I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
This is book one of the seven-book Lorien Legacies series. This story has all the ingredients a middle school boy might be looking for if: he wished hormones released his superpowers, he wanted a mysterious loyal pet, wanted to talk to the most beautiful girl in the school, he finally wanted to trounce the bully and his friends, and was willing to accept help defeating an alien invasion. I found it a good read. There is a lot of backstory about the planet Lorien but it is worked in skillfully. If my summer read list wasn’t so long I might have gone for book 2. However I have to admit in long series my interest often wains after book four, but I think this might hold it. It is written in first person present.
A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman
Listed on the reading list As a Man Named Of, I chose to read the name that way. Ove feels he can contribute to the world by at every turn upholding principles and order. The story is set in Sweden but it seems more like a Soviet state from Tolstoy or Kafka. Even though both Saabs and Volvos are Swedish cars Ove believes only the Saab is worth owning. After GM buys Saab he never buys another car. When his neighbor buys a Volvo their relationship hits rocky ground and when the neighbor trades the Volvo for a BMW that is the end. Ove appears as an angry man with a temper. Slowly his backstory is told and we understand some of the things that have shaped him and scarred him. And slowly we begin to understand Ove. But what also emerges is that maybe Ove just doesn’t know how to exist in a world of silly politeness and excessive small talk and where you can’t even get a plain black coffee in a coffee shop. He several times tells us ‘it is not what a man does but what he says.’ Ove never turns down a request for help. He might grunt or curse but he doesn’t say no. He does this not because he has a good heart but because it is the right thing to do and because it is what his wife would have wanted him to do. This is a densely narrative book, but very rewarding.