Moving memoirs and renewing my love of YA

To celebrate the completion of editing my first book for Booktrope, I treated myself to an afternoon of reading. Actually, since it was Easter, I pretty much read the entire weekend. And it was glorious.

book CollagePlenty of people buy books out of boredom, as a way to pass the time – particularly while meandering through airports. I tend to only purchase books I plan on reading over and over again; the kind that tell me different things each time. Ever read a book like that?

One of those books for me is Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther. One reason I find this book so compelling is because our upbringings could not be any more opposite: to be raised in a cult by parents who were utterly obsessed with preparing for the End Times is so unfathomable to me, having been raised by liberal Jewish parents who considered rooting against the New York Yankees to be the only unforgivable sin.

I love this book because it’s relevant for anyone with degrees of “Spiritual PTSD.” For me, it conjured up memories of the bible study girls in college who told me that my parents’ souls were my responsibility: God put them in my life so I could share the gospel with them. If I failed, it would be my burden to answer for on Judgment Day. To this day, when I hear similar teachings on this uncomfortable subject, I get queasy. I wouldn’t say I was ever brainwashed in the cult-like way that Esther was, but I was definitely peer-pressured, and more emphasis was put on evangelism than personal growth in my early days as a Christian. Esther’s book is a reminder that healing and healthy spirituality is possible, even if it takes work.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Every now and then I take breaks from YA fiction in exchange for Adult Fiction – the kind of books I feel I should be reading, for some odd reason. But it takes a book like this to remind myself of why I prefer YA, and probably always will: it’s just so fun. I loved the quirkiness of all the characters in this book, and the twist of telling a “chick lit” story from a male perspective. It was well done, though I had my doubts after Eleanor and Park, which I liked, but didn’t love. Also, one main character’s name is Beth. She has some stalkerish tendencies that made me think, That is not okay, but overall I liked her.

Wearing God by Lauren Winner: I’m only halfway through with this one, and I’m already thinking of rating it three stars. I hate to give anything less than four stars to a Lauren Winner book, because I love her writing, her insights, and her unabashed book nerdiness. I reread Girl Meets God every year because we have almost the same ‘testimony,’ and I can easily imagine us bonding over coffee at an indie coffee shop.

But sadly, this book is just not doing anything for me. There are occasional insights that make me think – there can’t not be, because it’s Lauren Winner after all – but this is just, for lack of a better word, a very odd book. Of all the topics she could write about, I’m not sure why she chose relating to God over smell and taste, with pages and pages devoted to the history of bread-making and different kinds of wine used for communion. It’s an interesting approach to spirituality, but if anyone other than Winner wrote this, I never would have purchased it.

Up next: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

To re-read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What books are speaking to you lately? What books do you like to read over and over again? And do you have needy pets who complain you read too much? If a fuzzy critter wanders into my library, she will get read to. I think this is Zoey’s way of telling me she’s had enough.



3 thoughts on “Moving memoirs and renewing my love of YA

  1. Now I really want to read “Girl At The End Of The World.” And “How To Save A Life” is an amazing book. Hope you enjoy it!


  2. I have started the third volume of the Book of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine, Wrayth, a couple of months ago. I love it to pieces but I have been so busy with reading about writing craft, publishing and book marketing that it has fallen to the wayside. I hope to get back to it soon.

    For Easter, I received two books that had been on my to read list for a long time (both for personal and professional reasons): The Heroine’s Journey by Mareen Murdock and Fairy Tales and Feminism edited by Donale Haase.

    One of my favorite books that show up for reference in much of my nonfiction work is Women Who Runs With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estès.

    Liked by 1 person

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