Book #34 of the year was The Overstory, by Richard Powers. This is a novel about trees and people who love them. There was a lot in this book that I loved, but there was also just a lot in this book. Ultimately I think some of the characters and some of the events could have been cut out without the book losing much. I don't mind books being enormously long, but I like everything there to feel as though it needs to be there. I did enjoy the writing about trees.
Book #35 was Just Like That, by Gary D. Schmidt. I have been waiting for this book for a long time. My family and I, and several years of seventh grade classes, really enjoyed Schmidt's book The Wednesday Wars, about a seventh grade class, and specifically a kid in the class called Holling Hoodhood, in the 1967-68 school year. The sequel to that book, Okay for Now, is about another kid in the class, Doug Swieteck, who moves to a new town at the end of seventh grade. Several years ago I read in an interview with Schmidt that he was going to write another novel about a girl in the class, Meryl Lee. This is that book. I loved many things about this book, but I didn't love it as much as I had hoped. Maybe I had built it up too much in my mind. For one thing, I could hardly get over the revelation in the first chapter, and I don't know if I've forgiven Schmidt for it yet. (Sorry, I'm not going to tell you what it is.) For another, it seemed as though this was two separate books. (That insight comes from my daughter, and she's absolutely right.) It's definitely not as perfectly crafted as Holling's and Doug's books, but I do love Meryl Lee.
Book #36 was Lovely War, by Julie Berry. A friend recommended this in the context of Iliad/Odyssey retellings. This isn't exactly that, but it is a story of World War I told by a group of Greek gods, each admitting his or her part in the plot development. Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Hades talk about how love, war, music, and death work together in the lives of the characters. There are interesting themes like racism in the military at this period, USO performers, and PTSD. I did enjoy this one.
Book #38 was The Wright Sister, by Patty Dann. It's the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright's sister, Katharine. While this is based on true events, it's not really an effort to be accurate to the historical truth. The author read about Katharine getting married in her fifties, and that after her marriage, her brother Orville never spoke to her again. While I really enjoyed the book and found it convincing, I was disappointed to learn at the end that the author hadn't done much research at all on the actual story. I really do want to know more about Katharine.
Book #39 was a verse novel, Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo. It's set partly in the Dominican Republic (the neighboring country to Haiti, where I live) and partly in New York City. The title comes from the fact that Dominicans clap when a plane lands at the airport in their country. Haitians do, too, so this detail really grabbed my attention. There's also an important Haitian character in the story, and I enjoyed that, too. The book is about a plane crash. A Dominican man who dies in the crash has two daughters, one in DR and one in New York. The girls don't know about each other. This story completely drew me in and did a great job of exploring the differences in the lives of these two girls, based solely on where they were born and the circumstances of those different geographical places.