People mark time in different ways. The year we met the love of our life. The year we lost someone dear to us. The year we started out on our own. For me, this will always be the year that Out of Breath was published and The Breathing Series became a complete trilogy. As I look back on 2013 I will be forever grateful for the incredible response I received from my readers. I also mark the years by the memorable books I’ve read—and what was happening in my life while reading them. Here are some of the best reads of 2013.
If there is a must-read book for all teens, parents, and teachers, this is it. Sadly, school shootings are very much a part of our "now." But we never see the other side of it—the perspective of the shooter. How can one begin to sympathize with these “monsters”? Leonard Peacock will confuse you. You'll get angry with him. You'll empathize with his confusion and guilt. When you come to the end, you'll be sobbing. Shooting up a school is never the answer. But this novel will make you re-evaluate every quick judgment you've ever made—because you truly don't know what’s behind people’s thoughts and actions.
Eleanor & Park is a gorgeously written love story about two teens from completely different worlds—which is a concept that has been done before…a lot. But this novel is exceptional because the characters are so incredibly true to life. Perfection doesn't exist. This book is beautiful and heartbreaking, but more importantly, it’s real. Rowell makes storytelling seem so simple, yet she weaves a story so deep and powerful you can't imagine it being written—coming from someone’s brain—because Eleanor and Park just exist. (She even makes hand holding epic!) This is a book that makes a difference.
I was so happy to have found the Infernal Devices series this summer. I was reading it during my vacation in France, so it will always carry fond memories for me. Amidst the French countryside I found myself enveloped in the mysterious world of the Shadowhunters. Set in Victorian England, this novel is rare in that it is both fantasy and historical. (I was thrilled to have a book signing in London right after my trip!) Having read the Mortal Instruments series, I loved being able to connect the two worlds. History not only tells us where we've been, but where we're going—even if someone else is taking over the journey for us.
“Magic was real, magic was real, magic was real.” And when it comes to magical realism Maggie Stiefvater is one of the best. The dangerous quest that began in The Raven Boys continues, and it’s possible that The Dream Thieves might be even better than the first book in the Raven Cycle. In this story the reader gets a closer look into the world of Ronan, a beautifully flawed and disturbingly complex character—one of those you want to shake and hug all in the same moment. Part of Stiefvater’s brilliance is that her stories are perfect fodder for the imagination, and the “what ifs” will haunt you long after you finish the book. Also this book contains one of the most heartbreaking, poignant kisses ever written…ever.