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Religion in YA Books • Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Each Sunday, I found myself driving down the back roads of our small town with my grandparents, headed to our tiny Catholic church. I was baptized there and participated as a reader, attended Sunday school, and in high school was confirmed, too. I didn’t really know anything other than Catholicism until my sophomore year in high school when my best friend began asking me to attend her Wednesday night youth group at her Baptist church. The differences between her church and mine were night and day: there weren’t nearly as many rituals at hers, people talked a lot more openly about things like sin, sexuality, and who God is. It was then that I realized that not all churches are the same. I guess hypothetically I had known that before, but until I saw it in action, I didn’t know there could be something different.

[Full disclosure: I began going with Leslie because there was a cute boy involved.]

The summer after my Sophomore year, I went to a church camp in Glorieta, NM with Leslie’s youth group. I went hoping that I’d sit next to that cute boy on the way there and that sometime over that week he would FINALLY ask me to be his girlfriend. Spoiler alert: his dad was our bus driver to New Mexico and made a bet with him to see how many girls’ phone numbers he could get while he was there. We pulled into the camp and my heart was just crushed. Thank goodness I found out before all the festivities began because I think my sole focus would have remained pursuing him if I hadn’t found out the truth early on. Instead, I tried to ignore him and threw myself into bonding with my group and being active.

And it’s there that my heart really seemed to change and this whole idea of Christianity really became something more. It was more than just a proclamation. It was more than just attending church on Sundays. Sure I had a lot of questions and things I just didn’t know the answer to, but I felt anxious to seek out those answers and to explore religion in a whole new way.

This little piece of my history is something that still impacts my day-to-day life and it’s something I am searching for when I’m reading: What do the characters believe? Are they searching like I was (still am)?

I think at our core we’re curious humans and we like to test the waters. We don’t easily accept things at face value or believe things necessarily because we’re told to. There have been a few standout books for me that really reflected how it felt for me to question and seek those answers:

stealing parker, small town sinners, things i can

Stealing Parker, Small Town Sinners, and Things I Can’t Forget have given me characters that aren’t always right, don’t know all the ins and outs of their beliefs, want to learn more, are flawed and imperfect, and they all struggle. Gosh, even as a nearly 30 year old woman (say WHAT?!) I still feel this way. I don’t always know what’s right or what I’m supposed to do. These books extend this amazing olive branch that say, “IT’S OKAY TO NOT KNOW!”

Perhaps what I’ve felt lately in a lot of my reading has been that there’s either a strong believe or a great nonchalance. In two books I recently read (The Last Time We Say Goodbye and Since You’ve Been Gone), the main characters both admit to having no faith as they’re going through these GIANT life changing events; the conversation stops there and once they’ve said, “I don’t know what to believe” that’s it. But I’ve also noticed that aside from Christianity, I’m not seeing a whole lot of exploration of other religions. Perhaps those with Christianity stand out to me because that’s what I identify with the most, but ideally, I’d really love to be able to update this post with a long list of books that explore other faiths. Religion and beliefs are just one of the multitude of things that make us diverse, and I’d love to see this tackled more in what I’m reading. I want to know my character’s struggles and strongholds.

So here you have it, my great question to you guys: Where is religion in young adult books? What books have you read that have done a really nice job exploring religion? 


 

Thanks for joining the discussion for this month’s Dive Into Diversity! Don’t forget to link-up with you diverse posts below. Rebecca, Estelle, and I cannot wait to read them and check out your blogs! If you haven’t had a chance to join the DID reading challenge, feel free to visit the intro post and use #DiversityDive on Twitter & Instagram!



February 23, 2015 - 11:32 am

Magan - Jamie, thanks SO much for sharing your story and the great recommendations. I haven’t read either of the books you’ve mentioned so I’ll be adding them to my TBR right now. I’m so glad you shared! xoxox

February 23, 2015 - 11:31 am

Magan - Elizabeth, you know what — you’re so right. I definitely haven’t read a lot of books with Jehovah’s Witness. THANK YOU for letting us know about Brown Girl Dreaming! I enjoy how trilogies can explore religion by really making up their own as well. I think it’s a good way to get people thinking about things without being so explicit.

February 23, 2015 - 11:23 am

Magan - Katie, I SO hope you check out the books! And I’m so thankful for your recommendation too. Going to head to Goodreads to check it out! I just don’t understand why there aren’t a ton of religious exploration books out there. I know a lot of teens are questioning this. It felt like SUCH a big deal to me in high school.

February 16, 2015 - 10:03 pm

Katie @ Bookish Illuminations - Magan,

I love this post! This is exactly the kind of discussion I love–religion and spirituality in literature, especially children’s and YA. I agree with you–there isn’t as much religion in YA as I think there should be, and I hope that publishing trend changes in the near future.

