Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Love: One Book At A Time Edition

I'm easing back into this whole reading thing and I have to say, I LOVE IT.  Snuck in another book this week.

I also wanted to post today to say congratulations to the newly chosen Cybils panelists and judges for 2013!  I applied again but then went on extended blog hiatus so I wasn't surprised to find that I wasn't chosen this time around--and I also wasn't at all surprised to find that many of the awesome people I worked with last year on the YA Fiction Round 2 panel are back in action!  Congrats to everyone who was chosen--I can't wait to nominate some books and see what makes the cut this year!

What I Read This Week:

The Lucy VariationsThe Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sara Zarr's writing makes me feel like there is an inflating balloon inside my chest. Like when you make a pinata? Except I feel like it is going to keep inflating and crack open my ribcage from the inside.

The Lucy Variations, more than even any of Zarr's other books, made me feel--actually physically experience--the anxiety and excitement of being a teenager. I read chunks of this book with my teeth gritted against how awful so much of it felt, the way I have always ridden roller coasters. My limbs were tense, my stomach ached--not because Lucy was any more cringe-inducing than any other teenage protagonist, but because Zarr gets her so achingly, awfully right that it zaps me back into feeling all of those feelings (oh god all those FEELINGS--we don't give teenagers enough credit for being able to walk and talk, never mind go to school or have careers as concert pianists.)

I don't normally write in my books but I kind of want to read this again with a pen and a highlighter, because I stopped so frequently to celebrate a line or an idea. While my own experience is a long way off from Lucy's, her general story of pursuing a career in the arts, walking away from the arts, and finding a way back on her own terms has some things in common with my life. This is one of those books that feels like it belongs to me in a way most books don't.

That said, this is not a book to be reserved for the artsy set. As always, Sara Zarr creates a whole world here, with other people who have reasons for doing what they do, and who matter in the story and to the protagonist (yes, even her parents! And the rest of her family: her brother and grandfather and housekeeper. Zarr is a master of giving other people something real to do in the story, even the adults. In so many YA stories--including my own WiP, at the moment--adults mostly exist to give advice or create story obstacles; here, they are irreplaceable real people, part of the story because how could they not be.) If you've read Zarr before then you get it; if you haven't--please, please do.

View all my reviews


  1. I've never read anything by Sara Zarr, but I've heard good things about this one, so I might have to give it a go sometime. I like what you said about the adults not only being present but having an actual part in the story. As you've pointed out, that's rare in YA, and I think it's great when books incorporate those vital relationships with adults as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

  2. I still haven't read the two Sara Zarr books sitting on my shelf right now, and I know I need to fix that. I've been wondering about THE LUCY VARIATIONS, so I'm happy to hear that it's so good. A 5-star Jess book is a book I definitely want to pick up! :D


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