I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Ben De Backer tells their parents that they are nonbinary, and is promptly kicked out of the house. Ben calls their older sister, who they haven’t spoken to in years, and she says that Ben can stay with her and her husband.

It’s not easy to be the new kid at school, but it’s even tougher when it’s the second semester of senior year. Ben just wants to keep a low profile and finish school. They don’t expect to make any friends, but a boy named Nathan keeps popping up. He’s everywhere; he even lives next door to Ben’s sister! It’s not clear to Ben whether Nathan is just being friendly, or whether there’s something more.

There are so many poignant moments in this book, like Ben’s mixed feelings about being kicked out of their house. From an outside perspective, this seems like such an unforgiveable act, but Ben’s feelings are more complicated. Naturally, they are scared and angry, but after a while, they have a sense of cautious optimism regarding resolution. My heart just ached for the kid because I didn’t want to see them get hurt again.

While the story might begin with a catastrophic rejection, the tone of this book is very positive. Ben is accepted as who they are by their sister and brother-in-law, and they also have the opportunity to start therapy to help process their feelings about everything. What starts out as survival turns into thriving, and they even find a friend in Nathan.

I would absolutely recommend I Wish You All the Best. This is a beautiful book, and I am looking forward to reading more of Deaver’s books in the future.

 

 

 

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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Wayward Son came out in September, but I am woefully behind with my book reviews. My middle schooler and I actually had the chance to meet her when she came to the Boston area, and that was an amazing evening.

I was excited when I first heard there was going to be a sequel to Carry On, but I’ll admit to some skepticism when I found out that Simon and Baz and Penny were going on an American road trip. But my fears were unfounded; it turns out that the United States was exactly where the gang needed to go.

Readers should start with Carry On in order to understand the plot, but needless to say, everyone is trying to move on from the events of Carry On, and this is something Simon has been struggling with. What does the Chosen One do once the job is done? Penny decides that they all need to go visit Agatha in San Diego, and what starts out as a visit turns into a rescue mission. Along the way, they encounter a variety of personalities: some are friendly, and some are hostile—but the fate of the world is at stake again. Read more

Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi

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Permanent Record is a YA novel written by Mary H. K. Choi. Even though I’m one of those jaded xennials and moving farther away from the target demographic every year, I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because the premise sounded interesting.

Pablo dropped out of college, and now spends his nights working in a NYC deli, and he’s quick to inform the reader that even though it’s open 24 hours, it’s not a bodega because it sells all sorts of fancy rich-people-food.

One night, a girl comes into the not-bodega, and Pablo recognizes her- she’s Leanna Smart- a child star who grew up into an international pop sensation. They strike up a conversation, and Leanna is impressed that Pablo doesn’t recognize her right away. This is, perhaps, why she invites Pablo into her inner circle. Read more

American Royals by Katharine McGee

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American Royals is the first book in Katharine McGee’s new YA alternative history series. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because the premise sounded very interesting.

The book begins with the following premise: after the American Revolution, George Washington became the new nation’s first king, and ever since then, his descendants have sat on the throne. An aristocratic class also developed, with titles like the Duke of Boston, but most of society is exactly the same.

The story begins with Beatrice, the king’s oldest child and heir, being tasked with finding a future spouse at the upcoming royal ball. From there, the story unfolds from four unique perspectives: Read more

Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva

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I came across Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva when I was browsing Netgalley, and the blurb piqued my interest. My request was accepted, and so I added the book to my reading queue.

Alek is an Armenian-American high school student. He has been dating Ethan for almost six months. Things are getting pretty serious, but Alek has reservations. He loves kissing Ethan, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for things to go further physically. Alek measures his life in terms of Before Ethan and After Ethan; he’s changed so much for the better because of this relationship, and he can’t imagine what would happen if it ended. Read more

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

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I found The Music of What Happens at my town library. I’ve read some of Bill Konigsberg’s other books, so finding this on the new release shelf was a nice surprise.

When Max steps up to a food truck to place an order, he doesn’t expect to see Jordan, a kid from his school. Max certainly doesn’t expect to walk away with a job offer, but there you have it.

