Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind.  So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.

While I'm always a fan of fun and light reads like we talked about it in last week's post, I also try not to shy away from books with serious topics, and ones that might not be so easy to get through.  I might not want to take these to enjoy while on vacation at the beach, they're often the ones that once I'm finished end up having special places in my heart forever!

Tough Reads Pick #1:  The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy

If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is "Touched," and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her "willingness."

The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny's ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny's girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain's quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.

With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy's debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.

This is a story about survival above all else!  Rain must fight to survive on so many levels that it was impossible not to immediately sympathize with her character and hope with all hope that she could come out of this triumphant.

Tough Reads Pick #2:  The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by Wm. Paul Young

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

I know this book doesn't fall into the YA category, but it was one of the harder ones for me to get through given the subject of the book.  Tragedy affects everyone differently and we all find our own ways of dealing with it, but after reading this book, I'll admit that I see things differently now.

Tough Reads Pick #3:  If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

If anyone's read this title, it speaks for itself.  I read this one a little while ago and it's still staying with me, as I'm sure it will for years to come.  I cried throughout the majority of these pages, but I would recommend it over and over again!  Forman has a way of engaging her readers that I'm not sure many other authors have.  It's a gift and one that I was so glad to have the chance to experience.

Tough Reads Pick #4:  Where She Went (If I Stay, #2) by Gayle Forman

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Again, just like the series opener, this sequel touched me and will stay with me for a long time to come I'm sure.

Tough Reads Pick #5:  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

I'll be very surprised if this title doesn't make quite a few lists for today's post.  I read this a few years ago and still think about it to this day.  I'm not sure if it was just the topic of the book, but that combined with Asher's writing and the strong voice that came out of the narration still haunts me.  Again, not a book that I think many will want to read over and over again, but still one that I can't help recommending to anyone on the lookout for a read that will touch them.

Tough Reads Pick #6:  Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

In one moment,
it is over.

In one moment
it is gone.

The morning grows
thin, grey
and our lives-
how they were-
have vanished.

Our lives have
when I walk in
on Lizzie
my sister

holding a shotgun.

Twelve year old girl Hope's life is turned upside down when her older sister Lizzie becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself.

A haunting read, that unfortunately took me quite some time to get through.  I found myself having to take breaks and give myself some space, because of the heavy issues being dealt with within these pages.

Tough Reads Pick #7:  Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse, #1) by Jackie Morse Kessler

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

While Kessler found a unique and at times ironic way of telling this tale, nothing can change the fact that the subject matter is very real and very scary.

Tough Reads Pick #8:  Flawed by Kate Avelynn

Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago — James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.

Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.

Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realizes James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . .

Another read that I had a very hard time with.  I think I cried from start to finish, maybe not throughout every page, but for the most part when I was crying I was still incredibly sad for these characters and the circumstances they were forced to live.  After I finished the last page of this book I thought maybe I'd be able to pull it together, but it turned out to take quite a while before I calmed down enough to really look back and reflect on all that Avelynn put into this work.  Her writing was amazing and the story will always haunt me.

**I have more titles that I could add to this list but when I went looking back through my library these eight really were the titles with the hardest and toughest subjects, so I don't want to add two more titles just to say I finished the list.  These eight will always stay with me and hopefully despite their darker natures and tougher subject lines, you'll give them a chance if you haven't already.

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