Well, now that I got that out of the way, here’s the rest of my month.
Outlawed by Anna North – This was one of my Book of the Month choices earlier this year and, while I’m glad I read it, it didn’t grab me like I thought it would. It’s billed as The Crucible meets True Grit, even if you aren’t a fan of those you’d be interested. It’s really slow and takes a long time to really get going. Ada, the main character, runs away from her husband after not bearing a child for him. Why does she run away? Because everyone in town thinks she’s a witch, why else would you boot scoot so quickly? This was something that really took me out of the story. I thought it was a little too far fetched of a problem to actually exist, but, honestly, I’m wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Ada runs away to a nunnery where she learns about The Kid, an outlaw/Preacher who runs The Hole in the Wall gang. So, Ada decides to become an outlaw and I loved that part of the story. Here’s the thing with this book. I actually liked it a lot, but it was just so slow and so boring. A bunch of lady outlaws kicking ass? I’m in. But, good lord, pick up the pace. 2.5/5, 6/10.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – Why did I wait so long to read this book? I finally picked up the audio last month and, come on, this book was amazing. Darius has a lot of social anxiety and depression. He feels out of place in his school. He has no friends. His dad is disappointed in him (or at least that’s what Darius thinks). When his grandpa gets sick, the family packs up and travels to Iran so the kids can meet him before he dies. There, Darius meets Sohrab, a kind person who makes him really feel like a True Persian. It’s a beautiful and heart-rending coming-of-age story that should be required reading in high school classrooms. Reading this book was a perfect window into the mind of someone with a mental illness like depression or anxiety. A lot of books that are “good” at explaining these concepts tend to over-exaggerate for the sake of plot, but this is all very grounded in reality. I love, love, love this book. 5/5, 10/10.
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed – This was the middle school Global Read Aloud book in 2018, so my wife always had a copy of it with her that year (she’s a middle school librarian). The cover is beautiful so I was always interested, but I never picked it up. So, following Darius’ example, I picked it up on audio. Amal is forced to stay home from school in order to take care of the family after her mother has a third child. After an encounter with the corrupt loan shark that began with Amal being hit by a car, she is forced to become a servant to his family to pay off her father’s debts. Amal dreams of being a teacher and worries that this is the end of that. This is a solid book. It’s a story of resilience and of never giving up hope for the future. It did take a bit for me to get into it, I felt it was a little slow, but it was definitely worth it in the end. 9/10, 5/5.
Chrono Trigger by Michael P. Williams – This is book two from Boss Fight Books. It follows a similar pattern to Earthbound before it: a mix of game recap, memoir, and production stories. I wasn’t really familiar with Chrono Trigger when I read it. I played a bit of it and watched a playthrough of it once. However, reading Michael’s story of his experience with the game really made me want to download it. Maybe someday it’ll come out for the Switch… 8.5/10, 5/5.
Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon – This was a Freking Book Club book that we thought would be a straight forward murder mystery that turned into something more. It’s truly a coming-of-age story of a woman in her late-teens finding herself during the 70’s. The body of a dead Indian man is found in the middle of a field. Cash, our main character, recognizes the man is a Red Lake. This leads her on an investigation that puts her life in danger. All the while, she’s rethinking her life as a field working, pool sharking drifter. Her, for lack of a better term, father figure Wheaton believes that she can go to college and really make something of herself. It’s honestly a very good book that suffers a lot from not really knowing what it wants to be. I think it would have been a lot stronger of a book if it picked a lane and stuck with it. Overall, though, definitely recommended. 7.5/10, 4/5.