For day 15 of Blogtober, I thought I’d bump up my review count for this month by including some mini reviews of books I’ve read this year that I’ve absolutely loved!
First up, it’s the gorgeous Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard.
Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard:
When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?
Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a complete shock when, five days before the start of their GCSEs, Bonnie runs away with a guy Eden knows nothing about. And it’s the last person she would ever have expected.
As the days pass, and her world begins to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her best friend and herself.
Sara Barnard is a definite heavy-weight in UKYA, producing smash-hit after smash-hit. Her previous works, Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, deal with complicated subjects in nuanced, clever ways, so it was no surprise that Goodbye Perfect kept this up.
Goodbye Perfect deals with a topic that isn’t usually discussed in YA: friendships breaking. That kind of pain just doesn’t appear, so it’s brilliant to have a novel that primarily focuses on it. Barnard just seems to get what being a teenager is like, with her strong understanding of family relationships also on display.
In short, Goodbye Perfect is a phenomenal dissection of female friendships, loyalty and family.
Secondly, I want to talk about the spell-binding Orphan Monster Spy.
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen:
After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.
Sarah burst off the page with her fearless and determined attitude. Also the cover was absolutely stunning and gave me strong Gatsby vibes with its Art Deco style.
To keep with the mysterious nature of this book, I won’t give much away. All I will say is that it is completely engrossing, slick and stylish.
Orphan Monster Spy is a gripping, fast-paced novel that introduces a brilliant main character that I can’t wait to see more of.
And last, but definitely not least, I’m going to talk about the adorable but dramatic American Panda.
Trigger warnings: ableist language, death of a family member, disowning, germaphobia, medical stuff, mention of suicide
American Panda by Gloria Chao:
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
Mei was such an engaging and sweet character who perfectly matched the warm fuzzy feeling the book gave me. It’s such a feel-good story that also raises so important points.
I think it’s a perfect book to read whenever you feel down, as it’s just one of those books that will just perk you up. However there is a lot of intense discussion around familial pressure and expectations, which made me fall even more in love with this book.
It was just diverse, brilliant and simply lovely. Simply put, American Panda is a cute contemporary with diverse characters and an adorable romance, but it’s not afraid to tackle tough issues at the same time.
Over To You:
Have you read any books I’ve reviewed today? What did you think of them?
I’ve tried to include a mix of genres from across YA, as I’m quite a mood reader, so I’m always jumping from one genre to another!