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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RTW: Best Book of September

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic. 

This week’s prompt was: What is the best book you read this month?

Just so you know, I will not be mentioning Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children today because that’s on the agenda for Friday. For book club. You do remember that, right? You won’t be leaving me to a book club of one, will you?

(Never heard about the Fall Book Club? The details are here. The bottom line: Read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, blog about it on Friday, then come here to link to your site, and click on to everyone else’s reviews. Non-bloggers, you can still participate by reading and jumping from blog to blog. Speed readers, there’s still time to participate.)

Moving on, I think my mind was trying to tell me that I needed a good cry* this month. That’s because my best book of the month is kind of sad, and I also decided to read Before I Die.

So while I pick Moonglass as my favorite book this month, I’m going to talk about both.

If you’ve never seen the ocean, open Moonglass. You’ll feel the sand and the sun and the saltwater in your hair. You’ll smell the sunscreen and sweat and rain. Jessi Kirby knows how to bring a place to life. That much is, like, a truth self-evident. But not only that, she creates characters with such depth—my favorite of which is a rich blonde who’s in no way stuck up—that we can’t help but love them.

The storyline of a side character who spends the entire book crawling the beach in silence broke my heart, and I was amazed that I could so love a character who speaks maybe five lines in the whole book. Even more amazing: The character was three dimensional even though he never spoke and our main character didn’t really tell us anything about him.

Then there’s the story: new girl in town. Only Moonglass is about much more than a girl trying to fit in to a new place. It’s about her coming to terms with her mother’s suicide, about learning who her mother was before depression overtook her. The way Kirby does this, by weaving in stories of mermaids, metaphors for her mother’s death, is just brilliant. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful story. And not just because of the prose.

Since today’s tear-jerker day, I’ll rate it based on the amount I cried:

Like a pregnant woman at a wedding.

I’ll just say that going into Before I Die, I kind of knew the ending. I mean, everyone does. This is no spoiler: The main character is dying and will die. First, I hadn’t read anything like this before. Naturally, the title made me think of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but they’re really not similar at all.

Reading this book was like making a friend, finding out she’s dying, and staying by her side until that last breath. Which is to say, it’s painful in a lot of parts—especially the ending.

Um, about that ending… it’s sad. No, that’s not the right word. It’s some word for sad that’s like SAD10. I don’t want to give away too much about how the main character dies, but I will say that it was well done. Jenny Downham was obviously out for tears, so instead of letting the main character just keel over and be done with it, she dragged out each excruciating moment. We sat there, like her family did, and hold her hand while she goes. Still, there is a sense of peace at the end, and that’s what makes the whole thing bearable.

The bottom line: The book’s practically sponsored by Kleenex.

Now, for the tear-jerker rating! I cried: 

Like I just watched The Notebook for the first time.

What’s the best book you read this month?

*Am I the only one who needs a good tearfest once in a while?

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