Friday, October 10, 2014

{Blog Tour+Giveaway+Top Ten+Review} The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing: C.K. Kelly Martin

Rating: 75%
Series: None
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Page Count: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Losing weight over the summer gains Serena some popularity, but it also means discovering first-hand the pains of being a fifteen-year-old girl in a world that both sexualizes and shames young women. After narrowly avoiding exploitation in a shortlived relationship, Serena aligns with a new friend who was the victim of an explicit image that was shared at school. When Serena finds herself in a relationship with a new guy, she is surprised to find a different set of expectations. But have her previous experiences damaged her too much to make it work? As Serena struggles to find who she is as opposed to who she is expected to be, she begins sighting Devin – her older brother who disappeared months earlier.

Topic: Top Ten Books About Body Image

Blubber by Judy Blume (MG). The 1974 Judy Blume classic about a fifth grade girl who initially joins in bullying an overweight classmate, and then finds herself on the other side of the divide when she changes her mind.

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (NF). Why is so much of female self-worth wrapped up in how we look? Wolf’s incisive exploration of the relationship between female beauty and identity.

Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA). The haunting story of an eighteen year old girl who struggles with anorexia after her best friend (a bulimic) dies.

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (YA) In the author’s own words, from an interview with Victoria Schwab ( “a dark-ish romantic comedy about a girl who uses an enemies-with-benefits relationship to distract herself from her troubled homelife and some body image issues she’s dealing with – and how it all goes wrong when she begins to fall for the boy she hates, the boy who made the first real dent in her self-esteem when he told her she was the DUFF – designated ugly fat friend.”

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances Roark (MG). Eleven year old Abigail knows she’s chubby because everyone else—including her so-called friends and her parents—can’t stop obsessing about her weight, but when Abigail hits a personal low she becomes determined to transcend their obsession.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (YA). This book features a very unique point of view and situation. In 19th century Paris young central character Maude is hired by an agency which rents out its female employees as companions to high society women with the aim of making the wealthy women seem attractive by comparison.

Sex: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College…by Heather Corinna (NF). This isn’t strictly a book on body image but I’m such a fan of sex educator Heather Corinna and the chapters on the topic and ones that delve into the intersection between the idea of loving and respecting your body and sexual activity are wonderfully inclusive, positive and wise. Don’t miss page 44 for “ten bodacious ways to boost body image”; page 142 for “the top ten really crappy reason to have (any sort of) sex with someone else” and Chapter 2 to get the real scoop on the wide range of normal in human genital appearance and size.

Never Enough by Denise Jaden (YA). I was lucky enough to be able to read this book in ARC form and blurb it: “A poignant, important book, Never Enough tackles self-esteem and body image issues while always remaining true to its three-dimensional characters. Denise Jaden has created a cliché-free zone filled with hurt, heart, and personal strength. Jaden's tender sympathy for her characters and dedication to honest 
storytelling shine through every page.”

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (MG) 5th grader August was born with severe facial deformities that necessitated years of surgery, but he doesn’t still look like everybody else. This is a story that really pulls at the heart strings as we watch August attend school for the first time—and gets his views about the process as well as his sister’s and a variety of friends’.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going (YA). 300 pound seventeen-year-old Troy’s life begins to change the day a scruffy, young homeless guitarist stops him from throwing himself off a subway platform and introduces him to the live punk music scene where his self-esteem is resurrected.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of These Gentle Wounds (Helen Dunbar), The Beginning of Everything (Robyn Schnieder), Audacious (Gabrielle Prendergrast)
People in the mood for Hard-Hitting young adult contemporary romances dealing with some darker New Adult-toned topics

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
*scratches fake beard* Interesting

One of the largest issues Serena has to face is the fact that her new boyfriend -Gage- is 19, and has a four year old daughter. Serena herself isn't too effected by this fact, but the people around her take it into serious consideration and judgement of Gage before they have met him. Teen pregnancy is often told from the point of view of the girl who has been left with the baby, so it was quite refreshing to see how the guy deals with things. The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is proof (at least in book world) that they have the ability to step up to the plate and take care of the human being they had a large part in creating. Gage is in no way perfect, but as parents always say, "if you're trying your best, we're happy," and that's how I felt as a reader. Characters are bound to screw up (they would be as dull as bricks if they didn't), and Gage dealt with being a teen father responsibly. 

Something else The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing touched up on were the double-standards for women and sexualization. I thought this would have been a wonderful element of the novel if it had been a teensy bit more prominent with the way Serena's friends Nicole and Aya dealt with the repercussions. In no way was TSTYCS a novel about a girl dealing with the fallout from sexual images/videos being viral. Yet, I still would have enjoyed the author giving us a some more information about this relevant and very current topic at hand.

The quality I most applaud in The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is the way Serena and Gage deal with their physical relationship. In YA and NA literature, sex often happens first, then a relationship between characters. Of course teenagers are eager, but it's gotten ridiculous in most books. Because Gage made the mistake once with Christabelle (the mother of his daughter), he is extremely careful about setting guidelines for their relationship. I'm not going to go into the dirty details about how far the two of them got, but I am happy to say that a emotional relationship developed first and was important to both of them. It is now proven that teenagers can be in a relationship and not need sex to bind them. A huge win for my feministic ideals!!!!

Serena had a lot on her plate at the tender age of 15 - which included a dysfunctional mother, golden-boy brother, and missing drug addict brother. A lot of the story is about her trying to find Devin, and this added a whole other level of depth to the story. Her voice was honest and pure. When she made mistakes, she owned up to them and did her best to fix them. 

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
While I am not certain that I will seek out another book by C.K. Kelly Martin, I would most definitely participate in another blog tour or promotional events for future books because of how much Serena's voice had a lot to offer. I also loved how blatant Martin was, laying everything out on the table.

Conclusion: The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is a wonderful novel with a unique narrator, no cliche tropes, and lots of difficult topics the characters dealt with in a mature, responsible manner.

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