Noteworthy (Riley Redgate) | Goodreads | 4.5 stars
I mainly picked this up because it looked like it had an interesting concept that could go horribly wrong or wonderfully right; luckily, I think it was the latter.
The main character is a girl who goes to a performance arts school who is always passed over for major parts, mainly because she has such a low singing voice. So, Jordan creates a male persona that allows her to join the all-male a cappella group. She ends up creating friendship that even outweigh the singing success she’s having.
What really makes this book interesting it how it looks at gender – Jordan is a girl dressing up as a boy, a fact that causes her to reevaluate how she feels about her own gender. She feels some guilt over how she’s able to pass and later is mistaken for trans because of what she’s doing. More interestingly, it deals with the fluidity of sexuality – before the book began, Jordan has had some feelings towards girls that could, maybe, possibly be romantic, but it’s not until she’s masquerading as a boy that she really starts to question how she feels.
Praise aside, I’m saying all this as a cis white girl. I thought the gender politics were interesting, but it’s entirely possible that I could have missed some problematic elements or that a trans reader might find the whole thing problematic. Hopefully, though, it’s another book in the growing number of diverse reads that look at intersectional issues and stories.
The Secret History of Us (Jessi Kirby) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
I made the mistake of reading this book too soon after a similarly-themed story (girl in some sort of accident, gets amnesia and doesn’t remember the event, dealing with the aftermath). Even though there were obviously some differences, it was too close to the earlier book, so I took a break and came back to this book later. Even though this wasn’t a new favorite or anything, I think waiting to finish it later was a good choice.
The basic premise is that the main character wakes up in the hospital and learns that she’s forgotten the last four or five years of her life after an accident. The last thing she remembers is being a fourteen year old who’s ready to start high school soon – in reality, she’s a recent high school graduate who’s had a long-term boyfriend and has lost touch with one of her best friends, as well as all the regular changes that happen during high school. It was interesting to see the protagonist trying to come to terms with all the changes that happened to her, despite no memories of it, but this was a very slim story that definitely feels short. I feel like the story could have been expanded on in multiple ways, and some of the characters could definitely have been fleshed out more.
This was a relatively quick read, both because it was easy to go down and because it’s such a short book. Kirby has written some really great books in the past, and I don’t think this is her best book by any means, but it’s not awful. It’s not a fluffy book, but it still makes me think of cotton candy – nice to eat (or read), but not a whole lot of depth there – it melts in your mouth quickly and then it’s gone and you’ve moved on to the next book.
Love, Life, and the List (Kasie West) | Goodreads | 4 stars
So far, every West contemporary I’ve read have at least been a reliable four star read, and the latest from her is no exception.
West writes great romances, but to be honest, the romance was my least favorite part in this book. It was a in-love-with-your-best-friend situation, which I normally like, but it just didn’t seem like the healthiest thing for the protagonist, Abby, so I started to hope that it wouldn’t sail. I won’t spoil, but I will say that at least it didn’t go the way I thought it might for a moment (sticking her with a random second dude just to make sure that she ended up with a boy at the end), but it also didn’t do what I really wanted it to do: have her end up with a girl. Come on, the conversations she has with a new friend, who happens to be a girl, could be read as flirtatious, the book just had to go there. And that’s a problem that all West books seem to have – I can’t think of any queer romances, even in the background. I want some queer love from West in the future.
Despite my disinterest in the romance, there was a lot to love about this book, especially her family (a lovable grandfather who lives with them and a mom who is realistically struggling with anxiety, and not magically cured by the end) and Abby’s love of art. Another reliable fluffy romance from West.