Sway

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One of my previous reviews covers Kat Spears’s novel Breakaway. I came across her debut, Sway, at my local library and decided to read it.

This novel tells the story of Jesse Alderman, nicknamed “Sway,” a high schooler who is known by his classmates as the one they can get stuff from. Through his numerous connections, Sway provides drugs, homework, tickets and other services to his classmates at his high school. He dedicates his life to this, focusing on his business transactions and avoiding friendships with the people that he knows. It’s only when the popular Ken Foster asks him to help woo Bridget Smalley that Sway begins to experience the emotions he’s been hiding for years and come out into the open.

Lots of novels contain the “bad boy” character, the one who is known for being able to provide the needed commodities to classmates. But this is the first book I’ve come across where the protagonist is this character. Since this is written in first person, it was fascinating to follow Jesse’s experiences and the back story of why his life is the way it is. In my opinion, it conveys the message that there’s more to a person than what one may see.

Another great quality of Spears’s writing is her decision to write from a male point-of-view. Both of her books have male protagonists. I’ve always been fascinated by author’s ability to write from the opposite gender’s perspective and the psychological aspect it entails.

Sway is an unique novel that’s definitely worth a read if you want a glimpse into an often overlooked character.

 

I’m Glad I Did

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Continuing my streak of reading debut novels, I picked up I’m Glad I Did from my local library. This novel was written by veteran songwriter Cynthia Weil. Although her name may not be familiar, the songs she wrote are legendary. “On Broadway” and “Never Gonna Let You Go” are just to name a few.

I’m Glad I Did is set in 1960s New York City, and follows Justice Jeanette “JJ” Green, a sixteen-year-old aspiring songwriter who earns her dream internship at a record label at the Brill Building. Her summer is further made interesting when she befriends former star singer Dulcie Brown and fellow young writer Luke Silver. A song soon formulates among the three of them, but something is about to happen to turn their whole world upside down.

One of the aspects of this story that I like is the focus on the need for writing. When you think about, just about any sort of media- television shows, movies, books and even advertisements- can’t exist without writers. There needs to be a script, an outline, copy, some sort of backbone in order to begin a project. Even buildings start with blueprints.

Another element of this novel that was refreshing was the 1960s setting. It’s a nice departure from the common theme of dystopian, fantasy novels that have spiked in popularity recently. (Nothing against them.) Other than that, the plot was okay, but felt a little rushed.

Overall, this is a nice, quick read for anyone who is interested in taking a trip to the 1960s life.