aka These are the books that will stay with me forever.
Before I get into my top five, let’s talk about my bonus book: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. This one I had to read while in Secondary School and most people try to blank out the recommended reading, but not me. Especially not with this book.
‘For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.’
Willy Loman has been a salesman for 34 years. At 60, he is cast aside, his usefulness exhausted. With no future to dream about he must face the crushing disappointments of his past. He takes one final brave action, but is he heroic at last or a self-deluding fool?
Throughout this short play we follow Willy as he tries to feel relevant again. It must be a hard thing doing a job for more than half your life only to be cast aside as a relic of a time gone past. His hurt and confusion comes across quite clearly, and I would never forget him saying: ‘Attention, attention must be paid,‘ as he pleads for his wife, for his family, to see him. Can’t help but want to hug him.
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
After reading this one I was compelled to do a full review, that’s how much it resonated with me.
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.
Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.
This one covers every angle, and yes, there are problematic things about it, but there is so much in here that deserves to be seen. Being from a country that didn’t live through these kinds of race issues (because we do have our own race issues here), this book opened my eyes to a lot that I hadn’t considered before. I knew it was bad, but in that abstract way that you know falling out of a moving vehicle would be bad: there was nothing to use as context, to make it real and relatable.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I’m not sure I can say why this one broke me without spoilers so…um…GO READ THE BOOK!
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Much like LWTO, this one hurt me for its harsh realities.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them – in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul – they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
There is domestic violence, emotional abuse, poverty and child-loss, all interwoven with the constant dangers of an at war country. So much death, and fear, and oppression. This is worth the read.
AND NOW FOR THE MAN HIMSELF, ADAM SILVERA….
More Happy Than Not
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
Who the hell needs dry eyes anyway, right? Right?!! This was such a dark and twisty read, even my stomach felt its effects. Just when you think you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t hurt anymore, Silvera adds an extra layer of pain. Beautiful writing, heartwrenching premise and characters that move you. BUY EVERYTHING THAT ADAM WRITES, RIGHT NOW!
History is All You Left Me
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Oh. God. This. Book.
Griffin is such a broken boy and his worsening compulsions perfectly reflect that. But that’s not what hurt me in this book. What hurt me is the fact that Jackson and Griffin are hurting over someone who may or may not be worthy of that pain. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted them dwelling on him like they did. But life doesn’t work that way; we don’t get to choose who burrows their way into our hearts and leave it shredded. Read it.
Have you read any of these? Did they break you too? What books have wormed their way into your heart hole?