The Night Language by David Rocklin

Prince Alamayou is taken from his home in the thick of the Abyssinian war to the court of Queen Victoria.

With him is Philip Layard, a young apprentice to one of the doctors on the battlefield, who becomes Alamayou’s guardian, only friend, and eventually, the love of his life. When Parliament accuses Alamayou of murder, the young prince is sentenced to return to Abyssinia, where he will be executed.

His only hope comes from the very thing that cannot be uttered: the unexpected and forbidden love between Alamayou and Philip.

The Night Language is one of those timeless books, always relevant and written in a classically refined style, even though the language entirely modern. It’s heartbreaking, but well worth the read; a novel that explores the depths of emotional suppression through a quiet and graceful love story. It’s tense and captivating, in terms of both the plot and the character relationships. Definitely an underrated book!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night?

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I actually learnt about this book after I saw the trailer for the movie in the theater. The trailer made me cry, and the book even more so. It’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. The book has done well because it’s relevant to today, but it’s a story that goes beyond just a political statement. It’s a painfully real story, built up on so many true tragedies, which give the novel this incredibly emotional, poignant soul.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart on the page, and says all the things she would never say in real life. Because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved before is really just a comfortable, funny, adorable series: the literature version of a rom-com. It’s a sweet contemporary novel, sometimes slightly ridiculous, but in the most brilliant way. The protagonist, as well as the other characters, is absolutely relatable as well as admirable, and the series is just overall a light read to make you feel better anytime. Plus, it’s been made into a great movie that you can watch after!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

You might have guessed that this is a dystopian. It’s similar in concept to novels such as 1984 or Brave New World, or even The Hunger Games, a sort of speculative fiction. It’s an old story, but still relevant. The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t dark, but it is chilling in it’s own sort of way – a book that takes you down the road of “what if”.

-Manya B, 12 AICE P

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