A Separation by Katie Kitamura you can read my review here!
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
This story of a girl unraveling the mystery of her father's life, as he loses his battle with Alzheimer's, felt so real and raw, almost like a memoir. The cast of characters were wonderfully idiosyncratic and I loved them all. It was also a compelling coming of age story, with some astute gems like this one on teen girls:
"Ada could barely keep up with their swinging, shifting moods. They seemed to her like birds in flight, like starlings, changing direction with such collective unspoken force that it seemed as if they shared a central root system, a pine barren jointed together and invisibly beneath the earth."The jumping back and forth in time to reveal plot points could be jarring for some, but I thought this created the perfect level of suspense. I also loved the way the author employed characters imbued in the science of AI to tell a story of what makes us human.
"sometimes, in her bed at night, Ada pondered the idea that she, in fact, was a machine --or that all humans were machines programmed in utero by their DNA, the human body a sort of hardware that possessed within it preloaded, self-executing software. And what, she wondered, did they say about the nature of existence? And what did it say about predestination? Fate? God?"Sometimes it got a little long in the tooth, but overall, it was a haunting and memorable novel with one of the best epilogues I've ever read.
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I was a little hesitant to read Yoon's latest since I enjoyed, but had some issues with, her first novel Everything Everything. Yet I heard so much good stuff and, well, THAT COVER convinced me to add it to my Book of the Month order. This boy meets girl narrative was rather timely, given that the girl is an immigrant from Jamaica and about to be deported. The boy is the son of first generation Korean immigrants and Daniel's viewpoint added the perfect compliment to Natasha's. Told in their alternating perspectives (along with a perfect sprinkling from supporting characters) they felt a little sappy and precocious, like a John Green novel, and similarly adorable. It's very much in the vein of Just One Day, but with a much heavier and thoughtful undercurrent. I also enjoyed the science geekery and identified with Natasha on many levels. I have to wonder if writing something a little less fantastical (only SLIGHTLY less than Everything Everything) and closer to her real life (as a Jamaican married to a Korean) made this novel a great success for Yoon. Kudos either way!
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
As thrillers go, this book hit all the right notes and I was sucked in, guessing the ending until the last pages. I'd also give Mejia pretty high marks for character development. I felt as if I had a good grasp on their inner lives and motivations. There were interesting themes to ponder on love and family. Still, straight up thrillers are just not my go-to. I'd give it a solid three stars, and would highly recommend if you are looking for a good whodunit.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Oh, this was a wonderful book! Ada and her brother Jamie are evacuated from London at the start of WWII, and in the process, escape an abusive relationship with their mother. This was ROUGH to read at times, as one would expect with a WWII novel (which is why I have a one or two a year limit). However, the parts that were difficult center around Ada's struggles with a normal maternal relationship and my heart was in my throat for much of the story. Not only did my heart go out to Ada, but I thought that her and her brother's caregiver, Susan, was a perfectly nuanced and deftly developed character that added many layers to the book. I am so glad I finally read this one in my effort to delve into more Newberry honor books. It's heartbreaking but, ultimately, hopeful. And there's a SEQUEL, The War I Finally Won, coming out this fall!