I’ve been reading quite a bit and sometimes a quick review of great books from the same genres can help. Here are a few recent ones that are excellent reads for young adults who enjoy reading realistic fiction:
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares 2017, Delcorte Press
Sasha and Ray have never met, even though they live in the same house. How can that be? Ray’s mother and father’s ugly divorce left his mom with himself and his sisters, Emma (the oldest and most responsible); Mattie (the spoiled one); and Quinn (the calm middle child). They live in the city, but always come back to the beach house every summer, every other weekend. Ray’s father eventually remarried a woman who already had a daughter, Sasha. And she and her family come to the beach house every summer, every other weekend.
Ray’s parents never, ever cross paths, although his sisters do spend time with both mom and dad. Ray prefers the quiet life and stays with his mother, but on accidental meeting in the city with Sasha changes his entire perspective. In the beach house both of them sleep between the same sheets, but never together. They even work the same job every other week they’re there. And even though they really don’t know each other, their lives are becoming more enmeshed…
Then comes the big news – Emma is getting married and wants both of her parents at a party her sisters are throwing for her. She knows tensions and arguments always escalate with them, but for once, she’s hoping they’ll be civil. One can always hope…
And at the end of the party, tragedy strikes is so many different ways, with one leaving the entire family reeling… Words and actions regretted, time forever lost, and families torn apart. Can what has become undone ever be put back together again?
This book is an excellent example of the reader connecting personally to so many of the characters. Each one of the girls, Ray, and Sasha equally share the main character position where reader’s can read (or listen…excellent audiobook!) to their voices, experiences, and love for their family happen. The beautiful setting lends itself to the plot of their lives. You can’t help but begin reading this to experience it with them. A step away from young adult lit to new adult lit, Brashares writes about a blended family with emotional detail that makes the novel all that more believable. Excellent addition for grades 9-12.
All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson 2018, Razorbill
Jason, Alexa, Scott, Skyler don’t know each other, but throughout the rest of this one day, their lives will intersect with both good and disastrous results.
Jason and Alexa come from a wealthy family in Boston. While Jason is currently on his last boarding school admission (after going through quite a few already) his sister Alexa is getting ready to graduate from a prestigious one she’s attended for quite awhile. That particular day, she goes to the office with some news and comes out with different news that alters her and her brother’s paths….
Scott is from a solid Irish family who has worked hard to get where they are. One day, his life changes when he meets the girl he knows is his true love. But with any relationship, it comes with bumpy roads. His parents have plans for him to stay close to home and work in the business while Aimee, his girlfriend, is making plans to attend excellent schools to pursue her passion in theater. Realizing his girlfriend will be leaving without, he tries his hardest to stay close, even to the point of smothering her.
Skyler lives with her older sister and her grandparents, who are currently visiting family in Cambodia. Both sisters love each other, but sometimes Skyler hides things from Kate because she doesn’t want to hinder her sister’s life, full of college courses and a job. But when one secret becomes too hard to hide, Kate steps in to protect and save her. Now, Skyler’s protective sister has been taken from her and she feels a divide she thought she wanted but desperately wants back.
All of them are waiting in a hospital waiting room. A bridge collapse has occurred and Jason and Alexa’s parents were on it. So was Aimee and her friends, and Kate, coming back from work. And as the teens wait, their conversations and actions create a comfort they’re searching for. One by one they leave, but are they leaving someone they love behind?
An mazing book with details of each character’s lives that will leave the reader understanding not only more about what motivates them, but also what it was that altered their paths that day. Coming from different life experiences and backgrounds, readers are sure to empathize with any or all of them, from the privileged to the working class, from a family of immigrants to even a surprise character that eventually gets caught up in the tragedy and story. A beautiful story, all with different consequences. Highly recommended for grades 9-12