I started my official time at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, after a trip to the library for one audiobook left me with a completely different stack of books to read than I had lined up at home. I just kept seeing these books that had great reviews but that I hadn’t read and changed my reading to knock out some of these titles. This is why I don’t spend a lot of effort planning ahead.
I did stick with my original plan to first tackle the new buzz book for middle-grade, Lisa McMann’s The Unwanteds, which I read slowly and with interruptions, meaning I finished it in four hours. My quickest summary is that is was like Harry Potter meets The Lightning Thief meets The Hunger Games. It certainly has all the elements of a big book, and I enjoyed reading it very much. And yet, I didn’t have the feeling that I was reading the Next Big Thing — partially because I could so easily link the elements to these other successful books. Magic-making and school setting. Feeling different and battle preparation. Grim world and death sentences. Combine them all, and does it make the perfect buzz book or will it fall flat with readers? It certainly remains to be seen, and especially with the target audience of upper middle grade, who may not come into the title as jaded as this oldish mom. More on it later, I hope. Love this new cover!
I put in an hour of social media time and then jumped into book two of my challenge, Bitter Melon, by Cara Chow. What a great book to read after the whole Tiger Mother online debate! I haven’t gotten my hands on Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother — still on the hold list — but I can see how this young adult title shows the road to success from another angle. I liked the character’s growth in how she addressed and accepted her mother’s rigidity in the framework of cultural norms before struggling against those choices and her own mother’s harshness. I would have felt less respect for the book if the message had been the superiority of American focus on passion and happiness over an Asian value on achievement and honor. The particular mother-daughter relationship allows the author to show those differences, and also allow our protagonist to rebel against her mother’s abuse of power. I did have a little irritation of the book being set in 1989, which seemed more a device to convey the author’s experience than to be as relatable to teens today. Still, highly recommended.
In any case, I finished this book in three hours, and went to bed with eight of the first twelve hours spent on 48HBC. I also went to bed with an impending 5:30 a.m. wake-up call to take my teen in for her school field trip. Annoying hour to be awake on a Saturday, but a good thing for my reading.
Round 1: eight hours
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