Whoo! Wasn’t March just the longest month ever? To prove it, I read more books than I’ve read in any other month this year. Just check out my February reads and January reads if you don’t believe me. This month was a varied reading month–I literally read the best books I’ve read in a while, and the most not-so-great-for-me ones in ages!
Still, I’m happy to have stayed up late many nights this month, hunched over a FANTASTIC book. Here’s what I read in March.
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The Bridge Home
A moving middle-grade novel about four homeless kids on the streets of Chennai, India. The Bridge Home is unique is its exploration of children’s relationship with religion–something lacking in middle-grade literature. There are also strong themes of domestic violence, (chosen) family, and the power of dreams. It took a while to get into this one (I listened to the audio), but once I did, I was hooked. Would recommend.
Field Notes on Love
The YA novel follows two teens, Mae and Hugo who end up traveling by train from NYC to San Francisco. When Hugo’s girlfriend, Margaret Campbell breaks up with him after booking the trip (hotels and all) in her name alone, he posts an ad to find another Margaret Campbell so he can still take the trip.
A few things I loved about this book:
– Hugo is half-Black and British
– Hugo is also one of sextuplets (all of whom are fairly well-developed characters 👍🏾)
– Mae is a filmmaker
– The book is well-written and so incredibly vivid!
– Alfie ❤️ (you’ll understand when you read).
Overall, a nuanced romance (totally appropriate for high-schoolers) centered around family, finding oneself, and of course the wonder of a good travel adventure! 10/10 would recommend!
I Wanna Be Where You Are
LOVED this one! Full review to come! Thanks to Macmillian’s publishing for the ARC. This one’s out June 4.
Best Babysitters Ever
Best Babysitters Ever follows Malia, Bree, and Dot—three different twelve-year-olds who are inspired by the BSC book, Kristy’s Great Idea, to start their own club. Throughout the story, the girls have to deal with business competition, family drama, and babysitting drama.
This one was OK to me; I didn’t love it. I thought the vocabulary was at times ridiculously inconsistent for the characters. It also read very fluffy for me (I read and LOVE middle-grade, so it’s not a “children’s book” issue) and overly dramatic.
Still, like every other book, I’m certain it will appeal to a specific audience—just not me.
One for the Murphys
This heartwarming middle-grade novel follows a girl whose life changes due to fostering by a loving family. I really liked this one. Unpredictable, a bit of mystery, and full of heart. Would recommend. The audio is also enjoyable!
a Woman Is No Man
I still don’t quite have the words for this heartbreaking, but utterly essential debut novel, but, read it. A Woman Is No Man is the story of three generations of Palestinian women and how traditions and culture impact their lives. There isn’t much else to say, but this brutally honest story based loosely on the author’s experiences will leave you changed forever.
If You’re Out There
I enjoyed this YA mystery featuring smart girls + a sweet story of friendship, with just a dash of romance. Sometimes it felt like there was far too much narration than action, but overall, would recommend.
Love from A to Z
It’s one of those books I really don’t feel qualified to rate, so I’ve skipped assigning a star rating. I did enjoy the love story, but I also feel like I’m totally not the target audience. Love from A – Z follows two Muslim teens, Adam and Zayneb who fall for each other while grappling with their own issues.
The book features a strong anti-islamophobia message (that’s really the main theme), a look at multiple sclerosis (which Adam is diagnosed with, and his mother dies from), and the importance of speaking up for one’s beliefs.
Overall, it’s very eye-opening about the discrimination Muslims face and shows teenagers who value their religious beliefs. Books like this are great for stimulating empathy, even though I didn’t always agree with Zayneb’s methods. I’d recommend for anyone interested in any of the themes mentioned.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for an e-arc of this book. Out April 30.
All Four Stars
Utterly delicious and delightful book about a middle-school food aficionado who becomes a food critic. Enjoyed all the mouth-watering food descriptions (always read this one with a plate of food by your side!).
