Contemporary is one of my favourite genres, so it stands to reason that there will be a fair few contemporary editions of Mini Reviews. Here are some great ones I’ve read recently.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Dear Martin tells the story of Justyce, taken in by the police when he was trying to help a female friend who had drunk too much. They are acting on racial stereotypes and assuming he wqs in the wrong because he is black: “I knew your punk ass was up to no good when I saw you walking down the road with that goddam hood on“. Justyce starts writing to Martin Luther King, one of his heroes, to help him make sense of what is happening and the world that he lives in. This book deals with racial stereotyping and every day racism in a really powerful way. I loved the inclusion of mixed media through letters and scripted conversations, which added another level to the story. This would be a perfect read for fans of The Hate U Give.
Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt
Hope is trying to make her way as a Stage Manager in the theatre without using the connections of her famous mother. She gets a place as an intern on a major show with famous actor, Tommy Knight. Tommy’s brother is the director and Hope often finds herself stuck between the two and lacking the confidence to stand up to them. She is lying to her family about where she is working and what she is doing, which puts a strain on her as the story goes on. It is written in first person, so we get a great insight into Hope’s feelings throughout. We witness first hand her romance with one of the actors, the tension she is feeling, and her learning to stand up to those around her. The theatre was a great setting for this story, and I was surprised to read how much hard word goes on behind the scenes of a theatre production. Theatrical is a great, fell-good read about family, romance and working hard to achieve your dreams.
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Starry Eyes is a great outdoorsy stories with one of my favourite tropes at the centre: enemies to lovers. Zorie lives with her father and step-mum who are having some financial difficulties. When Regan and a group of popular kids from school invite Zorie on a glamping trip, her step-mum wants her to go. Zorie is a huge planner and overthinker (I absolutely loved this about her), but she decides to go anyway. Everything goes awry, leaving Zorie stranded in the wilderness with her ex-boyfriend (who she is not on good terms with), no plans and no way to get home. I loved the slow reveal of Zorie and Lennon’s past, and the way their relationship is explored as they find their way back. The setting of this book is absolutely stunning, and I loved that we got to see both the beauty and the dangers of being out in nature. This book is well worth the read: it almost made me want to go camping in the wild.
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Zoe is holding on to a dark secret. She is writing to a man on death row, feeling they have something in common, and her secret is slowly revealed to the reader through these letters. The secret has something to do with a boy she dated who has died and his brother. I loved the way that the story was revealed slowly and the way that it was told using letters, which also gave us a great insight into Zoe’s present day life. We learn that Zoe isn’t her real name (it’s one thing to write to a man on death row, but quite another to reveal your real name and address to him), her sister is deaf and her parents are arguing about treatments options; her grandfather is ill and her parents are arguing over whether the children should see him. Her parents are hiding secrets too, which are gradually revealed over the course of the book. There is a lot of drama and tension packed into this book. Annabel has captured the voice of a scared young girl with a secret perfectly. This is one of the things I love about her writing, and Ketchup Clouds is probably my favourite of Annabel’s books.
That’s it for another contemporary edition of Mini Reviews. Have you read any of these?