I haven’t read any of these books you mentioned, but knowing that they focus on characters struggling with questions of faith and religion makes me me want to check them out. I think being curious about these issues is healthy and reflects a more authentic spirituality.

I would so welcome more YA novels that reflected characters expressing their spirituality/religion or struggling with those big questions in life that we often associate with religion and spirituality.

I always try to tease out any spiritual dimensions I find in the books I review–in a very broad sense–but it’s rare that I find books engaging with religion and spirituality in a more specific way. One book that comes to mind with a clear spiritual dimension and that does engage with religion in a refreshing way is The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. It’s not YA, but I think YA readers who are mature could read it.

February 15, 2015 - 12:20 am

Alexa S. - Honestly, I love reading about characters who have strong ideals or struggles with religion. It’s a quest that every individual goes through on their own at some point, trying to make sense of things and decide what to believe in. The books you’ve included, particularly Kenneally’s novels, are great examples of books that tackle religion in a way that feels organic, thoughtful and interesting. Would be awesome to read more books featuring all sorts of religion!

February 10, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Elizabeth - This is only fresh on my mind because I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming last night, but she talks a bit about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is something that I have not ever read about anywhere. It was an experience I appreciated reading about, even though I’m not particularly religious myself. I also enjoyed the role of religion in a couple of fantasy trilogies I’ve read– The Girl of Fire and Thorns series and His Fair Assassin series both features fairly pious main characters, though those religions were fictional ones. But on the whole, religion or spirituality are not very prominent in the books I read.

February 10, 2015 - 3:38 pm

Jamie - I grew up only going to church on Christmas and Easter and sometimes to sunday school with my neighbors and VBS in the summer. Then in 8th grade I started going to youth group at a baptist church with a friend (because of a boy and all the boys certainly made me keep going haha). I stayed and got really involved and then made the decision to go to a Christian college. Between my mom passing away and just my experience AT that college I walked away more confused than ever. So I love seeing religion explored in a way that isn’t like Christian fiction or trying to convert someone. Like truly I feel like wrestling with what you believe in or don’t believe in is a huge part of one’s life experience. Especially in the face of death when you really look at like “hey what do I believe in…will I see them again? Is there nothing after death??” I mean, I get panicky at night STILL wrestling with these things.

So yeah I really love seeing it! And not just Christianity. I love seeing all faiths though obviously Christianity is what I’m most familiar with and can relate to.

I recently read No Parking In The End Times and I thought it dealt with wrestling with your faith really well. The girl believes in God and grew up in the church and then her dad gets involved with this cult-like end time group and through this experience she really reevaluates her beliefs and struggles with if she believes in God at all. It was really thought-provoking though I think if people don’t like reading about people who have faith and are wrestling with it probably won’t enjoy it.

I also read Like No Other by Una LaMarche and that was SUCH a good book and the main character was a Hasidic Jew and I loved how it looked at her religion and her culture and how an event really made her question things!

February 10, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Valeria, every question you posed in your comment is EXAXTLY what I was thinking here. You are spot on. I really feel like I’m missing out on culturizing myself by not seeing this in my reading. It makes the books less unique, I think, and all of the characters a greater melting pot. I want to learn and grow and be pushed to encounter differences. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

February 10, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Magan - Thank you, Andi! I haven’t read that one by Terra, but fully intend to ass it to my TBR list! Thanks so much for contributing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Magan - Thanks for your comment, Jen! I agree – in mainstream YA I’m not seeing a lot of exploration of other faiths. I don’t temd to read actual targeted Christian fiction from a store like Lifeway. I guess I’m pretty surprised that religion is really skipped over in our young adult books. Even if it’s not the primary focus, couldn’t it play a minor role? I haven’t read those books you listed but I am so intrigued! Thanks for sharing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:25 pm

Magan - Bruna, that’s my point – I’m not seeing a lot of those other cultures and religions well-represented at all. I do understand your point of this not being in every book because some people just really don’t want to read about it. Out of curiosity, have you read any books with any religion aspects you’ve found did a good job incorporating it as part of the discussion without it being the sole focus?

February 10, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Magan - Rachel, you’re so right about HOW TO LOVE. I has forgotten that. Subtle, yes, but still a part of the story. Coming from a catholic background, I fully understood how she would have felt being pregnant and her parents reactions. The story would have felt less complete without that i think. Also, thanks for the sweet comment. I’m really glad you found this interesting!

February 10, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Magan - It really seems to be lacking, Brianna. You bring up a great point about the Holocaust. I haven’t read a book focusing on that time with a religious aspect either.

