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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

13 / 30 books. 43% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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- California (5)
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My Progress:

34 / 51 states. 67% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

29 / 50 books. 58% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

11 / 25 books. 44% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

16 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 61% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

74 / 104 books. 71% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

83 / 165 books. 50% done!
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

MG Contemporary Not as Grim As It Sounds

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Louise "Lou" Montgomery loves to sing, but not in the way her mother wants her to.  Convinced that Lou's going to make it big any day now, her mother drags her from place to place insisting that she perform in front of any crowd they can find.  Twelve-year-old Lou can't stand the noisy groups, all the people looking at her, or the way some people want to touch her.  She knows her quirks are weird, but sometimes the sensory overload makes her feel like she's going to explode.  Lou and her mom need the money her gigs provide so they can find somewhere to live besides their truck, but she would do anything not to have to perform ever again.

When Lou accidentally crashes the truck and her unstable living situation becomes known, Child Protective Services steps in.  Lou is sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Nashville.  For the first time she realizes what she's been missing—a clean home that's not on wheels, nutritious meals, going to school, guardians who put her first, etc.  When her Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is officially diagnosed for the first time, Lou even begins to understand the condition that has always confused and plagued her.  Lou's new life is a million times better than her old one.  Does she really want to be reunited with the mother who neglected and exploited her?  If Lou can't save her mom, who will?

Although the plot summary of Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner makes the middle-grade novel sound pretty grim, it's actually a funny, hopeful book that's more upbeat than not.  Lou is a sympathetic character, even if she's also kind of a self-centered one.  It's easy to root for her as she begins to get the stability and care she deserves.  Yes, she acts older than 12 and yes, her story is predictable, but overall, Tune It Out is an enjoyable novel.  It brings the challenges of living with an SPD to light and teaches an important lesson about the fact that no one is "normal."  Everyone has quirks and differences that should be viewed with empathy and understanding.  With further lessons about family, friendship, and finding your way, Tune It Out is an appealing, compelling novel.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and tough subject matter (parental neglect, homelessness, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

MG Novel-in-Verse a Gut-Wrenching, Illuminating Illegal Immigration Story

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Betita Quintero loves going to fourth grade in her East Los Angeles neighborhood.  There, a beloved teacher has been showing her how to express her feelings using vivid "word-poems."  She has plenty of emotions to illustrate—happiness from being surrounded by loving parents and a poor, but supportive community of immigrants; excitement over the impending birth of her baby sibling; and fear of her parents' undocumented status being discovered.  Betita's worst nightmare comes true when her father is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico.  Now, she and her pregnant mother are worried, scared, and on their own.  How can they survive without Papi?  

Things go from bad to worse when Betita and her mom are detained, locked away in a dirty cell with other terrified refugees.  How will they survive in such a hopeless, joyless place?  Will her Mami's baby be okay?  Most of all, will the Quintero family ever be reunited?  

Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar (who was born in Mexico and brought to the United States by her undocumented parents when she was a baby) tells a gut-wrenching, heartrending story that is all too timely and real.  It's grim and disturbing in a lot of ways, but it's also hopeful and beautifully told in verse.  No matter what you think of U.S. immigration policy and its enforcement, it's impossible not to be moved by this illuminating story.  It's a quick read, but a powerful one that has stuck with me for months.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Efrèn Divided by Ernesto Cisneros)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, language, and disturbing subject matter 

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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