May 172021

Herein lies the second half of the books I read in April. May they rest in peace.

8. The Ex Talk – Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex Talk

The premise of this one sounded so PROMISING: two rivals at a radio station are forced by their shady-ass producer into pretending to be exes in order to host a new show called The Ex Talk, in hopes of saving ratings. The rival arc didn’t feel very fleshed out to me but I really did like both of the characters and when they inevitably fall in love (not a spoiler), I had already been shipping them.

I read contemporary romances occasionally as a palate cleanser and they usually do the trick because I go into them with the lowest expectations possible, lol.

9. The Leavers – Lisa Ko

The Leavers

HEAVY. This wasn’t an easy read but it was rewarding. We follow the story of an undocumented immigrant Chinese woman who may have abandoned her young son in NYC (I think he was 10 or 11 at the time?) and we watch as he’s eventually adopted by a fairly well-off white couple and is forced to assimilate in a new town and school while wondering wtf happened to his mom, and we get to find out in the mom’s own chapters.

I just thought this was a wonderfully written deep exploration into family and race and I cared so much for Polly, the mother, especially.

10. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars

Oh man, what a quirky, sometimes uncomfortable, coming-of-age fantasy romp of a trans Asian girl who runs away from an abusive household. There were parts that made me laugh out loud, but also moments of transphobic violence that quickly stomped you back down to reality and reminded you that while this book may be wildly and fantastically written, the underlying conflicts are very, very much rooted in reality.

My favorite parts were the letters she wrote to her little sister.

11. The Other Americans – Laila Lalami 

The Other Americans

The way this book is set up reminded me a bit of Miracle Creek. It revolves around a Moroccan immigrant who is killed in a hit-and-run, which is initially written off as an accident but his daughter is all HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE and start pressuring the police to investigate. She gets her own chapters, the deceased father gets his own chapters where we get to learn more about who he was when he lived in Morocco.

The mom gets her own chapters, as does the lone witness – an undocumented Mexican whose wife is all YOU NEED TO TALK TO THE POLICE and he is all I DO WANT TO GET DEPORTED.

I really loved how this was written. It was a slow burn of a multi-character study, culminating in the finding out exactly what happened that night and why.

If you’re a decent human being, it will have you seething about racists more than once.

12. The Wife Stalker – Liv Constantine

The Wife Stalker

Just a domestic thriller. It was OK. I don’t feel like recapping it because I have literally no thoughts or feelings, but I guess I could say, “This would be a nice book to read on the beach.”

13. Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything

This is a quirkily-written YA book about a teenage girl with some rare disease that keeps her confined inside the house with only her mom and nurse allowed near her.

I figured out what was going on pretty early and it got VERY FAR-FETCHED toward the end, but it was entertaining and endearing (of course there is A BOY) and I fucking cried in real life while reading it in the car on the way to the Columbus Zoo last month.

The nurse was the best character and I was obsessed with her.

14. Milk fed- Melissa Broder

Milk Fed

UM…Melissa Broder is my new obsession. Her writing is so my style. This book was SO WEIRD, and sad, and funny, and creepily erotic that I was screaming out loud during some parts of it. It was also relatable in a way because the main character’s (Rachel) life is driven by a crippling obsession with counting calories brought on by being fat-shamed as a child by her mother.

Now, Rachel’s in her early 20s and the book starts off with her therapist recommending a 90-day detox from her mother.

Around the same time, the boy at the froyo store – who never questions the Rachel’s insistence on never filling the cup past the top and her staunch refusal to add toppings – is replaced one day by his sister, who pressures Rachel into splurging, which sets Rachel into a bingeing spiral of doom. I FELT THAT.

Anyway, this book is much more than that and I want to recommend it to everyone but I have a feeling it won’t be for everyone but if you do pick it up, prepare for some uncomfortable fantasies and super fucking real moments. I mean, her other book is about a woman who fucks a fish, so…

15. Before the Devil Breaks You – Libba Bray

Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3)

What a way to end another reading month of April. I cannot recommend the Diviners series enough (Henry just finished the first book and is hooked!). It’s set in the 20s, the characters are so fleshed out and each one adds their own flavor to the story, the writing is perfect (not too hokey for a YA fantasy series and not too try-hard either), and the banter IS SO FUCKING QUICK AND WITTY. I highly highly highly recommend the audio book for this series because it’s narrated by January Lavoy and she is MASTERFUL at voicing these characters. She breathes so much life into each one of them!

Anyway, this book has Umbrella Academy vibes, government conspiracies, a bit of history woven in for the Realness, some spooky goodness, believable love lines, and a bunch of teenagers with super diverse backgrounds coming together all found family-like.



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