Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from August 17–21 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday, August 17
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
Simon’s pretty sure no one will be upset when he comes out as gay. Though he lives in Georgia and kids at his high school can be cruel, his friends and family are all very accepting. But announcing that he likes guys is still a huge transformation. That’s why he is so spooked when classmate Martin stumbles on secret, flirty e-mails Simon has been sending to Blue, a mysterious boy at his school, and gently threatens to reveal his secret.
Tuesday, August 18
The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
Formerly well-employed homeowners, Charmaine and Stan are now living in their cramped, smelly car, and they’re lucky. After “the whole system fell to pieces,” most Americans are without work, shelter, or transportation, and many are willing to kill for a vehicle. As Stan becomes increasingly frantic, his rage stoked by the cushiness of his outlaw brother’s life, Charmaine remains chirpy and upbeat, especially when she sees an ad for the Positron Project.
Wednesday, August 19
The Trouble in Me, by Jack Gantos
Know thyself, Alexander Pope advises us, and Gantos does that in spades in this insightful prequel to his award-winning memoir Hole in My Life (2002). Jack is 14 on the fateful day he meets his mysterious older neighbor Gary Pagoda and, enchanted, quickly becomes his acolyte. However, there’s trouble ahead, for Gary is the kind of kid parents warn their children against. But Jack doesn’t care.
Thursday, August 20
The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age, by Joyce Carol Oates
In her new memoir following in the wake of the best-selling A Widow’s Story (2011), Oates reflects with piquant wit, startling frankness, and mesmerizing specificity on the aspects of her life that made her a writer. Such as the fact that her favorite playmate when she was a little girl on a small, faltering farm in western New York State was Happy Chicken, who mysteriously disappeared on the very day her beloved “town” grandmother brought her to the public library for her first library card.
Friday, August 21
Cut Both Ways, by Carrie Mesrobian
Will is surprised when his best friend, Angus, kisses him one night, but he is more surprised that he likes it. But he also likes Brandy, and she likes him back. Will is not sure what to make of his equally strong feelings for both a boy and a girl. Is he gay? Is he straight? He doesn’t land on either one, nor does he ever consider the word bisexual. It’s confusing enough dealing with his silently feuding divorced parents, particularly his alcoholic father, who spends more time amassing materials and demolishing things than finishing his protracted home remodeling project.