February 10, 2015 - 11:56 am

Brianna - I can’t think of a single book off the top of my head, YA or otherwise, where religion plays a prominent role (other than memoir). Even Holocaust literature doesn’t really talk about the religious aspects of those peoples’ lives.

February 10, 2015 - 11:55 am

Rachel @ Hello, Chelly - Magan, I love that you wrote about this! I was at a similar crossroads during college (I was brought up Catholic but some of my relatives belonged to a Baptist church). I agree this topic isn’t explored enough in books but I would like to see more of it. One book that did come to mind is HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno. Religion/Catholicism plays a role but a subtle one. But I always find myself thinking of it when I look back on that book (which happens to be one of my all-time favorites). Great post!

February 10, 2015 - 11:30 am

Bruna - Interesting discussion. Religion is not something I see a lot in the books I read, and to be honest, I don’t think is something I would normally seek out. I have struggles with what I actually do believe in and I am already so surrounded by people in real life wanting to push their religions on me that I feel that books are a way to scape that. If is something completely different from my culture, like Islam or other non-Western religions I might be interested; or discussions on atheism or agnosticism. But as far catholicism goes, I just rather do without it.

February 10, 2015 - 10:28 am

Jen Ellision - I wish I had some from other faiths to add, but the only books I can think of that explore faith are of a Christian slant.

I read it a while ago and I believe it’s Christian fiction YA, but if I recall the Lisa Tawn Bergren’s River of Time series had some good exploration on faith… not heavy-handed at all, which has been my problem with some Christian fiction. Plus the series is adorable time travel historical romance YA.

Jackson Pearce’s Purity may have had a little exploration too, but I seem to recall it being more about the character’s relationship with her dad than church…

February 10, 2015 - 9:54 am

Andi - I loved reading Small Town Sinner. I was so intrigued by that kind of subject. One that I read that I really enjoyed was Pure by Terra Élan McVoy. Really interesting look at teens with purity rings, waiting until marriage to have sex and what happens when someone goes against that or you yourself thinks about going against it.

Great post Magan.

February 10, 2015 - 9:20 am

Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness - I love that you raised these questions. I have to agree with you. Other than Christian fiction which, as the genre suggests, deals with a lot of religious issues, I don’t see it anywhere in YA. I would love to see it reflected, and much like you be able to learn about other beliefs and cultures. People tend to focus on other diversity issues, but religion always seems to be pushed aside. Why is that?

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The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds • Estelle Reviews

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason ReynoldsThe Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 1/6/2015
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 272
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: death, NYC, grief, friendship, romance, jobs
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: After his mom dies from breast cancer, Matt discovers comfort at the local funeral home where he gets a job.

Before you read this review, I have to ask: have you read When I Was The Greatest yet? I reviewed it last year, mentioned it everywhere including my End of the Year survey, and, well, I just need you to read it before I can go on. So please buy it, request it from your library, or download it for your eReader.

Done? Okay.

The Boy in the Black Suit had me once again asking myself how Jason Reynolds does it. With a small page count, he brings such emotion and authenticity to his stories, and manages to develop his characters and their plotlines without giving away too much. Here we have Matt, a 17-year old who just lost his mother to cancer. He’s reeling from his own grief (he and his mother were super close) and at the same time, taking on such a grown up role in his household because his dad is not adjusting well to this tragedy. Matt never plans to take a job at the local funeral home, but when the opportunity presents itself, he scoops it up — anxious to keep himself busy somehow. (And after assurance that he would not have to touch dead bodies.)

What Matt does not expect to find is such support in funeral home owner Mr. Ray or comfort in the sadness he sees at these ceremonies. He finds himself seeking out the most upset person in the crowd, and hangs on to it. With the loss of his mom so fresh, he feels a bond with these strangers and relief about his own feelings and the fact that he is not alone. Yes, he has the support of his friend, Chris, and, occasionally, his father, but there’s something about facing these tragedies head on that makes him feel better about listening to Tupac’s “Dear Mama” every night before he goes to sleep. (Full disclosure: totally listened to this while I was reading.)

I’ve been to a lot of funerals (starting at a young age) and Reynolds had me openly weeping at some of the scenes Matt was experiencing. It’s certainly tough to read about them in any context but I guess I hadn’t realized how fresh my own memories of funerals were until I was deep into The Boy in the Black Suit. Personally, I had no idea how Matt handled it but when you are feeling alone and don’t know where to go, we can’t predict what’s going to bring us back and make us stronger. So there’s that.

As Matt deals with his grief, his dad’s ambivalence, and even the fact that he does not feel like cracking open a cookbook (a favorite hobby of his and a love he shared with his mom), a girl named Love comes into his life. As you may have expected, he meets her at a funeral and he is immediately taken by her strength. It’s funny how life works — who you meet and what builds you up when life hits its lowest point. I liked being alongside Matt during this time. He would always miss his mother, sure, but he was gaining the strength to pull through and press on.

