Two local writers recommend the best summer reading for girls and, well, everyone else, too!
As you’re probably already wondering from the title, what does orthodontia have to do with faulty stars and girls of summer? Answer: they’re aspects of some of the books showcased at the Girls of Summer book expo for girls held by the Main Richmond Public Library with writers Meg Medina and Gigi Amateau, along with visiting author Wendy Wan-Lon Shang. As the sun dipped below the city skyline, free ice cream(!) was scooped and stories were shared as everyone learned about some of the best recommended reads for the bazillion hot days ahead of us.
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Smile by Raina Telgemeier is perfection in young adult (YA), graphic novel form. If you’ve ever gone through harrowing orthodontia–or any uncomfortable and embarrassing situation during the most uncomfortable and embarrassing period of life–then you’re sure to get a kick out of Smile. The fact that it’s a memoir is even more harrowing. Smile tells the story of Raina’s accidental fall which knocked out her two front teeth, and the subsequent orthodontia ordeal she had to go through involving all sorts of things we who have been to the orthodontist cringe over (including false teeth). Did you ever feel like nobody really understood just how horrible that pink marshmallowy goop putty that the orthodontist used to create molds was? Raina gets it. Raina understands your pain and frustration when you feel you’re going to choke on that stuff, and she illustrates it hilariously and honestly. She also understands about first crushes and even earthquakes.
You can read a sample of Smile on Raina’s website (do it, it’ll only take a minute). Also, did you know Telgemeier illustrated graphic novels of The Baby-sitters Club? Be still my tween heart. I’m literary-crushin’ on Telgemeier so bad.
- You will like Smile if: you are human and/or ever suffered through anything in your early years.
- You will not like Smile if: you are a robot that does not understand feelings or the human experiences of embarrassment and pain.
- Age range: 12 and up
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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (author of Looking for Alaska, among other noteworthy titles) is one of those quirky stories about two teenagers who fall in love. In Stars the two main characters, Hazel and Augustus, both have pretty much come to terms with the fact that they’re going to die young and tragic and brilliant, and they’d like you to please stop being all weepy and saddy-waddy about it, thankyouverymuch.
Hazel–attached to an oxygen tank all the time which she wheels around and dubs Philip–has better things to do than attend group therapy with other dying teenagers. She’s much more interested in trying to figure out the Dutch Tulip Man, a character in a book she’s been reading and re-reading and yet cannot come to terms with. The story grapples with the topic of young love, fate, nostalgia, disappointment, using one’s allotted Cancer Wish to go to Disney World (or not), and simply being young when you don’t feel young.
- You will like The Fault in Our Stars if: you like teenage existentialism, characters who quote poetry at length and generally do not talk like typical teenagers (though it is up for debate whether this is because they have cancer and are just so above the typical, or if it’s Green making them a little too quirky), tragic fate, references to things like America’s Next Top Model, and pop culture.
- You won’t like Stars if: you dislike stories with characters who have uber-hipster names, stories about characters who have cancer (even though this is not your typical cancer book), stories that will pull you in hook, line, and sinker. Read it and weep.
- Age range: 15 and up
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At the end of the library event, two GIGANTIC bags of all the books were given away to two lucky girls, thanks to the bbgb bookstore, and we all trooped off into the evening, brains brimming with new titles to read. Some of those other books recommended during Girls of Summer that I haven’t read yet (but will soon!) include:
- Bird by Angela Johnson
- One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
- Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
- Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
- The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Lon Shang
You can find reviews of a bunch more of the showcased books at the Girls of Summer blog. These books are really awesome. But of course, in the spirit of LeVar Burton, don’t take my word for it. Go check them out from your library today! (Yes, you, adult readers should check them out as well. YA is for you, too!)