Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink—and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption.
General thoughts and review
Coming off the heels of her debut novel Sarah Comb’s sophomore novel The Light Fantastic is a Young Adult psychological drama that masterfully follows eight different characters all dealing in some way with “The Plan”. Combs does such a wonderful job at making sure the reader gets fleshed out characters with equal reading time. Right off the bat the book wastes no time getting you hooked with its plotline, giving you little to no time to put on your seat-belt and get ready for this roller coaster.
This novel centers around “The Plan”, however unlike many of the other novels with the same kind of situational plot line, Combs doesn’t care to much about the actually Plan in her writing, instead she gets into the minds of those involved and effected by The Plan. This novel is extremely detail oriented, centered so much around the small intimate moments that really define us a Human that the reader cant skip anything. Every little thing matters, every little detail. From the time stamps to even the messages in the chat room.
I’m typically not a fan of Multi-perspective stories because it’s so easy for me as a reader to get lost. However, I found the transition between characters to be smooth and each character had such different styles of writing and unique phrasing that made them #Distinguishable, and each character had a network of side characters that really sold the book for me. It allowed me as a reader to really humanize the main characters.
I think some of the biggest themes or motifs in this novel is that everything isn’t always so black and white, that there is a grey area. Sometimes people can be so lost and feel like they have no one in their corner, like they’re suffocating on their pain so much that they’ll do anything to get rid of it. In this novel The Glass Menagerie, is referenced and utilized a lot in symbolism. Having already read this play I got a few of the parallel s in the novel. — All of which you’ll understand even if you haven’t read the play.
Diversity Scale & Critics
The diversity scale is a new measuring tool I will use to measure how diverse a novel is. The Light Fantastic is on surface, diverse. There are quit a bit of characters with “Ethnic” last names, A pair of interracial lesbian moms, & A gay male character. While these characters are mentioned or play a part in the novel, their not the main characters nor is the novel set around their experiences with how they identify.
I don’t have to many critics about this book, I thought it overall was a good read. I don’t think it’s one of those books you should walk into wanting action. It’s intense and plays heavy into what makes people do the things they do and how people can be pushed to the edge. I know I stated this earlier but Combs did such a wonderful job at humanizing these characters and using small, intimate moments to do just that.
I thought the book was great, a lot of details and if you look hard enough you’ll find the message and the meaning behind the The light Fantastic. So beautiful, so poetic, so honest. I can tell the author took her time with everything. All in All I give this novel:
Look I’ve been tagged in something, people know I exist!
This tag was created by Naz who runs readdiversebooks. However I was tagged by the amazing Cinderzena. (I added hyperlinks so you can go to their pages and follow them. Trust me, ya know ya wanna.) For more book recommendations check out the #DiverseBookBloggers campaign on twitter.
All my summaries will come from Goodreads*
A book starring a lesbian character.
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.
One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naive gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.
With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.
A book with a Muslim protagonist.
Two sisters. Two lives. One future.
Sohane loves no one more than her beautiful, carefree younger sister, Djelila. And she hates no one as much. They used to share everything. But now, Djelila is spending more time with her friends, partying, and hanging out with boys, while Sohane is becoming more religious.
When Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school threatens to expel her. Meanwhile, Djelila is harassed by neighborhood bullies for not being Muslim enough. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. But she never could have imagined just how far things would go. . .
A book set in Latin America.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa’s brilliant, multilayered novel is set in the Lima, Peru, of the author’s youth, where a young student named Marito is toiling away in the news department of a local radio station. His young life is disrupted by two arrivals.
The first is his aunt Julia, recently divorced and thirteen years older, with whom he begins a secret affair. The second is a manic radio scriptwriter named Pedro Camacho, whose racy, vituperative soap operas are holding the city’s listeners in thrall. Pedro chooses young Marito to be his confidant as he slowly goes insane.
A book about a person with a disability.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
A Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!
