We started with our picture book, I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott. It was beautifully read aloud to us by one of our members, and when she finished, we all just said, "Wow!" One member said the book was 'breathtakingly gorgeous,' and another said it was 'what a picture book should be.' We loved the quiet support the dad gave to his son who had a stutter, and felt self-conscious every time he had to talk in class because his words churned around in his head but just wouldn't come out of his mouth properly. When the two of them visited a nearby river, the boy realized that the gurgling, flowing, pounding, rushing sounds of the river were similar to the way he felt when he tried to talk. We loved the quiet kinship between father and son and the idea of connecting the boy's troubles to nature and all the kinds of movement of the river, which were beautifully depicted on a double-page foldout in the center of the book. We were pleased to learn in the Author's Note at the end that this was his own story, and an homage to his father. We felt the book was a wonderful read-aloud, but we weren't sure if it would be equally appreciated in the hands of a young reader. But -- regardless -- we all loved it.
We were equally enamored by our novel, Frankly in Love by David Yoon. We loved being in high school senior Frank Li's head as he tried to figure out his life. How could he be a good Korean son and a regular American kid at the same time? What does love really mean? How important was his best friend, 'Q', an African-American kid who was equally smart and nerdy? Which girl did he really love? -- very American 'Brit Means' or 'Joy Song', daughter of Korean family friends. What would be his future as a college student and a music designer? These and other questions made for many smaller stories in the total plot, which a few readers felt was a bit too long, but which was enjoyable reading, full of fun metaphors and humor, and provided a surprise ending. We liked how the story dealt with family relationships, work, racism, friendship, school, a mirror into the life of a Korean immigrant family, and how -- in life -- you never know what will happen because things keep changing. We felt that YA readers would love this book because of its accessibility, realism, and humor.