Rating 4⭐️ because in parts it almost felt Charlie and the Chococlate Factory level unrealistic 😂 (it took effort to suspend my disbelief). STILL, would 100% recommend for middle-grade-reading food lovers looking for an escapist read ❤️
The Beauty of the Moment
A strong YA novel following an Indian girl, Susan, who moves from Saudi Arabia to Canada where she forms a friendship with certified “bad boy,” Malcolm.
This one surprisingly grew on me! I loved that the main characters form a genuine friendship and that this novel addresses so many themes. Susan is a talented artist whose immigrant parents want her to pursue a “professional” degree, and Malcolm’s issues with his dad are serious issues I haven’t seen tackled by many YA books.
I also enjoyed all the minor characters and their storylines, especially how Susan’s parents navigate their marital relationship. Refreshingly, also, the characters in this novel deal with problems more important than the romance in this book.
Overall, a remarkable YA novel.
Someone I Used to Know
TW: rape 🚨
I finished this powerful novel last night and whew, chile! In SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW, author Patty Blount follows the aftermath of Ashley Lawrence’s rape. As if rape isn’t a heavy enough conversation, 14-year-old Ashley Lawrence was raped by her brother’s football teammate. Then her brother defended her rapist during the trial 🙃🙃🙃
This book is HEAVY. Lots of family tension as they handle Ashley’s rape, as she copes with PTSD and finds her footing after the incident. A few great things about this book:
– it’s very educational; even adults would benefit from the way consent is explored and understanding the position of rape and sexual assault survivors.
– realistic portrayal of how difficult forgiveness can be and why it’s important to create space for people grow out of old thought patterns.
– positive depiction of what real masculinity entails in Sebastian’s character.
This is by no means a perfect book*. I wish Sebastian’s character was more explored and the book does get a bit preachy, but all those flaws are understandable considering the focus/main themes. 10/10 would recommend. Audio is also pretty good.
*There is some unnecessary strong language in this book.
Thanks to Amberjack Publishing for the e-ARC. This YA novel following two budding cellists in high school had a lot of potential, but was derailed by the subpar writing and problematic plot choices. First, the main character is obviously in a toxic friendship with one of the characters, and yet keeps returning to it. Then somewhere in the middle of the book, an irrational love square develops, and everything is just needlessly messy. The love story isn’t half as redeeming as it should be either–the whole book leaves a lot to be desired. Points for writing about two musicians and of course, the general readability of YA, despite many (many) eye rolls in this case.
Karma Khullar’s Mustache
I enjoyed this middle-grade book about a young girl dealing with facial hair and the change in friendships that come with middle school. This one is a slice of novel. Unfortunately, the parts of the book featuring Karma’s home life and the obsession with the concept of “karma”made the story lag for me.
A Date with Darcy
I enjoyed this cute (but overly dramatic) take on Pride and Prejudice. Very well-developed characters, insightful commentary on classic literature, and (have I mentioned?) lots of drama. This one may not be for you if you roll your eyes a lot at YA in general. But YA lovers, you’ll enjoy this one!
I finally started reading Jason Reynold’s Track series, and I enjoyed his brilliant (as usual) writing. This book highlights the power of mentorship, community, and safe spaces to share stories. I’m reading the next book in the series soon, and would recommend this book, especially to sports-loving kids (the race segments are very vivid!).
The Boy Next Story
You can totally skip the first book and read this one without missing a beat. I enjoyed this one much more than I did the first book, probably because I could relate more to introverted, overthinker, Rory. I also fell HARD for her love interest. And the intersection of the bookish storylines in this series makes me so happy! I love seeing all the modern takes on classics. This series actually makes me want to read and watch the classics—LITTLE WOMEN & PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
Other things I loved about THE BOY NEXT STORY is the focus on family and sisterhood, Rory working hard at school and seeing the results of her efforts, Rory deciding to be enough and not afraid anymore. So much chemistry and many swoon-worthy moments. Also, A+ for YA without language. Out May 21.
March was a solid reading month. April is really busy for me life-wise, so there may not be as much reading, but we’ll see.
How was your month in terms of reading? What’s the best book you read in March? Bonus points if it’s middle-grade or YA! I’d love to know 🙂