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The Echo's top spring break reads

Taking a long flight home? Getting your tan on this break? Dive into one of these thought-provoking books recommended by members of the ASU community

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"Whether you're seeking an adventurous escape, a visual journey, a raw and honest reflection or an uplifting tale of romance, these books await to accompany you on your spring break adventures."

As spring break begins, set aside the hustle of campus life and lose yourself in the pages of extraordinary literature recommended by students and faculty. Grab your beach towel or cozy up in your favorite reading nook; the literary escapades await!

"I'm Glad My Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy

For those seeking raw honesty and personal growth

In "I'm Glad My Mom Died," Jennette McCurdy, known for her role in "iCarly," delivers a candid and deeply moving memoir. Reflecting on her tumultuous relationship with her mother, who battled addiction and mental illness, McCurdy shares the raw emotions and conflicting feelings surrounding her mother's death. 

"I feel like our generation tends to place celebrities and influencers on a pedestal and this (book) kind of just helps show that they are still human," said Avani Maddipatla, a junior studying criminology and criminal justice and psychology. 

Through heartfelt anecdotes and unflinching self-reflection, she navigates the messy terrain of grief, ultimately finding healing and redemption. This poignant narrative challenges readers to confront their own relationships and embrace the transformative power of self-acceptance and compassion.

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"Wicked Weeds: A Zombie Novel" by Pedro Cabiya

For the adventurous reader

Pedro Cabiya's "Wicked Weeds: A Zombie Novel" is a daring exploration of the intersection between science fiction, horror and Caribbean folklore. Translated from Spanish, this magical realism novel is set in a post-apocalyptic Puerto Rico.

It follows the journey of a group of survivors navigating a world overrun by monstrous plants and grotesque creatures. Cabiya's vivid imagination and skillful blending of genres create a gripping narrative that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. 

"It's a book about zombies, maybe. Maybe it's not," said Katherine O’Flaherty, associate faculty chair and honors faculty fellow at Barrett, the Honors College. "I think if you're a reader who's looking for a challenge, and really nice writing — like really, really good writing — I would definitely recommend that one."

"Pride of Baghdad" by Brian K. Vaughan

For the graphic novel enthusiast

"Pride of Baghdad", written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Niko Henrichon, is a graphic novel inspired by true events. Set at the beginning of the Iraq War, the story follows a pride of lions that escapes from the Baghdad Zoo after it is bombed. As they roam the devastated city, they grapple with questions of freedom, identity and the human cost of war. Vaughan's evocative storytelling, coupled with Henrichon's vivid artwork, makes "Pride of Baghdad" a powerful and unforgettable read.

"I use graphic novels in my classes because I think they're really useful,"  O'Flaherty said. "And it's a good way to just appreciate some visuals as well as some texts."

"A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer

For those interested in nonfiction accounts of resilience

Dave Pelzer's "A Child Called It" is a harrowing memoir that chronicles the author's horrific experiences of abuse at the hands of his mother during his childhood.

"How he's (the main character) just trying to survive and trying to find love is really emotional," Kassandraw Ramirez, a freshman studying community health, said. "It actually made me cry. I was bawling. As someone who is not very connected with her emotions, for something to make me cry — I think it's a really good book."

Despite enduring unimaginable suffering, Pelzer's resilience and determination to survive shine through in his candid and haunting account. "A Child Called It" is a sobering reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity.

"Under the Whispering Door" by TJ Klune

For fans of LGBTQ+ love stories

TJ Klune's "Under the Whispering Door" is a heartwarming and bittersweet tale of love, loss and second chances. When Wallace Price unexpectedly dies, he finds himself trapped in a quaint tea shop run by the charming and enigmatic Hugo. 

As Wallace navigates the afterlife and comes to terms with his past, he forms deep connections with the eclectic group of souls who frequent the shop. Klune's exploration of grief and redemption, coupled with his trademark wit and humor, makes "Under the Whispering Door" an emotional yet uplifting read.

"In essence, it's about how to survive the thought of death and how to see it not as an impending doom, but a fantastic future," Siena Dranias, a sophomore studying criminology and criminal justice, said.

READ MORE: ASU students, book it to these clubs to realize your storytelling potential

As you gear up for an enlightening and perhaps emotionally stirring spring break read, note that some of these titles can be found nestled on the shelves of bookshops such as The Friends' Place Bookstore in Phoenix or Barnes & Noble in Tempe Marketplace.

Whether you're seeking an adventurous escape, a visual journey, a raw and honest reflection or an uplifting tale of romance, these books await to accompany you on your spring break adventures. Happy reading!

Edited by Sophia Braccio, Alysa Horton and Caera Learmonth.

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