First real post! Speak and The Fault In Our Stars

For my first post I decided to write about two Ad-lit books that I have been hounding people to read since I finished them. They are old news to anyone familiar with the genre, but for the purposes of honoring the stories and the effects they had on me, I want to review them first. They will also give potential readers a hint of my tastes.

Speak

The first time I encountered this book was in high school. My favorite teacher read it aloud to the class a few times a week. It was a new experience for me, having not been read to since I was a kid.

We meet Melinda who has experienced a traumatic rape the summer before beginning high school. Not only does she have to face her attacker in a new and unfamiliar place where he reins king. She has also lost all of her friends and is facing it alone. Her solution is to remain mostly silent. This is a story about a girl, a victim, a survivor, a heroine.

I think the reason this story resonates so much with teens is because of the constant inner dialogue. We live so much in our heads, no matter what age, and I know I felt like a weirdo as a kid because I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one. The level of intimacy I had with Melinda was validating for me.  We’re her only friends in this experience. We know her fear, her sadness, and her dry humor. I don’t think I’ve ever known a character so well.

The Fault in Our Stars

This was a book I enjoyed as an adult doing one of the most (boring) adult things you can do: jury duty! In the end, I was grateful to have a chunk of time not usually available in my day-to-day life to read this book. Too bad it only took me a day and I spent the rest of the week mourning the ending of the story along with the end of the pages. But I won’t give too much away.

Two young cancer patients fall in love. That’s the gist. But more importantly, we get a whole new outlook on suffering from a disease, and man is it funny. Cancer is not funny, of course, but Hazel makes it very difficult for readers to feel sorry for her. She is cynical and witty and sharp. She doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her, not even a little bit.

When she does let her guard down, sort of, for Augustus, we experience the sweetest, saddest young love story in history. Damn you John Green, damn you. That’s all I’ll say. Just read it.

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