sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 24, 2017

into the stacks 2017: three books from january
posted by soe 3:08 am

I love sharing books with you! Honest! It’s just … slow …. writing about them!

I’ve only shared four (!) of the 27 books I’ve read thus far this year with you. Let’s see if we can at least cross the remainder of January’s books off the to-do list, shall we? Here are three of them, and I’ll share the other three later in the week:

Black Panther: A Nation under Our Feet, Book 1, by Ta-Nahisi Coates with artwork by Brian Stelfreeze

If you watched the last Avengers movie, you may be aware of Black Panther, a comic book character first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966 as the first black superhero in mainstream comics. T’Challa (Black Panther’s day-to-day identity) is a genius and the leader of the fictitious African nation, Wakanda, a country rich in the mineral vibranium, which allows its people access to advanced technology.

My forays into the Marvel universe have mostly been limited to the Avengers solo and group films, The Agents of SHIELD tv show, and the Ms. Marvel comics, so I had little exposure to this character prior to encountering him in the last Avengers film. When I heard Ta-nehisi Coates was going to write the story for the latest comics arc, I decided that I was sufficiently intrigued to follow up. What I failed to realize, though, was that because this character had 50 years of history before this arc that I should have boned up on the world into which I was walking. At the very least, I should have consulted a wiki to give me a basic understanding of the setting and characters, because this story arc is not an introduction to them. There is an assumption you have a certain amount of knowledge, which I failed to gain before reading the book, and it affected both my comprehension and enjoyment of the book.

Critics of the comic industry often point out that while there has been some effort to represent women and people of color in their work, nearly all of them have been written and drawn by white guys. Since this is both written and drawn by Black men, I do think this iteration of Black Panther is a worthy place to jump into a superhero comic. However, I’d suggest doing a little reading prior to cracking the spine.

Pages: 144. Library copy.

Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum

A cute YA romance about a teen girl, Jessie, whose father suddenly and without her knowledge remarries and moves her from Chicago to Los Angeles, where her new step-mother enrolls her in the fancy private school her son attends. She is having an utterly crappy first day at school when she gets an anonymous email from someone at school (signed Somebody Nobody) who offers to guide her through things, so long as she’s willing to keep things anonymous.

While trying to navigate a new living situation and process the anger she has toward her father for not even telling her he was dating, let alone getting married, Jessie also continues to grieve the death of her mother, cope with the physical and emotional distance with her best friend back home, and deal with classmates who seem far more image- and income-conscious than she’s used to. Being able to share her life with Somebody Nobody becomes cathartic, and she finds herself predictably falling in love with this anonymous schoolmate, who also seems to be opening up to her, but not so far as to give away his identity.

The plot is nothing new in this YA contemporary romance, but the added storyline of a parent acting irrationally in the face of grief and causing lasting repercussions for his daughter gave it layers. Sweet. Recommended to those who like Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Pages: 328. Library audiobook copy, listened to via Overdrive.

The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

One hot summer day in New York City in the summer of their junior year, Natasha, a science-loving Jamaican immigrant trying to save her family from deportation, and Daniel, the poetic son of Korean immigrants who are counting on his becoming a successful doctor, meet. He immediately falls in love; she’s not even sure she believes in love, but certainly not at first sight. With the help of a security guard or two, karaoke, and a jerk of a brother, Daniel sets out to prove Natasha wrong. The clock is against them, but it isn’t known as a New York minute for nothing.

Highly praised when it came out late last year, the book is deserving of its praise. Told from alternating perspectives (mostly by our two protagonists, but also, occasionally, from more peripheral characters), the story explores parental letdowns, art vs. science, and race relations, as well as putting a human face on a topic of current political interest — illegal immigration. With nearly the whole story taking place in a single day, the action is taut, and short chapters and frequent narrative shifts remind at least this reader of the pace of New York. And the final five pages may be my favorite of any book.

One of my favorite books of the year (still). Highly recommended to everyone.

Pages: 348. Library copy.

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