Book Title and Author: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
General Thoughts: Upon reading this book’s description, I got Pretty Little Liars vibes from it and was intrigued by the mystery, thriller aspect of the plot. Beware That Girl tells the story of Kate and Olivia, two high school seniors become best friends after meeting at their elite all-girls high school in New York City. Each girl has her secrets and bonds over those secrets as they unfold. The reveal of these secrets is one aspect that moves the plot along, and the other significant aspect concerns a new male staff member from the school and the role he plays in the students’ and faculty/staff’s lives.
The story was well-written, and the alternating points-of-view from Kate and Olivia were effective. But I wanted a more in-depth look at Olivia’s story and how she developed into the character she is. That’s not to say readers don’t learn about Olivia and her past, but it wasn’t as thorough as the background provided for Kate. It felt a tad underwhelming for a thriller, but, albeit somewhat expected, the ending provided an interesting twist.
Book Title and Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
General Thoughts: Last month I read the first book in Jenny Han’s Summer trilogy, which revolves around Belly and her summers at Cousins Beach. Every summer she heads to the beach house where she, her brother, and her mom spend time with the Fisher family: Susannah (her mom’s best friend) and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. As hinted by the book’s title, this particular summer is different for several reasons, one of which is that she’s finally being noticed by boys, Jeremiah and Conrad included. It’s in this book that Belly also starts to realize that everything in this perfect summer beach house with her favorite people isn’t as perfect as it seems. Overall, the book is a decent story of coming-of-age that features a love rectangle between her, Jeremiah, Conrad, and Belly’s summer fling Cam. Han’s characters are all quite different and bring something distinct to the story. As the young, naive protagonist, Belly can be annoying but is relatable sometimes. Perhaps she’s less relatable and more annoying to me as a 23-year-old, though.
General Thoughts: This month I changed things up and started reading short stories before bed. More specifically, I read 100 Great Short Stories: Selections from Poe, London, Twain, Melville, Dickens, Joyce and Many More, which contains some of the best short stories that literature has to offer—many of which I have read before but some that were new to me. I obviously won’t recap each individual story, but I will talk about two of my favorites: “Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Poe’s piece is written in his signature gothic horror style, opening with a narrator telling the story of a murder he committed due to his fear of the man’s “vulture” eye. What is interesting is that you learn almost nothing about who the narrator is, nor who the victim is, yet the narrator meticulously details his thoughts and emotions throughout the story as well as his obsession with this man he is going to kill. It’s a great look into how mental deterioration manifests and has a unique ending that you won’t soon forget.
“Young Goodman Brown” is set in 17th century New England and follows the journey of Goodman Brown, who ventures into the forest and is tempted by the Devil. After a night on the dark side and the realization that many of his fellow townsmen are sinners, Brown loses his faith in humanity and lives the rest of his life in a state of despair. The story is widely seen as an allegory for mankind and how easily corruptible it is. The best part of these two stories, as well as the other stories in this collection, is that you can interpret them many different ways. They also make for great discussion!