SAY THE WORD is a novel that explores family relationships and homophobia. LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER is about a teen in rehab confronting the monsters of his past. Neither is a book I would have picked up on my own had it not been for Nerds Heart YA. Both are amazing books I hope you will consider checking out. But which one takes the title?
Shawna's mother's death sets off a whole chain of events that force Shawna to deal with her feelings of betrayal and homophobia. Though Shawna is a sympathetic character for the most part, she does and says some horrible things. Still, Garsee has a light touch, and the story, despite its heavy themes and tragedies, is a very entertaining read. I really loved probably the first three fourths of this novel, but had a some problems with the ending. One of the problems had to do with a romantic encounter Shawna had that just completely came out of left field and seemed out of character and out of place. The other problem had to do with the resolution of the main conflict of the story which was just very unsatisfying to me. Still, I really, really enjoyed reading this and spending time with the characters. Find out more about it at the author's website.
LAST NIGHT was a difficult novel to get into. I did not enjoy the first half very much. Zach is angry. His fellow patients are angry. They talk about their monsters and addictions and how they drink and do drugs to avoid feeling anything. Their stories, when they tell them, are shocking and sad and uncomfortable.
But at the halfway mark comes a passage where Rafael is painting and getting his monsters out onto the canvas. Zach asks him why he does it, if it hurts so much. And Rafael answers:
"I've been hurting most of my life. I tried to pretend I wasn't. I even believed my own lie. I've lived my entire life trying to avoid pain, Zach. That's a terrible way to live. I don't care any more if it hurts. (...) If I am working on a painting, and it doesn't hurt, then the painting won't matter. And if it doesn't matter, then it isn't real - then I am not real. (...) I have a new theory," he said, "and the theory is this: if I develop a great capacity for feeling pain, then I am also developing a great capacity for feeling happiness." p 115-116
Isn't that beautiful? It helped me to see the characters and story in a new light and really root for their redemption. And when I put the book down at the end, I was deeply touched. Find out more about the book at the author's website.
So which novel should I choose as the winner? The book that entertained me more? Or the book that touched me more? My gut feeling tells me to go with the latter. That means LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER wins. Congrats!