Reynolds’s work continues to impress me and I am hoping other readers are going to catch on. In a world where we fight for diverse reads and the underdogs, he deserves our readership. The vulnerability and truth brought to his characters paired with solid dialogue — it’s like he has the secret recipe to a perfectly paced book (rhythmically and emotionally).

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Review of WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST by Jason Reynolds

Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge

February 15, 2015 - 12:18 am

Alexa S. - Wasn’t sure if I wanted to read The Boy in the Black Suit originally, but your review makes me think I should give it a shot! It definitely portrays a different sort of situation, and the main character sounds like a guy I could like. Lovely review, E!

February 9, 2015 - 8:18 pm

Estelle - Bruna, this excites me! I hope you get to read it soon. You have my permission to go book shopping. ;)

February 9, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Bruna - I have read When I Was The Greatest, and really enjoyed it. I think The Boy in the Black Suit sounds even more interesting to me because of the tough subjects (and maybe a little bit because of the possible romance?). Definitely on my to-buy list.

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Sorta Like a Love Story | Pub Date

Pub Date Header

I’m glad I’m not alone. Like Brittany, I am a happily married person who also thinks Valentine’s Day is the worst. I always felt like many of the boys I knew (not my husband) thought of it as some obligation and never much thought into it. Why did they have to? They could easily pick up a new plush animal or a card from the drugstore. Or my fav — roses. (Who am I? I really don’t like roses, friends. Again. Super generic.) ANYWAY. I love my husband and my pals and my beer and I can express that feeling anytime of the year. (And we should be!)

In the spirit of the upcoming “holiday” and because I love books and love you (!!), I’m chatting about Coney Island Brewing Company and their 1609 Amber Ale. This company has the best label art (vintage-y cool) and my grocery store has recently started selling their six packs. Bonus: they are semi-local. Named for the legendary destination in Brooklyn, their beer is actually brewed upstate.

The 1609 is dedicated to the year the land that would become Coney was discovered. It’s a light, refreshing taste (a little citrus, a little caramel) and nicely bubbly. When I was thinking it, my first thought was how it would be a nice first beer for those who are still discovering their tastes.

On to the book…

Coney Island 1609 Amber Ale and Sorta Like a Rock Star Pub Date

Sorta Like a Rock Star feels like a natural pick for Valentine’s Day, even if (ready for it) there is no romance in this book at all. It’s about a girl named Amber (get it?) who is always putting herself out there for other people from the cute ladies at the church choir to the folks at the nursing home, but is certainly not getting that kind of attention and affection from the person closest to her. It’s a truly wonderful book (with a side of tissues) about friendship and being kind to be kind, not because you are fulfilling a school assignment. Love is reciprocal and I never saw that better described in a book than it is in this one.

Amber’s heart is SO SO SO big. This is why she is my book valentine. (If you need more convincing, I wrote a little bit about the book last year.)


What’s your favorite book about love? Let me know in the comments!

Have a super weekend, and enjoy. Whether it’s with a brew, or not. (But if you do have brew suggestions, tell meee!)

Thanks for checking out this round of PUB DATE!

February 15, 2015 - 12:16 am

Alexa S. - Totally agree that love should be expressed at any and all times possible, and not just Valentine’s Day! (Also, not a big roses fan here either. I love sunflowers best!) Hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day anyway!

February 7, 2015 - 12:10 am

Jaime Lester - I am a 30 something, who is incredibly happily married, and my husband and myself don’t usually even remember its Valentine’s Day until the day is long gone. We can enjoy our beer (he’s a budweiser man, I am a flitter- gotta try them all!), have a romantic night at home, have a great time, any time of any day! This book sounds awesome. Going to check it out right now!

February 6, 2015 - 1:57 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - AMBER ;D I get it!!!
I bought this book because of you! I saw it at the thrift store and remembered your lovely words about it so I grabbed it for myself! Love hearing more about it. Looking forward to it even more!!

February 6, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm - Yeah, we don’t really do V-day either – it may have started out as something sweet, but it’s morphed into an agent of the consumer world we live in. It’s all about spending money now, not about love!

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You’re Invited: A Fictional Birthday Party

Greetings, friends!

It’s early, I know. (Well, depending on where you are, of course, but I’m going to imagine you woke up at 8 a.m. to read this.) You are dressed in the outfit that makes you feel your best and headed to a party to celebrate yours truly and the big “omg I’m 30″ moment. Don’t worry. It’s less about me than it sounds. I just want to mingle and have fun cocktails. Maybe we can do a large book swap? No gifts, please. I’m happy just to make your acquaintance (or see you again, whatever the case may be) and introduce you to some of my fictional pals. (I’ll invite my parents and some real life friends too so this isn’t too weird. Promise.)

