Throughout the year, I have been awarding books with my Best Book Award if they receive a five-star rating from me. In order to receive a five-star rating, they need to be an incredible book that leaves me with nothing bad to say. I have read many outstanding books this year, but a few have stuck in my head and really made a lasting impression. It was hard to pick my favorite book of the year, but here is the winner and a few that almost made the cut. Please comment with your favorite book of 2015!
Best Book of 2015:
I’ll Meet You There | Heather Demetrios
“And maybe some people are like collages - no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.”
I’ll Meet You There is a coming-of-age story featuring the perspectives of two teens trying to get out of their rundown small town: Skylar and Josh. Skylar is a seventeen-year-old with a full scholarship to an art school starting in the fall. She yearns to leave the town that holds her back, but she doesn’t want to leave her alcoholic mother behind with her new scummy boyfriend. Josh, on the other hand, got his chance to leave by joining the Marines, but he was forced to come back after losing his leg in Afghanistan. The only thing these two have in common is that they work at a tiny old motel in town. This creates a relationship between two people who just really need to be understood. For a complete summary, you can go here, then go here to read the first five chapters for free! You can also learn more about Heather Demetrios here.
I loved this book. At first, I thought to myself, “Oh great…this is going to be like every other young adult novel about love and summer.” But it was so much more than that. First of all, I cannot ever begin to imagine what soldiers go through in war. I also can never try to understand how it feels to go back to my hometown after seeing my friends die, suffering from PTSD, and losing a limb. However, I think that Demetrios does an amazing job of giving us little snippets of the struggles that Josh faces on a daily basis. Most of the book is written in Skylar’s voice, but a few little sections give us a glimpse into Josh’s head. I think it was the perfect balance. Skylar also had so many struggles of her own. This was one book where I didn’t know what she would decide doing in the end. I went back and forth on her decisions as she did.
Let me also say that this novel has romance in it, but it is slow building. I really appreciated that. Most relationships start like that, rather than the whirlwind love-at-first-sight story that so many young adult novels try to push. It just seemed really believable to me. I also really fell in love with all of the characters, flaws and all. I was rooting for all of them…even some of the antagonists.
My only issue with this book was its frequent use of derogatory language. As the story went on, I began to realize that it was more so about the culture of that small town. It still didn’t make any of that language okay, but it seemed to fit with the ideas and values of the setting.
I would really recommend this book to anyone. I think women would probably enjoy it more, but some men might appreciate it too. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here.
Confess | Colleen Hoover
“There are people you meet that you get to know, and then there are people you meet that you already know.”
Confess is about Auburn and Owen. Auburn has a strict plan for her future, but that all changes when she walks into Owen’s art studio. They fall quickly for each other, but they each have their own secrets. It may be in the greater good for them to stay apart rather than expose their secrets. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I hate romance novels, but I loved this book! I think what I hate most about romance novels are the cheesy lines and the too perfect relationships. But Colleen Hoover avoids that. She’s been noted to say that she hates romance novels too, and never imagined that she would write one herself.
There were a few things that I really loved about this book. First of all, I loved that people submitted confessions and they were turned into art. It reminded me of Post Secret and the book Life By Committee. There is something powerful about revealing a secret, even if it is to strangers. The people reading it may connect to the person who shares their secret. I also love that Hoover found a real artist and used his paintings in her book. It is awesome to see different mediums being combined and a collaboration among different professions.
This story had some good twists that were impactful and believable. I hate when a book throws in a twist just for the hell of it—when the twist is too crazy, the whole believability of the book goes out the window. These twists really do have a purpose and are what strengthen the book—and the final twist actually makes the rest of the book believable for me and justifies most of the main characters’ actions throughout the book.
I would recommend this book to anyone that loves love and a good story. You don’t have to be a fan of romance novels to love and appreciate this book. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here.
A Spool of Blue Thread | Anne Tyler
“For years, she had been in mourning for the way she had let her life slip through her fingers. Given another chance, she’d told herself, she would take more care to experience it. But lately, she was finding that she had experienced it after all and just forgotten, and now it was returning to her.”
A Spool of Blue Thread is a novel about three generations of one family. They fight, laugh, and cry together, but they embrace the unpredictable journey of life as a family. For a complete summary and to read an excerpt, you can go here.
This book is about nothing, and yet it is about everything. There is a loose plot, but the story bounces through three generations of one family. It’s not a happy book. It’s not a sad book. It’s just real. It is about family, love, and life.
I am always leery of books that are hyped up, but I was drawn into this book from the first page. The characters are all extremely different from one another. Some are stoic, some are quirky, some are dependable, some are flaky—but I grew to love each of them in their own way. Tyler really explores the relationships within a family and how they are ever evolving. She develops her characters beautifully.
The story moved at a very slow pace, compared to all the popular action-packed novels and TV shows that we have grown accustomed to. That doesn’t really matter, though. She needed that time to make you understand and love this family. I think that everyone will see themselves in at least one of these characters. The characters all just felt very real. Which means that you may love to hate and hate to love some of them (perhaps like you would with your own family).
I want to find something bad to say about this book, but the only thing I can think of is that two of the daughters were both married to men named Hugh. So that got to be a bit annoying and confusing.
At first, I really didn’t like how it bounced around in time, but by the end it all made sense. I think it was an intelligent decision by the author to reveal things in the order that she did. If she had gone in chronological order, I don’t think that I would have appreciated the present day family as much. You really have to understand where it all started.
Immediately after reading this book, I felt at peace and content with the book. I planned on giving this book four out of five stars, but after reflecting on it, I really loved this book. I think it is a book that everyone should take the time to read. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here.
The Girl on the Train | Paula Hawkins
“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”
The Girl on The Train follows the perspective of three females that are initially only loosely connected. Rachel, an extreme alcoholic, takes the train every day and begins to feel like she personally knows a married couple that she sees as she passes every evening. When that wife, Megan, goes missing, Rachel feels the need to step in and figure out the case herself. For a complete summary, you can go here.
Many people have compared this book to Gone Girl, which is one of my favorite books. But I like these books for different reasons. In general, I would say that if you liked Gone Girl, you would probably like this book and vice versa. However, if you didn’t like Gone Girl, don’t completely discredit this one. While they are both thrillers with dysfunctional female leads, The Girl on The Train is much faster paced and not as horrifyingly disturbing as Gone Girl.
Many people (including me) hate books where the lead character is unlikeable, but The Girl on The Train is one of those books where you don’t really need to like the main characters. Actually, you will probably hate most of them throughout the whole book. However, by the end, I actually felt some sympathy for all but one of the characters—if you’ve read the book you know who I am talking about, but I won’t spoil it here.
Like most thrillers, this is not a touchy-feely-feel-good book, and like most thrillers this will have you turning pages and staying up until 2 am and canceling plans just so you can finish it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone—unless of course you only like light, fluffy books. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here .
o Amber Gregg o