A book written by an Indigenous or Native author
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute young woman called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale, has Oblivia Ethylene in the company of amazing characters like Aunty Bella Donna of the Champions, the Harbour Master, Big Red and the Mechanic, a talking monkey called Rigoletto, three genies with doctorates, and throughout, the guiding presence of swans.
A book set in (or about) any country in Africa.
A Man Of The People by Chinua Achebe
By the renowned author of “Things Fall Apart,” this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds.
A book set in South Asia.
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic
A book with a biracial protagonist.
Giovanni’s room by James Baldwin
Baldwin’s haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two.
Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight
A book starring a transgender character or transgender issues.
George by Alex Gino
BE WHO YOU ARE.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
I tag anyone who hasn’t done it yet! Get to it!
Thirteen Reasons Why is a YA novel written by Jay Asher. It centers around a set of cassette tapes sent to Clay Jensen who is next in line to receive them, On the tapes is a series of recordings by Hannah Baker a classmate who recently committed suicide. There are 13 tapes that detail how each person drove her closer to suicide. The tapes are to be listened to then sent to the next person, think Sisterhood of the traveling pants but darker, much much darker.
Told from two perspectives, from Hannah and Clay, (Which sometimes get confusing. One of the biggest things that struck a chord with me about this book is the concept itself. Before committing suicide Hannah records these tapes explaining to thirteen people how they pushed her closer and closer to suicide, then having them listen to it is almost her way of taking complete agency of her decision and letting those who hurt her know that this is because of you. So here we are as a reader following Clay as he listens to these recordings one by one and wonders why he’s on it. While the concept itself moved me the book fell a little flat at times. Similar to how I feel about Crank, Go Ask Alice, Glass, et al. I think sometimes we are bombarded with so much pain and we get all these emotions and “feels” for the character without little to none emotional relief, it gets to the point where I can’t stay connected with the character, however with that being said there is nothing comedic about suicide or depression and I think myself as a reader is often put in places of uncomfortableness when reading realistic books. I didn’t think this novel would be such as heavy of a read as it was, covering topics such as Rape and sexual assault, bullying etc. I enjoy books that get the human experience right and I think the author does a great job at it.
While this book is good it does not go without fault or critique. A major problem I have is how it almost seems as if Jay Asher is romanticizing this idea of suicide as the ultimate “Gotcha” to people who have hurt Hannah.
“When I’m dead, they’ll all be sorry.”
Like I stated earlier, conceptually I like the cassette tapes but in practice it seems that it is Hannah’s job post-mortem to teach them a lesson, to better themselves as human beings. Tugging on the Manic-Pixie Dream Girl troupe. The recordings themselves and the people they are sent to all vary to different degrees. Someone people did disgustingly horrid things to Hannah. While others might have done some things that people might seem as not that big of a deal. It all depends on the person. Do think however that sometimes Hannah was always on a ten for me. Like everything to her deserved the same amount of anger and reaction.
If anything Thirteen Reasons Why has people talking. I believe books like this serve a bigger purpose than just a fictitious narrative, they allow for conversations to happen. For readers to connect with someone who might be struggling with suicide, and while in no way is the romanticized idea of being sending tapes to those who’ve hurt you after death a good idea. Talking to someone is, or reaching out to those you know might be battling this. At the end of the novel Clay decides to check up on one of his classmates who he assume might be suicidal, that is the message this book should be sending to its readers, It’s thirteen reasons why perfect? No. Asher leaves out a few areas that would be better at understanding Hannah and Humanizing her more, but this book does justice and reaches its target audience. I give this book three stars out of five.
The month of June is Pride month for a lot of us, and for the book community this gives readers a chance to find books by LGBTQ+ Authors or that involve members of this community. I’ve seen a lot of #ReadProud challenge post floating around, and while this is not a challenge I hope you find books from this list as well, and get around to reading them. My fear however, is that I don’t want this to be a fab, cishet people reading queer Lit because its Pride Month, this should be almost an everyday thing. This #Readproud is divided into four categories. YA, Adult, Memoirs essays and Short stories, and a bonus section with a few movies.
