Book Blurbs: January 2021

Book Blurbs: January 2021

Books Blurbs” is a series where I write blurbs about books I have read in the mentioned time frame. I briefly review the books, giving them a rating out of five stars. These posts may contain spoilers.

You Will Be Found by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

  • Premise: This book is an illustrated version of the song “You Will Be Found” from the Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen.
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Likes: The lyrics in “You Will Be Found” get repetitive—and understandably so—as is the case with various songs. That said, the illustrations are never duplicated. The illustration always features a new take on the lyric while remaining consistent with the theme and tone.
  • Rating: ★★★★★

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

  • Premise: Written in prose, The Black Flamingo details the coming-of-age story of Michael, a mixed-race boy living in the United Kingdom. The narrative begins with Michael as a child and concludes with his early college days, detailing his identity struggles with race, gender, and sexual identities.
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Likes: I have been trying to break out of my reading slump from last year, and this use of prose as the writing style helped me get back into books. Seeing prose used in fiction storytelling was also a refreshing contrast to the typical straightforward method used throughout fiction. The different sections helped distinguish the different stages of Michael’s life, and I loved that the prose format matched Michael’s desire to be a writer.
  • Critiques: The lone complaint I had was lack of insight at certain points. The narrative sometimes skips ahead to future events—such as when Michael is finishing high school and starts college—and would leave me wondering why skip over so much. But that could just be my personal preference for a little more detail.
  • Rating: ★★★★1/2

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

  • Premise: This book tells the story of two high school students, Claire and Dani. Claire, who comes from an affluent family, moves from China to the U.S. to attend the prestigious American Prep and receive an international education. She moves in with Dani, a scholarship student at the school, and her working class mother. The two fail to develop much of a relationship despite living in such close quarters, clashing at times only to realize the power their bond can have and the difference it can make.
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Likes: The chapters alternate from Claire and Dani’s perspectives, which provides a nice contrast between their lives—both before and after they know each other. It also allows for great insight into how both girls think and feel. I would also be remiss to not point out that Dani is a Filipina American, getting that ancestry from her mother’s side. As a fellow Filipina, it was wonderful to come across dishes that I was so familiar with.
  • Critiques: The one thing I missed as I continued reading was Dani’s mom. Naturally, she’s more present at the beginning of the narrative when Claire moves in with them. But she is absent for a good while. As the lone adult in the household, I understand that she spends most of her time working—the character herself acknowledges this. But there are moments when I’m left wondering what Dani’s mom thinks of certain situations. However, I feel a lot of this has to do with my being Filipino and wanting to compare my experiences with Dani and her mother.
  • Rating: ★★★★3/4

11 Paper Hearts by Kelsey Hartwell

  • Premise: A year after getting into a car accident that caused her to forget 11 weeks of her life, Ella Fitzpatrick receives the first of 11 paper hearts from a secret admirer, which seemingly will help her figure out the time she lost. With Valentine’s Day near, she hopes the messages also guide her to the kind of love she has always hoped for.
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Likes: After a bit of a slow start, the story had good pacing and was written well. I loved the concept of the paper hearts and how they’re significant to the story beyond being the vehicle for it. 11 Paper Hearts was a quick and easy read and a great pick if you’re in the mood for a cute, relatively light-hearted YA romance.
  • Critiques: The story was rather predictable. I also couldn’t help but feel like Ella could have been a more in-depth character than she was. Hartwell provides some insight as to how Ella thinks and feels, but I felt there was a missing layer that would have helped provide a better understanding of who she is and feels and what she wants after everything she has gone through.
  • Rating: ★★★1/2

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