My Book Box: March 2017
My Book Box delivered another awesome box of bookish delight in March. As always, the combination of YA and Mystery books hits all the sweet spots for this reader, as well as some actual sweets to enjoy while turning pages.
March’s YA selection was “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. This book was popping up everywhere I turned; on Instagram in Must-Read lists, and just before I was about to go buy myself a copy this box landed on my doorstep, revealing not only a book I had been so eager to read, but a signed edition! (Thank you again My Book Box and Angie Thomas!)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
This is a phenomenally well written book.
Every aspect is so well done, from creating deep, rich characters, and narrative that pulls you along, to providing a timely insight into the communities that are affected by systematic oppression, and the people who are trying to change that.
There's a lot about the book that made me uncomfortable and I am sitting with that discomfort, unpacking it and exploring it, paying attention to it. Starr's power is her voice, and the same is true of Angie Thomas.
There are so many potent kinds of hate in this book that are so very present in the real world. Hate between generations, between classes, between skin colors and cultures, between people who don't know how much they have in common. I sit in my discomfort over all the hate and violence and fear, hoping, like Starr, that there will be a change, and that it will come sooner rather than later.
Included with every book in My Book Box is a note from the author and this part from Angie Thomas’s letter truly enhanced my reading experience:
"This is not meant to be a political book. So often with these cases there is so much focus on the politics that we lose sight of the people themselves. I'd like to think this is a personal book; because for so many of us, the names that become hashtags are either people we know or sometimes they're us. I hope that by the end of this book, you can see yourself in them too; only then can true change take place."
The Mystery/Thriller book included in the box was “The Widow’s House” by Carol Goodman. I’ve yet to read any of Goodman’s books, which is crazy since she’s written so many.
When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career.
They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It's been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.
But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, and sees strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to read this one yet! My TBR pile, or TBR mountain (In this case, the inverse of Everest: instead of never reaching the top, I’ll never read all the way to the bottom) is vast, and occasionally demanding, leaving so many awesome books to wait patiently.
I liked the writing style from the get-go but I was worried that the early introduction of ghostly spectres would be too much. I like mysteries and thrillers, but I do (personally) get a bit tired of literal phantoms populating the world.
In this book I was pleasantly surprised. There were so many layers to this story, and every time I felt like I definitely had something figured out another layer was peeled back and there was a new perspective added to the story. Even when I was certain that I knew what the main reveal would be, who would become the true “villain” of the story, I surprised that in the last pages there was still more to learn.
I also appreciated the setting having lived in various parts of New York State most of my life. There is something about the scent of apples that I so clearly associate with fall in my state and it was both eerie and wonderful to have apples play such an evocative role in the story.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes an eerie setting, unreliable characters, mysteries within mysteries, and a heavy dose of the supernatural.
And last but not least, let’s not forget the amazing Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee from Pavonia Confections. Salty, sweet, and crunchy all in one, and an oh-so-welcome addition to my reading spot.
What do you think of this month’s box? Have you read either of these books?
And don’t forget that you can get 15% off your first box with code “Rose”