I have three more mini reviews for you today – all contemporary books, all green covers, but all very different stories!
The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno
Close internet friendships, check. Road trips, check. Excellent representation of mental health, disability and racial diversity, check.
Frannie and Louis have had tumultuous lives. They met in an online support group and have been friends for years, but have never seen each other face-to-face. Frannie lives with her grandparents, but her mother didn’t move away like she thought, and her father stabbed her with a pen when she was little. And Louis has been struggling with guilt ever since his twin sister fell out of his window and lost both her legs.
In The Lost & Found, Louis’s guilt and anxiety is palpable and Frannie’s desperation to know who she is is understandable. They’re both wonderful, relatable characters, but the side characters – Arrow (Frannie’s adopted cousin) and Willa (Louis’s sister) – are just as memorable. Louis and Frannie set off to Texas with their road trip buddies in order to accomplish something important to each of them – so why not meet each other at the same time?
The Lost & Found is a brilliant contemporary novel with a little magical realism – Frannie and Louis cannot understand why things they own just… disappear – which ties everything together beautifully. It’s only being published in the US at the moment, but I really hope it gets picked up here!
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
A new book by Morgan Matson is always going to be one of my most anticipated novels of the year. I was super excited when I received a copy with all the summer essentials, from a beach towel to sun cream.
Andie has her summer all planned out: she’s going to work towards getting into a top medical school, see as little of her Dad (a fancy Member of Congress) as possible, and spend as much time as she can with her best friends Palmer, Bri and Toby. That is, until her summer plans collapse. And I’m so glad they did.
As with all Morgan Matson novels, there’s a lovely (and quite awkward, at times) romance but it’s never the main part of the story, unlike friendship and family. Andie takes on a new and unexpected job as a dog-walker and meets super cute and shy Clark (who I’m sure all booklovers will adore!), and gets involved in a little best friend drama. She also discovers that her Dad can be quite fun after all, and is grieving for her mother as much as she is. (Who wouldn’t want to take part in a scavenger hunt with their parents?!).
But the novel itself is not so unexpected – summery, fun and one you need to pick up this summer. (I’m only disappointed that there were no tiny pugs!). Please may I have a new Morgan Matson novel every year for as long as I live?
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter-Hapgood
I adore the cover for The Square Root of Summer – we have a huge poster of it in our flat! And in The Square Root of Summer, Harriet does an excellent job of combining time travel, science and romance (complete with little diagrams because physics = difficult).
It’s been a year since Gottie’s life changed; when her grandfather died and the boy she fell in love with stopped being the boy she fell in love with (aka the boy I dislike intensely). But it’s a new summer, involving the return of her former best friend Thomas (aka the boy who bakes); changing friendships; new experiences; and travels through the space-time continuum – flashbacks to recent poignant moments in her life.
I particularly felt for Gottie as she grieved for her grandfather, Grey. It’s not the sort of relationship we often see in young adult novels, but it’s clearly the one that had the most influence on Gottie. He clearly helped shape who she is, from her disinterest in technology (her grandfather owned a dusty old bookshop) to her knowledge of German phrases. But the friendship-turned-romance in the story is also slow-burning and wonderful.
The Square Root of Summer is beautifully written and the inclusion of maths/physics was a fun way of representing Gottie trying to work herself out, too. It made a refreshing change from all the American YA contemporary novels I always curl up with!
Thank you to the publishers for providing these books for review!