“They say that sarcasm is the lowest form of humour but for me, sarcasm is a sanity-saver. If I wasn’t able to make fun of my situation I think my heart would crack in two from the tragedy of it all”.
If you managed to read the title of this book without automatically singing along to the tune of it in your head, I applaud you.
Siobhan Curham’s latest novel follows the narrative of two young people in remarkably different circumstances, and the story of how their hidden similarities come to reveal themselves. It’s a gorgeous story of friendship, but from each viewpoint, some hefty real-world issues are tackled head on. First we have Stevie, quietly living in poverty and singlehandedly caring for her mum, who’s suffering from debilitating depression and facing unjust cuts to her disability benefits. Then we have refugee Hafiz, still emotionally recovering from fleeing the war in Syria and trying to find his feet in the UK, all the while not knowing whether his family and friends are even still alive.
For me, the book was an engaging and endearing read, highlighting the discrete similarities between two people facing what initially seem like dissimilar challenges in a sensitive and insightful way. I especially appreciated the frank and accurate description of the current disability benefits climate here in the UK. I hear harrowing real-life stories about the benefits system every day due to my line of work: it’s a somewhat taboo experience that causes distress to so many vulnerable people, so there was something really satisfying seeing the issue openly discussed in a YA novel of this kind. Overall, I found the book to be a heart-warming story of friendship, celebrating diversity, and most importantly, learning to see the world through somebody else’s eyes. Oh, and speaking of which… you may be interested in our blog tour post on that very topic for Walker YA too.
Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood (Macmillan UK)
“They all felt it, that itch. The realisation that there’s more to life than this. That you can be with people you want to be with. Not people that you have to be with through circumstance or mere geography… people who are willing to make room for you in their lives when they don’t have to”.
Floored was without a doubt one of my favourite reads of the year. With so many of my go-to YA authors each telling the tale of one of the seven individuals in the book, there was no doubt that this read would be a good one for me… but even so, my expectations were exceeded.
Seven young people find themselves stuck together in a lift and unexpectedly witness an unsettling and life-changing event together. That one event and the aftermath of it sees their lives become intertwined in a way unforeseen by all of them, and the novel takes us through the next seven years of their lives, both as individuals and as a group. It’s such an captivating read with extremely real and dynamic characters voiced by some of the most talented YA authors of our time. And with one yelling about societal prejudice towards disability and another one who lives in Bridlington… seriously, how could I NOT love it?
My only critique was that the story did appear to end quite abruptly, leaving me a little disappointed… but of course, maybe that’s just because I could have happily followed these characters around for another seven (-ty) years, too. Definitely one to read if you’re a fan of witty writing that’ll hit you straight in the heart, right when you’re least expecting it.
“’Other people will try to decide things for you’, she says. ‘They’ll try to tell you who you are. Remember, no matter what they say, you’re the only who really decides’.”
Every now and then you’ll read a book that just worms its way into your subconscious and refuses to budge. And it’s never the light-hearted, happy reads is it? For me, Lies We Tell Ourselves was one of those stories: the storyline has haunted my subconscious ever since my first time reading it and consequently, it’s a book I find myself going back to time and time again.
Set in Virginia back in 1959, Sarah Dunbar is one of the first eight black students to be ‘integrated’ into an all-white high school, amid hostility, oppression, and physical violence from the local community who strongly oppose the movement. The circumstances force Sarah to confront not only her ethnicity but also her sexuality head-on, none the more so than when she finds herself forced to work with headstrong Linda, daughter of the community’s strongest opponent of integration. I’m not going to lie, reading a book based on others’ real-life experiences not all that long ago makes for a difficult read emotionally, but this is SUCH an important story- one that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, with Justin Paul, Steven Levenson and Benj Pasek (Penguin Children’s)
“I’m not brave. I’m extremely not brave. Being not brave is just about as easy as breathing”.
Stay tuned… a full review of this one is coming following its upcoming release in October!
“Welcome to The Ink House, a mysterious mansion built long ago in the days when people used gallons of ink to write love letters, poems, and elaborate shopping lists…”
So I haven’t sat down and read this one cover to cover yet, but I wanted to include The Ink House in this post and tell you a bit about it before Christmas shopping season, because I reckon this would make a GORGEOUS present for a fellow book lover. As would any of Rory Dobner’s homeware range which I accidentally discovered and fell in love with whilst writing this review, but we’ll save that bit of fangirling for another time.
Dobner’s new release tells of a ‘magical pool of ink’ that instils creativity in the creatures who inhabit a mysterious mansion. And let me tell you, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The entirety of the book is visually stunning, with intricate illustrations of whimsical characters and concepts- Mary Shelley the tortoise being my current favourite. It’s like an eccentric relation to the works of Beatrix Potter, and it’s exactly the kind of book you’d curl up to read with a cup of tea on an Autumnal afternoon; and that afternoon cannot come soon enough for me. Adulting can wait, right? Just LOOK at how pretty it is…
“But I love bad taxidermy! You’ve seen my Instagram” – Lou Brown, 2018
If you’ve followed me on social media for a while, you may remember the fangirling that occurred after I read Girl Out Of Water, Nat Luurtsema’s first YA novel. My entire life was made when I discovered that not only was it a genuinely hilarious read, the story featured a central character with M.E. I read a LOT of YA fiction and to date, that book is still the only one where I’ve seen a chronically ill person represented in an accurate way, and yet not had their chronic illness be their entire storyline. And something like that, and what it represents, is SO important.
I’m so glad you like it! That’s exactly what I wanted, it’s part of who he is but not everything he is. I hope i represented..
— Nat Luurtsema (@natluurtsema) September 12, 2016
So as you can imagine, I was waiting with bated breath for Lou Out Of Luck, the follow-up story. Whilst I admit I wasn’t quite as taken in with this book as I was with its predecessor, Lou Out Of Luck still stands strong as a humorous and relatable teen read. The story casts light on the daily goings on of a working-class family struggling to make ends meet: something that you’d think could make for a quite depressing tale, but Lou’s witty narrative keeps the story fast paced and relatively light-hearted.
We see everything through the eyes of a somewhat misplaced teenager who doesn’t quite fit in with those around her, and her comedic struggle to exert control over the chaos happening all around her as she approaches her final days of senior school. I absolutely love Luurtsema’s writing style: this read is full of humour, and if grinning to yourself at killer one-liners whilst reading on public transport is any measure of success, this one’s definitely a winner in my eyes.
And there we have it! Do let me know if you decide to give any of them a go and how you find them, as I’m always up for a bookish chat. As always, recommendations of your own are very gratefully received: if there’s a read that you think should be in my next Books You Need In Your Life series, I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, do browse through my other bookish posts, check out my own charity book ‘Dear Chronic Illness’, and keep up with all my current reads (including the books I’m considerably less enthusiastic about…) over on Goodreads. Yay!
What are you reading at the moment?
Disclaimer: Each of the above reads are linked by the title. I earn a small commission from any purchase made from following these affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. This is also the case for any Wordery orders placed by following this cheeky link, and any Amazon orders by following this link. I’m so subtle, I know. And whilst we’re at it, you can also get a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime here: this is how I buy the vast majority of my books, and the free one-day delivery is an absolute lifesaver for when you’re caught short without a good read.
I’m also very grateful to receive books from various publishers and authors, some of which are included in my posts. Others are re-reads of old favourites, and most are purchased of my own accord. I’d like to make clear that (unless otherwise disclosed), I’m under no obligation to review any of the complementary books I receive, so do be assured that all of the reads included in this post are genuine favourites of mine that I hope you’ll enjoy too.