The last three books I’ve read I’ve given 5 stars on goodreads. I used to be more lenient with my 5 stars but in the last few years I’ve gotten stricter with what I deem a 5 star read. And I’m not hoity toity about writing or any of that. Basically, if it keeps me hooked and I enjoyed it, I give it a 5 star so it could be a James Patterson or a F. Scott Fitzgerald, literature snobs may be offended.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas WAS AMAZING. It is a YA book about a teenager girl, Bri, who wants to be a professional rapper. She lives in an inner city with her mom and her older brother. Her older brother graduated from a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) and is back home working at a pizza parlor. This frustrates him (obviously) and Bri, because she can see that he did ALL the things he was supposed to do and is still back home delivering pizzas. Her mom, Jay, is a former drug addict, who is working at their church as a secretary and putting herself through school to become a social worker.
Bri takes a bus every day to attend a special performing arts high school. Her school only recently started attracting minorities because of grant funding. Bri and other students have issues with the security guards employed with the school because of their treatment of black/brown students.
Bri is trying to get her rap career off with the help of her drug dealer aunt. She comes up against many obstacles and has to fight against other people’s perceptions of her. She is just trying to help pull her family out of their current situation and ‘save’ them but as a teenager keeps butting up against adults and prejudices that interfere with what she wants to accomplish.
What I liked most about this book is that it’s real. There is struggle, heartbreak, perseverance, failures, and growth. I also liked that it was written by a person of color about a person of color. It was just so well written and relevant to young adults that I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it, and if you are not a young adult, because I also clearly enjoyed it.
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman was another 5 star captivating novel! And it couldn’t be more different than the last book. It is set in the Depression in rural West Virginia. It’s the first in a series about a local midwife, Patience Murphy.
The book is written in Patience perspective and includes anecdotes from births she attends and hits on her troubled past. She is definitely more than the local midwife. It also touches on the political and social landscape of the time period.
It amazes me how people lived on so little in the past. Obviously, they also had more skills than I possess in the ‘life skills’ category! But it was interesting reading her stories of the births and how she got paid. Sometimes she was down to only 5 quarters to her name. Like HOLY MOLY. Perspective here people. Or when she would run out of flour.
The other aspect to the book is the racial tensions that heated up after the local coal mines went bankrupt and so many people were out of jobs. Patience takes on an “assistant” that is black which causes some controversy in town because she moves in to Patience’s house and lives like an equal with her. This story was just riveting and kept me up late to finish. I can’t wait until the second book in the series is checked back in to the library!
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was our August book club pick and I had been looking forward to reading it for a while. It did not disappoint. It is based off the true story of how Georgia Tann manipulated many adoptions and trafficked children using the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. That history in itself is disgusting and I really am glad we’ve come a long way in realizing the importance and value of children.
However, the book is fiction and tells the story of the Foss family who was disrupted by this evil woman. It goes back and forth from the past to the present with two different story tellers. There is Rill Foss who tells about her life on the riverboat before it is disrupted and what happened to her and her siblings after Tann’s minions took them off their riverboat. Present day is narrated by Avery Stafford, who is a 30 year old from a well to do southern family who comes across an older woman, May, when she is visiting a nursing home with her senator father. May takes Avery’s bracelet and when Avery returns to retrieve it she notices a photo that has similarities to someone close to her.
This book did start out slow and I was starting to get worried, but it quickly picked up the pace and I devoured most of it in one day. I of course, love the South Carolina setting, the different perspectives, the touch of truth to the fiction and the likable characters. I would love to read a spinoff of the other Foss children or more about the real life stories of those affected by Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
Now for the weekend, I’ve started Toxic Toffee by Amanda Flower which is the latest in the Amish Candy Shop series. The 8 year old and I started and new book together as well, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.
What was the last 5 star book you read? What are you reading this weekend?