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If you haven't heard the buzz surrounding Sadie by Courtney Summers, then be sure to visit last week's Wonder Reads post!
At its core, Sadie is a story about a young woman who has had a difficult life. She has made a decision to leave it all behind to find and kill the man who took away the only person she'd ever loved (her younger sister Mattie). As I read my way through Sadie, I began to think of other stories I'd read about young women and girls faced with difficult lives, families, and choices. If stories like Sadie's appeal to you, then here are my suggestions for your TBR list.
Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
Greenwood's book is a fictionalized account of the very real kidnapping of 12-year-old Sally Horner in 1948. In the book, the story begins with a young Sally in Camden, New Jersey desperately seeking the approval of the cute girls in her class. On a whim, she approaches them and they orchestrate an initiation for Sally: she must go to Woolworth's and steal something. Only then will she be granted access to their group. Not without great hesitation, Sally eventually decides she will take a notebook from the store and does so almost successfully until a man at the counter grabs her by the shoulder. He reveals himself to work for the FBI and threatens to take Sally away for what she was about to do, but decides to let her off with a warning. She reveals to him which school she attends, and the very next day he finds her. Unbeknownst to Sally, Frank LaSalle is a sexual predator who will pose as not only a friend's father, but her father too and change Sally's identity as he holds her captive and threatens to kill her family as they move from city to city. The book shifts perspectives between all the different women Sally and Frank encounter along their way, and the men who regard these women as gossipy or sinful for wanting to try to act on their unsettling feelings about Sally and Frank.
Who I'm recommending it to: readers who can stomach tragedy and think critically about what it really means to be a young girl and a woman in our society.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Evie Boyd is both a victim of her age (14) and the age in which she is living. Cline's debut is set in the 1960s and Evie is a restless teenager whose parents are going through a divorce. She is a wandering teenage girl who is naive to the ways of the world. She becomes obsessed with a group of girls she sees and meets at the park. They are different than anyone else around and she wants to know them. As it turns out, they are part of a group who follow a man named Russell (ie. Charles Manson). He leads this group of young people off the grid, to an abandoned house where they hang on his every word. Evie falls victim to his psychological manipulation, and it ends the way you think it's going to end: violently. The pacing of the book is slow and not focused on action. Instead, it gives readers the sense of restlessness that can motivate young people to seek out thrills, which in turn open doors for adults to change the course of their lives.
Who I'm recommending it to: readers who enjoy reading about restless teenagers who encounter the dark side of the world too soon.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
This book, dear readers, is not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle reading stories about trauma, abuse, sexual violence, parental neglect, then you should skip this book. In short, this book is about Wavy, a young girl whose father is a meth dealer and whose mother suffers from mental illness. Set in the bleak, open skies and land of the midwest, at its heart, Wavy's story is about surviving. Wavy is the only adult she and her young brother can rely on. However, one night she witnesses a motorcycle accident involving one of her father's friends, Kellen, and she helps him. From here, Wavy and Kellen's story becomes connected in ways that will save them both. From the outside, others don't know what to make of their relationship, and readers are forced to make their own interpretations. They're given all the gruesome and disturbing facts of Wavy's life. Despite these things, how was Wavy able to survive? Was it because she's strong? Was it because Kellen showed her love? Was that love wrong? Was it all these things? You'll have to decide for yourself.
Who I'm recommending it to: readers interested in stories that force them beyond the limits of their comfort zone and require them to consider life in someone else's shoes.
If any of these descriptions made you squirm, or piqued your interest, then make sure to add them to your TBR list and test your reading limits. And, of course, let me know if you loved them, hated them, or are still trying to decide!
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info