Matt’s Weekly Reads, July 2, 2022


Mary Jane, Jessica Anya Lau (2021)

This is a wonderful coming of age story set in the upper middle class of Baltimore in the mid-1970s. It is both delightfully specific in its setting and universal in its themes of learning how to differentiate one’s own values from one’s parents’ ideas about the world. Mary Jane gets a summer job nannying for a family that does not resemble her own WASPy background at all and learns that the world is a more complicated place than her parents want her to believe. (An interesting read-along could be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, which looks at similar themes through an African postcolonial lens.)

Read this if you’re interested in:

  • Coming of age stories
  • The 1970s
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Racial issues in the United States

My Rating: 9/10

Weekly Roundup

  • You Have a Match, Emma Lord (2021), 8/10: After submitting a DNA sample for a family heritage project, a young woman is shocked to find out she has a full sister in the next town over (YA, Summer, coming of age)
  • When You Get the Chance, Emma Lord (2021), 8/10: This is a self-aware, gender-swapped Mamma Mia! After discovering her dad’s old blog, a young woman with dreams of starring on Broadway seeks out the women who may be the mother she’s never met (YA, New York City, family drama, theatre, enemies-to-lovers, romance)
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby van Pelt (2022), 8/10: A cute story of three intersecting lives (including one with eight arms) in a small coastal town in Washington state (contemporary, animal intelligence, family drama)
  • Disoriental, Negar Djavadi (2016), 6/10: This award-winning multi-generational family saga about a Persian family before and after the Iranian Revolution was well-done but didn’t quite work for me (literary, diaspora stories, immigration, Iran, LGBTQ2S+, Own Voices)
  • Junonia, Kevin Henkes (2011), 7/10: This short middle grade books follows a girl whose annual beach vacation does not go as hoped (middle grade, Summer)
  • Part of Your World, Abby Jimenez (2022), 8/10: A delightful contemporary romance with a hero and heroine from very different backgrounds and very different sets of heavy family expectations (romance, small town, family drama, domestic violence)
  • My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki (1998), 6.5/10: Ozeki is known for covering wide ranging issues within single books, and this is no exception, tackling everything from industrial farming to fertility to ‘the spirit of America’. At times I felt this got away from her a bit, but it was still a worthwhile read (farming, America, Japan, marriage, domestic violence, race, fertility)

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