It’s Monday & I read a bunch of YA from the last century

May 30, 2016

This past week, I read:

A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a SandwichA Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich by Alice Childress
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a little hard to get into because the first chapter is told in dialect, and I was tired when I started it. It’s told in alternating POVs by everyone affected by Benjie’s drug use and offers some interesting perspectives on family, race, and economic equality.

It’s a slim volume but took me longer than I expected to read–probably because it took me a little while to figure out.

That ending is killer, for sure. Worth it just for that.

(I also wrote a full-length review of this on the blog. You can read it here.)


Sweet SixteenSweet Sixteen by Linda A. Cooney
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars, rounding down

I liked that this was actually more about the girls’ relationships with their families and each other than anything else–even though the cover and back of the book description led me to believe otherwise. The beginning was a little slow and the emphasis on sixteen was a little weird, but this was firmly grounded in reality and the summer romance was more of a summer friendship, which is a thing I dig. Slice of life, man. It works for me.


The Boy Who Drank Too MuchThe Boy Who Drank Too Much by Shep Greene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The title of this should really be “The Friend of the Boy Who Drank Too Much. Also: Hockey” or possibly “How to Tell If You’re the Friend of the Boy Who Drinks Too Much Who Is Your Hockey Teammate.” Too much?

This was fine but I will probably forget that I read it. Julie was cool, though.


Now That I KnowNow That I Know by Norma Klein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel the same way about this book that I did about Tiger Eyes. Super authentic and relatable, and I wish more current YA were written this way.




Necessary RoughnessNecessary Roughness by Marie G. Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Football, football, football, football. There is a lot of football in this book. Just…a lot. So there’s that.

I will say, though, that Lee gets the shock of moving from a multi-ethnic big city to a small lily-white town in the Midwest pretty right. I agree with other reviewers that the ending was rushed, but I did like the family stuff and most especially all of the stuff with O-Ma and Mrs. K. Those ladies are the best.

View all my reviews


As of today, I’m reading:

Aristotle & Dante

I’m still listening to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (and read by Lin-Manuel Miranda). That Dante kid is pretty great, huh?


The Obnoxious Jerks by Stephen Manes

As I mentioned before, I’m moving this summer and am therefore trying to read all of the (unread) books on my shelf to see what’s making the move with me. One of those books is The Obnoxious Jerks by Stephen Manes. I actually read this many, many years ago when I was a kid but remember absolutely nothing about it except the cover. So we’ll see how that goes.


Happy reading, everyone!

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    • Akilah

      He is pretty great!

  1. Elisabeth

    Reading this post was like a trip down memory lane! I think I read several of these books in the early 80s. I’m curious to reread Judy Blume and Norma Klein. I still haven’t read Aristotle and Dante. I’ve started it several times and always end up putting it down in favor of something else. Maybe I should try on audio? Also, I do have that reading letter assignment to share. Will try to send that to you today or tomorrow!

    • Bina

      Ari and Dante is the best thing ever, enjoy!! :) Too bad about A Hero but maybe I’ll still give it a go if the ending is that good.

      • Akilah

        It’s not bad–just a little less engaging than I would have liked. More of a 2.5 than a 2, really.

    • Akilah

      It has taken me a little while to get into it. Ari is depressed (I am pretty sure), so the beginning is kind of slow and really interior in a way that makes it a little less engaging. But it does pick up after a while.

  2. Linda Baie

    I loved Aristotle & Dante, like those above. I was so surprised to see A Hero Ain’t Nothing But a Sandwich as the first book. I don’t remember much, but a long time ago my students loved it! I do remember Norma Klein too, have not read any by her in a long time. Maybe it’s time to look back at some older favorites?

  3. Katie Logonauts

    Aristotle and Dante looks fascinating – what a mix of awards to have won. Will definitely check it out, thanks!


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