I'm still in shock over the horrific ending to Downton Abbey so I may have to pause in my writing to scream while throwing my fist in the air. I was one of those that did not see it coming, and had not read any spoilers, so I was sucker punched. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, get Netflix, or borrow Downton from the library, for it is a soap opera set in England early 1900s, for those who say they hate soap operas.
I want to share two books with you today...two completely different books. One Pulitzer Prize winning of brilliance, the other...meh. I mean it's good, but for my students. It's one for librarians to suggest to those who love realistic fantasy and romance.
First the YA book for those who either deal with the trade of YA books, or are in fact a young adult or one at heart.
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown is a fantasy book that delves into the world of mermaids/ mermen. This is not a common theme among YA lit, but it has seen some good stuff (see this list from Good Reads.) This one is good, not great, good. What I like about it is the main character is a boy. Really not something you see in this type of fiction. Not only a boy, but one out for revenge and justice for a mother killed by humans. There is much more than just justice and revenge. His sisters are awesomely evil and siren like, and the human girl he obviously falls in love with is actually cool and strong. I like the strong female roles in this one, and I also liked the twist ending (no spoilers here). Could it have been better and more sophisticated, yes. Was it predictable, yes, but still surprising. I would definitely recommend it.
We ate our desert first, for now I serve you the main course, the meat.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I must warn you some love, LOVE this book, while others hate this book with a passion I have not seen since Star Wars was murdered by Jar Jar Binks. I was a lover. A deep lover that wanted desperately for Oscar to win that kiss, win that love he so wanted. And in the end I believe he did, just not in the way most heroes win. This book, although the title suggest otherwise, has many main characters. Oscar's sister, Oscar's mother, Oscar's adopted grandmother, the narrator, and the Dominican Republic. For that country is as much a character as Oscar. But if you see from above, each main character is just a piece of Oscar, each one telling you about the family curse and how it finally beat Oscar.
This is the story of a loser. However much you hate labels and stereotypes, Oscar is a loser. But not because he is a loner, a nerd, and Dungeons and Dragons Master, but because he believes he is a loser. So when he does try, when he holds on with a death grip to his one chance at love even when we all see it will end with a literal bullet to the head we still want him to try. I was equal parts infuriated, in love, depressed and glad this book was over when I finished the last page.
Mother, don't read this one. xo