Book Recommendations (Vol. 02)

It’s summer, and I’m on UNI’s campus again for grad school classes which feels simultaneously very odd (I feel very old and it’s making me miss my UNI friends a TON) and exactly like home (every place is familiar, I got to chat with one of my favorite professors and the Honors program director).

It’s also 6 months into 2017, which means we’re due for my quarterly book recommendations post!

Read previous editions:

Vol. 01


I’ve now read 34 books this year, which means I’ve read 19 since my last post!

Here are my top 5 from this quarter:

the princess saves herself in this one – Amanda Lovelace

This is a book of poetry with four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you.

This was so. Incredibly. Beautiful. and devastating. and empowering. I was hooked instantly by the dedication page, “for the boy who lived / thank you for inspiring me to be  / the girl who survived / you may have / a lightning bolt / to show for it / but my body is a / lightning storm.” (You all know Harry Potter gets me every dang time!) I want to frame prints of half the poems in this book. I want to type out about four of them right here. You NEED to read this. It is stunning.


Under Rose-Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

Norah can’t leave her house because she is so afraid of everything. She kind of hates herself for it. Luke moves in next door and wants to meet the girl he saw in the window.

I loved this one a lot because it isn’t a story of boy-saves-girl from her mental illness with love or something that is actually nonsensical. Saying more than that would be a spoiler, but I think it’s an interesting portrayal of this type of mental illness, and it’s an own voices novel (which means an author writing a book about a marginalized population is actually part of said population). It’s lovely and funny and odd, and it’s realistic but still beautiful.


Something in Between – Melissa de la Cruz

Jasmine just won a super prestigious scholarship – full college tuition FROM THE WHITE HOUSE – but instead of being ecstatic, her parents get upset. They inform her that instead of being green card holders all these years, they’ve been undocumented immigrants. She can’t go to the scholarship banquet or accept the scholarship. She might not even actually be able to go to college like she’s been working so hard for.

I loved how incredibly real this was for so many students who are living undocumented lives that they can’t even control because it was their parents’ decision. Who have tried so hard to go through the right channels but our country won’t let them be here legally so they’re forced to make a really hard decision. It brings in politicians and how we value immigrants who achieve special accomplishments over other ones, and there’s also a love story because of course there is. It felt like reading this, I was hurt by everything that hurt Jasmine, and it made me really think about how we treat people who contribute to our country every day but that we don’t consider part of us.


Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives – Gary Younge

Younge chose a day (mostly) at random. November 23, 2013. He found every person under the age of 18 who died due to gun violence on that day. There were ten. These are their stories. (nonfiction)

This book was so intensely hard to read – I could only handle about 10-15 pages at a time before taking a break. It’s a blunt description of the reality we live in with the constant ready access to guns we experience as Americans. It acknowledges that this reality is not a simple thing to change, and speaks with groups who don’t want it to change (which literally made me want to throw up). Younge tells us about ten children who died before they ever reached 18 because someone got their hands on a gun, and something happened. Their stories aren’t all the same, but they aren’t all different either. But they’re all dead, and this is just one randomly chosen day. I think it’s an incredibly important book. I want you to read it.


If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo

Amanda is starting at a new school in Tennessee, so she can get a fresh start as Amanda. No one at her new school knows that she is transgender. She meets Grant, who seems to like her. She makes friends. But she’s terrified that once they find out, they’ll turn on her.

This is another own voices novel and I really think we need more own voices stories about transgender youth because we need to hear their voices. I was captured by Amanda’s character from the start and thought she was funny and brave and real and normal, but going through something so scary and different at the same time. I didn’t love the way this one was wrapped up (or wasn’t…), but I really enjoyed up to the very ending, so this one barely makes my top 5 because I think it’s an important voice that we’re missing in YA fiction.


Author: missmastalio

Math teacher at an alternative high school. Living the best life.

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