Sunday, January 19, 2020

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolutely stunning. This book grabbed me from page one, pulled me in, and may never let me go. The story of Lydia and her son Luca's desperate plunge into migrant life and their battle to escape from South America explodes onto the pages like a freight train and the pace doesn't let up for a minute. Timely, heart-wrenching and raw. It's only January but I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that this will definitely be one of the best, and likely THE best, book that I will read in all of 2020. The world would be a kinder place if everyone read this book.

Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this gorgeous novel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

When the pilot of the small plane Brian is on has a heart attack, Brian is stranded in the wilderness and has to learn how to fend for himself. I read this with my 9 year old son and we both really enjoyed it. I love a good survival story and this did not disappoint. Paulsen has a unique writing style where he uses repetition which took a little getting used to. I appreciated the themes of regrowth, perseverance, struggle, and triumph.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

7th grader Zoey has not had an easy life. In addition to going to school, she also has to spend much of her time taking care of her three small siblings while living in the trailer of her mom's boyfriend, Lenny.

One of Zoey's teachers sees something in her that reminds her of herself and encourages Zoey to join the debate club so she can learn to find her voice and to stand up for what she believes in. 

A beautiful story that teaches the importance of family, friends, standing up for both, and loads of fun facts about Octopuses.

Perfect for grades 6 and up.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✰✰

I loved the dream daughter and was really looking forward to reading Big Lies in a Small Town. The first two-thirds had a slower pace for me but I enjoyed the plot lines and it kept me wanting to finish. Towards the end the pace zoomed along and I absolutely adored the last third of the book. Diane Chamberlain is a gifted story-teller.

Told along two timelines we follow the path of Morgan in the present day who has been released from prison to work on an art restoration project and Anna in the 1940s who was the original artist of the mural that Morgan is restoring. The mural has been badly damaged and as Morgan cleans and restores it, she uncovers clues to solve the mystery of what happened to Anna. This novel is a mix of historical fiction and mystery with just a sprinkle of romance. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Saint Martin's Press for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

Told in a series of free verse poems, this is the story of a family's migration from Vietnam and their adaptation to life in Alabama from the eyes of 10 year old Hà. A sweet book from a unique perspective, told in an unusual style.Good for ages 8 and up.