Jenne from Youth Services is on a quest to read 100 books this year. Can she do it?! Picture books do not count. We’re talking novels. That’s a lot of reading! Luckily she likes to read. A lot. And also she likes to share her thoughts and recommendations with you! See below to get recommended Young Adult books in this most recent edition of Jenne’s Top Tenne. (We’re aware it’s only six books this time but are not changing it to Jix’s top Six).
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Olga was always the perfect Mexican daughter. She stayed home with her parents, went to work, and came back home to help her mother with the cooking and cleaning. But now Olga is dead and her sister Julia is left behind feeling like a constant disappointment to her traditional Mexican parents. As she tries to process the death of her sister, she discovers that there may have been more to Olga than she thought. With her sister gone, the tension between Julia and her parents builds, and Julia becomes more and more depressed and unhappy. After a desperate act lands her in the hospital, her parents decide she needs to spend some time with her grandmother and relatives in Mexico. While there Julia learns more about her parents and gains a better understanding of them. Through that, and what she has learned about her sister and herself, Julia begins to rebuild her relationship with her parents and live the life she has always dreamed of.
Though at times hard to read, this was a very good book. Through heartbreaking and upsetting circumstances Julia perseveres and with the help of her family and friends is able to rise above them. A great read, especially for the children of immigrants, but also anyone who has big dreams to do more than the generation before them.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
This illustrated memoir tells the story of Thi Bui and her parents. Inspired by the birth of her son, Bui looks back at the lives of her parents, starting with the births of their children. The story jumps back and forth through time, between the present, Bui’s own childhood, and the childhoods of her parents. Through these intertwined stories, Bui pieces together the story of her family and what made who she is today.
A unique and interesting format, as the story jumps around in time to bring together different pieces of the same family story. This book was interesting and eye-opening, especially in regards to the suffering of many families throughout the history of the Vietnamese people, particularly those who immigrated to the US. I didn’t love this book, as I found the non-linear storytelling a bit hard to follow, but it has gotten great reviews from other sources, and would be a good read for anyone interested in this type of history.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
Genie Lo is a pretty typical high school student. She’s a volleyball playing overachieving Harvard hopeful who is just trying to make it to graduation. That is until she meets Quentin, a strange transfer student. Quentin informs Genie that he is Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, straight out of Chinese folklore and that she is the reincarnation of a powerful weapon. While Genie finds this a little hard to believe she is quickly convinced, as her city comes under attack by demons and other evil forces. Suddenly getting into Harvard isn’t Genie’s biggest concern. With the help of Quentin, Genie must harness the immense power within her to save not only herself, but her city and all that she loves.
There’s lots of mythology in this, like any fantasy book, which can make it a little hard to get into the rhythm of the story. But it’s a solid fantasy story, and is a good read for any teen interested in Chinese folklore or demon centered doomsday tales.
Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather
In this sequel to How to Hang a Witch, Samantha is hoping that life will return to normal, or as close to normal as is possible in the magical town of Salem. But when Samantha starts seeing the spirits of Titanic passengers, she realizes that life in Salem is never normal. As the spirits continue to visit her, and leave things behind for her to find, Samantha and her friends get increasingly concerned what the spirits are trying to tell her. And when she gets drawn into their world, her friends must work together to save her before she goes down with the ship.
I didn’t want to like this book, but I got hooked. Definitely a good read for anyone who liked How to Hang a Witch, or for anyone who likes supernatural YA and creepy ghost stories.
Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga
Taliah has never known her father. After finding a secret of band memorabilia under her mom’s bed, she became convinced that she is daughter of rock star legend Julian Oliver. Yet not even that prepared her for the shock of finding Julien on her doorstep, inviting her on a spur of the moment road trip to his hometown to meet her dying grandfather. Without a word to her mother, Lena, who is on a business trip to Paris, she takes off to Oak Falls, Indiana to discover a family she never knew she had and finally learn the story of what happened between her parents.
The timeline of this book switches back and forth between Julian and Taliah’s present day trip to Indiana and Julian and Lena’s love story sixteen years prior. Both stories are well-told time jumping keeps the reader guessing, along with Taliah, as to what caused her parents to split and her mother to keep her father a secret for so many years. While this is a pretty standard YA book, it’s a good read.