- Grasshopper Jungle x Andrew Smith
- Bisexuality, Love triangle, Aliens bugs, Dystopian, Historical
- None Of The Above x I. W. Gregorio
- Intersex, Identity, secrets, love, acceptance
- Simon vs Homo Sapiens Agenda
- Gay, Identity, Oreos, Relationship, acceptance
- More Happy Than Not x Adam Silvera
- Gay, Identity, Loss, Acceptance, Bullying, Western Influence, Family Issues, Memory.
- Not Otherwise Specified x Hannah Moskowitz
- Lesbian, Acceptance, Identity, stereotypes, religion.
- South of Sunshine x Dana Eldendorf
- Lesbian, coming out, small town, religion, bigotry, struggle with faith, diverse LGBT characters. Racism.
- Parrotfish x Ellen Wittlinger
- Trans FtM, transition, serendipity, acceptance, bigotry.
- Luna x Julie Anne Peters
- Trans MtF, Gender Idetity, acceptance, Trigger Warned, support, forced therapy,
- Hero x Perry Moore
- Gay, Superhero, acceptance, dystopian.
- Chulito x Charles Rice-Gonzalez
- coming out love story, queer youth culture, latino, bullying.
- Rubyfruit Jungle x Rita Mae Brown
- Lesbian, Gender roles, period piece, acceptance, sexuality
- Faggots x Larry Kramer
- Gay men, relationships. coming of age.
- Giovanni’s room x James Baldwin
- coming out, coming of age, Travel, Paris, American, gender norms, societal norms, love,
- Plan B x SJD Peterson
- Androgynous, gender non-conforming, football player troupe, acceptance, problematic element, cliché love story.
- The Children of Gavrilek x Julie Kirion Chandler
- LGBT characters, magical realism, diversity, Cuban, Love, Acceptance.
- Fun Home x Alison Bechdel
- Love, Coming out, parental issues, trust, confusion.
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Shope Café x Fannie Flagg
- Lesbian, Tomboy, love, murder, mystery.
- Confessions of a Mask x Yukio Mishima
- Code-switching, Erotic fantasy moments, religion, coming of age, acceptance,
- Down to the Bone x Mayra Lazara
- Cuban American, Lesbian, homeless, shelter, acceptance, love.
- In The Blood x Lisa Unger
- Trans, Mystery, lies, not centered around transition, college, love.
- Carry me like water x Benjamin Alire Saenz
- Intersectionality, HIV / AIDS, Magical realism, secrets, lies.
LGBTQ+ Memoirs, collection of short stories, Essays
- Redefining Realness x Janet Mock
- Trans, Own Voice, Memoir
- Fire shut up in my bones: A memoir x Charles M. Blow
- Childhood abuse, Acceptance, Own Voice
- A Cup of Water Under my Bed x Daisy Hernandez
- Cuban-Columbian, race relations, love, Lesbian, Bisexuality, Transmen. Own Voice. Memoir
- Teaching the cat to sit x Michelle Theall
- religion, lesbian, catholic, love, memoir, own voice.
- Manning up: Transsexual Men on finding brotherbood, family and themselves
- Own voices, intersectionality, personal narratives.
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens speak out
- Transgender + gender neutral Young Adults, interviews, own voices.
- Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
- short stories, Queer Authors, gender sterotypes,
- Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy
- Transparents, parenthood, acceptance, sterotypes, gender norms, societal expectations.
- Quarantine x Rahul Mehta
- Indian-American gay men, family issues, western privilege + lifestyle, own voices.
Extra: Movies ( Just in case you need to put a book down for a moment or two)
- Paris is Burning
- On Netflix, Queer men of color culture, vogue + Ballroom history, Origins of “shade” and “Tea”, highly recommended.
- How to survive a Plague
- Early HIV/ AIDS activism, on Netflix, informational.
- Biopic Harvey Milk, politics, Murder, LGBT history
- Boys Don’t Cry
- Transman, Hate crime, Love, Bullying
- The Laramie Project
- Bullying, documentary, Matthew Shepard.