What are you waiting for? There’s guacamole! Mini tacos! A soft-serve ice cream machine! Rachel made her famous red velvet cupcakes! A room to cuddle with puppies and kittens. Dirty Dancing is playing in the background with no sound. (Who needs sound?! We all know the words! If you don’t, it’s not a good time to tell me.) Mickey Mouse might even show up! Don’t forget your phone but, please, let’s refrain from too much tweeting. Let’s forget to take too many pictures. I want to have THAT much fun.

Rather Be Reading Fictional Birthday Party

A good host knows great party begins with people who all have some sliver of something in common and won’t be afraid to meet new people. Plus I have to guarantee a good time. Entertainment! Laughs! Stimulating conversation!

Case in point:

  • First things first, I need Kitty Song (To All The Boys I Loved Before) to do my hair. She’s so talented for a nine-year old. Okay, fine, Lara Jean can come too. (Just kidding. I need the ENTIRE Song clan. Maybe they can make some cookies?)
  • I have wanted Jordan from Catching Jordan to meet Sam every since I read Rites of Passage. Strong ladies unite!
  • Guys, you might not know this. But the Super Bowl just happened and most especially after this one, I need to know what Jordan is thinking about it.
  • How about some music? Gabe (Beautiful Music for Ugly Children) can spin the tunes. Maybe he’ll also want to talk about Katy Perry’s half-time performance.
  • THEN we need dancing and I know Skylar from I’ll Meet You There has the moves and isn’t as shy as I am. (I also want to talk to her about her collages.)
  • For my bachelorette party I dragged my friends to karaoke because I wanted to hear them sing. (No one wants to hear me sing.)  But I want to hear Devan (The Reece Malcolm List) sing! Perform a bit? A little cabaret? I want to be able to say I had a future Broadway star at my party. (Maybe she can introduce me to Jeremy Jordan some day?)
  • Hands down, I think Vivian and her best friend Harp will be the ones everyone wants to talk to. They are running from the Rapture (Vivian Apples at the End of the World)!  They’re parents have disappeared. (I think Skylar will also relate to their best friendship.)
  • Rumor has it Matt from The Boy in the Black Suit is a pretty awesome cook. (Homemade chocolate chip cookies.) But he also has an incredible heart, and it would be nice to “get to know” (I realize he’s not real) someone else in the city. I also need to give him a hug.
  • Rafe from Openly Straight is so real to me, it’s like I’ve already met him. I have a hunch he would be hilarious at a party, and I sure want to hear what he is up to lately!
  • Cricket, Jules, and Zac? (Nantucket Red) I don’t feel I need to explain this one because I know we would get each other and I need to know all the latest gossip. (This is where I ask/beg Leila Howland to write another one of these books.)

For no other reason, I would be happy to get all the dirt from these characters. I AM A GOSSIP HOUND. I will not blog about it, fictional birthday guests. I will not. I will just write it in my journal and look back on this night with so much fondness. (Sidenote: Will I allow +1s? Hell yes. I need to know everything I can about these happily-ever-afters.)

I can picture it now. I’m chatting. There’s champagne (and sparkling cider). My #pubdate ladies have supplied themed beers. Magan and I are once again united! We’re laughing, we’re twirling, we’re eating all the mini pies (the cherry is delicious), and it all goes by in a snap. But you know what? All the planning was worth it. It was one fun shindig.

Thanks for spending this birthday with me, friends! I can’t let you leave empty-handed though. I’m giving away two of the above books to reader in the U.S. or beyond. (Just not the moon, okay?) Click through below to enter and good luck! xoxo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 15, 2015 - 12:14 am

Alexa S. - Best birthday party ever, E! Loved your post and loved hearing about why these characters would be at your festivities. It sounds like we all will have a festive night ;)

February 13, 2015 - 12:07 pm

Sue Holmes - Yay!! Thank you so much :) I can’t believe I won. jumping up and down with excitement!!
I have just emailed you.
Thank you!!

February 12, 2015 - 9:25 pm

Ann - Dot from Ketchup Clouds! She’s so fun!

February 11, 2015 - 6:00 pm

Kimberly V - Happy Birthday! I almost hate to admit it, but I would have to invite Edward from Twilight. That is the series that introduced me to the young adult genre.

February 11, 2015 - 10:35 am

Nadia - I’d invite Will Herondale so I can make out with him. Woops.

