At the start of this year, Angel and I picked out five books for one another off our shelves for the year. Today that challenge draws to an end and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on all of them. I did do a mid-year check-in, which you can see here if you’d like. Otherwise, let’s start with the ones I hadn’t read in my mid-year update, and then move onto the others.
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
I picked this one up at the start of October and I’m still feeling kind of conflicted about it. On one hand, I loved the representation of chronic illness. It felt real, honest and in line with my own experiences. I have to admit sometimes that made it a little hard to read, and it took me quite a few days to get through because of that. It was also just a super cute read. But then, the characters. Oh boy, the characters. I hated like 98% of them. Ibby’s friends straight up suck. They remind me so much of some of the people I was in high school with and how much they just didn’t get it. So it’s very realistic, but I just hate that anyone (real or fictional) is ever made to feel like that. And outside of Ibby and Sasha’s illnesses, I didn’t really like them either. By that I mean, I felt very cnnected to the parts where they have bad days or talk about being sick and etc, but some of the other things they said and did annoyed me. So great chronic illness rep, but meh characters!
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
I finally had to admit to myself last week that I wasn’t going to get around to this one by the end of the year. I’d been putting it off all year because I know that this will absolutely ruin me, and I kept just saying ‘oh I’ll read it next month’ and then suddenly, wow it’s December. I don’t know that I’ll ever be in the right mental space to read this one—if you don’t know, this follows a teenage girl named Lex after her brother has taken his own life. I know it’s going to be a beautiful book, from what I can remember from Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series, that also dealt with grief in a really honest way, so I know I’ll be in good hands. But reading books about grief is never easy and I really don’t think finishing off the year that 2020 has been with a book that’s going to really get to me is the best idea. I am going to roll this over in 2021. I did buy the book before we even started this project, so I do genuinely want to read it but that’s just not going to happen this month.
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Hands down, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s probably my second favourite from this list, but we’ll get to that in a second. I had previously read Alex, Approximately and really enjoyed it, as well as one of Bennett’s romance books during the year. On top of that, I’ve been listening to Angel talk about Jenn Bennett for literal years. It’s not very often that Angel and I disagree about bookish things (or like anything really), so I figured I’d probably love this one as much as she did. This was kind of the perfect one for me out of Bennett’s backlist—the main character loves mystery novels, and there’s some chronic illness/disability rep in there as well. It just turned out to be a really sweet romance and it was definitely what I needed this year. I’m extremely fussy when it comes to contemporary YA, but Bennett hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve already asked Angel to help me pick out which of hers to read next.
All the Little Bones (Circus Hearts #1) by Ellie Marney
So I talked about this one very briefly in my mid-year update, but I’ll go into a little more detail here to wrap things up. I mentioned in that post that I didn’t like this, and the main reason for that is that I just can’t do circus books. I could do a whole rant about circuses and their mistreatment of disabled people and other marginalised groups, but then I’ll just get angry. I should note that this doesn’t partake in that, or at least the little bit I read before unhauling it didn’t, but romanticising circuses? That’s a no from me. It does make me really sad because I genuinely love Ellie Marney—her Every series is one of my top series of all-time, and she is such a wonderful member of the Australian book community, but I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t read this whole thing. I don’t think it was a story for me despite all of that, if I’d been enjoying the story then I might have been able to sort of push that stuff to the back of my mind enough to get sucked in, but just no dice here.
The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros
And here we are, the best one from the list! While this is definitely my favourite from here, and one of the best books I read in 2020 overall, I don’t know it’ll take out the top spot. I’m still kind of working on putting together my top books list—it’s definitely on there, but I’m not sure where yet. This was actually the first one on this list I read, which was way back in March, and I’ve honestly still not quite recovered from it. It absolutely tore me apart. We’re not talking like ‘oh I cried a little’, we’re talking full-on, body-wracking sobs even after I’d finished it. Just like contemporary YA, contemporary romance is not really my jam but Rebecca Yarros is looking like she might be one of those rare exceptions. I’ve already read another book of hers, which also ruined me and I loved it. So as per usual, Angel was right and I totally owe her for making me read this.
So that’s the wrap up for this year. Angel and I will be back next year with a whole new section of books for our 2021 challenge.