What I read last week: January 1-4.

Copperhead #2, by Jay Faerber

Space western set on a frontier planet, following the new human sheriff in town as she gets to know her deputy—who has a two huge chips on his shoulder, as he a) applied for the job that she got, and b) is a member of one of the planet's indigenous species—deals with a multiple murder investigation, as well as raising her son on her own. Gritty, violent, funny, smart, thoughtful, emotionally engaging. Looking forward to getting caught up on this one.

Ms. Marvel #10, by G. Willow Wilson

Loved it so much I had a squeefest.

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers:

The first time I read Monster, it didn't do a whole lot for me. ... That was the first time. Since then, I've read it four, five, six times. And with every read, I've discovered more to appreciate: how well crafted it is, how much emotion and thought is there under the seemingly stiff surface, how much it resonates fifteen years after it was first published.

Deep Sea, by Annika Thor

Quiet story about family and friends and life choices and differences in culture and belief. I definitely see why there are comparisons to Anne of Green Gables, though this one deals with more difficult topics than Anne: the effect of refugee status and gender on one's ability to seek higher education, teen pregnancy, the Holocaust. I'm planning on ILLing the first two in the quartet first thing tomorrow. Translated from Swedish.

El Deafo, by Cece Bell

Comic-style memoir by a woman who lost her hearing at age four due to meningitis. Set in the '70s, it works just as much as a period piece as it does a story about growing up, friendship, the difficulties and joys of her condition (you can't lipread when TV characters have their backs to the camera; her hearing aid allows her to hear uncensored conversations in the Teachers' Lounge), about feeling different and about embracing difference. Loved it so much I read the whole thing at the circ desk, and showed it off to every patron who came in the door.

Rikers High, by Paul Volponi

Five months ago, 17-year-old Martin Stokes was arrested for 'steering' when he answered an undercover police officer's query about where to buy drugs. Rikers High is about his last few weeks there, as he waits to finally get his day in court. Much more visceral than Monster, with more of a focus on the culture inside, as well as the various power struggles between inmates, teachers, officers, administrators. In his Author's Note, Volponi states that he witnessed the majority of incidents depicted in the book first-hand during the six years he taught on Rikers Island.

Southern Bastards #1, by Jason Aaron

Southern noir about a guy who goes back to his hometown after 40 years and almost immediately gets mixed up in local... stuff. I'm REALLY looking forward to getting caught up on this one as well. It's got a wicked Justified vibe, though with more of an over-the-top feel—the publisher compares it to the Coen Brothers, which, judging by this issue, isn't an off-base claim.

Love, Lucy, by April Lindner:

As a story, independent of its source material, Love, Lucy is an enjoyable-if-forgettable coming-of-age love story—aside from some minor issues, it’s a solid romance, and I have no doubt that it will find a happy audience. For those who know the Forster, though—or who, like me, finally get around to sitting down with the Forster because of Lindner’s book—it’ll be a less-than-inspiring experience.

A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster

I wrote quite a bit about this one in the Kirkus column I wrote about Love, Lucy, so I won't go into it too much here, other than to say that I loved it. Less for the romance, though, and more for the rather brutal send-up of class snobbery, for the warmth of the family scenes, for the moments in which I felt like Forster was speaking to me directly, like:

It is obvious enough for the reader to conclude, "She loves young Emerson." A reader in Lucy's place would not find it obvious. Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice, and we welcome "nerves" or any other shibboleth that will cloak our personal desire. She loved Cecil; George made her nervous; will the reader explain to her that the phrases should have been reversed?

Always good to be reminded that living the story isn't at all the same as watching someone live the story; sometimes it's much easier to see Truth from a distance.