February 11, 2015 - 9:32 am

Amy Deatherage - I’d like Jordan from Catching Jordan to hangout with my daughter & talk about sports & college. I need some help keeping things in perspective. And she needs someone to talk to that understands her stress.

February 10, 2015 - 4:09 pm

Daiane - This is a very special event because it’s the first fictional party I have ever attended! Can we just take a moment and squeal that Skylar from ” I’ll meet you there” is actually here. Omg! This definitely made the birthday party a wholeee lot better!

February 9, 2015 - 11:53 am

Yun-a - I’d love to invite the Song family as well (although I guess that makes it 4, not 1). My mom could even get non-salty bossam!

February 8, 2015 - 5:46 pm

Ashley - I was initially going to say Levi from Fangirl because he has such a sunny personality, but then I remembered REAGAN from Fangirl. I think we would get along famously!

February 7, 2015 - 5:14 pm

Michelle Lee - I would definitely invite Lara Jean because she and I would get along well and eat kimchi together! haha thank you for this amazing chance! :)

February 7, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Crystal - I love the idea of such a party. I would totally go. :)

February 7, 2015 - 11:56 am

Jessica D - I would love it if Jordan came to my party! She would dominate at any backyard games we’d play if it were an outdoor party…that would make things so much more fun! Great post :)

February 7, 2015 - 9:25 am

Lorena - I would love to invite Gabe!!!

February 7, 2015 - 2:56 am

Sue Holmes - What a clever post idea! Its my birthday this month and now I’m dreaming up my own party! Who to invite… Eleanor and Park will be at the top of my list along with Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mad Hatter.
Thank you for including us (from beyond), I promise it’s not the moon – just South Africa!

February 7, 2015 - 1:43 am

Holly J - Oh gosh, who would I invite? Okay, for starters definitely Nikolai from The Grisha. He’s hilarious and fun and would know how to throw a good party. I’d also love to chill with the crew from Anna, Lola, and Isla. They’re all pretty awesome and laidback. Oh, and to top it off, let’s get the cast of The Infernal Devices series to come too.

Happy Birthday!! :)

February 6, 2015 - 4:56 pm

Sa Lopes - Ah. This is soo cute! Happy Birthday! And I hope you got all the gossip you could get out of these characters!

February 6, 2015 - 11:24 am

Cynthia @ Afterwritten - HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! This is such a wonderful and creative post, wow! This sounds like the best birthday party ever. I recently read Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White and I love all the characters in that book so much (apart from the villain, who is far too terrifyingly villainous), we would have the best party ever together.

February 6, 2015 - 12:47 am

Toni - I forgot to delete the ‘belated’ word on my comment, sorry!

February 6, 2015 - 12:41 am

Toni - Happy birthday!(belated) One character I would like to invite to my party? Hmm.Definitely Magnus Bane! He knows how to throw cool and sparkly parties!

February 6, 2015 - 12:23 am

Dianne - Happy birthday, Estelle! I realize no one might know her but I’ll invite Isis Blake from Lovely Vicious. I think it’s a little indie gem and I love her so much. She’s sassy and sarcastic and smart(mouthed) and I want to bond with her. <3 Ack, I feel so lame with my answer.

February 5, 2015 - 6:36 pm

Summer - Happy Birthday! This was such a fun post to read. There are so many characters that I adore, it’s hard to choose. Maybe I’d go with a character from one of the few chick lit novels I read last year, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane. Her name is Nean, she’s scrappy and sarcastic and she made me laugh, so I figure she’d liven up a party.

February 5, 2015 - 1:10 pm

Nattie N - Since my birthday is coming up soon too, I think I would have to chose Izzy Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments. I mean, she could tell me what to wear and do my hair and I would absolutely love to get to know her C: Although Magnus Bane wouldn’t be a bad choice either…

Happy Birthday darling! I hope you have/had a wonderful day filled with love and presents and BOOKS :3 If that was your birthday party, there would be 100% chance of me gatecrashing c:

February 5, 2015 - 12:54 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Aww, Happy birthday, Estelle! I love this post, and your party. I would have a great time.

If I could invite one fictional character – oh my gosh, it’s so hard to decide. I think I would Lizzie Bennet from The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet because I want to hear all her snarky comments. And also, maybe she will bring Darcy, and Jane and Lydia and that would be AMAZING! Oh and Charlotte! I want her to bring Charlotte, too.

February 5, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Ashley @ The Caffeinated Booknerd - As I’m reading I’ll Meet You There Now, I’d have to agree with Skylar. I’d invite her in a heartbeat. Thanks for the giveaway!

February 5, 2015 - 11:05 am

vicky - I’d so love to invite Rose Hathaway

February 5, 2015 - 10:43 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Happy birthday, loveliest of Estelles!

