January Book Review

By Sarah

I have an interesting history with reading. I acutely remember being four years old and peering over the shoulder of my grandmother, who was reading me Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. Squinting at the words, it looked like scribbles of nonsense to me. I let out a lengthy sigh, willing for my first day of kindergarten to come nearer.

“I wish I could read,” I’d groaned.

Truthfully, the ability to read changed my life. As soon as I could sound out the letters on street signs, I was consuming books with voracity, combing through stories that ignited a simultaneous passion for writing. In second grade, when my sister cut open her chin, I’d stayed at the kitchen table, purely focused on reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Yes — not one of my finest moments — but I was completely engrossed in this new activity. It was exciting, new, and imaginative, and it was everything I’d ever dreamed of.

In recent years, I’ve read the likes of Emma by Jane Austen to Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, and while my interests have evolved, I still adore this activity. In many ways, I feel blessed to be able to read while women across the world make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 800 million illiterate individuals. It is such a transformative gift that everyone should have access to, and I fear that I have not appreciated it enough. With the perpetual busyness of the past few years of my life, my reading for fun has decreased, but as a now-second semester senior, I’ve been making an effort to do it more. 

Each month, I am going to do a book review, both to encourage my own reading, analyze my thoughts, and to recommend to my blog readers. These recent books are near and dear to my heart, and I would certainly encourage you to try them out.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Approximate Reading Time: 3-4 Days

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Rating: 7/10

With its title derived from the fictional singer Judy Bridgewater, Never Let Me Go is a dystopian story of medical ethics, adolescence, memories, and willful ignorance. While I won’t spoil anything in particular, it centers on the idea of utilitarianism — the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Is something inherently moral if it’s helping many but hurting a few? What autonomy do we have over our bodies? How far should we go in the name of science and technological development?

Split into three parts, the story centers on Kathy, a somewhat shy, thoughtful protagonist. The style of the story acts as if Kathy is your friend, telling you her experiences and perspectives face-to-face in one long conversation. It’s an interesting and impactful book, and as someone who loves the likes of Divergent and The Hunger Games, it certainly had the essence of most young adult dystopian novels. While I had some issues with the plot (that I unfortunately cannot share without spoilers), I would absolutely recommend it. It’s incredibly thought-provoking and a quick read.

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

Approximate Reading Time: 2-3 Days

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Rating: 9/10

Morgan Matson is probably my favorite young adult author. Her books are quickly-paced, fresh, and fun, following high school-aged female protagonists as they navigate relationships and varying circumstances. In Take Me Home Tonight, best friends Stevie and Kat sneak out to New York City for an unforgettable night that will change them fundamentally.

This book was perhaps a bit apocryphal — quite literally every single thing possible goes wrong, there are some questionable occurrences, and there seemed to be a few too many lucky coincidences. Still, it was a joyful, easy-to-read, and engrossing novel. I enjoyed that more than 300 pages of a story take place in approximately 12 hours, which is a new style that I like. There was also an interesting storyline — one of being disillusioned to seemingly perfect adult figures — that was both relatable and informative. Overall, definitely read it! Morgan Matson never misses with her wonderful writing.

Happy reading! Please reach out to me and share your thoughts if you choose to try out these stories. I would love to discuss 🙂

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