YA Book Reviews from Amy: Books that Will Stay with Me
Hello Everyone! This week I wanted to highlight the books that have stayed with me ever since I have read them; the kind of books that made me think long after I closed the pages. All of these books represent something important to me; one of these novels taught me that a sad ending is okay because it is the only ending that made sense and I appreciated it. Another book started with such strong imagery that the first chapter played like a movie in my head. And two of these titles made me want to reread them right after I finished them. These books resonated with me because of the strong characters, atmospheric images, unique plots, and fantastic writing.
Each title is available through our collection with the OverDrive or Libby App or at https://youngstown.overdrive.com/ Check it out or place a hold!
Please give one or more of these YA novels a chance! I think that each of these titles is worth the read.
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All- Laura Ruby
Two seemingly different life-stories come together in the 1940’s Chicago when Frankie and her siblings are left in an orphanage after her father cannot provide for them anymore while the narrator watches over Frankie with her supernatural abilities. Frankie will deal with the hard truths of life without support and comfort living in the strict and unforgiving institution during WWII. The narrator must come to the terms of her death and learn how to move on. In the stunning conclusion our narrator’s mysterious past is revealed and Frankie learns from the past several years to become the person she was meant to be.
This book was amazing! With the semi-biographical story of Laura Ruby’s mother-in-law adds another layer to the story and made me research history of the real-life family of Frankie.
The Grace Year- Kim Liggett
For girls at the age of 16 they are in their Grace Year; the year in which all girls are made to leave their home. The group of girls must survive outside in a dangerous camp to rid them of the magic they possess before they may return home and become dutiful wives and productive members of this dystopian society. Tierney wants a better life than being someone’s wife, but if she is not chosen at the ceremony than it is hard labor for life. The next year becomes a survival story; the danger that lies outside of the encampment might be deadly, but Tierney may face more peril with the other girls inside.
With the mood of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and the disastrous society of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, this is a female reimagining of Lord of the Flies by William Golding, with a bit of the movie The Village mixed in; The Grace Year is a stunningly stressful read that will make you think about it long after you close the book.
The Passion of Dolssa- Julie Berry
Dolssa is a young woman that may have magical abilities and believes that she has the ability to talk to Jesus, but in 1241 it is something that a determined friar is willing to burn her alive as a heretic. Dolssa escapes to Provensa (medieval Spain), where she meets Botille, the local matchmaker. Botille saves Dolssa’s life and helps hide her. Botille and her sisters risks their lives and the lives of the entire town to save a stranger.
This historical fiction is a slow, but still perfectly paced YA book with fantastic character building that will make you feel for these characters and hope that they survive. The ending of this novel has stayed with me over the years.
Isle of Blood and Stone- Makiia Lucier
The King of del Mar was never supposed to be king as the third son of the royalty line; he became first in line one summer day when he was just an infant. The two boy princes were kidnapped while the people surrounding them were poisoned by an enemy. Eighteen years later, Elias, mapmaker and best friend of the king, finds a collection rare and unusual maps that have a secret message hidden in the art that may lead to answers about what happened that dreadful day.
The imagery is strong in this book; the words made the world so vivid. I also like that this book is a standalone fantasy that reminds me of some of my favorite fantasies growing up. You can also check out the companion book (and another one of my favorite fantasy reads) Song of the Abyss.
Dig- A.S. King
Five teens have seemingly nothing in common other than the fact that their families are falling apart and the mysterious wealthy Hemmings family is involved. The Shoveler watches his single mother struggle with money as he takes odd jobs here and there. The Freak has supernatural abilities that can transport her away from her sad family situation. CanIHelpYou? is a fast food drive-thru worker that is selling more than just food at her window. Lorettta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress talks to the fleas that flood her home. And First-Class Malcolm has been living between the United States and Jamaica ever since his father is diagnosed with deadly cancer.
Dig is truly a strange tale that does not shy away as an uncomfortable read. What I really enjoyed about Dig the most is the mystery surrounding these bizarre characters and how their different storylines connect and intermingle. Reading the beginning of this book there are so many questions and the readers only receive pieces of the story. As the story continues these pieces come together into a whole story that is shocking. This novel is a very satisfying read.
Long Way Down- Jason Reynolds
Will is almost positive he knows who killed his brother; almost positive enough to seek revenge. He grabs his brother’s gun and takes the elevator to make a decision he will most likely regret. When the elevator stops at the next floor, Will is visited by Buck, the man that gave Will’s brother the gun; Buck who has been dead for years. Each floor stops and lets in a ghost from Will’s past. Will gains a new perspective with each new person that enters his elevator.
This is a raw and emotional read. I am usually not into books written in verse, but Jason Reynolds is a master at writing it; the story flows into one thought to the next. I also really enjoyed listening to the e-audio version of this book because Reynolds reads his book and he has a fabulous reading voice.
I’ll Give You the Sun- Jandy Nelson
Told through two siblings’ perspectives years apart, Jude and Noah are torn away from each other when Jude gets into the prestigious art school that Noah fought so hard for and Noah does not. Noah’s part of the story tells of their younger years in which he and his sister seemed inseparable. Jude tells her story during present day; she and Noah barely talk to each other, their mother’s death heavy on their shoulders, and Jude feels like she does not belong anywhere.
Jandy Nelson writes a fantastic story about two very likable characters that must reconnect. It is a tough and emotional read at times. Nelson also has LGBTQ+ representation as it appears in the form of Noah. This was one of the stories that I reread some of my favorite parts as soon as I finished it.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe- Benjamin Alire Saenz
In this realistic YA fiction, two boys meet at the local swimming pool. Set in the 1980’s, this book follows two years of Aristotle and Dante’s friendship. Aristotle has to deal with the anger he has about his brother being in prison and his struggle to connect with his parents. Dante is everything Ari is not; he is charming, happy, and has a fantastic relationship with his parents. Ari and Dante will learn from each other.
The love that I have for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe knows no bounds. The relationship between the two main characters (as well as the relationship with their parents) was so powerful. This is another book that has LGBTQ+ representation that I really appreciate.
Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, yes its 100 books, and yes I’m far ahead of that goal at the pace I’m going, I like to talk about what I’m reading to the 3 book clubs I am involved in. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns (looking for a good YA Western… I’m your person), Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, Dystopian, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.