One of the first things I thought of after the SuperBowl was “I wonder how Jordan feels about this – also Henry!”

I’m also dying to talk to both Sky and Josh. I want to hug them both.

This would be the best birthday party ever – and not just because of the guests, but because you are beautiful and awesome. Hope you have an amazing day.

February 5, 2015 - 10:32 am

heather - I would have to have Ron Weasley & my birthday party because he would be so fun!

February 5, 2015 - 8:20 am

Lisa @ Bookish Broads - I am SO at this party! And not JUST for the guac, but that certainly is a big selling point.

Happy Birthday, gorgeous!

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Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman • Magan Reviews

book cover Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman [twitter • website]
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Pages: 326
Target Audience: Adult Fiction
Keywords: people pleasing, crappy boyfriends, controlling parents, shady jobs
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Carol is barely able to tread water or find time for herself because she’s constantly attending to everyone else’s needs before her own. Her mom passive aggressively manipulates her into doing what she wants, her best friend and sister don’t see how they’re abusing her, and her boyfriend is selfishly out to have his needs met before hers. What will it take for Carol to learn to say no and stand up for herself?

• • •

The Story: Carol is everyone’s go-to girl: She helps her sister plan her wedding, goes on blind dates for her best friend as a pre-screener (because her BFF has the absolute worst radar ever), books her parents vacations, finds her “adopted” sister a job, works countless hours at a job she loves with men who overlook her talents and demean her with constant sexual innuendos and inappropriate jokes, and has a boyfriend who is throwing all his efforts into his new job with little quality time to spare.

Phew. That’s a lot, right?

The Build-up: Can Carol possibly say NO to anything? How does she ever sleep? What happens when she breaks? When does she EVER have time for herself?

The Breaking Point: Things get so big and bad and messy and uncontrollable for Carol. She is the epitome of a people pleaser. (Anyone who thinks they are a people pleaser will relate and sympathize with this poor girl.) My heart raced and I legit thought I was going to have a panic attack as things all came to a head at once. (Of course. And really — any idea I had about how things could get worse…I was wrong. They got WAY worse.) There were a lot of moments where I found myself nodding my head as I related to this young woman. I highlighted a TON of passages.

Perfect Girl is my second novel by Gorman to read (The Curvy Girls Club was the first, but I’m reviewing them out of order). TCGC was a lot more sensual and sexy, but I found Perfect Girl to have a much more serious undertone that focused primarily on Carol’s journey to stop allowing other people to manipulate her. It was really nice to see that sex wasn’t a device used to hook Gorman’s readers; this really showed me she has a lot of diversity as an author because these two books were in no way formulaic or similar.

If you’re looking for something that feels genuine and authentic with a mid-twenties character who is trying to find her footing in the world, I definitely recommend Perfect Girl. It was really nice to relate to a character and think, “Huh. So not everyone has this growing up thing figured out.”

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Add PERFECT GIRL to GoodreadsAmazon ($4.99 on the kindle) • Barnes & Noble

February 23, 2015 - 11:25 am

Magan - Alexa, I can see you really enjoying this one. Definitely, definitely add it to your TBR!

February 15, 2015 - 12:12 am

Alexa S. - Being a people pleaser is rough, because you just want to make everyone happy and do right by all the people in your world. Perfect Girl actually sounds really interesting! Glad to see that you really enjoyed it, M.

February 4, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Oh, Elizabeth! Based on my two books by Michele, I’m a fan. I’ll be reading more books of hers for sure and I hope you’ll pick up one to try! Keep me posted on what you think when you read one!

February 4, 2015 - 1:34 pm

Magan - I agree, Brianna! Super cute cover. It was a great read that IS chick-lit but not super light and fluffy. Give it a go!

February 4, 2015 - 11:06 am

Elizabeth - I’m always looking for more chick lit authors to try… never heard of Michele Gorman before, so I will have to keep an eye out for her books! I like that this sounds like it has a lot of character development in it.

February 4, 2015 - 10:33 am

Brianna - This sounds like a fun read. The cover is very cute, too.

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Young Adult Books & After High School

When I first picked when I Was Here by Gayle Forman (my review) a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the main characters had graduated from high school with one of them attending a college away from home and the other going a completely different route. I realized that I’ve always been surprised when young adult characters are in college and it’s not because it doesn’t fit into the “criteria” for young adult books but because there are so few of them.

In writing this post, I found myself googling: What is young adult literature? (This is almost laughable since it’s the primary category I read so you would think I would know, but, technically, I find it hard to explain.) I really liked this explanation from Michael Cart on the ALA website:

The term “young adult literature” is inherently amorphous, for its constituent terms “young adult” and “literature” are dynamic, changing as culture and society — which provide their context — change.

