If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

81aTBRY7dxLI’ve heard about this book for quite a while and have finally gotten around to it. I read it in a morning.

Mia’s family gets in a terrible accident. She finds herself standing outside of her body looking on to the chaos surrounding her, and she gets the choice. Does she let go? Or does she stay?

The book is told in present and flashbacks, telling the story of her family and her love and her friendships. It was difficult to put down, and it was heartbreaking. I loved Mia’s parents; I love how they are atypical and weird and how they love her completely.

I can’t imagine the movie (which is out now) living up to this, so read this first.

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

by Holly Black

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I would think that I’ve had my fill of vampire books after the overwhelming glut of the Twilight trilogy and everything following it, but this book is FANTASTIC. Tana lives in a world where vampires are present and shut up in quarantined areas called Coldtowns. The book opens with her waking up from a party the night before and realizing that everyone else was killed by vampires- everyone except her ex and a mysterious person in chains.

What I loved about this book is Tana, and all of the characters, really. Tana is strong and decisive and she saves the day over and over. She isn’t compromising herself for anything and she’s willing to make sacrifices for the people she loves. She makes the hard choice and doesn’t complain. I love the clarity in how she sees her friends and family, their positive and negative aspects, and how she loves them anyway.

The book is creepy and well-written, and even though it’s longer I read it over a couple of days.

We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

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This is the best book I’ve read in a long time; I opened it for the first time a few hours ago and it’s already laying finished on my bed and I’m not sure how to function in the real world again after reading it.

Cadence Sinclair comes from a great and rich and powerful family, and spends summers on the island her grandfather owns, with houses built for each of his daughters and their families. She spends her summers with the liars, her two cousins and the boy that is almost like an adopted brother, until she falls in love with him.

She tells this all in past tense, because something has happened, her memory of that summer is gone, and no one will tell her the truth.

I can’t tell you any more other than to say that the suspense and beauty and heartbreak are all magnificent here; reserve the hours you need to read this sooner rather than later.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

by Jenny Han

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Lara Jean writes letters to all the boys she’s ever loved; the boys that got away or that she was too afraid to date, and hides them in a hat box under her bed. Her mom died when she was young and her oldest sister is leaving for college in Scotland leaving Lara Jean with her feisty little sister Kitty, whose moods blow in like storms. She lives next door to her sister’s ex who she is secretly in love with and is trying to figure out how to take care of her family and be herself.

One day Peter walks up to her at school with one of these secret letters in his hand. Her neighbor has one next, and Lara Jean suddenly finds herself at the center of attention.

I loved this book and stayed up late finishing it; it’s light and funny and engaging and a wonderful warm-weather read about finding yourself and not taking people for granted.

The Sky is Everywhere

by Jandy Nelson

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Lennie Walker’s older sister dies practicing her lines to Romeo and Juliet, and Lennie doesn’t know how to function without her.

While this could easily be a melodramatic book, Lennie’s journey through grief, romance, and ultimately finding herself is both charming and heartbreaking. She is a poet and is supported by a quirky cast of characters, including a grandmother who grows roses seemingly from Eden and a giant uncle called “Big.” Her best friend swears by shouting the names of random animals and Lennie finds herself needing to choose between two radically different boys; one, her sister’s boyfriend, who understands her consuming grief, and one, the new ┬ámusical prodigy, who pulls her out of it.

I loved Lennie’s (named after John Lennon) story. I loved how she learns to see herself as the star of her own story instead of her sister’s shadow, and I loved her poetry. This story seems true to the actuality of grief, how it can be gut-wrenchingly sad and heartbreaking and at the same time how you keep living through it anyway.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

by Julie Halpern

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I’m finally on spring break and read this book all in one sitting. Jessie is starting her sophomore year in high school and her two best friends are suddenly boy-obsessed punk-rock wannabes, leaving her wondering where exactly she fits into the world. She loves math and sewing (she wears a different skirt everyday, made from the craziest fabric she can find) and sometimes substitutes as a drummer in her brother’s punk band, and with all that, still feels invisible.

Obviously she gravitates toward the nerd world (and I mean, who wouldn’t?) and, while initially resistant, starts to realize that coolness is overrated.

While this is the typical, predictable, coming-of-age tale, Jessie as a narrator was pretty awesome. But the thing that made this book epic to me was her relationship with her older brother. Very few books give us normal-looking positive sibling relationships; they either hate each other or go more towards hero worship. Jessie and Barrett are funny and supportive and real, and I loved that.

This was a perfect spring break read- light and entertaining and funny without the cheese. You encounter everything from Dungeons and Dragons to holding hands with a cute boy to the complete betrayal of a best friend. Check it out!

Allegiant

by Veronica Roth

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It’s hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers, because this book changes and redefines everything that had happened in the series before now.

I can tell you that Tris and Tobias begin to learn the truth about their futuristic Chicago; they travel outside of the city and meet people and their world is changed forever. I still like Roth’s writing. This is told alternately by Tris and Tobias which gives us a chance to understand some of Tobias’ sometimes-mysterious motivations. There are themes of forgiveness and sacrifice and love and friendship and we learn over and over again that no character is truly good or bad, but somewhere in between.

At first I had a hard time loving it. I loved Divergent and the end of Insurgent, and the things that made this book so different were jarring to me. But in the second half, I had to read nonstop, and the ending was unexpected and series changing.