We Are Okay (2017)
I had high expectations of this (dare I say ugly?) little book, because it was this year’s Printz Award winner. The Michael J. Printz Award is awarded by the American Library Association to the “best book for teens” in its publishing year (more information can be found by clicking here). It’s kind of like the Newbery Award for young adult literature.
It didn’t disappoint.
As the book opens, Marian is staying by herself in her college dorm room over the Christmas holidays. She is isolated in every way, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Her self-imposed loneliness is easier for her to handle than examining her feelings about the recent death of the grandfather who raised her, the earlier death of her mother, and the fact that she can’t get herself to answer texts from her best friend, Mabel.
She knows Mabel is coming to visit and anticipates her coming with a mixture of dread and longing. As Mabel arrives, it becomes harder and harder for Marian to maintain her emotional walls, though she fights the cracks that form like a champ. As Mabel readies to go back home across the country, you wonder if this is another relationship that Marian will let go to protect herself.
Reminiscent of the best that John Green has written, LaCour’s introspective and utterly relate-able book is incredibly powerful in its 200 or so pages. A short and important read for anyone who’s ever lost anyone.
To request a copy, click here.
Review by Andrea Terry, Circulation Staff
A Long Way Down (2017)
But if the blood
inside you is on the inside
of someone else,
you never want to
see it on the outside
Will’s older brother Shawn was shot and killed the day before yesterday. Now 15-year-old Will is following “the rules” of the neighborhood: do not cry, do not snitch, but get revenge. With Shawn’s gun stashed in his waistband, Will is riding an elevator on his way to hunt down the guy. The elevator takes only 66 seconds to travel down, but it turns out that Will is not riding alone….
Almost the entirety of Jason Reynold’s newest young adult novel takes place in those 66 seconds. Reynolds has jested that his novel-in-verse is a cross between A Christmas Carol and Boyz N the Hood. While it’s an apt description, Long Way Down is also a brilliantly-crafted piece of storytelling. The language is economical, but it does not spare the reader some very difficult questions. In my humble opinion, the novel deserves every accolade that has come its way since publication in October. More importantly, Long Way Down, like all of Reynolds’ recent novels, deserves a wide and growing readership.
Click here to order a copy.
Review by Laurel Cox, Reference and Young Adult Librarian.