Book Forty-Four: Dear Martin

dear martinSo this one is cheating a little bit… Summer is officially over, but I started listening to this book before it ended, so I’m going to count it as part of my Summer Read Challenge. And what an awesome, powerful, emotional book to end on. Definitely a last but not least situation.

This book is an incredibly timely story, speaking to the racism that so many young people experience every day. The conversations felt so real to me, as did the pain and frustration the main character felt throughout the book. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug some characters and throttle others.

I would recommend this book to all of my high school students, as well as my faculty. You should go read it too.

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Book Forty-Three: Want

WANTfinalcover1.jpgThis was a great sci-fi read. Fast-moving, but with underlying ethical issues that feel all too plausible.  I really liked the main character, as well as the supporting cast.  All in all, a very entertaining and interesting read.

I’d recommend this to students in the 8th grade and up who enjoy science fiction and/or action.

Book Forty-One: Black Enough

black enoughThis collection of stories was recommended to me by one of my students who saw it on display and said her parents had gotten in for her and she LOVED it. Any time a student has that reaction to a book, I know I need to pick it up.  And it was good! I loved the variety of perspectives and stories, from differences in gender and sexuality to differences in socioeconomic status to differences in family structure and ethnic background.

I’d recommend this to high school students who enjoy realistic fiction.

Book Thirty-Six: Brave Face

brave faceThis memoir is honest, relatable and engaging. It tells one honest story of a teenage boy coming to accept his sexuality while also dealing with undiagnosed depression.  It’s an important story and one that I think a lot of people, both adults and teens, would benefit form reading.

I would recommend this to my high school students who enjoy realistic fiction, memoir, and/or who are interested in mental illness or LGBTQ+ experiences.

Book Thirty-Five: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

sal & gabiI know I really like a book when I give it a hug after I finish, and this book got a hug. What I like the most is that Sal, the narrator and a middle school boy, is not a jerk to people and the one time he takes something too far, he immediately apologizes and regrets his action.  He is in touch with his feelings, knows that people might judge him for that, and doesn’t care.  It was so refreshing; I kept waiting for him to get angsty or drawn into middle school drama, and it just never happened. Yay!

Beyond that, the book is full of Latinx culture, dialogue in Spanish, and great family relationships. Also, the titular character of Gabi is a strong, smart, thoughtful, powerhouse of a girl. I loved seeing how Sal and her relate to one another and become friends.

I’d recommend this to middle school students who like a variety of genres: realistic fiction, science fiction, humor, adventure.  It has broad appeal.

Book Thirty-Four: The Avant-Guards, Vol 1

avant-guardsThis book has a lot of great things going for it: characters with racial/gender/sexual diversity, basketball (which I love), friendships, character growth, and really sweet characters that make you wish you’d known them in college. Needless to say, I thought this was a great read.

I’d recommend this to my high school students, maybe some 8th graders too, who enjoy realistic fiction with lovable characters.

Book Thirty-Two: Dreams From Many Rivers

River Dreams

Reading this collection of poems told from the perspectives of many Hispanic voices throughout American history, starting with Columbus’s arrival to what is now Puerto Rico, is like flipping through a family album of photographs.  With each poem you get a snapshot of a moment, a place, an event, a person.  Some of the voices are fictional and some are based on real people from history.  This book definitely avoids the trap of telling only one story about a group of people, but as a result, it also doesn’t go into depth for any one voice.

I’m not sure how many of my students would sit down and read this book straight through just for pleasure, since it doesn’t really have a narrative feel to it. However, I think it would be an excellent choice for a history or English class to use as a way to dive into Hispanic American history and poetry.  If I were a teacher, I’d have my students read the poems, then select one that spoke the most to them and do research based on that poem to flesh out the rest of the story around it. Or write a poem based on a Hispanic American figure in the modern day that mimics the style of the poems in the book.