnston says, “nothing is exactly as it appears. The closer you look, the more you see.”
2) Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
What’s it about? Alys is a talented violin player, has an an amazing best friend and a loving boyfriend- everything is going good for her. Until her brother decides to bring a gun to school and kill fifteen people, then turn the gun on himself. Silent Alarm is Alys’s story, of how she and her family attempt to cope with the horrible tragedy that now surrounds their life.
Why should you read it? This novel brings attention to a subject that seems to be perpetually relevant, to my despair. It’s gritty, dark, and sad. Alys’s story gives us a look inside a horrible situation many families are in. The pure emotion will blow every reader away with the tumultuous emotions the book is sure to cause.
“I’m sorry,” I say for what feels like the millionth time. I know, even as my mouth forms the words, that I will say them for the rest of my life. Forever. That there will never be a time when I am not, in some small way, apologizing for the damage my brother has wrought.
3) Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
What’s it about? Solomon is agoraphobic; he hasn’t left his home in three years after suffering a panic attack at school. When Lisa enters his life, she’s fixated on figuring out how to make him leave his house, hoping to write an entrance granting college essay with him as the subject. The thing is, Solomon doesn’t know her true intentions.
Why should you read it? Although this book is humorous and an enjoyable, quick novel, Solomon’s agoraphobia and anxiety were portrayed in a manner where it was simultaneously simple but accurate. The dynamic between the main characters was fun to read, especially since it was told from both Lisa and Solomon’s point of view.
He was afraid of the world, afraid it would find a way to swallow him up. But, maybe everyone was sometimes.
4) Mosquitoland by David Arnold
What’s it about? Mim Malone lives with her father and step-mother in Mississippi. When she finds out her mother has fallen ill back in Ohio, she decides to take a solo trip to Cleveland on a Greyhound. Her journey takes a couple of unexpected turns and through it all, she slowly discovers things about herself that she wouldn’t have if she hadn’t taken the impulsive trip.
Why should you read it? Mosquitoland is a beautiful story of self-discovery. It’s emotional (you WILL cry), hilarious, and ultimately an amazing character driven story. Arnold has an undeniable skill with words- I cannot wait to devour his newest novel, Kids of Appetite.
I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.