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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.
7th grader Nick is having a tough time. His mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has to move into a home. Rosen keeps the story from being bogged down with moments of lightness and well-rounded characters, particularly Nick's dad, and his friend Nat. The story also alternates with a video game that Nick plays (believing his mom is there too). This story deftly deals with issues of illness, friendship, and race; to me it stood out due to how real the characters and emotions felt.
Here's the thing: I never really got on the zombie bandwagon. The movies, the books, the apocalypse scenarios... They just never caught my imagination. And then. This is the reimagined Civil War historical zombie book I never knew I needed. Because, ultimately, Dread Nation isn't about zombies. It's about race and power structure in the US; and it's about young women of color kicking some serious butt, doing what it takes to survive and protect a place for themselves in the world. Ages 14+