Thanks to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegan Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 17th, 2019
Synopsis: In this hilarious and thought-provoking contemporary teen standalone that’s perfect for fans of Moxie, a bookworm finds a way to fight back when her school bans dozens of classic and meaningful books.
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.
Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not just going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.
So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like “Speak” and “The Chocolate War.” But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara is forced to face her role in it.
Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?
I finished Suggested Reading a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been saving my review for this week, because a story about fighting against the banning of books is obviously perfect for Banned Books Week.
Clara is a complex character who both annoyed me and made me want to hug her. She’s a rabid reader, so that in itself earns her major points. She’s also very focused and determined to stand up to injustice. However, at times these same qualities can get her into trouble, especially in regards to making assumptions about other people. After a near tragedy occurs, the Clara that emerges at the end of the book is much wiser and likable than the somewhat immature and self-absorbed teen that’s introduced in the beginning. The other characters, from Clara’s best friend LiQui, to some of the smaller characters, are well-rounded and relatable.
What I love the most about this book though are the multiple themes that run through it that present perfect opportunities for discussion. First and foremost of course is what impact books have on our lives and how they can inspire us and make us think, but in addition to this there are other topics explored such as: not being so quick to judge others, mental health, and homophobia.
While not perfect, Suggested Reading is a quick moving read with a relatable heroine and intriguing narrative. It’s a book that I believe should be in every public and high school library and it’s perfect for classroom discussion. With censorship continuing to rear its ugly head not only in this country but around the world, we need to share timely stories such as this.