Another year come and gone–and some fantastic reading adventures along with it! As I typically do in January, I want to take some time to review some of my favorite reads of 2016. In week four of this series, we move up to the next two books on my top ten.
Note: These are the best books I read in 2016, not necessarily published in 2016.
#4 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I was a bit of a latecomer to the amazingness that is this suspenseful mystery novel. But I could immediately see why it found such widespread success with reading audiences of all types. It’s one of those books that keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat, digging deep to find every possible clue that you know just has to be there, and yearning for that final answer to the question. I’ve yet to see the film adaptation (going to be a latecomer there too), but I’m looking forward to it!
Read my review from October 13 for more on this title.
#3 Guyliner by j. leigh bailey
I could probably gush for pages on how much I truly enjoyed this book. There’s definitely something about j. leigh bailey’s writing style that resonates with me (just look up the author tag her on the blog!). The characters are multidimensional, the stories and situations have a realism to them, and I find myself lost in the pages of the book every time. I think this was the first young adult story I picked up from this author, but it is safe to say that I will continue to pick them up as long as they keep being written…
Read my review from January 4 for more on this title.
Guyliner by j. leigh bailey
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on October 17, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
Connor is seen as the golden boy, and he’s okay with that as long as it means a ticket out of the small town where he lives. He gets good grades, is athletic, works a part-time job, has a great girlfriend, and gets along with pretty much everyone. And that includes the new kid, Graham. Graham is a self-assured star soccer player who wears eyeliner. Wait, eyeliner? But that’s not the only thing Connor notices about Graham. He’s drawn to him and can’t get him out of his head. And that’s just not acceptable–it doesn’t fit into Connor’s plans. He can’t be with a guy and get where he wants to go, can he? But as the two spend more time together, Connor begins to wonder if he really can deny the truth about how he feels. And even if he can, is what he’d be giving up worth the tradeoff?
I struggle to find the words to describe just how much I enjoyed this book. I cannot help wondering how many young men out there go through exactly what Connor goes through in this book. And Graham, too, to be fair. While we often reflect on the fact that it is “easier” to come out now than it was years ago or that young people seem to be coming out at earlier and earlier ages, we can’t simply dismiss the idea that it can be challenging for many people. And the pressure we all feel to be a certain kind of person or achieve certain things–even when it’s not made explicit–can be overwhelming on its own. To face the reality that being true to yourself means giving up many of the things that we’re taught to expect out of life as children (or to at least realize that they won’t happen quite as we expect) can be scary. And it’s even scarier to have to sort that all out as a young adult.
This is, hands down, one of the best young adult LGBT stories I’ve ever read. And I give it a very strong recommendation for all readers, both young and old.