This year has brought us some really breathtaking books and I’ve found a lot of personal favourites, especially among the 2020 releases. I don’t usually write book reviews on the blog but today I just want to talk my heart about two of my favourite 2020 book releases 🙂
BOOK REVIEWS: TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW + I’LL BE THE ONE
TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW
~ Rachel Lynn Solomon
Today Tonight Tomorrow is a brilliantly written enemies to lovers rom-com between Rowan and Neil who are highschool rivals, set on one-upping each other. But on the day before graduation, over the senior class scavenger hunt, things start to change.
“Neil McNair has become my alarm clock, if alarm clocks had
freckles and knew all your insecurities.”
Right from the beginning I was utterly taken by this novel because I absolutely love reading banter and snarky comments and Rowan and Neil kept me entertained throughout the story, making me giggle and laugh at their comments. The book is so compelling and gripping that I simply couldn’t stop myself from reading one chapter after the other.
My favourite theme is Rowan’s love for romance novels and how she’s writing one but can’t help but hide it since the whole world seems to trash that genre. Through her characters, Rachel Lynn is able to debate the matter very beautiful to the point it brought tears to my eyes.
“Maybe it’s the whole concept of a guilty pleasure,” Neil says gently. “Why should we feel guilty about something that brings us – pleasure?”
Similarly it’s highlighted that teenagers and adults can read books for kids. Anyone can read anything they want, and reading that message just really touched my heart. The book talks about friendships and jealousy and how sometimes we get so busy with our interests that we stop putting effort into our relationships. Another important theme I loved and related to is that sometimes you need to look up from academics and just enjoy your life. For the entirety of my highschool I just studied day in and day out for everything, much like Rowan, only to realise that I’d missed so many opportunities. So now I try to balance my life and it felt really nice to see this theme written out because it isn’t talked about enough. Also, I love the not financially well-off student rep! We definitely need more of that because honestly where are all the broke students in books??
“Sometimes I get this strange feeling, an ache not for something I miss, but for something I’ve never known.”
Both Rowan and Neil have my entire freaking heart. Their characters are so well developed and their arcs are freaking amazing. In the beginning of the book Rowan is an under-confident girl who fears that she’s accomplished nothing in her highschool life but we see her mature into someone who demands space for herself and has the confidence too showcase her writing and learn from her past mistakes. Neil is just such a sweet guy who learns to open up bit-by-bit, revealing so many things that surprised both Rowan and me. They’re both Jewish and we see some mentions of the discrimination and jokes which bring them together and I honestly don’t think anyone else could have written these bits in a better manner.
Also, lastly- the whole scavenger hunt idea is GOLDEN. It’s so fun to follow the characters running from face to face as we see their competitive sides and just unearth new things about them. This whole book is freaking perfect and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.
I’LL BE THE ONE
~ Lyla Lee
I’ll Be The One is an inspiring narrative of a fat Korean girl trying to make it in the K-Pop industry. As Skye tries to prove that she belongs in the competition and deserves to win she navigates her relationship with her mother and tries not to fall for her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
“I’m fat. People think it means I should hate myself, and when I don’t, it makes them uncomfortable. But this is just another part of who I am, and I’m happy with who I am.”
There are some really wonderful body positive books about teens coming to terms with their bodies but I was so happy to see that Skye was already at that stage. She was bold and loved her body and didn’t really care what anyone else had to say. As a fat girl myself, I really appreciated this narrative as well as the small instances that I could relate to. Every time Skye meets someone new, she braces for comments on her body. Every time she gets up to dance she has to fight extra hard and make sure she’s not seen as a joke. And even though she doesn’t care what anyone else says, sometimes the self-doubt creeps in. I feel that was absolutely realistic, after all, Skye is only human.
“I want to be the type of K-pop star who can sing and dance really well, so I can show everyone that big bodies aren’t something to be afraid of. I grew up thinking someone my size could never dance. And I don’t want the other kids watching at home to think that too.”
Skye’s relationship with her mother was frustrating to watch because every scene seemed to crush poor Skye and I could feel my rage build up against her mother. But as someone who faces similar body image issues with her mother, I found it extremely relatable. It made putting myself in Skye’s shoes all the more easier. I won’t give any spoilers but I love how the author wrote their relationship, especially towards the end of the story. It felt real and not like a fairy-tale solution like some books tend to put out.
“My mum is who she is. But I can still change myself and what sort of impact I have on other people. So I’m going to try to become stronger as a person and keep having a positive impact on people, like I have here.”
I also loved the interactive aspect of social image and culture. I am in no way Korean but the Indian culture also has a very specific and strict image of fair and thin girls in mind so I really could relate to the societal and cultural pressure. It’s very different from the white or American narrative and I truly loved to see that. There were one or two small bits where cultural appropriation and fetishism was also touched upon and overall I just loved it. Another cultural aspect that touched my heart was how Skye says that she’s bi but she won’t be able to date girls no matter how much she wants to because she knows without doubt that her parents and culture will outright reject that.
Also, female friendships!!!
I loved how close Lana and Skye were, they were basically ride or die from about seconds after they met. I legit held my breath when they brought in flawless Lana and prepared myself to hate her on behalf of the mc but I’m so glad that the author rose above that! It was really sweet to read about their friendship both in and out of the competition. As for the romance, there wasn’t anything very special that I may need to comment upon but I liked the aspect of social anxiety and cons of fame that were brought in with Henry’s character.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Despite the heavy topics it picks up, there are a lot of sweet and vibrant moments in the book and this just turned out to be an extremely memorable read.
Have you read either of these books or are they on your TBR?
What are some representations in books that you love reading about?
Which 2020 releases lived up to your expectations?