Happy Friday! In my part of the world, it has been a really nice week for summer weather. We have not had 90 degree weather for a change!!!
This past month was great but hot. Alas, I did not accomplish my 6 books a month goal. I think it was because I started quite a few books in July so I read around more than finished. I fall victim to this very often! But in spite of this, I will share the 4 books I did finish in July.
The first 3 books all could’ve been my favorite book of the month but I need to put them in some order so here’s to going with my gut and not overthinking. 🙂
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
This was not a reread. I know. I know. How did you manage to miss this classic? And you call yourself a reader.
Well, I am definitely dissappointed in my younger self for not finishing this earlier (sorry my friend, you know who you are). This book was such a well crafted story and made me think of all the wonderful things around me that I take for granted.
Watching the protagonist Jonas find that there was such things like snow, color, sunshine, love, and even pain, made me understand that my life is better than life based on efficiency, statistics, and monotony even when it hurts.
Jonas has grown up living in a world where rules are strictly followed, there are no colors, you apply to have children, you receive your career at 12, and you don’t know pain but you also don’t know love.
When he is given the biggest and most mysterious jobs in his community, he begins to discover how isolating his life has been. He is to become the Giver. The one who keeps all the memories of life as we know it. The Giver is required to live knowing all about true living without sharing it with anyone. But how long can Jonas last knowing his friends’ and family’s lives are just motions and orders and not really lives at all?
Lowry has developed a story that makes all of us question what unity and love really look like. One reason dystopia is such a cool genre is because it makes us ask questions about our society and our livelihood. As Jonah adapts and responds as he receives memories of life with true emotions, change, differences and pain, he finds that he’d rather live a life with pain and trials and suffering than never knowing love, joy, nature, and so many other things that make life wonderful were real.
I am very excited to follow Jonas in the sequel, Gathering Blue.
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A few weeks ago I posted some of my favorite animal novels. As I was writing that post, it dawned on me that I don’t know if I ever finished Shiloh. So I decided to spontaneously pick it up and give it a reread. The ended felt familiar but I am still only 50% sure I finished it the first time.
I am truly a sucker for a dog stories. I have watched some super cheesy dog movies. I can say honestly that I haven’t put myself in through many hopeless feel good Hallmarky dog novels (yes, I just made an adjective). Why is it easier to suffer through a cheesy movies than a books? But at the same time sometimes you can read a so called “cheesy” novel and you did not find is full of cheddar at all. Maybe what I am trying to say is books are more subjective. Or maybe people find it more commendable to be a reader so they don’t judge as much. This feels like a rabbit trail and should be for another post…
Back to Shiloh!
SO this is not a cheesy dog novel but a beautiful piece of art, And one of my favorite children novels. Marty’s (protagonist) first person narrative sounds so natural, and it makes us fall in love with him easily. The tone is eloquent yet simple and continues to make me jealous at Naylor’s writing abilities.
As Marty tries to keep and save the cutest beagle he names Shiloh from his “evil” neighbor, he finds he has learned about a mix of bad and good things like responsiblility, sympathy, and courage but also continous lying and isolation. He also becomes introspective about morality and his own community. He wonders is it toxic for a people to not hold their neighbors accountable? Why should he give a creature back to its owner who will mistreat him?
Sure this novel might look like a simple narrative of a boy and his dog but it actually makes us think about civil disobedience, true sacrifice, and choosing our battles.
Even if you are not a dog person, I do not think anyone could not love some part of this story.
I am also excited to read the sequel to this novel as well, Shiloh Season.
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
“The words you can’t find, you borrow.
We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.
My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.
We are not quite novels.
The analogy he is looking for is almost there.
We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that.
In the end, we are collected works.”Gabrielle Zevin, A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
This novel reminded me of how important literature and stories are. This book was like a love letter to books. Zevin has written a modern version of Silas Marner, the George Eliot classic. This does not make it seem unoriginal but adds to how much she treasures great literature.
There were so many literary references in this book that made my heart smile (also because I got many of them). Some of the most touching and humorous lines I have ever read in my life were found in this book.
This melancholy story features a bookstore owner whose wife has passed and is now living in grief and is barely hanging on. But if things could not get any worse, his rare, treasured copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s work is stolen and he begins to feel hopeless. One day his bookstore door was left open as he returned home and he found a surprise amidst the shelves.
That is all I can say because it would ruin the story if I say more. But if you have read Silas Marner you might have an idea :).
All literary lovers will want to curl up with this one.
- My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis (final book in the Breadwinner series)
Kenedy actually finished a series!!!!!!!!! This is the last book in the Breadwinner Series. This book concludes what happens to the protagonist Parvana, who lives in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s rule.
These books are perfect day reads (what I mean by that is you can read it in one sitting) and continue to show us the horror and hope found in life. Parvana is a strong girl who goes through more than what most people do in a lifetime from dressing like a boy to provide for her family, to being held in prison by American troops, to taking children through war ravaged lands on her own.
This series is definitely is middle grade fiction, but the events surrounding Parvana have become a reality. I respect Deborah Ellis for bringing awareness and accurate portrayals of life to our society. As a child, seeing the world accurately and from different perspectives has shaped me so much and I am glad we have writers like Ellis who think this is important as well.
Well I hope you pick up these novels! If you have read some of these, let me know in the comments below!
~ Kenedy M.
All images courtesy of Google images.