Should I Cry or Laugh? // Three Heartfelt, Beautiful Contemporaries

Summer is definitely NOT over yet, and I’ve been reading tons of contemporary! I mean, you can read contemporary in the fall, too. But when it’s very sunny and warm outside, I love reading contemporaries. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read THREE fantastic contemporaries.

They were ALL so GOOD that I actually thought about doing an individual full length review for each book. BUT then that would take a long time to review them all, because I tend to post one review a week. So, I decided to compile my latest contemporary reads into one post. Mini-reviews? We’ll see how mini these reviews actually are.


This book is about two boys, Adam and Julian. And both of these boys are intense and you need to read this story. I was thinking about writing my own synopsis? But the Goodreads synopsis is SO GOOD, I don’t think I can word it any other, better way.

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

I loved Adam and Julian SO MUCH. Both of these characters had such unique voices and were so special. I could not put this book down. I just kept reading and reading, and then I started crying, and was so moved. So moved.

I love the friendships this book highlights. Both Adam and Julian have such strong platonic love, and Adam is the most friendly person, ever. His group of friends are the sweetest thing.
Also, the ADD conversation! I super appreciated how Adam talked about his ADD, and the positive natural remedies chatter on page. I’m also ADD, so I totally related to Adam!

Now, this story is not just sweet friendships. It becomes brutal. And cruel. Sometimes, I wondered if some parts were written just for shock value? I don’t know because I don’t know the author. And I also felt like the story ended too soon, and we weren’t able to heal with the characters.

Definitely recommend this book! A content warning when reading this book for both physical and emotional abuse.


I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, and wanted to scream into the void that is Goodreads that this is reaalllly a 3.5 read BUT I can’t mark it down to 3 stars on Goodreads, so FRUSTRATION.

Anyway, this book is about Jane Sinner.

Jane Sinner doesn’t want to finish high school because the whole school know too much about her. When she gets the opportunity to get her diploma through a local community college, Jane reluctantly chooses to check it out.
Then Jane hears about House of Orange, a youtube reality show. if she moves into this crazy orange house, completes all the challenges, and wins, Jane will win a free car and a scholarship.
Not only that, but competing on the show gives Jane a chance to escape her overhearing parents, gossiping high school, and a chance to be herself.

What fun formatting! This book is Jane’s journal, and the formatting was easy to read, with a mix of dialogue and exposition.

Competition! Jane Sinner is crazy competitive and I want her to fight me at laser tag.

Community College! I’m pretty sure this is the first book iv’e ever read featuring community college and I definitely liked it! CC gets a bad rap, and I was proud when Jane stood up for her choice for going to a local college.

Religious Questioning – I LOVED how Jane asked questions and talked about how not believing messed up her life. When religion is ingrained in you, and you first start to doubt, it can be so HARD! I loved, loved, loved how Jane’s story explored this subject.

After I read this book, I realized this was the author’s debut novel. Super cool!

Now, I did think the plot was a little slow, especially for the first quarter. I felt like we could have started a bit later, instead of being dragged along while Jane made some choices. But once the game show/competition started, it was fast paced and so fun!


Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

Is this the hardest review I’ve ever written? Probably. Also, a content warning for sexual assault.

I didn’t know much about this book when I first started reading it, but within the first couple of chapters, I felt like I knew Mara. Her experience mirrored my own. The first time she mentioned her abuser, I knew he was an abuser. Because I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault. Mara’s thoughts, her aversion to physical touch, even the way she repeated the abuser’s verbal abuse over and over to herself, it felt like me.

Now, I know that everyone who experiences sexual assault doesn’t recover, feel, or experience the same thing. It is difficult to write, and even read, stories that cover abuse and emotional trauma.

Mara’s story was difficult to read, but I couldn’t put it down. I was consumed with anger for Mara, for Hannah, at the entire patriarchal system that covers up and ignores assault and women’s voices. And with recent political events where people are AGAIN ignoring & blaming a woman and defending a man, this book is such a timely read.

I’m so surprised with myself for posting this review on time! Because I did something super cool this week and I’ve been very distracted from reading, and homework, and blogging.

BUT I can’t tell you guys about it yet…I should be able to in my monthly wrap up next week, though? WE WILL SEE.

lets chat

Have you read much contemporary this month?

Does it still feel like summer where you live? IT SURE DOES IN THE SOUTH. 
Have you read any of these contemporaries? Do you easily cry when you read? Or laugh? Tell me your thoughts!!!! Can you believe September is almost over???



  1. September 22, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    I’m crying because A List of Cages is on here and that has made my entire day. Adam is probably one of my favorite book characters of alllll time, and I just want to hug Julian forever. They’re the best and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. (Just kidding, of course I wouldn’t…I would just force them to read the book over and over again until they recognized it…JUST KIDDING I WOULD JUST SIGH AND BE ANNOYED.) Ahem. I really want to read GMOS soon, it looks like such a powerful and poignant read. Wonderful reviews!

  2. September 26, 2018 / 2:36 pm

    Lovely reviews, Elizabeth! I am so happy you read and loved A List of Cages – I read that one a little while ago and absolutely loveed it. The characters were incredible, the friendships too and I just loved everything about it, I wanted to hug and protect these characters so much. <3
    I can't wait to read Jane Sinner, it sounds like such a great read – I love original formatting, too, so I'm very curious about that one 😀
    Not sure I will read Girl Made of Stars, given the content warnings, but I am happy you enjoyed it so much <3 <3

Drop some knowledge!

%d bloggers like this: