Ok--it's late, I spent the night working, and I'm actually doing a full-time week at work for the first time in recent memory this week so I need to get to bed!
Without further ado, here's what I read this week:
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Regina Afton is a Mean Girl.
She's also a lonely girl, a clever girl, a girl with some pretty severe psychosomatic stomach problems, a girl who misses her could've-been-best-friend...and now, a girl who has nowhere to sit at lunch except the Garbage Table.
After a harrowing encounter with her best friend's boyfriend at a party, Regina is on the wrong end of a freezeout. Suddenly she's finding out what it feels like to be on the receiving end of tactics she has employed, at her former best friend Anna's behest. (Spoiler alert: it's the worst.) Her former victims have a range of reactions--many relish the sight, with justifiable schadenfreude. But Michael, lone resident of the Garbage Table, is a little more complicated.
I've heard a lot about the great "unlikable girls" that Courtney Summers writes. I don't know if this is just the teacher in me talking, but I haven't found that to be the case in the two books of hers I've read so far. (It's hard to like the Fearsome Foursome, the mean girl clique at the center of this novel, but at the same time, it's hard not to wonder what their stories are.) But Regina is a teenager: she's screwed up a lot in the past, and she is finding that, now that she's out of favor, there are pretty significant consequences for her screw-ups. She's also trying to figure out what she "deserves" and what is just bad stuff that has happened to her; she's trying, in fact, to figure out what it means to "deserve" anything, especially anything bad, and to draw the line between things that some people might have coming to them and things that no one deserves, ever. She's angry, and a lot of the time she acts on that anger. (So are the other girls. Kara took years of torment from Regina before finding her chance to turn the tables. Anna--well, I think the reason Anna is so angry is that she actually believes Regina's side of the story, and hates that it's true, and hates that she was manipulated. I don't know what made her the way she is to begin with, but there are some hints.)
In short: Regina Afton is a teenage girl, and it takes a lot to get me to dislike a teenager. I love that she starts to stand up for herself, and even for other people, and I love that nothing about that is easy. I felt every minute of this book, and I would read the stories of any of the other characters in it. I am definitely a convert to Summers fandom, and I look forward to meeting more of her tough, difficult, real girls.
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sara Zarr is my hero. Like, she takes on these big, serious, scary things--usually things involving families that are somehow broken--and she makes them feel so true, and not at all sensationalistic, because her protagonists are these very very alive, real girls.
Once Was Lost is no exception. Sam--short for Samara--is struggling with a lot. She's a pastor's daughter, but she's been doubting her faith. Her mother is in rehab for alcoholism. Her father is more concerned with church business than with his family. And then, suddenly, a girl disappears from her small town.
I found Sam's reactions to all of these things to be really believable. I remember feeling a lot of the things she feels: the need to occasionally bolt; the desire to take on a project and then the loss of steam halfway through when you realize what you really want isn't that project at all; the sudden closeness to someone new at the same time that there is a new distance between you and the people who've always been with you. This book is a quick, engrossing read--I actually gasped once, while reading it--and I highly recommend it.
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