June Wrap Up
June is behind us! I am a year older, and I read more books. So let’s get down to it! Here are the books that I read this past June.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendon Kiely
All American Boys is a novel told from the perspective of two characters, Rashad and Quinn. On the night of a big party, Rashad is the victim of police brutality outside a shop for doing absolutely nothing. Quinn, who knows the cop, witnesses the beating and starts to realize that being silent is taking the side of racism. These events split the school and cause people in the neighbourhood to confront the fact that racism and prejudice still exist in their community.
As I mentioned in my June TBR, I listened to All American Boys on audiobook and this was a great format to consume this story. Both narrators were well-suited to the roles of Rashad and Quinn, and the two parts were woven together expertly. The story was incredibly impactful and address topics that we tend to skirt around a lot, such as how being complicit when witnessing racism also makes you racist. This type of book should be required reading in all schools because of the way it handles the topic of racism. I can see it being a useful tool to approach this discussion in a classroom with students who come from privilege and feel that they’re not required to say anything because it doesn’t directly affect them.
There were times that I felt the plot dragged a bit (or I was just tired of waiting for Quinn to get to a certain point), so it’s not a full 5 star read for me, but I still really enjoyed this book overall and I gave All American Boys 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
When I Was the Greatest follows Ali and his two close friends—Noodles and Needles. Noodles is always looking for trouble, which forces Ali to fix his messes. Needles, Noodles brother, has a syndrome that causes him to have ticks and blurt out words, but everyone in the neighbourhood knows that he doesn’t mean anything he says. Everything is fine until the three friends find themselves in a situation where the people around them aren’t as friendly as the people in their neighbourhood.
I felt like I was on a bit of a roll with Jason Reynolds’ books, so I picked up the When I Was the Greatest audiobook shortly after finishing All American Boys. This book deals with themes of complicated family relationships, resentment and knowing when you have to stop bailing someone out, even if you love them. I thought that the third theme was portrayed really well and is something that is important for us to remember at any time in our lives. Sometimes we forget that as much as you want to be there for the people you care about, there comes a time where that person needs to realize that there is a limit. This book has a more simple plot, focusing more on the relationships between characters, so there’s not a lot that I can say without spoilers. I will say that I love love love Ali’s younger sister. She added both a maturity and a child’s perspective to what was happening in the story, and I loved every time she graced the page.
Overall, this was a great audiobook and I gave When I Was the Greatest 4 out of 5 on Goodreads.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
I Wish You All the Best is an own-voices novel following our main character, Ben De Backer, who is thrown out of their house after they come out to their parents as non-binary. They end up having to move in with their sister, Hannah, who has been estranged, and her husband, Thomas, who Ben has never met. Because of what had happened with their parents, they have only come out to Hannah, Thomas and their therapist, and they decided to try and keep a low profile at school. This is thrown out the window when they meet Nathan Allan and the two become close, and Ben begins to believe that there could be hope after everything they’ve experienced.
This was my plane read for my recent trip to Disneyland and I ate it up like candy! The writing makes you feel like you’re right there with Ben along their journey, cheering them on and wanting to wrap them up in a hug when they fall. I Wish You All the Best handles themes of love, not just in a romantic way but also friend-love, familial love, and who is deserving of your love.
Ben’s development also felt very real, and you could tell that the author was trying to portray a real human, rather than focusing on making Ben inspiring for the reader. Not that Ben couldn’t be inspiring, but the story felt like it was more about showing a non-binary person named Ben and their truth. I believe that this is one of the aspects of the book that made it such a captivating story.
I am absolutely obsessed with I Wish You All the Best and I gave it a full 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
I also read about 300 pages of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, but sadly wasn’t able to finish it before I had to return it to the library (of course I had already used up my two renewals), I’m hoping I’ll be able to borrow it again in July to finish it off.
That’s all for the books that I read in June. What’s your favourite book that you read this past month? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, have a lovely rest of your day and read something awesome!