Tag Archives: contemporary

[Review] Dream Things True – Marie Marquardt

Book Title              Dream Things True
Author:                    Marie Marquardt 
Number of pages:   352


dream things true - marie marquardt - book cover Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much — except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There’s too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.

(re: Goodreads @ Dream Things True – Marie Marquardt)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

— Set in Georgia (USA) and encompasses POC (Mexican) families, undocumented immigrants, race and discrimination, power and privilege, drugs, rape, and exoticism, among others
— Narrative is told in sporadic alternating perspectives between both MCs; writing integrates Spanish dialogue
— The romance jumps the gun; a bit instalust-y after a few chapters
— If you’ve seen “The Proposal” (with Bullock/Reynolds), it feels like a toned down YA version of that
— An important diverse read with revelations that seem a bit easy but speaks to the concern of white privilege; it’s a bit of a toss-up in terms of enjoyment


Initial Thoughts

Dream Things True is a very difficult book to review.

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of Dream Things True through Netgalley for an honest review. I extend thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.

Continue reading [Review] Dream Things True – Marie Marquardt

[Review] A Trick of the Light – Lois Metzger

Book Title:                   A Trick of the Light (Standalone)
Author:                          Lois Metzger
Number of pages:   189


a trick in the light - lois metzger - book coverMike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess. Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.

(re: Goodreads @ A Trick of the Light – Lois Metzger)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

– Boys can have self-image problems and eating disorders too
– Narrated by anorexia; a voice of a cheerleader, snark, and rude commentary to corrupt ways of thinking not similar to what it wants
– Home/school life feels completely organic and ordinary; ultimately promoting the perspective that these things can happen to anyone
– Dialogue reads as if it is like a script. (i.e. Mom: text, Dad: text, Anorexia: text italicized)
– While the timeline and legitimacy of events felt intact, the development of strained relationships felt flimsy and rushed (if a tad skipped over)
Rating: 3.75/5


Initial Thoughts

The selling point to Metzger’s book is not the fact that it features a boy facing anorexia nervosa. Yes it is a different perspective—I’m not discrediting that fact—but it’s a book narrated by anorexia itself and it articulates the severity and power thoughts have to not only influence your actions but to assume the role of pilot to your ship.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.


Continue reading [Review] A Trick of the Light – Lois Metzger

[Review] The Merit Birds – Kelley Powell

Book Title:                 The Merit Birds (Standalone)
Author:                         Kelley Powell
Number of pages:   240


The Merit Birds - Kelley Powell - Book CoverEighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He’s angry about his absent dad, he’s angry about being angry, and he’s angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam’s anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged “merit birds.” Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime. His freedom depends on a person he’s never met. A person who knows that the only way to restore his merit is to confess. “The Merit Birds” blends action and suspense and humour in a far-off land where things seem so different, yet deep down are so much the same.

(re: Goodreads @ The Merit Birds – Kelley Powell)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

— A culturally immersive adventure through Laos; from vibrant communities to dingy living environments; akin to like an all-expense paid trip
— A coming-of-age following three perspectives written in first-and-third person; the intermingling of narrative voices in a short book does dilute character growth
— Long stretches of plotting where nothing really happens. However, this where the resilience of the story shines best—in the little moments of discovery, survival and hope
— Romance errs toward instalust with an undertone of exoticism
— Shortcomings in writing that can suspend genuine poignancy and realism
Rating: 3.25/5


Initial Thoughts

In truth, I thought this was going to be a lot more CanLit-y than what was portrayed but that’s okay, the merits of alternative diversity made up for the otherwise lacking Canadian side to cultural exploration. I’d also like to give congrats as this is a debut novel for Ms. Powell.

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of The Merit Birds though NetGalley for an honest review. I extend my thanks to Dundurn for providing me the opportunity to review this book.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.

Continue reading [Review] The Merit Birds – Kelley Powell