The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (audiobook)
by Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is about a young man named Henry “Monty” Montague who was raised to be a gentleman, but he isn’t what his parents expect. He is bisexual and in love with gambling, over drinking, and risky behavior with women and men. He is in love with his best friend Percy, but he is unwilling to admit it to himself or anyone else. When his abusive father sends him on tour (a trip around Europe before settling into his position as a wealthy heir), he, Percy, and his sister Felicity find themselves in a predicament that takes them to parts of Europe they didn’t expect to see. In this story, you will fall in love with Monty, despite his behavior and bad choices.
What I liked about this book… there were a few things. First, I liked learning about a period of time I am familiar with, but learned more about from different perspectives. I know that being gay or bisexual was not only frowned upon, but considered unacceptable. I did enjoy reading about the clothing style, “modern” technology, and ideas of the time. Second, Monty is a character you are rooting for. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, and I feel like the author was watching a lot of Hugh Grant romantic comedies while writing this book. Third, the narrator was spot on.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it ran a little long for me. I had to stop part way through, listen to another audiobook, and then come back. It was good, but I got a little bored and lost interest in the middle, which I feel bad about, because I really did enjoy the book.
Book 71 of 40
(Book 37 of 2018)
Ramona Blue (audiobook)
by Julie Murphy
Ramona is a high school senior in Eulogy, Mississippi, a small town on the gulf that was impacted by Katrina. In fact, Ramona, her sister, and dad live in an old FEMA trailer in a trailer park. They are very poor, and Ramona feels the financial burden when her older sister gets pregnant. Ramona has always identified as lesbian, but she questions this when she falls for her best friend, who is a boy. She and Freddy recently broke up with their girl friends and have rekindled their childhood friendship. With a baby on the way, Ramona holds several jobs and thinks little of her own needs. This story describes Ramona’s journey and all that she comes to terms with, whether it is her future outside of Eulogy, her sexual identity, her feelings for her family, or her long blue hair.
What I liked about this book was that Ramona is a character you feel compassion for. You want the best for her, and you want others to treat her right. Actually, most of the characters are well-written, and you feel like these are your friends. I like books that appeal to my emotions. I also appreciate books that make me think about things I cannot relate to so I can put myself into someone else’s shoes, and this definitely made me think.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I wanted to know more about Ramona’s future. I guess there wasn’t really anything I disliked. It was engaging and kept me reading.
Book 3 of summer 2017!
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (audiobook)
by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Ari is a young man when he meets Dante, who offers to teach him to swim. Both boys are somewhat lonely, isolated from society in a way. They quickly form a close friendship. Their personalities are different, but they compliment each other. This is a coming of age story, and it is broken up into several parts. It would be hard to give too much detail without giving the story away.
What I liked about this book was the topic. It’s not that I particularly enjoy stories about young men or women coming out or discovering their identity, but I enjoy stories about people whom I cannot relate to. I really think people should read books about characters nothing like them, just to broaden their horizons. I think exposure to new topics will help to build compassion and empathy for others’ situations. I am not gay, so I will never understand what it is like for someone to learn to be comfortable with him or herself.
What I didn’t like about this book was the violence. It hurt my soul to read about Dante being beaten because of his sexuality.
Book 59 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
by Raina Telgemeier
AR Level 2.3, 1 point
This is the second Telgemeier graphic novel I have read, and it was a very quick read! Like less than an hour quick. Drama follows a girl named Callie. And also, drama follows Callie! Callie, a seventh grader, is the set designer for her junior high drama club. She likes a boy, but he has a girlfriend. He kisses her one day after a fight with his girlfriend, but his younger brother, who has a crush on Callie, find out and treats her badly all year. Then she meets twins, one of which is out of the closet, and the other who claims not to be gay. Lots of boy-girl drama in this story! It was a little hard to keep some of the characters straight.
What I liked about this book was that it touched on the topic of homosexuality and being unsure of other people. I haven’t read any children’s literature that talked about that, although I’m sure it’s out there. The characters were all accepting and their reactions were realistic. I’m sure in reality, there will be students who are homophobic or make fun of their peers who are gay, but that did not take place in this book. I liked that, because the topic was written about in an accepting tone where it made being gay a non-issue.
What I didn’t like about this book was the drama for a seventh grader! Maybe I’m a prude, but since when did 7th and 8th graders go around making out with people? I had my first kiss in seventh grade, and it was a peck during Truth or Dare. I didn’t actually make out with anyone until the summer before high school, and it wasn’t as natural as the book made it seem. I don’t think students should feel pressured to kiss someone or have a boyfriend, but I also think that could just be the age. I remember wanting a boyfriend in seventh grade, but I also still played with Barbies.
Anyway, good book. I hope it makes young people feel more comfortable with who they are, and realize being gay is part of a person’s identity, and not a disease or disability.
Book 22 of 52