January’s Best Book

Is it just me or did January drag on forever? Ugh… seriously my least favorite month of the year. That said, February somehow managed to sneak up on me before I had a chance to do a reading wrap up for January! I managed to read some amazing books while it poured rain pretty much every day of 2011, thus far. Here they are:

1. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb which was elegant, lyrical, and romantic. 
2. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I can’t say I liked it, exactly, because mostly I found it hauntingly disturbing. But, its characters have stuck with me, which, in my opinion, is the sign of an important book.
3. One very popular paranormal romance I happened to hate. Cool premise, but so not  for me.
4. Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, which I absolutely adored. I find her writing style very appealing, and the characters in OWL are precious. I’m going to have to hunt down Story of a Girl next.
5. An eating disorder issue book that will remain nameless because I couldn’t get through it. Let me say, I VERY rarely quit books, but this one was way too dry. Plus, it was a library book so I didn’t feel quite so guilty about moving on.
6. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer, which was difficult to get through, especially considering it completely lacked tension. I mean, who doesn’t know what happens to Bree at the end of the story?
7. The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting. LOVED. See my fangirl post here.
8. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. A slow start, but I ended up really enjoying it. In fact, I think it’s my favorite of all the Sarah Dessen novels I’ve read.
9. Last but not least, I had the pleasure of reading the very cool urban fantasy of one of my CPs, Jus Accardo. She’s hugely talented and I can’t wait for you all to read her work.

That said, I had a stand out favorite of all the books I read in January:

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

From Goodreads: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first. Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Some Girls Are is exactly how I like my contemporary YA: realistic, gritty, and daring. But, as the mother of a three-year-old girl who will someday be in high school, I found this story particularly disturbing. It’s Mean Girls amped up about fifty notches. The behavior of Regina and her “friends” is completely deplorable, and it took a long time for me to find her a likeable narrator. Even though many of the things she does are in retaliation or self-defense, they’re still terrible and dangerous. I kept hoping she’d just bow down so Anna (the Queen Bee) and her cronies would back off and leave her alone. Seriously. The bullying was so, so bad. But, I suppose that’s one of the reasons Regina grew on me. She refused to let the Fearsome Foursome crush her.  

Regina’s former victim and eventual ally, Michael Hayden, was the reason this book kept me up reading until 1 am . It’s hard to find words to describe him because he felt so real and layered. He was damaged and bitter, but I could tell right away there was goodness hidden away somewhere under his defenses. He was sensitive, but still sort of badass. And he never let Regina off easy, although at the same time he reluctantly but continuously came to her rescue. In the same way I desperately wanted Regina to grow up and become a better person, I wanted Michael to fully forgive her for the ways she’d wronged him.  

Some Girls Are raises a lot of important questions. What is true friendship? At what price does surrendering your integrity come? What is the role of teachers and administrators in the fight against bullying?  What is the ultimate revenge worth? How far might you be willing to go to protect someone you care about? Just how involved should parents be in the lives of their teenagers? How far does a former bully have to fall to earn forgiveness?

I intend to search out everything else Courtney Summers has written on my next Borders trip and  highly recommend you check out Some Girls Are.

What about you? What’s the best book you read in January?


8 thoughts on “January’s Best Book

  1. Heather Howland says:

    Nice list!! Also, I have STORY OF A GIRL and will send it to you if you don’t want to search the library. You can even keep it if you’d like 🙂

    I’m going to finish off the last two books you sent me by next week, and then a new box of goodies will be headed your way!

    You’ve inspired me – I now need to do my January read list!

    • katyupperman says:

      I won’t keep your STORY OF A GIRL, but I’d love to borrow it! And I wasn’t going to bother with my library. The YA section there is pretty sad… hard to find good stuff there.

  2. Carla says:

    Your posts are so thought provoking! This is a little off topic, but your mention of Borders got me wondering… sounds like you still read paperback/hardback? Do you buy them all or do the library thing? If buy, do you keep all of them or recycle/resell? Curious what your thoughts are about the “reading conversion” to ebooks – i.e. would you/have you considered a Kindle or the like? I know Aunt Barb loves hers, but even being the techie that I am, I am still so married to turning pages and I love the visual graphic of a book cover. I think this would be an interesting blog post!

    • katyupperman says:

      Ooh, I will totally do a post on this, Carla. Thanks for the idea! To quickly answer your questions, I only read paperback/hardcover books. I don’t intend to get an eReader any time soon. Like you, I love traditional books and I keep all of mine lined up all pretty on multiple bookshelves, even ones I didn’t love. I don’t know why, but I don’t resell. I feel a weird sense of loyalty to a book once I’ve read it. I do the library occasionally, but I actually get a little sad when I read a great library book because then I have to take it back. I totally get why people love their Kindles, but for me there’s something romantic and timeless about books.

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