Jane Eyre has been my favorite book in the world since I was about 16; therefore, I’m picky about retellings, sequels, or spoofs. Jane Steele, with the brilliant tagline “Reader, I murdered him,” took me by surprise and blew me away with its dark humor, and awesomeness. It’s a pretty morbid homage, but manages to capture the strength, romance, and subversiveness of the original story, while creating something new and wonderful to read.
The emotional impact of the story can't be overstated; inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the shootings of Black youth, this novel is critically relevant to now. Justyce, a Black teen attending a prep school far removed from his family's neighborhood, writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to examine his teachings after being profiled by a cop. Then, when his best friend is shot over playing loud music, Justyce finds himself the focus of a racially fueled media blitz.
Ever imagined being trapped on a train for the whole summer with your moms, hyperactive younger sister, activist older sister, and her recycling-obsessed boyfriend? Neither had Sara, until her blogger mom wins a Writer in Residency on Amtrak. What follows is a story full of heart and humor that I couldn’t get enough of. I loved how this book took us across the country and addresses issues of class, race, and the environment without ever feeling preachy or taking over the story.