Jenny Han — The Summer I Turned Pretty

This book is the perfect Young Adult summer read. It’s set in the summer at a beach house where Belly, the book’s main character, spends all of her summers growing up. This book is, more than anything else, a coming of age story. It’s the summer Belly realizes that, like the title says, she’s finally pretty. She is almost sixteen years old, and she has her whole life ahead of her.

I devoured this book, remembering again my first love, first kiss, first time holding hands. This book made me nostalgic, and it also made me smile (granted, there were tears too, but most of the book was bubbly and fun). If you’re looking for a girly, beachy read with plenty of laughs and a casual, laid-back plot, this is the book for you. It’s also the first book in a trilogy, which is now sold in a one volume set, so if you think you’ll be interested in Belly’s two summers after this one, you may want to pick up the three books in one instead.

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when he shucks me

For 3 years, we have lived
3,000 miles apart.
 
Every day, California calls me
or I call him,
and the distance shucks off
like the green
that blankets an ear of corn. 

For a couple of years, 
I lived for that shucking, 
lived for the moments
when the miles fell away
and I was no longer
just an East coast girl. 

I was his girl, his princess, 
the lady of his heart.
 
More than that, I was bare 
as one of those ears of corn, 
exposed and vulnerable, 
ready to be eaten 
or devoured. 

Here I am, I felt like saying, 
when what I really said 
was a simple hello. 

Through words and letters, 
we wove our dreams together, 
pretending we wove our lives. 

Twice he flew out to see me, 
and for a few short days
my life was all puffy clouds
and daydreams 
only I wasn't dreaming. 

I'd pinch myself 
after he kissed me, 
leaving little crescents 
from my fingernails 
in the fleshy part of my arm. 

Now it has been two years
since we've made love, 
two years since anyone 
has kissed me
the way he kissed me, 
his hands cupping my face, 
his whole mouth drinking me in. 

I don't dare say 
we're growing apart, 
but when he shucks me now, 
the green no longer
all falls off. 

California, my California, 
you've never seemed
so far away.

halfway to the dairy farm

You are poetry--
your words distilled,
your personality fiery 
with a fierceness
that I both love
and fear. 

Elusive, I find you 
in the briefest moment
between sunset and full dark
when the sky's inky violet. 

Far off down 
my one lane country road,
a pair of headlights
comes careening. 

I step off to the side
step into the rows of corn
and hide until the lights
flash by me, 
standing in the high corn
until my eyes readjust
and I hear the car
backfire as it rides the bend. 

I'm halfway to the dairy farm
a mile down the road.
The sycamores are white as bone. 
Above and between them, 
bats slash the summer air 
with their chaotic flight,
diving and twirling 
dark shadows that dip 
too close about my head. 

It is summer and you, 
you are oil to my water, 
rising--always rising
above.

E. Lockhart — The Boyfriend List

This book was funny and quirky. I got caught up in Roo’s life and her friendships, both the laughter and the drama. I think she’s likable, a girl I would have liked to be friends with when I was in high school, someone who’s side I would have been on.

I liked both her character and the supporting characters such as her parents, her boyfriends (not 15 of them no matter what the book’s cover says), the girl she carpools with, her best friends, even a teacher.

This book is essentially about a big misunderstanding and a girl who makes mistakes and what happens when she hurts the people around her. However, to say that’s all that the book about would be simplistic. It’s also about a girl learning about herself, learning how to be honest and true to herself. She also learns what it’s like to be on the receiving end of gossip and learns what it’s like to not fit in.

This is a funny story, a fast read (it took me a day and a half to read it), and I recommend it for anyone who likes realistic YA fiction novels about teenage girls and their social lives.

brightness

I'm splintering, 
fracturing.

The monster inside me 
is winning the war. 

The room tilts, 
everything is bright, 
a sterile white, 
the shadows only spots
that swim lazily
across my eyelids 
when I close my eyes. 

I close my eyes
too often now. 

The light is blinding, 
the absence of shapes
confuses me. 

The couch, the walls, 
the Christmas tree 
still up in July. 

All blend
into the brightness
that pulses.

This is not a drunken poem. 
I am not an alcoholic. 
I don't sit 
alone by my phone
waiting for texts 
that never come. 

I am not a broken woman. 
This is not a shattered heart.

holding onto my altitude

I'm lost again, 
rambling sideways and down,
always half a step from the edge. 

It would take a stiff wind
or a stiff drink 
to make me fall. 

I'd go down and down
seeing the latter's rungs
flash by me as I fell. 

Reaching out,
my fingertips would tap
tap tap taptaptap
faster on the latter's rungs
as I sped up
on my way toward 
the rocky bottom. 

But I am not falling. 
I'm weaving, 
holding onto my altitude, 
recklessly, stupidly
in love.

Still Me

During the week, I am almost free, close to unencumbered, a lighter version of myself. Then the weekend comes around and H comes back from work, and it’s like I’m under a guillotine, waiting for my head to be lopped off. There are drastic changes in me from someone who is mostly happy to someone who is mostly panicked and on edge. The see-sawing back and forth between being okay and being so far from okay is driving me insane.

I want to be permanently free. I want to be free of him, free to be myself, to dance in the rain like I did once all those years ago. Naked, bare feet digging into the sand. I want to be free to learn again, to sharpen my mind and to wake up from this intellectual and emotional slumber. I’ve spent too many years pretending to be okay, spent too many years lying to everyone I love about who and how I am.

I come here because I am a coward, because it’s easier to put things down in words when no one you know will judge you for saying that you’re miserable in your marriage, that your life’s become a sham, a sad shadow of what it once was and of what it will be. Because that’s just it: I know that this isn’t the end for me. A friend of mine told me recently that, although this section of my life is ending, it doesn’t mean that my life itself is ending. This is just the beginning of a new chapter.

Who will I be in my next chapter? Still me, but more compassionate. Still me, but kinder. Still me, but without the ceaseless challenges of trying to please everyone in my life. Still me, but more spiritual. Still me, but writing and submitting my works for publication. See? Still me, just a more vibrant, more alive me. Hopefully also still me, but a better cook. I say it partly in jest, but I would like to eat better in the next chapter of my life.