I've been reading some really very wonderful books by British authors lately. And while I'll be talking about quite a few of them over the course of this month, I thought today I would mention just a few of my favourites that I've read in the past couple of years - books that have really stood out in my mind and that I've really connected with on an emotional level.
You Against Me by Jenny Downham - First up we have this book. I had read and loved Jenny Downham's previous book, Before I Die, and I wept inconsolably towards the end of it. It was such a heartbreaking and beautiful book. So I was always expecting very good things about any future books she had written. And I really loved this one as well. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, but also the very complicated reasons that keep them apart.
I think You Against Me really portrays sexual assault in a realistic way, showing off the prejudices that surround both the crime, as well as these two families from very different economic backgrounds. Jenny Downham puts a spotlight on loyalty both towards friends as well and family and the entire book made me feel very conflicted and I ended up re-evaluating my own opinions and thoughts on what has happened. A wonderful, thought-provoking book.
Entangled by Cat Clarke - I was really looking forward to reading Entangled as soon as it came out, there was a real buzz about the book and of course the cover is gorgeous! I started hearing interesting things about the book - that the layout is strange, that the main character, Grace, is at first a bit unlikeable, that the book contained self-harm, which is a topic very close to my heart. I figured I had to read this book, find out what all the fuss and was about, and luckily enough I won an ARC of Entangled in a competition. I read the book and I fell for it straight away.
The mystery kept me guessing, I thought Grace to be wonderful and vulnerable and broken. I loved unravelling this story and getting to the heart of it. I thought Cat Clarke did a brilliant job with this book and I'm so very much looking forward to her new book, Torn.
Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman - I've only read a handful of books by Malorie Blackman so far, but every time I finish one of her books, I think to myself 'I need to pick up more of her books!' I really loved her Noughts and Crosses series, and I also really loved this book. I love this look at teenage pregnancy from the viewpoint of a father.
Dante has been saddled with a newborn baby he had no idea he'd fathered and his entire life changes. His friends see him differently, he has to rethink his further education and future, his entire set of reponsibilities and priorities changes in the few minutes it takes for his ex to stride in and abandon the baby with him. I love how this book really opened my eyes to the prejudices that surround teenage pregnancy in particular but it also has a wonderful sidestory about homosexuality which I thought to be very important as well. It's been a long time since I enjoyed a book as much as I did Boys Don't Cry.
Being Billy by Phil Earle - Oh, this book! Being Billy is a book that I read late last year and it absolutely tore my heart out. There's so much about it that I can completely relate to. In fact, the main character, Billy, reminds me so much of my older brother that it hurt sometimes. The angriness as well as the vulnerability felt so authentic. There's so many emotions that I went through whilst reading this book, from sadness, anger, heartbreak but ultimately the book also felt quite hopeful. And that hopefulness made all the tears worthwhile.
Being Billy is book about a care home and it's quite an emotional book. It focuses on one particular boy who has had a rough life and you can really tell how resentful and angry he is about his lot in life. And life in a care home isn't an easy life, but the relationships that Billy has with his younger brother and sister and with a careworker make this book one of my favourite reads from recent times.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - What I loved so much about Forbidden is how much my ideas about a certain topic changed over the course of reading this book. Incest has never been a topic that I considered much before, and if I did, I probably would have thought of it as something I didn't agree with. And yet, reading this book I slowly went from scepticism to this consensual brother/sister relationship to that of full-blown support. Maya and Lochan's is a difficult and complex relationship, and they way that Tabitha Suzuma writes it made it all feel very believeable and I felt very emotionally connected to their story.
After reading Forbidden, I have read a couple of other books by Tabitha Suzuma, and I find all of her stories so far to be books that I've connected with in some strong way. I shall continue to look out for her back-list as well as anything new she writes.
Rockoholic by CJ Skuse - Rockoholic is a book that has stayed with me long after I'd finished reading it. I wasn't quite sure if this would initially be a book for me, as I thought the premise to be very strange. A girl accidentally kidnaps her favourite rock star? How is that possible?! Ah, and half the fun of this book is discovering it for herself.
This book is such an absolute joy to read, seriously. Jody is a fun, fun character put into this crazy situation. She's surrounded by wonderful people as well, with her best friend Mac and his little sister, plus the memory of her mad granddad. As well as being hugely entertaining, Rockoholic is also a wonderful story. One I highly recommend.
When I Was Joe by Keren David - There's just something about the way in which Keren David writes that makes me stop to think. Her books not only make me question my own thoughts and beliefs but they also really make me feel. I was absolutely blown away by When I Was Joe as well as the sequel, Almost True. I felt like the themes of both books were so strong, of identity and the truth as well as highlighting the increase in knife crime.
I think Keren David has a real eye for writing about real things with great dialogue and characters and showing off the grittier side to teenage life. I just finished Keren David's latest offering, Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery and loved it entirely. Look out for my review later on in the month.
These are some of my favourite books by British authors, now tell me some of yours!