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Read Harder Challenge #23: Susanna’s Midnight Ride & Read Harder Challenge #24: Please Excuse this Poem

Posted about 8 months ago by Jennifer Deuell

Prompt #23: A self-published book

Alright folks, we’ve reached the end of our 2019 Read Harder Challenge and lucky for me the last two prompts were straightforward.  After having Libby Carty McNamee’s book,  Susanna’s Midnight Ride: The Girls Who Won the Revolutionary War, be nominated for our 2019 YAVA Award, hearing her speak at the event, then seeing her win an honorable mention for the award, I knew I had to read it!

Susanna’s Midnight Ride is the story of Susanna Bolling, a real life teen living in Petersburg during the Revolutionary War.  Susanna loathes the “typical female” tasks she is forced to endure such as spinning bees and socializing.   She would much rather be helping her brothers in their fight for independence.  Her opportunity comes at the height of the war, when her family’s plantation is raided by enemy forces, led by British General Cornwallis himself.  Susanna overhears Cornwallis’s plans for a surprise attack on General Lafayette and his troops and decides to ride through the night and warn the American soldiers.

McNamee’s book was a pleasure to read.  I’m partial to historical fiction as well as to the Revolutionary time period itself, but was not familiar with Susanna Bolling’s story.  I appreciate that McNamee was able to bring a local heroine to life and pay homage to her brave act.  It is obvious, through the rich narrative, that the story is so well researched.  From characteristics of dress, to day-to-day activities, to details of the war itself, the author didn’t miss a detail or fact.  I would highly recommend this to lovers of historical fiction or those who would like to learn more about Virginia’s history!

Also, lease enjoy this picture below of Libby with some of her fans at the 2019 YAVA Celebration.  Photo credit: Naomi D’Archangel

Here are some other suggestions for self-published YA books you may enjoy:

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Lost in the Red Hills of Mars by Jackie Hunter

Rest in Peace Rashawn Reloaded by Ronnie Sidney, II

For more suggestions, check out Book Riot’s post here.

Prompt #24: A collection of poetry published since 2014

I wasn’t exactly sure what to chose for this prompt as I am not a huge fan of poetry, although I would like to be.  I’ve found that I enjoy listening to poetry much more than I enjoy reading it.  So, when I can across Please Excuse this Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer, I thought it might be a good selection as it would provide a variety of poetry for me to enjoy.

Please Excuse this Poem is an anthology of poems from young poets around the country.  Its poems touch on a vast array of  topics from toxic masculinity, to female empowerment, to sexual assault.  Virtually every single poem in this collection was tough.  The words were tough to read, tough to process, and tough to feel.  I supposed that’s what makes them so good…the strong feelings they evoke.  But, they also made this book a hard read for me.  Enjoy it I did, but fun it was not.  

Here are some other suggestions for this prompt, some lighter than the one I read:

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

The Princess Saves Herself in the One by Amanda Lovelace

Her by Pierre Alex Jeanty

Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye

Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Browne 

Finally, here are Book Riot’s suggestions.

Check back soon for a post on my feelings about the 2019 Read Harder Challenge and reading challenges in general!



Jennifer Deuell

Jenn Deuell is the Young Adult Coordinator with Richmond Public Library. She is a native of Fredericksburg, VA but has lived in Richmond for long enough that she now considers it home. She loves all things YA and can usually be found curled up at home with a good book (rainy day or not). Her other hobbies include traveling and spending time with family, including her three rescued pit bulls. For YA reading recommendations from Jenn, visit Bookologist.

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