- But I’m a Cheerleader
- My Own Private Idaho
- The Danisha Lady
- The Rocky Horror Picture
Probably my favorite book so far this year. Adichie wonderfully tells the story of what happens when you migrate to another country, and how the idea of race or how it is perceived is not monotonous across the globe.
The story follows the main character Ifemelu as she travels to the united States from Nigeria. Ifemelu runs a blog.“Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black”. Most of her blog post center around how blackness is defined and how it differs geographically. However, while the blog post are often delightful misnomers in the novel they are not the center of it, and unlike MOSQUITO-LAND i’m not a full fan of the entries. This novel centers Ifemelu transitioning from Nigerian to American or Nigerian to Americanah?
One of the big things I enjoyed about this book is how it approached the different tribalisms that exist in our society.
Race and racism.
Western vs Eastern culture.
All these go into shaping how Ifemelu views transitioning and living to America and back to Nigeria to America. These tribalism are interesting because we get to see how she adjust to her living conditions in American, and how America is viewed from the perspective of an outsider. Chalked up with honest moments about the lengths people are willing to take to fit in and gain acceptance.
I give Americanah 5 out of 5. Probably one of my favorite adult reads this year, I recommend this book to any and everyone!
So you’ve entered that awkward stage of I just finished a book and now I don’t know what to read. Or maybe you want to spice up your book collection add a little diversity to it. Here are some tips or ways you can do that.
Step 1 – examine the way you find your books to read. If it be by goodreads, or booktube, some of your favorite book bloggers, or by the New York times best seller. Take a step back and realize how you typically find books.
Step 2- Ignore that way. Get out of that pattern of your go to say of finding books. One of the things I’ve noticed in communities like booktube, the average viewer follows the popular bloggers, who all vlog about the same books. Or if you have a go to blogger, stop going to them.
Step 3- this is the fun part, I promise. Research. Now that you’re ready to expand your horizon on book topics and diversity, you have to basically start from scratch. You can find tag sections of book reviews, or you can literally roam the isles of your local library or bookstore. Goodreads has a really good recommendation engine as well.
Step 4- once you find that next book that you typically wouldn’t pick up or etc, now it’s time to read it. (Which I guess is the true fun part)
Step 5- now that you’ve gotten one or two books in your library, keep it up. Diversifying your library ( which basically means to take a break from reading books written by men that are centered around cishetwhite men) Don’t stop at one or two books. Try to match the amount of books you already have with your new books.
In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen. – Goodreads blurb
Addictive. Thrilling. Amazing
This is one of those moments where I gush about how amazing a book is, and how representation matters in literature. How validating it feels as a New Yorker, and an African American male to read books that I can see myself in.
“WIWSTG” follows the main character Ali, as he functions in a part of New York City where drugs and violence are an everyday thing. However, Ail is focused on his family and his boxing performance. One of the great things about this book is the character Needles. How representation of mental health is important. (Her has tourette syndrome) and how the community really is here to protect him and look out for him.The relationship Ali has with needles, and Noodles, another character is realistic. It’s not perfect. They don’t always see eye to eye and its fine, because they’re not suppose too.
This novel is family oriented. It’s about hope and how sometimes, things can be blow out of proportion. The pacing of this novel is not fast-pace. It’s not an action novel in the scene there is crime after crime. We get a general feel for the neighborhood. The guns, the violence, the poverty. Everything that is Brooklyn and home to Ali. At times, the main plot line seems to take a seat back behind the character development and the relations Ali has built with everyone.
It’s an amazing realistic look at the every day life of Urban teenagers, and what they have to go through. I give this book four out of five stars. While I loved everything else, the main-plot line to me didn’t seem to actually pick up until halfway through the book. — Not that it was truly needed– and it seemed to be resolved a little to fast in my liking, also the book itself was shorter than I had expected. I wanted it to be longer so I could have more feels, not that I don’t have enough.