Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Celebrate Diversity

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)

I LOVE diverse books! I love people, full stop, and I’ve always loved getting to learn about people who were different from me. It keeps my mind open and my heart full. As such, this list is way over ten books. There was no way I could keep it at ten. However, I did try to keep it relatively short (It’s 15 books!) and all relatively recent releases.

Books with LGBTQIA+ themes:

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera I'll Give You the Sun George by Alex Gino Everything Leads to You

Books about mental illnesses:

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia   Paperweight by Meg Haston   Where the Moon Isn't   Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day

Books with religious themes:

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu    The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Books with POC characters:

Ms. Marvel, volume 1   The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh   Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Here are some books that celebrate diversity that I can’t wait to read:

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

I could’ve gone on for days but I’ll stop there. I’m always open to book suggestions. Is there a diverse book you think I should read? Let me know!

Waiting on Wednesday: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Author: Becky Albertalli

Release date: April 7, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Why I’m excited: I hadn’t heard of this one until the Decatur Book Festival, where I got an ARC of the book. I think it sounds really interesting. All of the reviews on Goodreads have rated it quite highly and said that the voice is really authentic. I love authentic voices in young adult literature. And “messy dynamics”? Sounds right up my alley. Anything that deals with someone figuring out how to not compromise themselves is usually something I like; be yourself, you guys!

What are you excited about?

Book Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You WillTitle: Say What You Will

Author: Cammie McGovern

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date:

Hardback: 343

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

What I thought:

I believe there are choices each of us makes every single day. We can dwell on our limitations or we can push ourselves past them. I have learned not to judge people by their limitations, but by the way they push past them.

I thought this book had a beautiful and extremely positive message. In that effect, I think it completely earns its comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The characters in Say What You Will, Amy and Matthew, are very authentic, in my opinion. Of course, I don’t know anyone with cerebral palsy, but I thought Amy, as well as how other characters acted around her, felt real and legit (and also sad).

I really liked the diversity in this book. I read to be exposed to things I haven’t had any experiences with. I love to learn about new things and there was a lot of learning in Say What You Will. I know some about OCD, but I was able to broaden my knowledge while reading about Matthew and his struggle with his disorder.

On the other hand, it was sometimes hard to feel what these characters felt. Yes, I learned more about what it is like to deal with these two very different disabilities, but I didn’t actually feel their reactions, etc. I do want to say that the writing is beautiful and feels really authentic, but it was just hard for me to actually empathize with the characters. Closer to the end of the novel, I was able to feel some of their emotions, but it took way too long for this in my opinion.

Something else I liked about the book were the formats McGovern used to deliver the story. We get texts, letters, IM messages, and my favorite: unsent draft emails. I liked all the different formats, but the unsent emails were my favorite because they provided insight into the characters feelings that we (okay, I) were unable to see earlier in the novel. These draft emails were definitely a better choice than diary entries.

Though I thought it was super shocking, the unexpected plot twist made these characters deal with their disabilities in a way they had never had to do previously, and I really appreciated McGovern’s use of this twist for that reason.

I do wish we could’ve gotten to know the other characters better. The focus was on Amy and Matthew too much and everyone else was pushed aside. The only other character we sort of got to know was Amy’s mother but only really through our main characters’ eyes.

In my first Quote Quoted post this week, I talked about one of my favorite quotes from this book. Here it is again:

Freakishness could happen to anyone at any time.

The message in this book was awesome: You don’t always know what is crippling someone. Just because they look fine on the outside, it doesn’t mean that they are okay. You should never assume and you shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown. I loved that. “It was all about acceptance, he thought. About realizing no one is perfect and no one can expect to change someone else.” Everyone has flaws and you shouldn’t judge someone on them.

The bottom line:

As you can probably tell, Say What You Will was kind of a roller coaster for me in terms of what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I would definitely recommend it. Especially to people looking for something different and unique or a book dealing with disabilities but full of acceptance.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Reading Next: The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day