• By Neva Walker
  • Posted Monday, July 1, 2019

Personal growth and progress - does it really exist?

When consequences, questions or life changes brought on by actions lead to life changes and new discoveries, these characters learn that where you start isn’t where your story ends. And like the protagonists in these books, chapters are not just related to books but to stages in life.

" Puddin’ " by Julie Murphy

In this excellent sequel to Dumplin’ we catch up with Millicent ‘Millie’ Michalchuk who instead of going back to summer fat camp has decided to go to a broadcast journalism program instead. When her uncle’s local gym is vandalized by the Shamrock dance team due to sponsorship issues, Callie, the only dance member caught in the crime has now lost her ‘friends’, boyfriend and social standing while being forced to work with Millie at the gym. Forced to accept things that they have ignored (either intentionally or unintentionally), they see each other along with life with a more open mind. But will they answer for the actions and words of their past or will they pretend as if it doesn’t exist?

"Since You’ve Been Gone" by Morgan Matson

Stepping out of your shell is a great way, to sum up, what Emily Hughes is asked to do after her best friend Sloane moves without even a goodbye. A letter from Sloane, later on, sends Emily on a self-discovery quest while teaching her that leaving your comfort zone is a part of growing up. From meeting new friends to ‘dancing until dawn’ Sloane distantly let Emily know that she can grow into herself without anyone’s help while quietly giving her clues about her own whereabouts. Emily is relatable to anyone who feels that nervous about trying something new due to being comfortable and happy with where they are at that moment.

"Payback Time" by Carl Deuker

All Daniel True wanted to do was be an investigative reporter or at least the editor of the school newspaper during his senior year. Instead, he not only gets stuck covering sports for the said paper, he has been downgraded to nothing more but a cheerleader for his childhood friend Horst Diamond the star quarterback. Daniel then gets word of a new transfer student that has been assigned to the team the coach keeps restricting access from anyone knowing about the past of the athlete. This leads him to the investigation that he always dreamed of doing, but with consequences that hurt more than those close to him. A first-person narrative takes you inside Daniel’s head while he learns the meaning of ethics - both personal and professional.

"The Way You Make Me Feel" by Maurene Goo

Clara Shin finds out the hard way that actions have consequences when a prom prank lands her not only in hot water but also in the back of the KoBra food truck with her father for the summer. As if her summer couldn’t get any worse, she has to work with Rose Carver who’s also on punishment for her part in the prank on the truck. Clara’s father does a great job (with a rocky start at first) showing Clara and Rose that they should be friends instead of adversaries. Clara’s and Rose’s personal growth throughout the book (Rose wanting to be more than the person she was in the past and Clara learning personal responsibility while wanting to create a more positive legacy for herself) gives readers a refreshing take of typical coming-of-age story.

"If I’m Being Honest" by Emily Wibberley

Brutal honesty is a double-edged sword. While it can make you popular, it can also lead you to have a lot of enemies as a result. Cameron Bright may be the most popular girl in the whole school, but her brutal honesty turns off most of her fellow classmates at her L.A. high school. When her crush is turned off by her blunt assessment of him, she starts to question why she acts the way she does. This is further cemented when reading a copy of the Taming of the Shrew in a class setting off a personal quest to right the wrongs in her past comments of her classmates. Is this the classic ‘modern-day Shakespeare’ trope that has been done over and over? Yes, but combined with a bully narrative with a healthy dose of feminism this book stands above the rest.