Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, Nonfiction

Note To Self by Connor Franta

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When I read A Work in progress I was surprised by how much I was able to get out of it. I’m always skeptical with memoirs written by younger people. Especially someone younger than I am if only by one or two years. I was again impressed by Connor Franta with this second book.

I like the way Connor tells a story. He has an open and honest feel to him. He states his opinions without them feeling like he’s trying to force you to agree with what he feels. He can look at moments of his life and in reflecting on them pull out a lesson that he gained or wish he knew at the time. He has a wiseness that is beyond his years.

Plus there is the photography. The photos in this book were extra striking. Like I wish I could take photos as good as the ones Connor takes. In some books with photography. The photos are glanced at and you move right on to the writing. I really stopped to look at the photos here. Especially when they linked in really well to the prose or poetry Connor had with it. By the way, Connor’s poetry was excellent in this book.I would read an entire poetry book from him. I was so there for it.

A lot of what Connor talks about in this book is really relatable for me too. I’ve talked about an experience that many queer people have in common in the past that Connor also addresses here. Having your first relationships, romantic or otherwise, in much later years than your straight peers. Possibly because you weren’t out or because you weren’t in an environment with anyone else to start those relationships with in your high school or college years.

Connor talks about experiencing that here and I could definitely relate to the way he talked about it. He wasn’t out in high school. He came out in the last few years. It’s a different experience just because of where you are in your life.  The emotions involved in those first relationships and the way you approach people you are interested in changes for people over time.Plus the way you experience break ups and heartbreaks. Connor experiences a major breakup while writing this book.

Connor experiences a major breakup while writing this book. The emotional devastation he experiences is written about in such a grabbing way. He’s just honest about what he was feeling and you can tell he hoped writing something would help him. I think anyone who has experienced a breakup that really affected them can relate. The poetry and photos in that section shined even more. This is a book where I could not contain my emotions as I read. I let out a bit of a scream at one point because I was relating and empathizing too much with what was happening.

Connor also talks about his experience with depression. He talks about his first time going to therapy. I love seeing people talking about these experiences and letting people know it is okay to do that. I think a lot of people don’t like the stigma associated with things and are afraid to talk about their problems. Some people are afraid to try therapy because of some of that stigma. I always appreciate seeing this in books. Loved seeing a real person talk about their experiences with it.

This was another excellent book from Connor. Excited to see what he does next. Just started listening to his curated music playlists on Spotify. They are so good. Plus, I am now checking out his Instagram whenever I can because those photos are just too good. Wishing him the best in his next few years. I hope he is able to keep growing and learning from life.

 

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diverse books, YA

One of Us is Lying Book Thoughts

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I read the concept and immediately thought Breakfast club but with murder. It’s the murder club. I was so excited. It’s on my most anticipated reads list for the year. The Breakfast Club is my favorite movie that contains no queer characters. My top 10 films consisted of all LGBT films and The Breakfast Club. it’s been like that since I first saw the film. I also have really enjoyed YA mysteries and thrillers recently So I was so very excited for this book and I gotta say I wasn’t disappointed.

Sure there were cliches. I kind of expected that with the Jock, criminal, brain, and princess walk into detention thing.The bookish tropes were more of a giveaway of things. On the back, it says Everyone has a secret right? These characters have many. There were also so many layers to these characters.  Yeah, I could guess some of them. Likely before I should have been able to but I still enjoyed it a lot.

The mystery was good. Simon’s killer didn’t elude me forever. The killer was one of my theories. I just had a lot of theories, though. I suspected all of the main four at some point. Even though I love our murder club they are sketchy. I suspected the teacher. I suspected side characters we meet for only small amounts of time. I had a lot of suspects with this one. One of them was right but I gotta say the result was still surprising. This book went in ways I didn’t expect. The way their peers and the media reacted to them was surprising at times. The information is laid out in a nice way. I felt like the pacing was great.

Cooper’s big secret was the only one that was a bit of a letdown. Only because I guessed it about 20 pages into the book. The big secret of his doesn’t get revealed until the very end of the second part. He has some secrets before that but it’s his big one. I genuinely think it was supposed to be a big twist/turn and it was kind of like yeah I’ve known this for over 200 pages. What’s next? I will say that I think me guessing that had more to do with my particularly reading taste. It’s a trope I’ve seen a lot of so I saw the signs even when they were really small and so much else was going on. I do like Cooper. I see the pressure his father put on him with athletics. The only reason I’m not talking about the secret is that I really am not sure that others were able to guess as early as me or if I was supposed to be able to. It was a nice touch really so I can’t even fault the story on that.

Nate’s story was also a bit more cliche than I thought the girls were but It’s fine. Nate’s cool. He has a pet lizard named Stan, which is awesome. So I can ignore cliche book tropes.  I kind of felt like we didn’t get as much time with Nate as we did the others. I feel like, for the most part, we know what the others were thinking or wanted us to think. I also gave him an accent in my head and I have no clue where that came from. I realized it halfway through the book and I just rolled with it.

I don’t usually talk in depth about covers for YA books but I might need to. The cover was one of the things that made this book stand out when I was looking at new releases for the year. I like the paper cutouts. The red writing on front and back. Everyone has a secret right? It all looks goo until I get into the story and have to questions the people used. Bronwyn is half Columbian and the girl representing her on the cover is not how she is described at all. They made a point to contrast Bronwyn and her sister Maeve. It just felt like an odd choice. I also started reading g up more about whitewashing in covers. It’s something I’ve noticed before in M/M romance but never saw how prominent it was elsewhere. It just bothered me a bit. I’ll add that don’t think the other characters are good choices either from their descriptions in the book.

Seeing Bronwyn shift as she gets more wrapped up in this case, was great. I really liked her character from the get-go. The way that her race played into things made sense. I think the reactions from other people, the way the media treats her family as the case gets more buzz, and the way her father is all made a lot of sense. I also like that Maeve and Bronwyn were supposed to speak Spanish when they were at home. We get a bit of that. I would not have minded seeing that a little more.

Addy arguably changes the most. I feel like she is able to become who she should have been all along over the course of this book. At first, she was my least favorite of the murder club but I gotta say my opinion about her really changed as we went through the book. I was actually rooting for her to not be the killer after the second part. At page 100 I wouldn’t have totally been okay with her being the killer. Like I didn’t care but the turn around was fast. I was in her corner after a while.

I really thought this was fantastic. It’s honestly a book I’d read again even knowing who the killer is. I read this from the library but it’s definitely going on my books to buy list. Hope I can get myself a copy of it somewhere down the line. Check out the playlist I put together with songs that reminded me of the book or I listened to while reading.

Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/123126892/playlist/6DiAeGF9fAeiCOPoVaNVGJ