27. Good Enough
, by Paula Yoo
YA novel about a Korean-American girl whose parents push her to take all AP classes, get at least a 2300 (new scale...) on the SATs, etc. so she can get into an Ivy League college. She's also a very talented violinist, and her parents push her to achieve as much as she can in music so it will look good on her college applications.
She meets a boy at All-State orchestra rehearsal that she's very attracted to, and over the course of the book she gets closer and closer to him, sneaking out to his house to play music with him when her parents forbid her to hang out with boys or to waste any time that she could be spending studying. He teaches her about improvisation and the value of rock music, and helps her realize how truly passionate about music she is (he encourages her to apply to Juilliard behind her parents' backs).
And then, of course, there's the climax where they sneak out to a concert, she gets caught, there are consequences... and then it all wraps up nicely in the end. (I don't think I need to give a spoiler warning for any of this; how could the ending be anything else?)
I liked this well enough. The author's a musician and gets the music parts of the story exactly right (I'm picky about that sort of thing). And she gets math much better than Justina Chen Headley
(although the part where the protagonist says that she doesn't have enough time to solve the last problem on her extra credit homework, d/dx(sin(x2
+5)) or something like that, between homeroom and when she has to hand it in in the middle of the day... came off as false - how long could it really take her? 30 seconds?)...
And there is not too much girliness.
28. The Whale Rider
, by Witi Ihimaera
I thought this was just lovely. I decided to read it after reading a friend's review of the movie, in which she said that the movie's message seemed to be inconsistent - that it seemed to be alternatingly sending the messages "The hope of indigenous peoples is returning to the Old Ways" and "Sexism is bad, and the Old Ways are sexist," when it should have been a real examination of how to keep indigenous cultures alive, living
, evolving to survive in their times.
The book didn't seem to me to have that inconsistency at all. It actually seemed to be exactly what my friend wanted to see... except that it was less an examination
and more that... both themes, returning to the ways of the Maori people and letting those ways evolve, were just there
the book. The sexism of some of the traditions was
challenged, but that challenge came from within
the culture; it was not imposed on it from outside. This was not about a conflict between The Enlightened White Conception Of Human Rights and Our People's Cultural Identity And Traditions. Not at all.
Once again... lovely