books and reading

Clean Getaway

Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read and review this book! I read Dear Martin when it came out and really loved it. I was just heartbroken over the story, though. I tried to read Odd One Out, but there was so much teenage slang in it that my brain was working too hard to decipher. I’m not a teenager, nor am I around teenagers in any capacity, so their slang just is a struggle for me. That’s not a knock against the book in any way. I’m not the target audience and that’s fine. From what I’ve heard, Odd One Out is a great book and very supportive of LGBTQ teens, which I will always get behind. But when I saw Clean Getaway on Netgalley, I read the summary and knew I wanted to read this one. I love middle-grade YA for its excellent blend of serious themes with a little levity. And this one didn’t disappoint.

William “Scoob” Lamar is struggling in school. He’s super smart, but he is a bit too clever for his own good and gets into some trouble. While suspended, his grandma, who he calls G’ma, decides they need to take a road trip. She has sold her house and bought an RV, so the two of them head out. G’ma is white, and Scoob is black, so traveling through the south is difficult, even today.

As they travel, Scoob learns more and more about his grandmother, long-dead grandfather, his absent mother, and his strict father (his G’ma’s son). G’ma gives him the Green Book she and G’pa used as they traveled through the south back in the 60s. She introduces Scoob to various important landmarks in the Civil Rights Movement, as well.

But things take a turn when G’ma starts calling Scoob Jimmy,  his grandfather’s name. Scoob realizes that maybe things aren’t quite what they seem between him and G’ma. She seems okay most of the time, but she forgets things, refuses to let him talk to his dad, going so far as to throw away her phone, and as they continue to travel through the south, Scoob becomes more suspicious and nervous, but he is torn because G’ma is his favorite person.

This book is great for middle school-aged kids. It presents some critical history of the Civil Rights Movement in an understated way that is a bit easier to swallow than Dear Martin, which tackles some equally important race issues in our society, but in a more heartwrenching way. Clean Getaway is more approachable and opens the door to the subjects such as Medgar Evers, Dr. King, and the church bombing that killed four little girls. Scoob is a great young man, who is struggling in his world as a black boy living with expectations of a white society and a dad who is fully aware of said white society. I highly recommend this for middle school kids and their parents to help kick start a conversation about the past and how it shapes our world today.

books and reading

Series I’m Working On

I  have a terrible habit of starting a book series and then never going back to it. Because I do the book challenge each year, I will start a series by reading the first book because it fits into a prompt, but then I get distracted and don’t continue the series. Every few years, I make a point to wrap up any series that I’ve started, whether through the book challenge or not.

This year I’m finally finishing The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder review here) and The Dublin Murder Squad (In the Woods review here and The Likeness review here).  I have really enjoyed both of them, up to the point I’m at. Last year, I started a few more series, but I am making an effort to wrap up everything. Here is what I’m working on:

  • The Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson. I have read the first three and am currently working on the fourth.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Armand Gamache books by Louise Penny. I have read the first two. These are so much fun to read, given that they involve murder. The people of Three Pines are charming, and Gamache is a great investigator.
  • The Harry Hole books by Jo Nesbo. I read The Bat this year.
  • The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder. I’ve read the first two (Birdman review) and have really enjoyed them, but they are definitely some of the more graphic police detective books I’ve read.
  • The Penny Green books by Emily Organ. (Limelight review). I discovered her by accident, honestly. I needed a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title and searched my Kindle for various fruits and stumbled upon lime. I have gotten most of her books for free and have read the first two. They are a lot of fun. Penny is a reporter in 1800s England works closely with the police to solve murders. They are really well-written and clever.
  • The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. (Red Queen review). I’m really iffy about this one. There is a giant plot hole in Red Queen and it still irritates me. But I’ve been told that the rest of the books are better, so I’m giving them another chance.
  • The Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. I listened to A Study in Charlotte a couple summers ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a modern Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson series (involving their descendants) and is more complex than I was expecting.
  • The Broken Earth series by NK Jemisin. The Fifth Season review. I really liked this one even though fantasy isn’t my favorite genre.
  • The Inheritance series also by NK Jemisin. I didn’t like this one as much, but I’m going to stick with it.

Between finishing all these series and the PopSugar reading challenge, I’m going to be very busy this year trying to complete them all, but I look forward to it.