When I started the 2016 Reading Challenge, there were some categories I was very excited to choose a title for. For others, I didn’t have a clue where to start looking. And for a few, I groaned inwardly at the thought of having to delve into that genre at all. As a 47 year old woman, I am FAR from being a Young Adult so choosing a YA Bestseller just didn’t sound like fun. But I dove in and figured that if I got it read early in the challenge, I could move on to other categories I like more!
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman. True, the “teen angst” was there with lots of tortured teen romance thrown in for good measure. But I believed the story. I won’t spoil it for you but suffice it to say that the main character, Mia, is in a horrid car accident along with the rest of her family. Her parents are killed instantly and her 7 year old little brother is taken to the hospital. She is also taken to the hospital then taken by medical chopper to a hospital better equipped to deal with the severity of her injuries. This happens fairly early in the book and most of Mia’s life, friendships, and love story are told in flashback. Mia spend most of the story having an “out-of-body” type experience where she grapples with whether she should fight to stay without her family (**spoiler – little brother Teddy succumbs to his injuries) or if she should just let go and slip peacefully into . . . well, she doesn’t really know what she’ll find on the other side of death. So which will she choose?
The writer did a beautiful job creating the inner conflict for Mia as well as making us care for those that care about Mia. Empathy, compassion, hope . . . Forman evokes them all in the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
I started my 2016 Reading Challenge last night.
I know, I know it isn’t 2016 yet so this may look like cheating. But I intend to be done by Christmas 2016 so I’m not really giving myself any extra time by starting now. And with the weirdness of my schedule, I need to take advantage of the stretches of time that aren’t crazy busy.
I have crossed two off my list –
A graphic novel – for this one I read Part I of “Maus – A Survivor Tale” by Art Spiegelman. It’s the real life story of Art’s conversations with his father, Vladek who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Spiegelman depicts all the characters as animals – the Nazis are cats, the Jews living in Poland (Vladek’s native country) are mice, and those who are neither Jews nor Nazis are portrayed as pigs. When the mice try to disguise their ethnicity, they even put on pig masks. The story is personable and powerful. The author includes the conversations between him and his father and discusses, with an understandably tentative touch, his mother’s suicide. The author doesn’t hide the challenges in his relationship with his father nor the friction between Vladek and his second wife, Mala. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read many books about Nazi Germany and World War II but personal stories like this always captivate me. If there is any criticism to be had, it’s that this book is catalogued as Juvenile Non-Fiction. Not Young Adult, Juvenile. It was in the “kid’s” section of the library. There is some language and while the depictions of violence are not extremely graphic, the book seems better suited to a young middle schooler – maybe as young as 5th grade. As for me, I’m glad I included it in my reading list!
“A book you can finish in a day” – Went to a favorite author for this one. Mostly because I have read some of her stuff in a day and was fairly certain I could do it again! “Sizzlin’ Sixteen” by Janet Evanovich. Truth be told, I need to get caught up on this series anyway and this challenge helped me move one step closer! I’ve been a fan of Evanovich’s writing and unforgettable characters for quite some time and this book did not disappoint.