Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Made Me Sob

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is a genre freebie (pick a genre and build a list around it! i.e., best/worst romances, non-fiction for travelers, memoirs for foodies, classics that feel timeless, romance novel kisses, science fiction that feels too real for comfort, women’s fiction for newbies, etc.) My genre topic will be hard-hitting contemporary books or realistic fiction that made me cry like a baby.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

What did you choose for your genre freebie this week? Any books that you have to add to my list that made you sob? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

GoodReads Summary:
Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.
Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?
Jane AnonymousReview:
Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Jane Anonymous had me hooked from the moment I read the synopsis. Then I read the prologue and I literally couldn’t put this book down until I finished it. I devoured it in one sitting.
I was crying within the first ten percent of this book, which might not say much because I cry at the drop of a hat since having a baby, but still. I was sucked into this story, chewed up, and spit out in the final pages. I really liked the way this story was told. Jane Anonymous is telling us her story. She is writing everything down as a way to work through what she experienced. I thought this was brilliant because we feel what she’s feeling. We get invested in everything the way she does, and our whole world is rocked when we learn certain bits of information. I really liked the ‘anonymous’ aspect of the story. It takes place in ‘Suburb City/Town, New England State’ which is not a real place, but I thought it was a really interesting way to keep the story focused completely on Jane and her experiences. As someone who grew up in New England, I liked that the small town northern setting was there even if no actual places were named.
Jane is experiencing some serious PTSD. We follow her as she tells us her story in alternating chapters of now and then. I thought this was done well to add more suspense to an already excellent story. Then there’s the mystery of how she got from then to now.
This story was absolutely incredible. It had characters I alternated between loving and hating. There was the best friend that I loved at first and then hated and then loved again by the end of the book. Then her parents, I wanted to hate them at times, but also imagining how I would feel if something like this happened to my daughter, I couldn’t fathom how I would react. I think they were doing their best, and eventually, I ended up liking them.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this book. It may just be a new favorite. The writing was paced just right to keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I loved Jane and having her tell this story was an excellent choice. I will be shouting about this book from the rooftops for the next forever.

Quotes:

“I wonder if it matches the one inside my chest, where there used to be a heart.”

“We’ve all carried our regret around like anchors, struggling not to drown.”
“Shards of mirrored glass that reflected just what I’d become: a distorted version of the person I used to be.”

“We’re all broken in some way; it’s part of that being-human thing I was talking about before. The key is to learn how to carry your broken pieces as you move forward day by day.”

“It’s funny the way memory works, especially long-term memory, when the thing being remembered hits us, the brain pops like electricity. We think it’s so random—that timing of sorts. But there’s nothing random about it. Our brains are smarter than we are, equipped to recall things at key times, when we’re able to make the most sense of the information.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary:
Melinda Sordino’s freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends—and even strangers—all hate her. Months pass and things aren’t getting better. She’s a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she’ll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.
SpeakReview:
I read Speak years ago when I was in high school. So, when the author recently released a new book, Shout, I knew I wanted to reread this before getting into Shout. I borrowed the audiobook from my library and started listening a few hours before I knew I’d be in the car for a few hours. It’s a short audiobook so I knew I’d be able to listen to it quickly.
Speak was, at times, really hard to listen to. The content of the story was tough. It follows a girl who was raped at a party just before the start of her freshman year of high school. We get to see the effect this has on Melinda as she tries to navigate her new school. She’s lost all of her friends because she called the police at the end of the summer party. It was really hard to listen to this without screaming that she should just tell someone what happened. But when she finally does, she isn’t believed. The hardest part of this story was knowing that things like this happen every day in real life.
I really loved the way Anderson ended this book. Melinda finally finds her voice and stands up for herself. I also listened to the anniversary edition of the audiobook so I got to listen to a Q&A with the author at the end. She talks about the importance of consent and parents teaching their children about these topics, no matter how hard and uncomfortable they can be. There was also a short message from Jason Reynolds. He tells a story of his mother sitting him down and teaching him about consent. “Women are not furniture for you to sit upon when you want.” I really enjoyed Speak and all of the extra content that came along with this edition. If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Summary:
Three screws in her hip.
Two months until spring training.
One answer to all her problems.
Mickey Catalan’s life has been littered with struggles—from the scars that tell of past injuries to her parents’ divorce to the daily complexity of finding the right words to fit in socially. Mickey is no stranger to pain, emotional or physical.
When a car crash sidelines her months before softball season, Mickey has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get back there.
The pills do more than take away the pain; they make her feel good. With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue. But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis lays bare and honest exploration of the opioid crisis through the eyes of one girl., a visceral and necessary story about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.
HeroineReview:
What to say about this book? It’s one that everyone needs. Though there is a content warning at the beginning that this book may not be the best choice for those struggling with addiction or a recovering addict. I am a recovering alcoholic and this was hard for me to read.
Mindy McGinnis knows how to write a story that will tear apart your emotions and stomp all over them. Because I have somewhat of an understanding of what Mickey was going through, I think I felt more for her than someone that doesn’t have that same understanding. McGinnis really nailed the portrayal of Mickey falling into the trap of addiction and how it can take down anyone. I think it was really interesting that Mickey and her best friend seemed to be two sides of the same coin. Mickey was the one that fell into addiction and her best friend fought the temptation.
This story was powerful and is one that needs to be read by everyone. The author showed just how easy it is to get tangled up with drugs and even for those that have a wonderful future laid out for them.
There isn’t too much I want to say about this story because there was so much to it, but also it was very character-driven. I just have to say that this book hurt. It was powerful and important and needs to be read by as many people as possible.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Summary:
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all the other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm.
Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker side breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis artfully crafts three alternating perspectives into a dark and riveting exploration or what it means to be the female of the species.
The Female of the SpeciesReview:
The Female of the Species has been on my TBR list for entirely too long. I don’t know what took me so long but I’m really glad I finally read this. I found the audiobook available from my library and I’m so happy that I chose to read this via audio. The story is told in three different perspectives. We follow Alex, Peekay, and Jack. They each get their own chapters and their own narrators. I thought that McGinnis did an incredible job of giving each character their own distinct voice and personality.
Peekay was my favorite, but that’s probably because she reminded me a bit of myself when I was in high school. She can’t outrun the identity of being the preacher’s kid, but she manages to rebel where she can. She doesn’t hesitate to drink with her friends. She makes friends with Alex while they’re working together at the animal shelter. I really liked Peekay.
I also really liked Alex. I liked that she was quirky and didn’t talk like everyone else. Honestly, even though she took justice into her own hands, I found myself really sympathizing with her rather than being disturbed by her actions. I think most women can relate to wanting to take action against those that have done wrong. But most women would never actually take action like she does. I think Alex grew and developed wonderfully in this book right alongside Peekay.
Finally, Jack. He was my least favorite of the three. This is because despite him knowing and acknowledging when he was doing or about to do something wrong, sometimes he still did it. He was frustrating sometimes because I wanted to love him so much, but he wasn’t always a good dude. I liked him well enough. He was also a pretty realistic character if I were to compare him to the guys I went to high school with. I think that’s why I didn’t hate him, because despite his flaws, he was real.
Overall, I think this book brought really interesting conversations to the table in a way that was easy and accessible. This book wasn’t always easy to read but I think that was just a part of the experience. There were some hard parts involving animals that come with the characters working at an animal shelter. This was a heavy book, but I just found that I couldn’t put it down.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.