My life has been a little up and down recently. I had such a beautiful spring, am dating a fantastic newish person, and settling into my writing/teaching routines. Then in May, I went on a dream vacation. Two weeks in Italy with my sister. The pasta! The wine! The Renaissance art! It was everything. But almost as soon as I got home, there was a big family health emergency. It looks like everything is going to be okay, but it’s been a few weeks of worrying and plane rides and taking things day by day. Gilmore Girls and frozen pizzas are helping to get me through. And I know we are lucky. But hard times are hard. And friends, this is HARD.
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest is the YA road trip, rom com of all of our dreams. Swoons for literal days. Also isn’t this cover stunning? Chloe is a seventeen year old dancer with dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. When her mom forbids her from auditioning for her dream conservatory, she decides to bend the rules for the first time of her life and make it happen. But that means taking a road trip to the audition. Then her annoying and annoyingly cute best frenemy neighbor Eli blackmails her into letting him and his smelly dog come along. This light, summery read packs a punch and sends an important message – that your dreams are with following and fighting for. Kristina and I were in grad school together and I couldn’t be prouder!
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, was unsurprisingly a beautiful, thoughtful, EMOTIONAL follow up to The Hate U Give. While it was set in the same neighborhood, this was a very different story. It followed Bri, an aspiring rapper dealing with her father’s death and her mom losing her job. Bri wants her talent to help support her family. But sometimes it feels like that would mean creating a character and rapping songs that don’t feel authentic to her. Angie Thomas is a master at voice and this book reflects that in every sentence. There is a small romantic element and an interesting friend story too. Like Starr in The Hate U Give, Bri feels like a fully real person, dealing with all the elements of life that real people deal with.
Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo is a retelling of Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday. In this modern twist, Lucky is the world’s biggest K-Pop star, about to break into the mainstream market. After a big concert in Hong Kong, Lucky just wants one thing – to get a hamburger by herself like a normal teenager. But sleeping pills plus getting lost derail these plans and throw her directly into the path of Jack, a teenage tabloid photographer afraid of telling his parents about his artistic dreams. He suggests one day to explore the city. She finds the idea – and Jack – irresistible. Both Lucky and Jack need to learn to be honest with each other and honest with themselves about what they truly want out of life.
I’m working on a first draft of my hardest novel yet. It’s an idea I’ve had for *years* but requires multiple perspectives and a nonlinear timeline. It is hard! But so fun to be writing. Even though the going is slow.
Here are some of my favorite recent Book Riot articles: