Well, it’s that time of the year again! Banned Books Week!
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
I pondered about what I wanted to contribute to Banned Books Week. I decided I wanted to do a timeline of Young Adult books that have been banned and challenged. Even to this day, books continue to be banned for ridiculous reasons (which you will see below). It boggles my mind because I’m sure kids have seen and heard a lot worst from movies and music.
These are the young adult novels that have been banned or challenged in the United States. I’ve listed them under the earliest year I could find when they were first banned. I’m well aware that the books might’ve been banned earlier and that there are plenty of YA books I’ve left out, but in the meantime, voila!
On a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She’s been sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes—and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about.
First sentence: “Seated in the council room of the Assassin’s Keep, Celaena Sardothien leaned back in her chair.”
What we have in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is an introduction into the Throne of Glass world and Celaena Sardothien, the main character/teenage assassin. We see her and another assassin, Sam Cortland, on a mission to collect something from Captain Rolfe for their leader/mentor, Arobynn Hamel. The mission was to collect slaves, but Celaena, with the help of Sam, have other plans.
I really love the way Calaena was portrayed. She still has her morals and isn’t coldhearted (ie. freeing the slaves). However, I had a problem with her arrogance, which I found to be really unattractive. I understand that her arrogance and her brash attitude emphasizes that she still has a lot to learn and has yet to lose anything. Also, I had expected Celaena to showcase her talents in the novella, but nope. We get a mild version of it – Celaena fighting. No assassin-y type actions, which disappointed me.
The novella was an okay introduction to this world that Sarah J. Maas created. It set up the relationship between Sam and Celaena nicely, which I have a feeling will be extremely important in the first book. It really made me ask questions about the assassins and it made me interested to see how everything will be developed. However, I felt there was something lacking in the plot that made me hesitant to grasp onto the next novella/book. Despite that, I will continue. I’m sure my heart will be ripped out of my chest since I’m hearing Sam becomes the catalyst of some sort of change in Celaena.
Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art — until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all — with enough distance, maybe she’ll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
First sentence: “I was six the first time we found Grayson at the quarry.”
A book dealing with a disorder. OCD! Finally! I really enjoyed the book. This books is so much more than a road trip or about OCD. It’s about Kendra confronting her feelings/issues with her brother and coming to terms with them. And a road trip is the perfect setting for everything to be laid out on the table and to be addressed. They have to deal with their problems in a small space (the car) in a big world. The only major problem I had with the book was the awkward usage of language and unnecessary suspense, but other than that, I thought Jennifer Brown did a splendid job with the book.
- OCD at its worst!
Jennifer Brown did her research! I really enjoyed the way she was able to portray OCD. She showed how it affects/controls the life of the person who suffers from it and their family. Everybody’s lives are forever changed because of it. I loved that we got to see both sides of it and see how the characters deal with it (like the scene where Kendra finally tells Grayson what she did and about how she had to be absolutely perfect for their parents to get their parents to notice her, and Grayson responds that he wishes he could do the normal stuff that he sees Kendra do with their parents). We see people who accept Grayson for who he is, people who walk on eggshells around him, and people who resents him.
- Sibling relationship!
I find Kendra’s and Grayson’s relationship fascinating. Their interactions were cute. They argued with each other, they were frustrated with each other. They clearly love each other, but Grayson’s OCD gets in the way of everything. Kendra has this resentment against her brother because her life is flipped upside-down and he, in a sense, affected her relationship with their parents, her best friend, and…Grayson himself. On this road trip, they begin to understand a bit more about each other. They both are able to put their feelings on the table.
- The ending!
I like that the ending didn’t solve Kendra’s and Grayson’s problems. It wasn’t tidied up in a neat little box with a bow. I know many people had a problem, but I thought it was fitting because their problems won’t immediately solved. It’s extremely realistic that it’ll take some time to completely deal with OCD and the cheating scandal. The ending was optimistic. With every issue out in the open, they are on a road to recovery.
- The wrong type of suspense – the “mysterious” reason for the road trip.
I was annoyed that we spent the majority of chapter 5 dwelling on this “mysterious incident” at school that made Kendra run away from it (which I had already guessed that it was a cheating scandal). The incident was continually referred to, but what happened wasn’t explicitly said out loud until Chapter 21, nearly 3/4 into the book. I understand the reasons not to reveal the entirety of the scandal because Kendra was still running away from her problems. I just thought it was unnecessary to only reveal a small portion of it when there were chapters spent talking about it.
- Awkward phrasing – the gerunds + “and”
I feel like I’m just being nitpicky, but I noticed that sentences are frequently started with “and.” Sometimes, sentences have no verb or subject, in favor for gerunds (verbs that end in “-ing” to make a noun). That annoys me. Yes, I know that sometimes sentences do not necessarily need a subject or a verb for the general plot of the story. However, when I read the book, I became confused at certain points in the book as to what the narrator was referring to. At those points, I wished that Jennifer Brown had rewritten the sentence so the sentence had a subject/verb to clarify certain things.
And Rena giggling, then whispering back, “That’s Mother Goose, you dork.”
And then drifting and drifting into a world where bricks were falling and opening up to the sun, which bore down on my face and made me smile. (p 282)
We start new paragraphs, but it’s unclear as to the subject. Wouldn’t it be easier to change the sentence to be more…active?
She’s such a sweetheart. At first, I didn’t understand her role into the road trip, but as I read, I realized that she served as a person who accepted Grayson for himself. Her presence is for readers to compare the way that she treats Grayson and how Kendra treats him. It’s interesting to see how Rena (and other people) are able to accept Grayson for who he is, but Kendra, Grayson’s blood-related sister, is unable to fully do that.
- A shit friend!
I am mad that Zoe was a shit friend. I couldn’t believe that she did not even pick up her phone when Kendra texted/called. I cannot imagine having a best friend who refuses to answer your texts on a daily basis.
- Go read it. You may come across a few issues (like I did), but the message of the story outweighs those issues. OCD + siblings + a road trip, what more do you want?
SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
First line: “I have three simple wishes.”
I LOVE THIS BOOK. YOU WILL LOVE IT TOO! It’s one of those books I can read over and over again and I never get tired of it. It’s very sweet and light. And the characters, oh man! Such wonderful personalities! Basically, after reading this book (for the fifth time), I want Lola’s life.
Girl of my heart! Can we talk about the first two paragraphs of Lola and the Boy Next Door? What a way to introduce Lola! The two paragraphs immediately sets up what type of person Lola is – a girl who has her quirks, a girl who is not your typical “girl next door,” a girl who dresses impractically but that is her way of expressing herself, a girl who doesn’t seem to let anything hold her back (and yet she’s full of surprises). I know people find her annoying, but I didn’t. She felt like a teenager – she was somewhat immature and selfish; she complained, but that’s what teenagers do. She is everything I wish I was when I was teenager.
- The romance! (+ Cricket)
I am a sucker for stories about childhood sweethearts/next-door neighbors getting together. Stephanie Perkins manages to create a story where we may have seen the plot before but the characters are completely unique and realistic. I wish I had my own boy next door pining after me. Oh, Cricket Bell. You do not know how much I adore you. Here, we have a boy who is completely in love with Lola and is absolutely honest about it. And to top it off, he sounds like a fantastic dresser. I’ve been in love with many characters that are the “bad” guy or the assholes, but here is Cricket Bell, the good guy with the heart of gold (excuse the cliche). Guys, I really love him a lot.
I love the development of their relationship. The looks they would give each other, the shyness of it all. Cricket knows what he wants, but out of respect of Lola (and her boyfriend Max), he steps back. Honorable guy. And he loves Lola (and her unique love to costume). He’s extremely earnest. How can you not fall for this guy? I don’t know why I love the trope. I think I love it because I wish I had a childhood sweetheart of my own? (I mostly terrorized boys when I was a child, but not because I had a crush on them. Nope, like most kids, boys were icky. I found it amusing to see the fear in their eyes/body as I chase them around a playground). Although Lola and Cricket’s romance tropes may have been done before, their romance is still sweet. They managed to get over their past misunderstandings, but they start giving each other lovesick looks from across their rooms. THE WINDOWSILL IS THERE FOR A REASON, YOU TWO. I want them to squish their faces together every time I read that Cricket has a bashful look on his face.
- Lola’s parents!
I have read a lot of YA novel that has parents that annoy the hell out of me or is practically neglectful/nonexistent (aren’t parents suppose to be a main fixture in their children’s life, grounding them or giving parental wisdom?). However, Lola’s parents are fabulous. They felt extremely realistic (especially their concern of Lola dating an older guy) and they aren’t riddled with gay stereotypes. They are concerned for her well-being. They know when to pick their battles. And the things they say made me laugh. Who wouldn’t want parents like Nathan and Andy?
- The setting!
It’s set in the Bay Area (specifically San Francisco)! I get giddy reading all the references to Mission Dolores, the Castro, UC Berkeley, Telegraph. Only because I live in the Bay!
There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. Although, I did not like the way Lindsey, Lola’s best friend, was treated in the book. She was pushed in the background. I wanted more interactions between Lola and Lindsey because I didn’t really believe the two were best friends.
- The cover art!
It’s very cute! The girl is everything I imagined Lola to be! (But her outfit isn’t as outlandish or quirky as how she dresses from the description in the book.) And the boy, ehh. Not exactly what I pictured Cricket to look like at all. It’s kind of discouraging, so I avoid looking at him. Overall, I think the cover is perfect. The fact that they are sitting on a windowsill makes my heart want to jump out of my chest because that’s where they first interacted when Cricket came back home to San Francisco. (I know the book will have a new cover that will be released in the summer, and it is really fabulous. Simplicity is better!)
I found him…interesting. Max seems like a rational guy (albeit, he gets a bit jealous and a bit possessive). He is willing to do things for Lola that he doesn’t want to do (like having brunch with her parents). I like that he felt apprehensive about getting together with Lola. He has some harsh words for Lola, and I didn’t hate him for it? Because he’s completely in the right for feeling and expressing it. She is an enigma, one he doesn’t understand. I like how realistic their relationship was – problems and all.
- Etienne + Anna!
I was sooo happy to see them together. Their scenes just evoke a grin from me.