Highlights in the Charts
Not So Perfect Strangers by L.S. Stratton
Reviewed by Maddy McManus
Karma always comes for those who deserve it…
Madison Gingell and Tasha Jenkins meet through a chance encounter; one which upends both their lives in unexpected ways.
When Tasha decides to escape her abusive husband, she’s prepared to get a flight out of the country; leave her miserable life behind and make a fresh start. But she realises that leaving isn’t so simple and she soon decides to go back home for the sake of her son. Whilst driving back, she comes across a distraught woman who begs to be let in her car. Behind her is a raging man pursuing the woman. Seeing a victim in Madison and wanting to help, Tasha ends up letting her in and in turn, letting her into her life.
Despite the differences in these women's lives, their connection is driven by a similar hatred for their abusive partners. Tasha is a Black woman who endures physical and emotional abuse from her husband. Madison is a rich, entitled white woman who is the trophy wife of a powerful businessman whom she is convinced is having an affair. They decide to help each other to escape these situations but their definitions of help turn out to be extremely different. Things spiral out of control from there.
Full of unpredictable twists and with a compelling first chapter, Stratton uses dual points of view to make the story that much more suspenseful. In this thriller, Madison is a strong driving force behind the plot twists. From the first few chapters, she shows signs of holding back a frightening level of violence to those closest around her which only progresses as the women’s lives intertwine more and her true intention is revealed.
Not So Perfect Strangers is described as Strangers on a Train with a modern twist. Stratton masterfully combines matters of race and class to subtly show the differences in how the women interact with each other and how they are perceived by other people in society, including the police. Not So Perfect Strangers is about what you can get away with when you fit society’s standards.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Reviewed by Marisha Puk
The main character of Everything, Everything, Maddy, is an eighteen-year-old girl who cannot leave her home in Los Angeles. Allergic to the outside world, Maddy’s world is small and sanitised. She lost her dad and brother in a car accident and lives with a combination of life-threatening illnesses and a severe combined immunodeficiency. As a result, she only knows her live-in nurse Carla and her mum, who is a doctor. That is until a new family moves into the house across the street and suddenly her world expands. The new family is intriguing, but they have their own problems: a violent and alcoholic father; a seemingly depressed young girl and a weak mother. But in the centre of it all, is Olly: clever, good looking and absorbingly interesting to Maddy. Through a series of text messages, she gets to know the new guy Olly and she begins to experience things she never thought she could. But Maddy’s illness hinders their relationship and its progression. With the help of her nurse Carla, Olly and Maddy move from their online messages to meeting in person and, in doing so, has huge repercussions for everyone involved in their lives. It is only once Maddy’s whole world explodes that a massive secret of her life is revealed to her; one which is sure to catch you off guard as much as it does Maddy as she is left questioning her experiences up until this point.
This incredible debut YA novel is written by Nicola Yoon, a Jamaican-American author who is committed to writing joyful stories about marginalised societies. She recently asked herself “Why aren’t there more swoony love stories starring Black girls or Asian boys?” and said, “I want my happily-ever-afters. I need them.” and if you give Everything, Everything a read you can see her motivation throughout. Readers will be sure to fall in love with her diverse characters and sympathise heavily with each of their complex emotions.
The novel was also recently made into a film, which won the accolade of Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Drama. Through this and the reviews, one thing is clear: Young adult readers are huge fans and Yoon's works are causing a stir. If you enjoy Everything, Everything then be sure to check out her other works The Sun Is Also a Star (which was also made into a film) and her recent release Instructions For Dancing. We highly recommend giving one of Yoon’s books a read because she gives you an entirely different perspective as you fall into one of her worlds of romance and drama.