When Chicago winter rears its ugly, black icy, snow swirly head, all I want to do is stay inside and read books. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to get the flu, but that happened last week. But you know the great thing about the flu (after I passed out for two days, that is)? I got to stay inside and read books! Here’s what’s currently in my Lucille Bluth tote bag, and a couple others I just finished.
Who Done It? (ed. Jon Scieszka)
Now this is the lighter-than-air confection of silliness I’m devouring. Who Done It? is essentially a who’s who of fabulous YA: David Levithan! Maureen Johnson! Lemony Snicket! Libba Bray! Jacquelyn Mitchard! My girl Susane Colasanti!
When I finished fangirl screaming, I instantly fell in love with the premise. You see, book editor Herman Mildew – in all his hygiene-challenged, smelly cheese-loving glory – is dead. Every one of these 90 authors has endured his horrid nature, empty promises of contracts and incomprehensible line edits, so they’ve all got a motive. And they’re all talking. But someone’s lying. The “alibis” range from poetry to comics, and are hilarious.
Perhaps the best part? All proceeds from Who Done It? will benefit 826NYC, the New York branch of Dave Eggers’ teen literacy nonprofit. (I keep meaning to volunteer at 826CHI, the Chicago branch. This could be just the kick in the pants I need.) And yes, Eggers has his own “alibi.” So yeah, you can buy a hugely entertaining YA anthology and help people too. Win/win!
Here I Go Again (Jen Lancaster)
I adore Jen Lancaster’s sassy, hilarious memoirs, but I wasn’t quite into her fiction. If You Were Here was justâ€¦ okay. Thankfully, she’s found a better balance in Here I Go Again, out Wednesday.
I mean, who doesn’t want to read about a high school mean girl getting hers? And (anti)heroine Lissy Ryder is THAT mean girl. The kind that would make fun of your clothes, steal your boyfriend just because she could, and do it all while winning prom queen and driving the best car. Ew. Fast-forward 20 years, and Lissy’s not doing so great. She’s been let go from her job, left by her (former high school quarterback) husband, and is now living at home with her henpecked dad and overbearing mom. But with the help of a kooky peer turned successful life coach, Lissy is granted a second chanceâ€¦ by time traveling back to senior year in 1991.
Lancaster has Lissy to a nasty chick T: I relished her downfall while also hoping she’d pull it together. And the early-nineties references are so much fun (hint: Nirvana plays an important part). It’s a light read with substance – as you might guess, karma is discussed early and often – that made me giggle, and made me think. Because in a very major way, most of us are the amazing people we are because some icky mean girl hated us in high school.
Hooked (Liz Fichera)
There are so many things to love about Hooked. I mean, the book practically sells itself. The heroine, Fred Oday (short for Fredericka) is one of the few Native Americans in a school of rich white kids. And she is seriously, awesomely goodâ€¦ at golf. So good that she’s offered a spot on the school team. The problem? There are two problems: one, it’s an all-boys team. And two, for Fred to get a place someone has to be ousted, and wealthy slacker jerk Seth is not taking it well. But Seth’s BFF Ryan, who’s beginning to wonder what he sees in his group of friends, is first angered, then intrigued by the quiet girl with the phenomenal swing.
When was the last time you read a book about a Native American female golfer? Never, that’s when. Fichera does a lovely job painting Fred and her family (supportive dad, alcoholic mom and troublemaking but loyal brother), and contrasting that with Ryan’s folks (oblivious dad, distant mom, annoying but supportive younger sister). Fred and Ryan’s relationship is sweetly realistic, as they circle around each other and navigate their various trust issues on and off the course. There’s a bit of Magical Native American Man in there, but the way the residents of the reservation have each other’s backs is really nice and heartwarming. And if you’re a golf noob (like yours truly), not to worry: there’s a glossary in the back, but even if you don’t use it, the tournament scenes are pretty easy to follow.
What are you reading? Any good stuff? Any stuff to avoid? Do you have the flu? (I hope not!) Leave a comment!