The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

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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)

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (audiobook)

by Becky Albertalli

 

I cannot wait until “Love, Simon” comes out in the theaters, because I loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.  I didn’t know what this was about, and only started listening, because I’d heard about it a few times.  Simon is the protagonist, and he is gay, but no one knows.  He is emailing a mystery person, and all they know about each other is that they’re both students at the same school.  When he forgets to log out of his email on a school computer, another student threatens to reveal his emails if Simon doesn’t hook him up with one of his best female friends.  Throughout the story, Simon continues emailing this mystery person and their relationship blossoms, but he remains in the closet until someone outs him on Tumblr.  Then he is forced to take back control.

What I liked about this book… Ahhh I loved this story.  I loved that it was a coming out story, because although I am not gay, I know how important coming out is for people, and it should be the time and place of their choosing.  I loved the point of view of the story.  I know I’ve had students come through my class who maybe didn’t realize they were gay, or maybe they did, but I think they could relate to Simon in a few years.  He had girlfriends, but realized he didn’t feel the way he should have.  I know this isn’t clear, but I just think people need to read this and see that love is love, and romantic coming of age stories aren’t just for straight kids.  Everyone deserves to have that first romance.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I wanted to punch Martin in the throat.  A lot.  I had to give Simon credit for finding some kind of forgiveness or peace.  It was really frustrating feeling Simon’s feelings because of what Martin did to him.

Book 52 of 40

(Book 18 of 2018)

Star-Crossed

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Star-Crossed (hardcover)

by Barbara Dee

 

Star-Crossed is a sweet love story between eighth-grader Mattie and her crush, Gemma, who plays Juliet in their school’s play.  Mattie has two best friends who are loyal to the end, but she waits to tell them that she no longer likes the boy she “should” like, and instead, has feelings for Gemma, her popular British classmate.  Mattie finds herself playing Romeo opposite Gemma as Juliet, and they share an on-stage kiss.  I was anticipating the end of the story, because I wanted to see whether Gemma returned her feelings and their romance blossomed, or it ended badly for Mattie.

What I liked about this book is that it shows a perspective that needs to be shown.  It seems like every year I have a student who might be gay or is vocal about his/her feelings, and there is very little age-appropriate literature to share with them.  Many in sixth grade want to read about romances between students their age, and it is hard to find.  Romance between same-sex students is even harder to find, which made me appreciate this very appropriate and very necessary novel.  Students should see themselves in the characters they read about.

What I didn’t like about this book is that it didn’t end the way one of my students wanted it to.  My student is very interested in literature about young people who are gay or transgender, and she will read whatever I give her with LGBTQ characters.  I wanted her to enjoy this story, but she was unhappy with the ending, although she still enjoyed the book.  I wanted her to love it.  I didn’t love it (love is reserved for The Book Thief or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I will remember it and recommend it to my students in the future.

Book 47 of 40

(Book 13 of 2018)

Ramona Blue

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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!