Favourite books and a fond farewell

The Amherst News - - COMMUNITY - At The Li­brary Jenn Atkin­son Jenn Atkin­son is the youth ser­vices li­brar­ian for the Cum­ber­land Pub­lic Li­braries.

I am sad to an­nounce that af­ter al­most four years, I will be leav­ing Cum­ber­land Pub­lic Li­braries for an­other li­brary sys­tem. It’s been a priv­i­lege to get to know the kids, teens, and adults who bor­row books and at­tend pro­grams, and I will miss see­ing every­one at the li­brary! In this ar­ti­cle I was go­ing to fea­ture books about say­ing good-bye, but af­ter a quick cat­a­logue search I learned that al­most all the books on the topic were about death or just looked de­press­ing. So in­stead I’m go­ing to say farewell by rec­om­mend­ing my favourite books of the year.

The best book I read this year is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. 16-year-old Starr Carter strug­gles to bal­ance her home life in a poor neigh­bour­hood with her school life in a sub­ur­ban prep school. She re­con­nects with her friend Khalil at a neigh­bour­hood party, and on their drive home a cop pulls them over for a mi­nor in­frac­tion. Things quickly es­ca­late and Khalil – who is un­armed — is shot dead. Starr is scared to come for­ward about what re­ally hap­pened that night, but as the me­dia cov­er­age in­creas­ingly paints Khalil as a thug and a drug dealer, she finds the courage to stand up and tell the truth. This is not just a timely novel about police bru­tal­ity and race re­la­tions; it’s also a story about fam­ily, iden­tity, and find­ing your voice. If you read only one young adult book from this year, make it this one!

I read two other fan­tas­tic teen nov­els this year. In The Sun is Also a Star by Ni­cola Yoon, sci­ence nerd Natasha is 12 hours away from be­ing de­ported to Ja­maica when she crosses paths with Daniel, a poet and dreamer who chal­lenges her be­lief about the im­pos­si­bil­ity of love at first sight. Yoon is an ex­tremely com­pelling writer and I read this in one sit­ting. The Gen­tle­man’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is an 18th cen­tury his­tor­i­cal novel about the rak­ish Henry “Monty” Mon­tague who is em­bark­ing upon a Great Tour of Europe with his sis­ter and his best friend/se­cret love in­ter­est Percy. This book full of ad­ven­ture, ro­mance, and hu­mour, but it also delves into deeper is­sues of race, sex­u­al­ity, and men­tal health. It was un­like any­thing else I’ve read and highly rec­om­mend it.

In 2017 I dis­cov­ered Gi­ant Days by John Al­lison, which has be­come one of my favourite graphic novel se­ries. This comic, set in Eng­land, fol­lows room­mates Es­ther, Daisy, and Su­san as they nav­i­gate their first year of univer­sity. It’s con­sis­tently laugh-out-loud funny and the char­ac­ters are great! My other favourite graphic novel se­ries is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Sta­ples. This adult space opera se­ries about star-crossed lovers and their fight for sur­vival is not for the faint of heart (there’s sex and vi­o­lence ga­lore), but the sto­ry­telling is in­cred­i­ble. The sev­enth vol­ume came out this year, and it was one of the most beau­ti­ful and dev­as­tat­ing in­stall­ments of the se­ries yet.

I read some fab­u­lous adult nov­els this year too. I highly rec­om­mend Eleanor Oliphant is Com­pletely Fine by Gail Honey­man. So­cially-awk­ward Eleanor has not changed her rou­tine of frozen pizza, vodka, and weekly chats with her aw­ful mother for 9 years run­ning. When Ray­mond is hired as the IT guy in the of­fice where she has al­ways worked, he threat­ens to dis­rupt that rou­tine and draw Eleanor out of her iso­lated ex­is­tence. Eleanor was so real that at times I ex­pected her to walk into the room where I was read­ing! Hon­ourable men­tions for favourite adult books read this year in­clude Big Lit­tle Lies by Liane Mo­ri­ar­ity and Do Not Say We Have Noth­ing by Madeleine Thien.

For these books and more, visit your lo­cal li­brary, or check out our web­site, www.cum­ber­land­pub­li­cli­braries.ca. Good­bye and thanks for every­thing, Cum­ber­land County!

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