What I read last week: January 5-11.
The Ghosts of Heaven, by Marcus Sedgwick:
It is, in a word, super. A lot of people are understandably comparing it to Midwinterblood, what with the interconnected stories that share themes and all. But it's much more accessible than Midwinterblood, and I think it'll be far less divisive. Because the stories stand alone, because the themes are more overt, and because the various conflicts in the stories feel more concrete, less philosophical and nebulous. It's a longer book, but it's less dense.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H.P. Lovecraft
Of course, I HAD to go back and revisit this one after the related segment in Ghosts of Heaven. As always, reading Lovecraft is such a strange experience: if I'm not in tune with his rhythm, I can read every single word for three pages without absorbing a thing; if I AM in tune, the rest of the world falls away. At this point, I shouldn't be thrown by all of the Bonus Racism in his stories, but phrases like "mongrel riffraff" never fail to make my eyes pop. Gross.
This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
EVEN BETTER THAN THE HYPE HAD LED ME TO BELIEVE. A tween's perspective of a fracturing parental unit; the huge difference that a small age gap can have on a friendship during the 0-60 maturity years; wonderfully realistic dialogue; grief and friendship and crushes and secrets and OH GOD I SWOON.
Lumberjanes, #1-9, by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, et al
I squeed about this book after reading two issues. Now I have read everything that is available, I love it even more than before, and I don't know what to do with myself until the next one.
Kindness for Weakness, by Shawn Goodman
Fifteen-year-old James lives with his mother and her boyfriend, but he might as well live alone: his mother is too deep into her own misery to offer him any affection, let alone try to keep her boyfriend from beating on him. So, when he gets arrested selling drugs for his brother and sentenced to a year in juvenile detention, he has no adult advocate, and no one to look out for his welfare. It's a visceral read, full of details about life inside—antagonists abound, among the other inmates, the staff, as well as within James' own head and heart—as well as a close look at the idea of kindness for weakness, the belief that to be kind is to be weak.
If you are looking for hopeful, LOOK ELSEWHERE. *stabs self in heart*
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Re-read this one for the first time in YEARS. It totally still stands up after all of this time, and I'll be writing more about it later this week.
The Number 7, by Jessica Lidh:
Although it has strengths—the book contains veritable buckets of empathy, and Louisa and Greta’s relationship nicely parallels the sibling relationship in the WWII thread—the framing story is far more wobbly.
Skim, by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
Clearly, I wasn't exaggerating about loving This One Summer. Anyway, I'd been meaning to read this one for ages and I'd definitely pair it with Ghost World in terms of quality and thematic elements: growing out of friendships; uncomfortable line-crossing relationship/romance with an older person; the utter weirdness of high school culture; watching peers defining their beliefs by the bandwagon; the push-pull of wanting to be an individual but also not wanting to be an outcast.