This year, I rarely strayed beyond my comfort zone of genre and Speculative fiction. I gorged myself on mystery, fantasy, dark fiction and horror. But there were times when I read a few Contemporaries and they were absolutely brilliant.
Boy 21, Matthew Quick
This was such a refreshing read. This book has a lot of themes, but it’s wrapped up in a wonderful story of friendship, moving through loss, guilt and love. It’s about 2 high school aged boys – and this is probably the first book I’ve read where it’s described similar to reality – not just about white girls and cliques. Basketball features prominently – but trust me, you don’t need to care about sports at all to enjoy this book.
Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team.
Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.
Mr Loverman, Bernadine Evaristo
This is a book about a 74 year old “dapper gent” Barrington Jeddiah Walker, who is married but has a long standing secret love affair with his childhood friend and soulmate Morris. Evaristo does a wonderful taking us through this story, and makes us switch loyalties frequently. The story unfolds as Barry’s wife knows something is up and he goes through internal struggles with coming out – yes or no – acknowledging Morris, and changing at his age.
It’s a really beautifully written book – and certainly you don’t find too many stories like this one.
Did you try reading outside your comfort zone this year?
(Photo Credit: Marie-Sophie)