I don’t have a set rating system, but I’m starting to think that I should. There’s a lot that goes into a book being great and it’s nice to see that laid out in a practical way. Who knows? That may be one of the next things I do in 2020.
Here are five reasons I give a five star rating:
1. The Representation is on Point
If you couldn’t tell by the tagline, this blog is all about representation. I love seeing myself in the books I read. I also love learning about other cultures and how their upbringings may have differed from mine. More often than not, I learn that we’re more similar than I would have originally thought.
If you’re looking for some suggestions, here are a few:
Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday was actually written by a white woman who has a ton of experience working with refugees. She’s giving a voice to the voiceless and this story hit me so hard.
If you’re looking for more Latinx main characters and you haven’t checked Elizabeth Acevedo out yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The Poet X is perfect for lovers of poetry and tough conversations.
Dear Martin is such an honest portrayal of police brutality in the lives of young black men.
2. I can relate to the characters
In some ways this ties back to representation. One thing I love while reading is the feeling of being seen. It’s that feeling you get when you let yourself believe that an author wrote a particular book just for you. It wasn’t a feeling that I truly experienced until well into my middle school years.
I’m not saying a book has to have characters I relate to for me to rate it five stars, but I am more likely to give a book five stars if I relate to the characters. I hope that made sense.
These are some stories that impacted me on a personal level. What does that for me, may not feel the same for you and that’s okay. I’d still recommend these books to anyone that’s interested.
This Side of Home by Renee Watson is one of those books I read years ago, but still think about regularly. The story just resonates with me on so many levels.
The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake is one of those books from middle school. It was one of the first times I truly related to a main character. I’m starting to tear up just thinking about it.
3. The story is well paced
I love when stories are well paced. I hate when the plot moves too fast or too slow. If it’s too fast, I start getting frustrated. When it’s too slow, I get pretty bored and will more likely than not just DNF it. It can be difficult hitting that sweet spot in between, but when an author hits it, I’m sucked in.
Here are a couple examples. Not everyone feels the same way about pacing, I personally don’t like slow burns but I do love increasing tension. These books are just so perfectly paced for me.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson was one of my favorite reads of 2019. I hadn’t read psychological thriller in a while, but this was all I wanted and more. Talk about pacing! This book kept me hooked the entire way through.
I personally loved the pacing of The Gentleman’s Guide. I listened to it as an audiobook and felt like the story moved really well and kept me hooked all the way through. This is especially harder with longer stories, but this one hit that sweet spot.
4. I want to meet the characters again
These are stories where I would love to see more of the characters. I’ll often talk about how I’d love to read a spin-off centered around the other characters in the story. Or, I would love to keep reading about them after the adventure is over.
An example of this one for me would be Slay by Brittney Morris.
I mentioned in my review that I would love to read a sequel or a spin-off with some of the book’s characters. They were all pretty cool peeps.
5. The author’s note gets to me
Sometimes I’ll be on the fence about a book, often between ratings. There have been a few times when the author’s note pushes me over the edge. That doesn’t mean I’ll go from a three to a five because the author’s note is so moving, but if I’m feeling a 4.5, the note just might be worth that extra 0.5. It’s just something about reading the author’s intention and how this story was birthed that gets to me.