30. A Mother’s Trial – Nancy Wright
Story – The story of a woman with Munchausen’s by Proxy, who inflicted incredible harm on her two adopted daughters and was then prosecuted for it.
Thoughts – This book was weird. It was set back in the 70’s, which was odd because none of them knew about Munchausen’s by proxy, whereas now there have been enough publicised cases that it’s something we all know about.
The writing of the book was what made it weird though. There were so many conversations included in it that it read like fiction, and where it wasn’t reading like fiction it was pretty dry. The subject matter was fascinating, but the long medical explanations were really hard to get through. Not really one I’d recommend.
29. Humber Boy B – Ruth Dugdall
Story – Ben was only ten when he was convicted of killing his friend Noah by throwing him off the Humber bridge. Sent to prison, Ben is released upon reaching adulthood, but given a new identity and made to promise that he won’t contact anyone from his past. But Noah’s mother is looking for answers and someone knows where Ben is and isn’t content to leave the past behind…
Thoughts – The idea behind this was very good. I found the idea fascinating, and it was really interesting reading about Ben’s transition into normal life after being imprisoned for his entire teen years. Apart from that though, the book was just really slow. It was like there wasn’t enough story to fill in a whole novel, so it was dragged out unnecessarily.
28. My Fight/Your Fight – Ronda Rousey
Story – The biography of Rowdy Ronda Rousey, Olympic judoka and now the first woman MMA fighter in the UFC and holder of the bantamweight championship belt.
Thoughts – Okay, confession time…I have a total crush on Ronda Rousey. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But anyway, I was pretty happy to get my hands on her book, and it actually wasn’t a bad read. She’s very honest in it, and there were some funny stories in it. It was interesting to read from a parenting perspective, as Ronda’s mother has been instrumental in creating the attitude that underlies Ronda’s success. Really, the two of them scare the crap out of me and I sincerely doubt after reading this that anyone in my family is ever going to go on to exceptional sporting success.
27. Made You Up – Francesca Zappia
Story – Alex, a teenager with schizophrenia, has more trouble than most telling fantasy from reality. Her hallucinations can seem more solid than what she knows is true but, undaunted, Alex is determined to live life the best way she can and get into college.
Thoughts – I liked this. I liked the insight into schizophrenia, without this being a triumphing-against-adversity story. Alex was a likeable if unreliable narrator, and the supporting characters grew on me over the story. The pacing was a bit odd, but overall I liked it.
26. The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise – Matthew Crow
Story – This is the story of fifteen year old Francis and the way he and his family deal with his leukaemia. It’s also the story of Francis falling in love, and the joy and complications that brings to his life.
Thoughts – The best thing about this book was Francis. I loved him, he was like a much more likeable Adrian Mole. All that drama and self-aggrandisement, everything exaggerated, and yet kind of funny and endearing at the same time. The cancer storyline was a little bit predictable, and Amber as a love interest wasn’t very convincing (she actually didn’t seem very nice, to be honest) but I would read it again for Francis’ voice.
25. Orphan – Christopher Ransom
Story – Adam wakes, disoriented and alone. He can’t remember anything, except that he is running, and nothing is going to keep him safe if he doesn’t keep on the move. Darren and Beth Lynwood’s perfect life seems to be shaking, as Darren is increasingly haunted by memories of his past, and something sinister and even evil begins to invade their home.
Thoughts – This book was so stupid. I can’t even be bothered to explain why. Don’t read it.
24. Pretty Ugly – Kirker Butler
Story – Miranda Miller’s life is falling apart, even if she doesn’t know the full extent of it yet. Her pageant queen daughter Bailey won’t stop putting on weight, her mother has a close and slightly insane relationship with Jesus, and her husband not only pops any pills he can get his hands on (and as a nurse, that’s a considerable amount) but he’s having an affair with a seventeen year old, and her new baby isn’t going to be quite what she expected.
Thoughts – This was quite a weird book that I enjoyed anyway. I’m sure I didn’t get the full satirical effect of it all, but I liked the characters and the way they interacted, and the storyline was pretty interesting and had some good lines that made me laugh.
23. Wonder – R.J. Palacio
Story – August Pullman was born with a bunch of syndromes that have left him with a variety of medical issues, including severe facial deformities. This book tells the story of his fifth grade year, when he went to school for the first time.
Thoughts – I liked this book a lot. It’s aimed at upper primary/lower high kids (I borrowed it from the school library) and it’s a lovely, uplifting story. It would be a good guided reading book for the kids, going into issues of bullying and inclusion and disability. I really enjoyed the book, although I think it was told from too many points of view. I liked reading the voice of August, and his sister Via, but there were kind of too many other narrators.