August 26, 2013

I Know What I Read This Summer

Hey everyone! Remember me? (I don’t blame you if you don’t.) So, summer’s over for us here in Los Angeles, and I figured I’d mark my return to the blog with a bit of a look back at what I read the past few months. Fact is, my summer was seriously book-centric! For starters, I was finally able to begin working on a new novel that I've had outlined for ages. And for, um, nexters, I did a lot of reading. As most writers will tell you…if you wanna be a writer, you’d best be a reader. That said, I sometimes try to steer clear of “the competition” or, you know, “books I might plagiarize.” But this time I totally immersed myself in the world of YA, especially novels with similar themes to my own work-in-progress, such as… Suicide! Rape! Bullying! (Yes, my WIP is a bit darker than Frenemies, though there is still a frenemies-like subplot in there.) I know I’m way late to the party on pretty much all of these, but I wanted to share my reading list with you anyway. So here you go:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher I tore through this baby in one day. Yes, it was that good. I’m sad to say I know too many people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide and in the midst of the tragedy, it also arouses a certain morbid curiosity—why would they do it? HOW could they do it? This book has such a genius premise in that it not only satisfies that curiosity, but packs a powerful message about how our actions (or in some cases, inaction) and words affect others and can have devastating consequences. It was a definite tearjerker, but it ends on a hopeful note.

Sweethearts and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr Okay, so I’m pretty much head over heels in love with Sara Zarr. The people and situations in her books are so gritty and real. The characters aren’t always sympathetic and yet you root for them because of what they’re going through (and, hell, who out there is perfect? These characters are relatable, man!). I also love the little seeds of mystery along the way, urging you to keep reading because you just have to know what’s going to happen—especially with regard to how the relationships are going to turn out.
                                                                         
By the Time You Read This I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters Again, this one grabbed me because of that morbid curiosity surrounding suicide, and my questions were answered in painstaking, heartbreaking detail. As with 13 Reasons Why, there are so many profound and powerful lessons, as well as a poignant little love story and a sense of hope at the end. (At least I felt like it was a hopeful ending…if you read it, what did you think?)

Hate List by Jennifer Brown Yet another one you want to pick up for the premise alone—the story behind a school shooting, as seen through the eyes of the killer’s girlfriend. I love anything that examines multiple sides of controversial issues, that illustrates that life is not black and white, but at least...er…fifty shades of gray? (I swear I didn't put that in for SEO or anything.) Seriously, though. This book forces you to think about tough topics like bullying, and questions how well we really know the people we feel closest to. It also makes some pretty terrifying observations about how victims can become perpetrators…with deadly consequences.

If I Stay and Just One Day by Gayle Forman Two very different books—the former a real tearjerker and the latter more of a romantic romp (complete with lots of European travel…sort of reminiscent of the Before Sunrise movies). Really looking forward to reading the sequels—Where She Went and Just One Year—which are apparently told from the perspective of the male love interests.

Trapped by Michael Northrop This was a great read for me because of the situation—a group of kids who get trapped in their high school (that’s a big part of what happens in my WIP, too!) and how they respond when desperation sets in. Amazing premise, masterfully executed.

Pretty impressive list, huh? So what did you read this summer? Tell me what I should read next. I wanna know!


XO

4 comments:

BookChic said...

I've read 13 Reasons Why (made my roommate read it too; such a good book!) and Hate List (loved it too). I am a huge fan of both Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman, but have gotten so behind on Zarr's books. I do have Just One Year in my TBR and cannot wait to read it.

Great reading list! And excited to see you're writing again! :)

Alexa Young said...

Aw, thanks BC! I can't wait to read the story you're having published...soon, right? XO

the kimberly diaries said...

welcome back to blogging! This summer two of my favorite books were Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maine, and The Happiness Project. From the YA department I read The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg. I've actually never read If I Stay but it's been on my list. Excited to hear more about your new book!

Alexa Young said...

Thanks, Kimberly! Good stuff. I love Gretchen Rubin. You should definitely check out If I Stay. Bit of a tearjerker, but beautifully written and it raises some super captivating questions! (e.g., would you want to live if your immediate family died in a car accident, what constitutes "family," etc...?)