Wow. This little book packs a punch. One of the Boys is short, quick reading, deceptively simple, and deeply affecting.
The twelve-year-old narrator has always revered his affable, charismatic father. After witnessing a "war" of separation and divorce, he desperately wants to be "one of the boys" with his dad and older brother when they decide to leave Kansas for New Mexico. He wants to be there to experience his dad's promised freedom to be like a kid again. So he does what it takes to make it happen.
Hillbilly Elegy is unlike anything I've ever listened to. J.D. Vance grew up in the rust belt of America and was the first from his nuclear family to graduate from college. He speaks about growing up there and tells you extensively about the journey his family (grandparents and mother) made before today.
Having never experienced life in a rehab center I cannot speak to the authenticity or veracity of the setting Benjamin Alire Sáenz creates in, Last Night I Sang To The Monster. 18 year-old Zach is an alcoholic who comes out of a black out in a treatment center with no memory of how he got there. I can say the novel is populated by memorable characters who are engaged in emotionally resonant relationships in a visceral setting.
It Was Me All Along is a memoir about a young girl that turned to food for comfort, parenting, homework help, and to fill the empty hole she had deep inside herself. Andie Mitchell's struggle is not just with food, but also with turning her unbalanced childhood world into one she could live in normally.
Despite her best efforts, I love Mattie Wallace. She often behaves badly, and she knows it. But it’s who she believes she is, so she behaves badly.
Grab your tissues, ‘cause this one’s a tear jerker. In place of his senior year of high school, Zach is in rehab. He doesn’t remember why he’s there, so we learn about his circumstances as he works through remembering in group sessions, talking with his roommates and his counselor. What makes this book so powerful is that Zach, despite his addiction, sadness, and loneliness still manages to be a neat kid. You really want to see him succeed.