I always hate to see summer end. Not because I dread saying good by to 110 degree days, oh no, those continue until at least Halloween!! (I am not kidding!) No, I hate to see the summer end because I miss afternoon reading sessions, mornings when I can do a few chores and reward myself with a few pages of a good book. Darn, I miss vacation already!
I have had some great books to read during this vacation too. I can honestly say that almost all of them have been pretty darn terrific. It was hard then to narrow it down so I could answer this question that's floating around the book blogasphere:
"What’s the best book you’ve read recently?"
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede was clever and catchy, with a spunky princess and clever dragons. A dragon fairy tale to truly revel in. But no, that wasn't the best one of the year.
Was it:North of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headley was a book I was not prepared to like. I had no idea when I started how powerfully written this young adult novel would be. Sentences were awkward at first; broken, scattered and choppy. But I became invested in the book. The characters had depth I wasn't expecting and as the story progressed the author actually changed her style. Sentences flowed and the pages flew by.
Terra was a layered young woman who was used to hiding. She lived in a safe shell of her life behind thick layers of makeup as she tried to hide the port wine stain that covered half her face. When she meets Jacob he challenges her to be who she is without the makeup. He speaks from experience, he is damaged on his own. Both characters are well crafted!
A long book, 400 pages, Headley has the space to really explore topics; physical beauty vs true beauty, honesty, life journeys.... It was wonderful. And it was best for a long time.
And then I read this:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett is truly the best book I have read in a very long time. It transported me back to the south were I grew much of my identity, were I was cradled and grew up for many years.
Narrated by three remarkable women, each with a unique voice and experience, The Help chronicles life in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. The Help are those black women who raised white babies, cooked like nobody's business, sat at the back of the bus, and served and slaved in crisp white uniforms. One 22 year old Skeeter Phelan, an aspiring writer, brings them all together as they begin a secret project that may put all of their lives in great danger.
Run, don't walk, to your nearest library or bookstore and get this book. I have sat and pondered about it since finishing. I did not dare pick up another book for days as it simmered inside me, I didn't want anything to dilute the feeling. I have all but thrust it into the arms of friends who read!! American History classes would do well to have their students read this book to open the eyes of those who wonder what life was like before the Civil Rights movement. It is a must read, told in a magical fashion.
My summer is over, I am back to work with a new crop of first graders with wide eyes and loose teeth, but my TBR pile is growing steadily. I wonder which new book will be "the best of the best of the best" !?!?!