This week for Top Five Tuesday, Bionic Book Worm has asked us for our favorite books set in the country we live in! I thought about tweaking this prompt as I live in the very prolific United States, but then decided I don’t often give myself a chance to talk about the handful of contemporary books I read and enjoy every year. So with that in mind, here are my favorite books set in the United States!
ANGER IS A GIFT by Mark Oshiro
THE HATE U GIVE gets a lot of deserved love, but ANGER IS A GIFT is an equally powerful tale. Set in San Francisco, it follows Moss Jefferies, a gay black teen whose father was killed in a police shooting six years prior. Moss has had to live with both being a poster child for protests against police brutality, and with the knowledge that his father’s killer was never punished. Now, with his high school becoming increasingly policed, Moss has to decide if he’s ready to wield his fame to try and enact change. This is a book that asks a lot of tough questions about how youth in impoverished or minority neighborhoods are treated and is heart-breaking on a number of levels.
AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING by Hank Green
Taking a pendulum swing from laudable characters to ones that use notoriety to further their own status, we have a story about a young woman who is determined to take her 15 minutes of fame and stretch it into a lifetime of being relevant. April May starts with noble intentions, but quickly spirals into exploiting every angle of the arrival of strange alien objects around the planet in a desperate bid to keep her follows and likes coming. The fact that she behaves in some truly terrible ways is tempered by the fact that she is narrating after the fact and fully acknowledges her awful decision making.
WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon
Time for a little rom-com love! I really liked this tale set in San Francisco about two Indian high schoolers set up by their parents at a summer coding camp. Rishi is the dutiful son who obeys his parents when they tell him to court Dimple, but he is not prepared for a girl who couldn’t care less about settling down any time in the near future. Making matters worse, Dimple is outraged that what she thought was a token of respect for her career plans from her parents turned out to be an elaborate ruse to try and get her a husband. Naturally, these two will fall in love anyway, but with some honest conversations about navigating life in the US as the children of immigrants who want to keep their traditions alive.
THIEFTAKER by D. B. Jackson
We’re going to throw back to the American Revolution for some old school urban fantasy! THIEFTAKER is a series I listened to on audiobook during the days of an insane commute, and the books wormed their way into my heart. Set in the years before war officially broke out, Ethan Kaille is a conjurer who works as a thieftaker, which basically amounts to a private investigator in the 1760s. He’s trying to keep well away from the troubles being caused by the Sons of Liberty, but when he discovers that an unknown conjurer is manipulating events, Ethan has to work quickly to stop the colony of Boston from erupting into violence. These books were a change of pace from my usual fare, and I enjoyed them a lot!
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
Lastly, we have the exquisite YA fantasy THE RAVEN BOYS. The magic in this series is so light it borders on magical realism. Stiefvater has a knack for deftly capturing the dynamics of friend groups and I was constantly amazed at the economy of her writing and how it managed to convey so much. I know a lot of people bounce off these books because of their slower pace, but I just couldn’t put them down. This is the story of a group of friends working to find the mythical tomb of a long dead king hidden somewhere in Virginia. Although they largely have each other’s backs, they all have their secrets, ones that gradually spill out and complicate matters for everyone.