Cass McKenna prefers ghosts to living people. An outcast at school, she has befriended the ghosts who reside there, and they see everything that goes on there and pass that information on to Cass. No one quite knows how she does it, some think she is psychic, others think she uses witchcraft, most of them agree that she is just weird and Cass is happy that her secret is safe. Until one day she receives an anonymous note in her locker claiming that someone knows how she knows everything that goes on.
Tim is mourning the loss of his mother, and in Cass’s opinion he is using that as an excuse to get the entire school wrapped around his finger. She is surprised therefore when the note turns out to be from him, and what he really wants is help contacting his mother’s ghost.
I felt that while the beginning of the book focused on Cass’s ability to talk to the dead, a lot of it revolved around the social politics of high school. At the beginning we are introduced to Paige, her sister who died four years ago and now spends most of her time in Cass’s bedroom, and Norris and Bitzy, who are spending their afterlife at Cass’s high school. We see a lot of how things work for ghosts and how Cass interacts with them.
Tim is an interesting character, he is quite prepared to ignore his friends judgements and spend time with Cass in order to talk to his mother. Cass was more complicated for me. Most of the time she seems a very likeable character, she takes Norris to the movies and comforts her sister, she also helps Tim to make contact with his mother, albeit reluctantly. However, as much as she claims not to like revealing the unpleasant truths her ghost friends witness to people, she still makes a point of doing it. She often uses them against people to get what she wants, whether this be other students or even her guidance counsellor.
Overall this was an enjoyable book, I liked Megan Crewe’s style of writing. Although I did not always like Cass’s choices I could see why she made them and by the end of the book she had grown a lot as a character. I am hoping we will see more of Cass and Tim, I feel there is more to be told!
Henry Page has never had a crush on someone until Grace Town walks into his classroom in the second week of his senior year. With her oddly cut hair, mens’ clothing and cane, he doesn’t think too much about her until they are both offered the positions of editor for the school newspaper, a position which he has been working towards for years and which she turns down. After they leave the office Henry follows her down the road and demands to know why she would turn down the opportunity. The next morning she arrives in the newspapers editing office with no explanation as to her change of heart, and from here Henry become curious to know more about her and the life she leads.
Murray and Lola are Henry’s best friends and in my opinion, they were what made the book. I loved Henry and Grace, but Murray and Lola were just fantastic. Murray is an Australian who moved to America with his family several years ago, although he has picked up an American accent he still uses his, exaggerated, Australian one to impress women and generally drive Henry and Lola up the wall. Murray is not just used for comedic value though, he is everything a best friend should be in that he supports and encourages Henry with his feelings for Grace. Lola does the design aspects of the school newspaper and becomes friends with Grace during the time the three of them spend creating the paper. She is not afraid to tell Henry like it is, she puts him in his place and often has to bring him back to reality.
Henry is an honest and funny narrator, he can quote Harry Potter and only knows how to cook mini pizzas. Grace is a wonderful and intriguing character, we know from the outset that things have happened to her in the past which have had a major effect on her, however she does not want to be defined by these things. Krystal Sutherland’s writing is wonderful, I admire anyone who can put “I looked something like a male Summer Glau crossed with Severus Snape” in a book! I would have picked this book up for the sentence alone.
As Henry and Grace’s relationship progresses we learn more about her, but we also see Henry learning more about himself. The characters in this book are flawed, even the ones who seem the most perfect, but that is what makes them real and what makes this book such a wonderful read.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is the story of two teenagers, Natasha and Daniel, who meet on a day that could change both of their lives. Natasha’s family are undocumented and are being deported back to Jamaica that night, but she is going to do everything in her power to keep her family in America. Daniel is on his way to an interview for medical school at Yale, but becoming a doctor is something his parent want not him, once he walks into the interview he feels that his life’s path will be set in stone.
At the beginning of the book Natasha mentions that her mother always says that “Things happen for a reason” and this is a theme which is carried throughout the book. We see the impact of things which happen to others; the train driver who found God , the insurance actuary who lost his daughter, the lawyer who is having an affair with his paralegal. These things, although apparently inconsequential to Natasha and Daniel, have a profound effect on their lives.
The connection between Natasha and Daniel is wonderful and comes across as very natural. They are two very different people, different backgrounds, different cultures and also very different in how they see the world. But all of this works, they compliment each other beautifully even though they may not always agree on things. Even though the book is set over only one day everything between them is believable.
I think this is a book that needed to be written, it has many subtle messages that needed to be put out into the world. Nicola Yoon has done a wonderful job of addressing issues such as race and immigration, she did not shy away from it at all. It all comes across as believable and well informed. What more can I say? I loved it!
So, let’s kick this off with a pretty amazing book that I read last year.Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.
I read this book in under 24 hours, I got it for free as part of World Book Night 2016 and wasn’t sure what to expect. However I was hooked from the first few pages.
Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series, which follows friends Evie, Amber and Lottie. The story is told from the point of view of Evie, a sixteen year old girl in recovery from OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. All Evie wants is to be “normal”, just like everyone else she goes to college with. We watch her attempting to navigate family, friends, feminism, lessons and, of course, boys, alongside her recovery. Funny, sad, brutally honest and filled with hope this book accurately portrays what it is like to try to recover from a mental illness while also trying to live a “normal” life. It also shows Evie’s acceptance of her mental health issues as part of who she is, and not something she needs to hide.
This may have been my first time reading one of Holly Bourne’s books, but it will certainly not be my last!