2021, Week The Sixteenth: Normal? What’s Normal?

April 22, 2021 Audio Books, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Hidey Ho, Bookworms,
Sorry I flaked on you last week but it was a doozy. As of last Saturday I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (both shots plus 2 weeks.) So is my husband. Working from home full time for an entire year with a toddler was not doing either me or the toddler any favors. Well. Other than keeping us safe from a potentially deadly pandemic. BUT. Since vaccines for children aren’t going to be available for quite a while, and all the adults in our family orbit are now protected, we made the decision to begin dipping our toes back into the world. Gingerly. With caution. And that first little splash? Childcare. I’ll spare you the drama, but Sammers is now enrolled at a new-to-us daycare center. There’s been a lot of adjusting and more than a few tears (on my part as well as Sam’s.) I’m not going to say that everything is settled, because we’re still working through nerves and whatnot, but we’re making progress. I think. Enough progress that I’m going to talk about some books, at least.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed- This book packed a lot of punch for what was ostensibly a simple YA love story. Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed teamed up to write this sweet story of a pair of high school students roped into political canvassing. Jamie Goldberg (Albertalli’s half) is volunteering for his local senate candidate behind the scenes. His cousin is running the campaign, and while Jamie secretly yearns to be a part of the political process, his anxiety tends to get the better of him when it comes to public speaking and chatting with strangers. Supermarket fruit stands are also obstacles to overcome. He’s a complete sweetheart, but being 17 is not for the faint of heart. Maya Rehman (Saeed’s character) is having a spectacularly crappy summer- her parents recently separated, her best friend seems to have outgrown her, and now she’s stuck canvassing for a local political candidate. Maya and Jamie are paired up to knock on doors and spread the word about their candidate. Somewhere in the midst of the less than glamourous process, the campaign becomes intensely personal for both Maya and Jamie. And their feelings for each other? They might just be getting a bit complicated. I thought this book was really cute, but it was written (and is set) in the 2018 special election cycle when things were looking pretty bleak for a lot of folks. I couldn’t help but relive a lot of that doom-scrolling anxiety while I read this book. So, it’s a nice story, but I’d almost slap a content warning on it. On the surface it sounds pretty fluffy, but it does get intense for those who are still, uh, recovering from the last political administration. 

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab- I love this series. The protagonist is 12, so I guess that makes it “middle grade fiction”, but apparently middle grade is the sweet spot for me when it comes to spooky literature. This series is just the right level of creepy for 12 year olds and people who get nightmares from even the tamer Stephen King novels. We rejoin Cassidy Blake, her best friend Jacob (totally a ghost, but whatever), and her paranormal investigator parents on a haunted tour of New Orleans. They crew has already toured a supremely haunted Edinburgh and the Catacombs of Paris, so New Orleans should be NBD. Cassidy is just beginning to come to terms with her role as an “in-betweener” and releasing trapped spirits into the great beyond… Except for Jacob, of course, because the 87th rule of friendship is that you don’t break the tether pinning your BFF to the mortal world, even if they happen to be dead. Or something like that. The only problem? Cassidy seems to have some sort of Grim Reaper type of thing tailing her and NOLA is, like, layers upon layers of haunted. I have never been to New Orleans, because I do not go places, but it sounds like an extremely cool city. Also an extremely haunted city, so perhaps my scaredy-cat self shouldn’t play tourist there. I don’t know. The point is that these stories are very fun, very creepy, and stay juuuuuust on this side of the terrifying line. A tasty little treat via audio book as well. Give it a whirl!

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein- This book was a delight. The only sporting event I watch with any degree of enthusiasm is Gymnastics. I love watching people do amazing backflips intentionally (the backflips that happen in tackle football will never delight me this way.) It’s not a sport I regularly follow, because I am lazy and sports are not exactly high on my radar, but if I stumble across a competition on TV? I’m all in. And the Olympics? Look, if you think that I wasn’t pretending to be Kerri Strug nailing her final vault on an injured ankle in 1996 on my friend’s backyard trampoline? YOU WOULD BE MISTAKEN. What a TREAT to find a romance starring former elite gymnasts turned coaches. Avery is a former elite gymnast- a tragic injury at the Olympic trials ended her career and she’s been sort of drifting ever since. Thanks to a recent breakup, she finds herself back in her hometown with no idea what to do with herself. Then, out of nowhere, the super cute male gymnast she totally used to have a crush on calls to offer her the opportunity to help him coach an Olympic hopeful. We get to see Avery work through a lot of her feelings and trauma regarding her gymnastics career, get to see her blossom as a coach, AND witness a pretty cute love story in the process. It packs a punch in the feelings department, and it doesn’t gloss over the systemic issues in gymnastics. There’s a lot of discussion of problematic coaching tactics, creepy grooming behaviors, emotional abuse, and inappropriate relationships. It also takes the sexual abuse scandal perpetuated by that one awful doctor head on. (May he rot in prison forever.) Overall the book was a bit less fluffy than I’d expected, but I still really enjoyed it. Content warnings for all of the above issues, though, obviously. 

That’s all for this week, but I’m still reading and I *should* have more quiet time for audio book listening these days. Exciting! Oh, but if we get to next week’s post and I haven’t renewed my library card, someone yell at me, OK? 

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent bookstore. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home!

3 Responses to “2021, Week The Sixteenth: Normal? What’s Normal?”

  1. Amanda

    Why do you keep doing this to my TBR? Olympics and smooches! Yes.And I’m constantly now looking for new MG for the big kid (and myself) so this is an easy yes.

  2. DoingDewey

    Congratulations on both being vaccinated! My husband got his second shot today and I’ll get mine in a few weeks. I’ve never been this happy to get a shot 🙂

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