I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!
Good-bye April, the shortest month this year. I have gone through a lot of sudden changes, but there are always more books to read. I even discovered two new favorites this month, which feels exciting.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Year Release: April 2020
Source: Netgalley ARC
Read an ARC acquired via NetGalley
Content and trigger warnings include: School shootings, PTSD, panic attack, depression, alcoholism, death of a relative, blood
May McGintee lost her twin brother eleven months prior to the events of this book in a school shooting perpetrated by a classmate. Zach is a classmate in the school she transfers too, who also happens to be the shooter’s lawyer. They meet at band practice one night and an unexpected friendship forms.
Though the shooting is important in the set-up, it is the depiction of the aftermath from two points of view which really make this book unique. This book does a beautiful job depicting PTSD with a protagonist who is decidedly not okay. May has been let down by all the adults in her life and lost her favorite teacher and her brother in a horrific event. She’s angry. She acts out. She has less than favorable things said to those around her. The way her processing of her loss really stood out to me.
Zach’s perspective had been handled so compassionately. One of the things that really worked for me as a whole in this book was the thread of children not being held to their parents mistakes. No one handles anything appropriately, and it is so achingly human. This disappointment felt by the children is almost a character in and of itself. Lawson beautiful and heart-wrenchingly navigates all the facets, from individual disappointments to May’s rightful rage at the system which did nothing to address her specific trauma.
My heart still aches after finishing, but I couldn’t put it down. It is a powerful read full of grief, rage, and, most importantly, hope and healing.