A huge thank you to Vikki for taking the time to do this!
EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED is a real weeper about the relationship between Ingrid and her mother, the beautiful but volatile opera star Margot- Sophia LaLonde. When the novel starts, Ingrid is at the beginning of an extreme wilderness experience, along with a group of high-risk teens, having never so much as camped before. She has made a deal with her mother; if she makes it through a summer in the wilderness, then she can pursue her dreams of becoming a performer. Canadian author Danielle Younge-Ullman has created not one but TWO compelling narratives and managed to weave them together in a way that makes it impossible to put this book down. I can’t decide which plot I like better: Breakfast Club in the woods—with convicts!—or mother-daughter drama that plays out like The Glass Castle (only if the mother was an opera singer.) There are stolen kisses in the wings of a theatre, moments of bad-assery that would make Khaleesi proud, swoony ex-convicts, and so much more.
Attention all L.M. Montgomery fans! Penguin Teen has a novel inspired by the teen years of Canada’s most famous author (Sorry, Margaret Atwood!) MAUD is impeccably researched by LM Montgomery scholar and debut Canadian author Melanie J. Fishbane and illuminates the hopes, fears, challenges and triumphs of the woman who would grow up to write ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. Motherless at a young age, Maud bounced between family members, including her strict grandparents, a cold, resentful aunt, and her estranged father and his new wife, who treat Maud like a nanny and try to marry her off to her older, dreadfully dull teacher. Anne fans will delight in the true-to-life people and incidents that inspired some of the most iconic Green Gables touchstones: The Lake of Shining Waters, a supportive female teacher with shades of Miss Stacy, and a scholarly rivalry that turns to romance with a handsome local boy.
It’s been a great couple of years for funny, poignant memoirs from girl-crush worthy women (Mara Wilson, Phoebe Robinson, Jessi Klein, Mindy Kaling… just to mention a few). Buzzfeed writer Erin Chack may not have the same celeb status as these women (yet), but her memoir about life, love, and adulting belongs on the same shelf. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING is a collection of essays in which Erin recounts everything from meeting her soulmate at age 14 to her first chemotherapy session at age 19 to what really goes on behind the scenes at a major Internet media company. For a little taste, follow her on twitter: @ErinChack.
THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS is a breathless puzzle of a book; a thriller without the guts, gore, or murder. Flora has a condition in which she cannot form short term memories. She lives under the careful watch of her parents, in a town she is familiar with, among people who are equally familiar with her story. And then she kisses her best friend’s boyfriend, Drake, the night before he sets off for Norway, and everything changes: She remembers him and that kiss. Flora sets off on a dangerous journey to find Drake, who she believes is the key to restoring her memory for good. Emily Barr takes the conceit of an unreliable narrator and cranks the stakes way, way up. Flora’s tenacity, strength, mistakes, and triumphs are writ large against the harsh yet beautiful landscape of Svalbard. I read this with white knuckles and my heart in my throat. A must-read for fans of We Were Liars.