Mini Review Monday #31

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve read, loved and usually promised to review ages ago.

Today, I’m focusing on three amazing YA contemporaries, all of which have a deeply personal and emotional element to them. First up is the incredible anthology Come On In, which I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of from Harper 360.

This exceptional and powerful anthology explores the joys, heartbreaks and triumphs of immigration, with stories by bestselling and beloved YA authors who are themselves immigrants and the children of immigrants.


From some of the most exciting bestselling and up-and-coming YA authors writing today…journey from Ecuador to New York City and Argentina to Utah, from Australia to Harlem and India to New Jersey, from Fiji, America, Mexico and more… Come On In.

With characters who face random traffic stops, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the daunting and inspiring journey to new lands, who camp with their extended families, dance at weddings, keep diaries, teach ESL, give up their rooms for displaced family, decide their own answer to the question “where are you from?” and so much more, Come On In illuminates fifteen of the myriad facets of the immigrant experience.

Publication Date: 7th January

TW: racism, xenophobia, bullying, deportation

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Come On In was a sheer powerhouse of a book. I always struggle reviewing anthologies, as they encompass so many different experiences and styles into one, but this was just fantastic. 

Every single tale felt incredibly vibrant and deeply personal, of course enhanced by the Own Voices aspect of the writing. They all completely transported me and immersed me in their rich, refreshingly honest voices. So many different facets of the immigration experience and what being an immigrant in another country means are explored in detail, with a variety of cultures being celebrated. For me, they all struck such a chord and I connected so strongly with the characters in the space of a few pages. Going in, I was very excited about certain author’s work, but every piece shined, which I haven’t found to be the case in that many anthologies. 

Through these unique voices, important and valuable stories are being told. There is no monolith or one story that fits all, despite what some media portrayals may want you to think. Every person’s story is as different as they are, but there are some common themes that run amongst them all. There’s this strength both of character and spirit, bravery but also fear, of new territory and acceptance. It lays bare societal flaws and the mistreatment of those wrongly considered to be ‘other’. Especially in today’s political climate, we must challenge these ideas and continue to humanise the people behind the headlines and warped images. This book is so incredibly powerful because simply by letting people vocalise their stories, it completely shatters every stereotype and bigoted idea. 

Come On In showcases a wealth of diverse experiences through compelling storytelling that highlights both the commonalities and the unique distinctions of each experience of immigration.

Next up is the exception Gut Feelings by C.G. Moore, which I was privileged enough to receive a copy of from UCLan Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

At school, I learned that words,
More than weapons,
Could destroy bodies,
Could break hearts
More than fists or fury.

This is the story of Chris, what happened to him at age eleven and how that would change the rest of his life. A life-affirming and powerful coming of age verse novel that shines a light on chronic illness, who we are and how we live.

Familial adenomatous polyposis
fa mIljal aedI na matas p la pousIs noun

An inherited disorder characterised by the rapid growth of small, pre-cancerous polyps in the large intestines.

Publication Date: 14th January

TW: chronic illness, surgery, homophobia, bullying

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Gut Feelings cut deep. This was such a powerful, eye-opening read that felt so poignant and beautiful. 

This is a deeply personal story and it’s incredibly brave of Chris to be sharing such intimate details of his life, but I truly feel like this is a book that could change people’s lives. It examines living with a chronic illness and hidden disabilities through searing language that you can’t help but deeply emotionally connect with. I’ve spoken before about the innate emotional power that exists within poetry for me and Chris perfectly utilises the sparsity of the language here for maximum effect. Each word is obviously carefully considered and chosen. There’s also no room for sugarcoating or dishonesty, instead we are presented with the raw truth. In this way, I think it reflects the experiences of so many incredibly well. 

There’s a plethora of conflicting emotions presented within the book, each of which I felt distinctly and I found myself connecting to Chris’ voice deeply. Some aspects of the story really hit home from familial experiences and this kind of representation is sorely needed. Invisible or hidden disabilities need to be spoken about more and we need to erase the notion of assuming that we need to always see someone’s disability in order for it to be considered real. No disability is more important than another and in particular the poem about using a disabled bathroom in public is exceptional. 

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I absolutely flew through this in the space of an evening, unable to tear myself away from the stunning yet devastating writing. Chris is definitely an author to watch and now I feel like I need to read everything he’s written. 

Gut Feelings is a heart-wrenching, no holds barred discussion of living with a chronic illness, yet it also showcases the importance of family and the reclamation of your own narrative. 

Finally, I’d like to delve into the brilliant Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis. Yet again, I’m very grateful to Harper 360 for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.

Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.

Publication Date: 4th February

TW: mentions of suicide, suicide of family member, car accident

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

As a huge musical theatre fan, the premise of Roman and Jewel was pure bliss to me. As luck would have it, this adorable contemporary more than lived up to my expectations. 

At its heart, this is a love letter to theatre and the power of music. Jerzhie is a musical devotee and her passion and dedication truly shines through. She is committed to her craft, ambitious and has the skills to back it up. I loved how she owned her talent, letting her abilities speak for themselves. Aunt Karla was also such a scene stealing character who I really liked. 

This is a Romeo and Juliet, star crossed lovers story within a Hamilton-esque take on the same story through the form of the musical. I loved how many meta layers there was, which all added to the realism. It genuinely just felt like such a sweet and charming tale that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. Also, I really enjoyed how Davis wove in the romance with the aspects of the show and Jerzhie’s own coming of age story. 

Contemporary romances thrive on the chemistry between their two leads and here, you could feel the sparks fly off the page. I liked how it wasn’t quite insta-love instead it felt like there was natural progression with plenty of challenges for each of them to overcome. Their dialogue really sparkled and I felt my heart warm at certain scenes. However, I equally loved how Jerzhie never lost sight of her dreams and didn’t sacrifice them for the sake of a boy. 

Roman and Jewel is a highly entertaining, easily bingeable YA romance for today, packed full of music and the reminder to always chase your dreams.

4 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #31

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