I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.
For the start of 2019, I am supposed to be blogging about my best reads of 2018. That's really difficult.
First, you have to know that being a writer means I have less time for reading than I used to. Half of that is research material. I have a “to be read” fiction pile taller than I am. That means there are a lot of bestsellers I never finish because…well, they didn’t hold onto me and I have no time to stick to a book that doesn't.
The answer is embedded in the backstory, rural life in the south in the forties, racial tensions, and World War II. The author carefully holds back on revealing the past until I literally begged for a backstory dump. When he finally switched to the past I hung on every word. He took me through a love story, the Bataan death march, a mental asylum, and an execution. There were heroes and villains, and a romance, as one young man finds his soulmate engaged to another and chooses to throw his hat in the ring anyway and try for happiness.
I loved the romance, hated the war, and finally understood the hero, loved by the whole town, who felt killing the preacher was his duty. I found fulfillment in understanding the family and story set in the racially charged deep south in the late forties. There are layers of love and lust, heroism, and racial prejudice. In the end, nothing was what I thought it was, and things did not get tied up in a neat bow. I can’t tell much more in case you do read it. (If you already have, I would love to hear your take.)
Yes, this story does have a romance.
After years of reading about vampires and ghosts of European legends, I loved the West-African inspired fantasy elements. I begged for girls to succeed in restoring magic to the land. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the sequel – Children of Virtue and Vengeance due out in March.
No, there is no murder or mayhem here, and no actual romance although close friendships are formed. But kids love it. I've begun visiting schools, and find the children I read are fascinated by the characters I've created. I already have additional visits scheduled for February and March. So yes, Courage has to be on my top list of 2018 books I have read.