The end of the year is always the time for lots of “Best Of” lists, although it was a challenge for me since I felt like I’ve already talked about many of my favourite books this year. After looking back on my Goodreads list, I discovered several favourites that I have not discussed very much yet. In many cases, these were books that I loved just as much, but I didn’t feel like I had as much to say about them as other books I’ve read. I thought this week’s topic was the perfect opportunity to mention some of my other favourites and give them the attention they deserve.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Seconds by Bryan O’Malley
I’m actually surprised that I haven’t talked about this book at all really, since it is by far one of my favourites of the year. I think I tend to overlook it because it’s a graphic novel, which I devoured in a day. This book is about a young chef named Katie who plans to open another successful restaurant, but runs into a series of problems that prevent her plan from working. A mysterious girl shows up in her room one night offering her magical mushrooms that will give her the chance to re-do her mistakes and make them right. The art style took a little getting used to, but once I got into it, I was hooked. I found the story very compelling, and I liked how it felt like a fresh take on a familiar plot device. It was also hilarious when Katie broke the third wall and sarcastically addressed the narrator. I would highly recommend this book!
2) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas/Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I’m including these two books together because they both address racism in a very realistic and powerful way. I’m sure The Hate U Give will make it onto many people’s lists this year, and it deserves it. I was so nervous that this book would not live up to all the hype, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really was that good. Small Great Things is about an African American nurse who, at the parents’ request, is removed from the care of a patient, who is the child of a Neo-Nazi couple. When an emergency occurs while Ruth is the only nurse on the floor, she is forced to make a split-second decision about whether to follow orders or step in and try to help the child. Although this was not necessarily my favourite Jodi Picoult book, I thought it handled the topic very well, and it was a great story.
3) Wrecked by Maria Padian
This was one of the first books that I committed to reading this year, and ironically enough, I did not get to it until close to the end of the year. This book is a powerful account of a sexual assault on a college campus, as told from the perspectives of the victim’s roommate, and the accused’s friend. I thought it was such a unique way to tell this story from an angle that I’d never seen before. I thought the book was very well-written and the characters were compelling and realistic. I really liked how the two main characters represented several different viewpoints, and how their attitudes shifted throughout the story. I thought this book brought up so many relevant insights about the topic and about the way we treat these kinds of cases and the people involved. The ending was a bit frustrating, but I think that just added to the impact of the story.
4) Asylum by Madeleine Roux
I feel like I’ve mentioned this book only in passing, although I liked it a lot more than I expected to. This book is the start of a YA horror series about a teenage boy named Dan Crawford who is attending a college prep program where the students’ dorms are in an abandoned asylum for the criminally insane. As Dan and his new friends begin to explore the asylum, they uncover secrets that link them to the building’s past. This book reminds me quite a bit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because of the use of creepy “found” photos that supplement the story, and these add a lot to the eerie atmosphere. I thought the storyline was very compelling, although there were a couple of plot holes that made some of the character interactions a bit inconsistent, but I loved the overall story and I thought it was so creepy!
5) Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
This book was special to me because of the population I work with. I work in a day program for young adults with disabilities, including one person with cerebral palsy who reminds me quite of a bit of the character in this book. This book is about Amy, a young woman who has CP, which affects her speech and mobility. While attending her senior year of high school, Amy convinces her parents to set her up with student aides to help her, including a young man named Matthew who has OCD. I absolutely loved both Amy and Matthew and the relationship that developed between them. I also loved how this book addressed the issue of people being afraid to honestly speak their minds to individuals who have disabilities out of pity or fear of being mean. That’s not to say that people should be free to treat others disrespectfully, but a central issue in this book was that Amy wanted to be viewed and treated as a normal teenager, and would have appreciated being spoken to like one. I thought this book did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and although I wasn’t so sure about the direction the plot took in the second half, I still thought this book was very well-done.