Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Book review: Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

Book Summary
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

Flo's Review
I was lucky enough to snag an early copy of this book from agent extraordinaire Eric Smith (sadly, not my agent 😔). As soon as I read the synopsis, I was intrigued. How can a booknerd like me not love a book about a book lover and books?!

So I got the book and the first thing I was noticed....was the the author is from Chattanooga! That's my hometown! I was already so excited about that, but then I started reading and this book is based in Chattanooga, too! It's so fun! All the places he describes in the story, like the Walnut Street Bridge and the Hunter Museum -- I've been there. A lot. Chattanooga is my place. It was really cool to see the story unfold in a setting so near and dear to me.

I read this book in a day, while waiting for No Show Hurricane Dorian. (Side note: I am still so sad about the Bahamas! Sending out prayers and well wishes to them for what they endured.) Anyway, even though I joked to my husband that I was able to read this in a day because the words were big, it was really because of the short chapters and the writing style. Connis has a simple, direct writing style. It's just so easy. I found myself flipping page after page and hardly realizing how many had gone by. 

There were so many cool things about this story. Each chapter started with a quote from a banned book. The author created the protagonist's favorite book and a few of the quotes were from that. I thought that was a really good way to ensure that he had a story that fit with Clara's story. 

This book was full of such insight and heart. I loved so much about it. I loved that Clara really questioned her underground library. She didn't just accept that she was doing it as a reflex response to what the school was doing. She really asked herself why. I loved that she had one opinion of Ashton and Jack (what did she call them? The super-supers or something?), but then she had the opportunity to really see them -- and, importantly, she took the opportunity. This changed her view of them. This allowed her to make friends she never thought she would have. I love that her view of books was challenged and how she was able to expand her view of the effects of books on herself and others. I loved that from the beginning she had teachers and school staff members who were allies and, importantly, weren't afraid to share with her and the other students what they thought and why. I loved the queso book club. (Because, really, who doesn't love queso?!) The quote lover and collector in me loved how patrons of the Unlib shared quotes about the books on their white covers when they returned them. I loved the moment in the book that was a reference to the movie Spartacus. I loved Clara's non understanding of football! 

I could probably go on and on. There was so much that I loved about this book. So much. Suggested Reading comes out September 17th and I suggest you read it. Even though I just made that horribly bad pun! Because I would love to hear what you love about it.

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