…young adults are beings in evolution, in search of self and identity; beings who are constantly growing and changing, morphing from the condition of childhood to that of adulthood. That period of passage called “young adulthood” is a unique part of life, distinguished by unique needs that are – at minimum — physical, intellectual, emotional, and societal in nature.

Frankly, I can’t think of a greater period of evolution in your life than the unknown associated with life after throwing your caps in the air and waving goodbye to high school. For me, personally, the summer after graduation and the years that followed led to some of the best, most difficult, super strange moments in my life so it’s cathartic to see them on the page, relive them again with a bit more life experience under my belt and realize, well, hey, that sucked but I’m here and I’m okay.

So today I’m applauding the books that tough upon the messy complications of college, navigating a life with high school friends and the new ones you are going to make, and, perhaps, what happens if your life moves you in a different direction — one that isn’t filled with books and beer pong and sharing a room with a stranger.

(Our options are truly endless.)

The best part in creating this list is that a good majority of these titles have been floating under the radar. Nothing makes me more excited than giving them a bit more attention in sharing them with you. PLUS a nice chunk of these are 2015 releases, making it, I think, a pretty exciting year in YA lit. I hope you find a few to add to your own reading list, and think up a few that I can add to mine.

Rather Be Reading Blog Beyond High School Young Adult Book List

 

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Amplified by Tara Kelly | Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares | How to Love by Katie Cotugno
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios | Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Roomies by Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr | Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard | When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Thanks so much for stopping in today! I had a blast with this one.
(It’s very rare that a list like this contains so many of my favorite books. ♥)

February 21, 2015 - 9:27 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Still a bunch of these I need to read (and some that I own!) but all of the ones I’ve read, I’ve loved. I really enjoy the moments after high school. I honestly think that’s the time I did most of my growing up and where I changed the most as a person so I’m starting to latch on to more post-HS and college stories! :)

February 8, 2015 - 5:26 pm

Vlora @ Reviews and Cake - OMG THANK YOU. I didn’t even know I needed this, but I DO. I love Young Adult mucho, but I mostly find books on the “younger” end of young adult, as in teenagers who are usually 16-17. If I had never heard of the genre before, I’d assume that young adult books are about young adults as in people between 18 and their early twenties. I guess New Adult is supposed to fill that gap, but I haven’t really read any new adult books yet, and most I’ve heard of didn’t really appeal to me. Anyways, I’M in my early twenties and at university, so I’d absolutely love to read some young adult books with characters of a similar age. I read Fangirl and I LOVED it. I’ll check out all of the other books you mentioned – I’m sure I’ll find something to put on my to-read list. Thanks for putting this list together!

February 4, 2015 - 11:14 am

Elizabeth - The first book I thought of when I saw this topic was Something Like Normal… loved that one! I’m really curious about I’ll Meet You There and Breathe Annie Breathe.

February 4, 2015 - 6:13 am

Natalie @ Flowers in my Books - I’ve got to be honest, when I read YA I rarely think about whether the MC is in College or High School. In fact I think I only just realised that Fangirl is YA and set in College and it’s one of my favourite books.

I definitely like it when the characters are a bit older, since I’m turning 18 in a few months it’s nice to read about the college experience and know that that’s what I’ll be doing soon (although probably not as dramatic as some books make it out to be).

Thanks for this post, I’ll definitely be checking out some of these books on GoodReads! :)

February 3, 2015 - 11:49 pm

Bruna - Oh, that’s nice idea! When you’re a bit older, reading about college experiences resonate more, at least that’s how it works for me. Not that I don’t enjoy the high school novels, but yeah, college is definitely more of a self-discovery period. I’ll be adding some books from this list to my tbr.

February 3, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Alexa S. - Love this post, E! It’s always a pretty great thing, in my opinion, to read novels that feature characters fresh out of high school about to go to college. And the suggestions in this post are really good ones too! I’ve read a good number of them, and can totally vouch for them ;)

February 3, 2015 - 4:25 pm

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity - Thank you for this post. It’s so nice to see a post with YA books that are set beyond High School, because sometimes you want a YA read, but you’re just not feeling the high school scene. It’s good to see a bunch of different books which approach life after school, because that period of time is messy and complicated and it’s not like you magically go from high school to real adult, there should be more of that awkward finding yourself middle period of life that seems to last forever.

February 3, 2015 - 10:53 am

Emma @ Miss Print - I love this list! These are the types of books that I wish comprised NA instead of just romance. I always call these books “emerging adult” titles in my head lol. It’s also a murky area where sequels like The Piper’s Son or Megan McCafferty’s later novels in (maybe after Second Helpings?) follow YA characters out of high school.

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