Jordan’s dad died a few years ago, and Jordan and his mom have been living off of the life insurance money. They’ve exhausted their savings, and they’re now a few months behind with the mortgage. Revitalizing the food truck that Jordan’s dad used to run is their final hope; if they don’t earn enough money to pay off the accumulated debt, they’ll lose the house.

Max and Jordan might go to the same school, but they aren’t friends. Things are awkward at first, but they quickly realize that they are going to need to communicate with each other if they want their endeavors to be successful. Read more

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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They Both Die at the End was written by Adam Silvera. I picked up this book after my oldest daughter stole our copy of another of Silvera’s book.

This book explores the premise of knowing that today will be the day you die. A service called DeathCast calls people to tell them that they are going to die, and a whole industry has developed around this concept. There are apps to find one last friend- or for the more salacious- one last “friend”. There are entertainment complexes that provide people on their Last Day with a variety of experiences.

Mateo and Rufus have never met, but they find each other on their Last Day through the Last Friend app. At first, it doesn’t seem like they have a lot in common beyond the obvious, but they are determined to make the most of their last day. Read more

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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Pride is a YA novel written by Ibi Zoboi. I was excited about this book because as the title suggests, this is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice variants, in all their delightful forms, are one of my major weaknesses, and I was interested to see Zoboi’s take on the literary classic.

Zuri Benitez loves her Bushwick neighborhood, and isn’t particularly impressed with the changes. She and her sisters have been watching the transformation of the building across the street with interest, and as the story begins, the Darcy family moves in. Zuri’s sister Janae hits it off with Ainsley Darcy, while Zuri clashes with Darius Darcy. Read more

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance was written by Madeline J. Reynolds. I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, so I was excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Elias Caldwell is a young man in the Victorian era who simply doesn’t fit in. He sees no escape from the future his parents have laid out for him, but then his grandfather presents him with an opportunity: a pocket watch that allows him to time travel.

Elias ends up at an American boarding school, where he meets Tyler Forrester. Ty, an aspiring filmmaker, manages to catch Elias appearing out of thin air. The story is too fantastic to be believed, but Ty suspends his disbelief and agrees to help Elias acclimate to the 21st century.

It’s certainly a culture shock, but Elias quickly sees the benefits of modern life. He doesn’t feel as stifled as he did in his own era, and he is pleased to discover that it’s okay to be gay. Even better, he finds friendship and more with Ty.

Ty knows that sharing Elias’ story would almost definitely lead to his big breakthrough in the film world. But what about the ramifications of time travel being real? And what would happen to Elias if everybody knew that he was from over 100 years in the past?

This was a fun story. It unfolds from both Elias and Tyler’s points of view. The plot moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and sometimes it would have been beneficial to slow down for full effect. This is especially noticeable when examining the “relationship” that develops between Elias and Tyler. It’s almost instantaneous, and I would have loved to see the tension drawn out a little more.

I would recommend The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance. This will definitely appeal to the target demographic. Readers should know explanations behind the “science” of time travel are fairly light, but there’s a nice balance between the other elements of the plot. Overall, this is a fairly light book and a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Reynolds in the future.

 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen

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Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) is a YA novel by L.C. Rosen. I found this book on the YA new release shelf at my town library. The TLDR version of this review is that I read this book in one day, and I loved it so much that I bought the Kindle edition AND the Audible editions as soon as I finished reading.

Jack is an openly gay high school student in Manhattan, and while he enjoys an active social life, it is not nearly as salacious as the rumors swirling around the NYC private school scene.

But still, because of his perceived expertise, his friend Jenna persuades him to a sex advice column for her blog based on readers’ questions. Jack is reluctant at first, but finds that he enjoys answering questions.

Around the same time, Jack finds a letter from a Secret Admirer in his locker. He doesn’t think much of it, but then he receives a second letter. And then a third. There’s a gradual shift in tone, but it quickly becomes clear that Jack is dealing with a stalker. Read more