Summary: Ever since a horse fell on him and killed his mother, Finn Easton has seen the world through miles instead of minutes. Besides that, he’s convinced he’s a character from one of his father’s best selling books. But when Julia Bishop – his first love – leaves town, Finn is heartbroken. Soon after that, Finn and his best-friend Cade Hernandez embark on a trip from Southern California to Oklahoma that shows them that sometimes life’s many detours can take them to exactly where they needed to be.
Thoughts: This book was everything I look for in a YA Contemporary! Finn was a smart and funny character. From the very first chapter he had me laughing out loud as I read. Andrew Smith isn’t an author I’m familiar with but from now on, I’m aiming to read all of his books. This book had no plot, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages for some reason. Oh yeah, Finn’s very realistic and funny narration!! Ugh, I miss him and Cade already. I think one of the main reasons I kept flipping the page to read what happens even though I didn’t know what I was reading towards was because of all the random things that kept happening. Ultimately, this book was about all the unexpected detours that life takes you on to get you to where you need to be and Smith’s writing did that so well. Now the one thing that made it a 4-star instead of a 5 was the blurb. It spelled out everything for me, including the ending. If you haven’t read the blurb yet, then don’t. You’ll enjoy the book more that way. I still loved the book and I think that it’s definitely worth a read. Especially if you haven’t read any of Andrew Smith’s books yet, this one will get you wanting to do so right away!
Summary: Naila’s conservative immigrant parents allow her to make her own choices, except one. In following with their cultural traditions, they will choose her husband for her. But Naila breaks their rule and falls in love with Saif. And when her parents find out, they take her to Pakistan to remind her of her roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when her parents marry her off. Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
Thoughts: This book wasn’t what I expected, it was so much better! This is the kind of book you read in one sitting. I thought it’d be a light read about a girl who falls in love with a boy and disapproving parents wanting her to strongly marry someone else, but I didn’t expect her to be actually forced into the marriage. Like forced, forced. Really forced. This wasn’t about an arranged marriage, this was about a forced marriage. I was so shocked and horrified, and it was so heartbreaking having to watch Naila go through this, knowing that this is something that happens in the world. I live in a culture where arranged marriages are the norm, more or less, but there is always a choice. Otherwise, it’d be illegal. This was different, and you can check out Aisha Saeed’s guest post on YA Highway explaining the differences between Arranged Marriages and Forced Marriages, where she goes into more detail on the differences between the two for those of you interested. The writing was very straight-forward, without any fancy prose, and I liked that it was that way because the focus was on other more important things. I felt like I wanted more from the ending. It all wrapped up very nicely, and maybe that’s part of what made it a 4 star instead of a 5 for me. Nevertheless, the ending was more realistic than the explosive one I had mind. I loved Naila’s hope throughout and her stubbornness to keep trying to escape and not give in to this life that was forced on her. Her struggle to reclaim her own life and make her own choices was hard, and her perseverance really made this book as beautiful and hopeful to read as it was sad and tragic.
Summary: After the death of his uncle, Thomas Mackee’s life falls apart. A year after his uncle’s death, Thomas is still mourning his uncle’s death and once his flatmates kick him out, he moves back with his aunt and grieving father and starts working at a pub with his former friends as he works to build his life back up again.
Thoughts: This book was a bit confusing for me since I didn’t know a lot of the characters from Saving Francesca because I didn’t read it. My bad, obviously, but I still really enjoyed The Piper’s Son, despite not having known a lot of the secondary character from the first book. I loved Tom. He’s the perfect bad-boy on the outside and total softie on the inside. It’s very obvious that he’s hurting and so is his family, though each in his or her own way and even though Tom lashes out and appears like he doesn’t notice their pain, he’s really very intuitive and it shows in his relationships with everyone around him – from his former friends, to his family and the girl whose heart he broke but still loves. Overall, it was a beautiful story about loss, grief, family and second chances and I really enjoyed it.