Friday, March 18, 2011

What I've Been Reading

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is an amazing, intense book by the author of An Abundance of Katherines. I listened to the audio version of this title, and loved every minute of it. It's gritty and explicit in all it's award-winning glory (2006 Printz Award), so I would only recommend it to older, mature teens and adults. It's about a group of kids at boarding school who form a friendship. They experiment with alcohol, cigarettes, and sex and they prank their enemies. They form a close bond and confide their secrets in each other. When tragedy falls on the group, they must learn a painful lesson in recklessness and forgiveness.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

I'm two for two this month! Here is another unforgettable book. I picked it because I liked the picture on the cover. (I do that a lot.) has the perfect synopsis: "When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings." Kimberly hides the fact that she and her mother are completely poverty-stricken, living in a squalid apartment with rats and roaches and only an oven for heat in New York City. She gets a scholarship to private school, which is a whole another planet from the reality of her life at the sweatshop. She tries so hard to never let her worlds overlap. Even her best friend Annette has no idea how desperate Kimberly and her mother are until many years later. Kimberly must translate everything for her mother, who does not have much opportunity to learn English. The reader feels Kimberly's own frustration as she learns English, trying to get caught up to the other students in her first years in the U.S. Her successes are the reader's successes, her secrets our secrets. This book goes straight to my top ten list! It is everything I like a story to be: life-changing, emotional, and informational at the same time.

Next up: I'm thinking about reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, and the new book by Lisa Genova (author of Still Alice...another top tenner on my list) is waiting for me on audio. I also have another cozy mystery in the Tory O'Shea series by Rett McPherson going.


  1. Aaah, they both look great. I recently read "Room" about the woman and her boy who were abducted? The author completely escapes me. If you haven't read it, I recommend it.

  2. Emma Donoghue? Oooh, that looks great! Thanks for the suggestion!