Starting this week off with mini reviews of two books that have totally captivated and blown me away. Though my instinct says both of these books deserve full reviews, in truth, for both, the things I love the most I can't talk about without giving spoilers. So here's the rest of the reasons I love them, and trust me when I say you need both of these books right away.
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson: This is one of those books that has such a strong emotional air, and has so much depth, I physically ached. My chest hurt, my heart hurt, my head hurt. Quinn faces such huge things, on basically every front. There's the boy she's dating who she's seen off to war, the boy she's kissed who makes her feel some pretty big things. Then there's her old friends, who want nothing to do with her now, and finally her father, who often times seems like he can't even really look at her. Jackson weaves all of this together, and more, in the most stunning of ways. There are some big questions raised and explored with this one, making it far more than a book about a lie, or a book about a girl who kissed someone else, or even a book about a girl living in a huge military area. I was so angry with so many of the characters, yet also felt so much for them. Jackson creates that perfect mix of love and hate, leaving you raw and exposed, yet also better for it. From writing to execution to plot to characters, this one is a grand slam.
Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie: I love broken characters, and Matt most definitely tops that list. He's had a rough life, stuck under an iron-fisted father, and yet, that isn't the only reason he acts like he does, and it most definitely doesn't define him. He is, truly, lost in the aftermath of his brother's death, in a way that can't easily be described yet Kokie captures perfectly. Matt is so far from perfect, even dangerous at times, yet he has such an honesty and goodness that runs through him, I felt so constantly twisted towards him in the best way. Then there's the romance aspect of this one, the kind of thing that toes the line between friendship and something more, with a girl who doesn't take Matt's crap but also doesn't ditch him for being in such a bad place. Add in how well you get to know his brother, T.J., and the new things revealed, and this one definitely tells a powerful but relevant story. Though this book is set five years ago, it still has an impact, and still leaves you breathless and rethinking some things. As if all that wasn't enough, this one is so stunningly written, with such potency in every sentence, and an authentic voice.