Good books I’ve read recently

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

First line: He wondered if he would see her today.
Last lines: Sometimes there were no words, only sunshine on your heart. Alhamdulilah.
Keywords: contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice, complex families, religion, love, marriage, truth, secrets

This is one of the five books on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Minimalist Reading Guide for this summer! From the description, I had the feeling it would be less of a strict retelling and more of a zigzag retelling, and I was right. The original storyline is there, but it’s as if Uzma Jalaluddin became a DJ-plotter and mixed Jane Austen’s story in a really cool way.

I prefer this kind of retelling more than the kind that takes the story and simply transports it into a different time and place. Two examples of this that I’m thinking of for P&P are the books Pride by Ibi Zoboi and Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal. The first one is set in a gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn, and the second one is set in modern-day Pakistan.

Both are interesting twists, but I ended up skimming most of the two books. I know that a lot of people liked Pride, and Unmarriageable has a lot of excited reviews on Goodreads, but after Jane Austen, the characters and the tension and the writing just didn’t arrest me in the same way.

I guess for me, zigzag P&P retellings are where it’s at.

Except for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Wow, I almost forgot about those. Those are an amazing strict P&P retelling. Well, pretty strict.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

First line:
this book smells like me
hone and strawberries
sunscreen, libraries
failures and sweat
green nights in the mountains
cold dawns by the sea
Last line: thanks for listening.
Keywords: memoir, free verse, brave, pain, sexual assault, truth

A few years ago I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, so when I saw her memoir Shout at the library, it was impossible not to take it home. I don’t have much to say except that I think you should read both books.

Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum

First line: Tuesday, the least descriptive day of the week. Neither beginning nor end, not even the sad, saggy middle.
Last lines: And I tell myself that this, all of this, the terrible and the good, could be what happily ever after looks like: A Monday. A beginning.
Keywords: YA contemporary, summer camp, jokes, a boy, 9/11, iconic photo

Hope and Other Punch Lines is the first YA book that I’ve seen (maybe first fiction book period?) that is set in the present but has 9/11 as a crucial part of the plot and in the lives of the characters. I know it’s not actually the first one because Google brought up several lists of fiction books about 9/11. The New York Times actually did a post in 2016 about four middlegrade/YA books that took place during and around 9/11.

I wonder when the first 9/11 book was published? Was there a period of years that it took for people to grieve and live before they were able to write books centered around that day? Was the same true for World War I and World War II and every other tragedy? I have no idea.

Okay, this book is about a girl named Hope who is famous because she’s in an iconic photo taken on 9/11. I thought the photo was real at first because the story of it felt so real, but it’s actually not. But in different places, the author does also tie in real photographs from 9/11.

Also, at one point the book includes a tiny cross-reference with Tell Me Three Things, which is another book Julie Buxbaum wrote. That was exciting. Wait, there might have been a What to Say Next reference too! I haven’t read that one yet, so if there was, it completely went over my head.

Wait! Goodreads says that Julie Buxbaum has a book due to release next year called The Side Door, and it’s about the college admission scandal. Dang, no way. If you read the description, it really feels like it’s based on one student and family in particular. Okay, I guess that’s one of the books I will be reading next year.

What are good books you’ve read recently?
Do you like strict or zigzag retellings?
What are retellings that you loved or didn’t love?
Have you read any books about 9/11 before?

P.P.S. Image from lovelybookspines tumblr.

6 thoughts on “Good books I’ve read recently”

  1. Ahh, Ayesha at Last looks so good! I haven’t read the other two P&P retellings you mentioned, but I’m pretty sure they’re both on my TBR, as is Ayesha at Last after reading this post. I think I also like more zig zag retellings as well- I can’t exactly think of an example, so maybe I haven’t read enough retellings, but I think would prefer a book that had twists of its own, too, if that makes sense.
    I love fairytale retellings! Those have to be my favorite retellings.
    Laurie Halse Anderson sounds so familiar, I know I must have read books by her before. The book that comes to mind is Among the Hidden? *looks it up* Nope, that series was by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I don’t know if this is just me, but when I think of authors that were pretty famous back in elementary school, I always think of Haddix. I remember she had a huge shelf in my school library and I tried to read all her books. Anyway, back to Laurie Halse Anderson- I haven’t read any of her books, but I have definitely heard of and seen them around.
    Oh, you told me about Hope and Other Punchlines! That one looks really interesting. I will definitely be trying to read that one as soon as possible. :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! Yea, I can’t really think of an example either. I made up the phrase “zig zag retellings” on the spot. Oh wait, I thought of one! The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom series. It’s SO good and hilarious. Haha, there’s another book list idea. Zig zag retellings!
      And me too!
      I read Margaret Peterson Haddix too! I read so many of the series where they time travel back as famous people. I also read the Shadow Children series. Not all of them though, I think. One thing from that book that I remember so clearly for some reason is that her mom wanted four kids because of the rhyme: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, bless the bed I lay on. But then I think she could only have three kids?
      Ahh, I hope you love it if you do :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, I haven’t heard of that, but even the title already sounds entertaining.
        Oh my gosh, I loved all those books! I can picture all the Haddix covers so clearly in my mind. I didn’t read all the Shadow Children books either, I think I stopped after maybe the third. Yesss, the names!! Oh yeah, she could only have two kids legally and then Luke was the third illegal child, and then she never got to have John because it was too much of a risk.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can’t see them super clearly, but I remember them being dark and shadowy. I think one of them had a castle kind of, and that was the one where they went back in time in England? And maybe on had a train? Wow, that might be so off.

          Liked by 1 person

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