Thursday 1 March 2018

Recent Reads #3: I Am Thunder, My Friend Fear, Goodbye Perfect

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan | ☆☆☆
Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is used to being invisible. So no one is more surprised than her when Arif Malik, the hottest boy in school, takes a sudden interest. But Arif is hiding a terrible secret and, as they begin to follow a dark path, Muzna faces an impossible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak out and betray her heart.

This recent release immediately grabbed my attention so I picked it up when I went to Waterstones Piccadilly before the Costa Book Awards and started reading it on the train home that night. I don't think I've ever read a book with a Muslim main character before, which is pretty strange and sad and because I want to read more diversely this year, I'm on the look out now more than ever for own voices novels. I so, so wanted to love this but I was initially pretty disappointed with the writing. The teenage slang in the dialogue and narrative voice felt a little forced and crowded and the narrative felt quite choppy. This did give it kind of an edge, as if it was a raw teenage voice but I think it could have benefited from some more editing. It just kept throwing me out of the story and made me very aware that this was a novel, about teenagers, written by an adult when I can usually forget that and just get lost in the writing.

However, the writing improved as it went on and the plot really started to gather speed, the last quarter was much better than the first three. I absolutely loved reading about a Muslim main character, especially in a YA novel, this kind of representation is so important. It is a little bit disappointing that a novel about Muslim teenagers has such a focus on extremism, (it's probably not a reality in the lives of a majority of these teenagers, can't we just have a friendship or romance plot like other YA where being Muslim is just part of their character) but I realise that it's topical and honestly I'm just glad for the representation. This is a solid YA about identity, faith and relationships and if you're starting it, don't be put off by the writing because it does get better.

My Friend Fear by Meera Lee Patel | ☆☆☆
A mix of personal reflections, inspirational quotes, questions for reflection, and breathtaking watercolour visuals, My Friend Fear asserts that having big fear is an opportunity to make big changes, to discover the remarkable potential inside ourselves.

A couple of weeks ago the lovely folks at Particular Books sent me a lovely little package that included this beautiful book - check out my instagram stories for more bookish unboxings if you missed this one! My Friend Fear is an exploration of fear and how we can harness it to become our best selves. Now at first I thought that sounded a little airy fairy for me, but here's the thing, it makes total sense. Meera Lee Patel's writing flows nicely but is also very clear.
She relates things to her own experience as well as the science of emotions. Not to mention that it's an absolutely STUNNING book, filled with gorgeous illustrations and watercolour pages, it would make an amazing gift. This book is perfect for creatives especially but also just for anyone who wants to overcome doubt, imposter syndrome or just those niggling fears that stop you from getting what you want.

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard | ☆☆☆
Eden McKinley knows she can't count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it's a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with a guy Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. And it's the last person she would have expected. Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie's location, and that's the way it has to stay. There's no way she's betraying her best friend. Not even when she's faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts. As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

I absolutely adore Sara Barnard's books and I'd been dying to get my hands on this ever since it was announced so when I spotted it in Waterstones a few days before it's release (cheeky), I had to grab a copy. If you're already familiar with Sara Barnard then I suggest you just stop reading this review and go and buy Goodbye, Perfect now because you won't be disappointed. What? You need a little convincing? Oh, go on then.

Sara Barnard can write the hell out of a female friendship; she just *gets* teenage girls. When I read her books it's like travelling back in time to my teenage years, except that would be terrible, so it's much much better. Her protagonists are smart, awesome and incredibly real teenage girls and Eden Mckinley is no exception. Goodbye, Perfect is primarily about female friendship, it's loyalties and it's limits, but it also explores other kinds of relationships brilliantly. The romance is just enough and power dyanmics are explored excellently. I also love how parents are always very present in Sara Barnard's books. The relationships between parents and children aren't always perfect, they can be very strained in fact, but the parents are present and the relationships complex and deep. Goodbye, Perfect didn't completely blow me away like Sara Barnard's previous two books but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it.


What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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