2 more lunch break books

60. Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin (Random House, 8/2008).  YA.  I have been reading a LOT of YA the last few weeks, trying to pick out what the YA book discussion group will read September through December.  And believe me, there is a blog post coming on the YA cliches that I was choking on through almost all of them.  But not Cycler.  From the first chapter, this book is weird as all get out, in the best possible way–I mean, you know from the beginning that the author is NOT messing around.  The premise alone is fascinating: a teenage girl who, instead of getting cranky and suffering cramps during PMS, literally turns into a boy.  And that boy, who is porn-loving and testosterone-high, is not happy about only getting 4 days a month, especially because he’s locked in their bedroom the whole time.  The only cliche present was “the best friend who just don’t care what nobody thinks” (complete with odd sense of fashion), but to be fair, I haven’t read a new release YA book in the last two weeks without that trope.  And it doesn’t change the fact that this was the sort of book that makes your eyes widen, and that you don’t want to put down.  I don’t want to say anymore about the plot, but I will highly recommend this.  Might do it for YA book discussion, but it’s definitely for mature teens, and I don’t want to leave out the 13 and 14 year-olds.

61. Arab In America written and illustrated by Toufic El Rassi (Last Gasp, 2007).  Graphic novel.  Very much liked this as well.  I think most people instinctively know that being Arab in America is crappy, but this book makes it clear.  It’s interesting that he describes his urge after the 9/11 attacks to say “it wasn’t me” to white people, because this book gave me that queasy urge to say “not all white people think this!”  But you can’t blame him, or any Arab, for thinking that white Americans distrust and vilify Arabs, and  El Rassi does a great job of pointing out the many places in which he and all Arabs (especially men) are stereotyped, patronized, and in danger.  I also really like his illustration style and the way he uses shadows.  Will probably put a staff pick in it.

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