Friday, April 19, 2013

Stefanie's Friday Reads Recommendation!

Happy Friday everybody! You're all looking lovely today, if I do say so myself.

I'm totally flirting with you all right now.

I've got a book recommendation for you guys today, for a sort of "quieter" book that you all may not have heard of (I hadn't until someone recommended it to me). I've been on a bit of a contemporary/realistic kick lately, which is weird for me because, unless I'm beta-reading things like Leah's awesome book, I tend to gravitate toward sci-fi and fantasy stuff.

But, for whatever reason, I was in the mood for some so-called "issue" books, so I went on a search and ended up enjoying several things outside my normal reading comfort zone. Which, first of all, is a GREAT idea every now and then, I think. I found it especially helpful since I'm pretty deep into writing my epic fantasy WIP (as in, I'm at the point of no return where I've started to realize that I'm going to have to show this book to people and ohgodwhatifitsucks???), and so anytime I pick up stuff in the genre I'm writing in, it's sort of impossible not to compare my rough draft to those pretty, polished, complete books that mine sort of has to "compete" with. Okay, not compete with, necessarily, but you know what I mean. Hopefully compare to, live up to, etc...

So anyway, out of all the books I read on my contemporary binge over the past month or so, the one that's probably stuck with me the most is a book called BLACK BOX by Julie Schumacher

The blurb from Goodreads: WHEN DORA, ELENA’S older sister, is diagnosed with depression and has to be admitted to the hospital, Elena can’t seem to make sense of their lives anymore. At school, the only people who acknowledge Elena are Dora’s friends and Jimmy Zenk—who failed at least one grade and wears black every day of the week. And at home, Elena’s parents keep arguing with each other. Elena will do anything to help her sister get better and get their lives back to normal—even when the responsibility becomes too much to bear.

It's, quite frankly, a pretty terrible blurb. It probably wouldn't have caught my eye, which is why I'm recommending it here-- because the book is much, much better than the blurb and if you even sort of like books like this, I definitely think you should check this one out.

As someone who's dealt with depression and anxiety issues since I was a teenager, this book hit pretty close to home for me. It also manages to do what I think is a rare thing in issue-driven fiction: it captures the subject without over-dramatizing it or relying mostly on shock value to keep readers turning the pages. I have a pretty low tolerance for melodramatic writing, and I managed to get through this book without being offended or rolling my eyes even once--so that's a huge plus for me.

Writing-wise, it's short but poignant; every word counts and carries its weight. Clear, concise, with occasional, appropriate flourishes. That's how I like my writing. The POV choice was great too, because it's actually told from the POV of the girl dealing with her sister's diagnosis. It's a fascinating outside perspective that still manages to develop both of the sisters characters really well. I could complain that some of the other characters weren't developed quite as thoroughly as a result, but mostly I overlooked that because I love sibling-love stories (FALLS THE SHADOW is very much a sibling-love story) and this book was definitely that. Dora and Elena's relationship felt very real in a very tragic, yet ultimately hopeful way.

So, if you have any interest in books that deal with mental illness, family issues (especially sisterly-bonds), etc... then I highly recommend you check this one out!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. She's represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary, and her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in September, 2014. You can add it on Goodreads here!

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1 secret replies:

  1. Yeah, the blurb isn't all that captivating. I've had some of these same issues myself and tend to shy away from them after Prozac Nation about 7 years ago, which I thought was good, but just too...depressing? I used to really like things like this though, so you've talked me into it. ^_^