Love & Gelato (audiobook)
by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Gelato starts with Carolina (Lina) and her mother, Hadley Emerson, who is dying of cancer. Once she passes, Lina goes to Italy to spend the summer with the dad she never knew she had at her mother’s request. Lina starts off resentful, but when she’s given her mother’s journal from when her mother went to school in Italy, Lina learns more about her mother’s past, her parents, and who she is. While she’s making these discoveries, she becomes close friends with a boy named Ren who takes her to the places her mom wrote about in the journal, and they solve a mystery together while falling in love.
What I liked about this book was that it mixed up romance and mystery. I don’t normally binge-listen to an audiobook, but I finished this in basically 2, maybe 3 days. It was light, fun, and perfect summer reading. I also appreciated that there was nothing inappropriate about it! There was some kissing and a boy who wanted more than kissing, but there was no sex or talk of sex or violence. That means I won’t freak out if one of my students reads it.
What I didn’t like about this book was maybe an audiobook thing. It was a little hard for me to tell when Lina was speaking and when she was reading her mom’s journal. I’m not sure what the book looked like (it may have been a different font), but as an audiobook, it was a little confusing if I wasn’t paying close attention.
Book 14 of summer 2017!
Tell Me Three Things (ebook)
by Julie Buxbaum
Imagine your mom (your best friend) dying of cancer. Then your dad remarries someone you’ve never met. Then he moves you into her fancy home in California, away from your friends and all that is familiar. Then you have to adapt to a new climate, a new step brother who seems to hate you, a new school, and culture shock. When you’re on the verge of a breakdown, you start receiving mysterious, but helpful emails from a person named Somebody Nobody, who gives you advice on how to survive at your new school. Jessie narrows the identity of Somebody Nobody down to 3 people, and the end may surprise you.
What I liked about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me. I pretty much guessed who it was, and it was who I was rooting for. This is a cute, romantic story that won’t leave you feeling depressed or angry. It won’t make you want to throw the book away, and you’ll likely finish it as quickly as I did!
What I didn’t like about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me. Ha ha… I like and don’t like books that are predictable, depending on my mood. I didn’t like the idea of being “peened” and the word “peen” to begin with. That made me feel old and prudish.
Book 58 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
A Monster Calls (paperback)
by Patrick Ness
AR Level 4.8, 5 points
Carnegie Medal (writing) and Kate Greenaway Medal (illustration)
This is the story of Conor and dealing with his mother’s illness, an unspecified, but late-stage cancer. In the beginning, we learn two things: 1) his mother is very sick, but hopeful for his sake, and 2) Conor suffers from nightmares involving his mother. However, a monstrous, personified yew tree visits him at 12:07 each night and starts telling Conor stories, and although it doesn’t seem like it, the stories help Conor deal with his mother’s failing health.
What I liked about this book was it gave us insight into what it is like for a 12 year-old boy to deal with something as big as a sick parent. I’ve had students who got into trouble because of what was going on at home, much like Conor, but none of their situations were are serious as an ill parent. It reminded me to think of what my students walk into class with in their “backpacks.” I also loved the illustrations, which really enhanced the reading experience of this story. I read that Jim Kay even used beetles to make the impressions in the illustrations, which adds to the creepiness.
What I didn’t like about this book was how heart-wrenchingly sad it was. Be warned… A Monster Calls is a great book, but it took me awhile to stop crying after I finished. It wasn’t just a few tears… it was full-blown sobbing. Think The Fault in our Stars, but if it involved a scary monster, and not so teen-angsty. I cannot imagine losing a parent, especially I had to watch my mom or dad suffer through a long, drawn-out illness. But what killed me most was the mother having to say good-bye to her son, and realize she won’t get to see him grow up, and trust that he will be raised the way I would. In the end, Conor’s mother held his hand, as well as her own mother’s hand. Ugh… I don’t even want to think about it anymore. Too sad. BUT so well-written at the same time!
I picked up A Monster Calls, because my husband’s school is voting on which book to have all of their students read, and this is one of them. They’ll have to spend a little extra on Kleenex.
Book 36 of 40 (year 2)