Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

DNA Profiling Program Recap by Michelle Biwer

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 6.44.03 AMA local branch of the international biotechnology corporation Thermo Fisher conducts outreach every year in my community. They approached our library system with offers of free programs they could run at the library for our patrons.

A group of scientists from Thermo Fisher came to share a 1.5 hour program about DNA profiling for teens at my library. The first 45 minutes of the program highlighted the terminology and background the teens would need to know (What is DNA? How can we match DNA? And the surprising fact that 99% of human DNA is the same from person to person). The presenters used examples from King Tut’s tomb to demonstrate how scientists establish identification, family ties, and other markers from a person’s DNA.

The second half of the presentation was a hands on test of their knowledge. The teens got to separate into groups and actually load DNA samples into a machine and use electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments and look at characteristics of human DNA. They had so much fun using this equipment and asking ridiculous and great questions of the scientists who volunteered their time to assist with this program. I will always remember the middle school boy who asked “If we loaded this machine on my face, would it alter my DNA?” (The answer is no, if you were wondering).

I was pleased with the high turnout from the homeschool community for this event, some families had traveled over an hour to attend the program. I would recommend reaching out to your local Thermo Fisher location or other scientific lab to discuss the possibility of joint programming.

Sunday Reflections: This is what happened when the The Teen asked me if .gov websites were trustworthy

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I’m sitting in the Teen MakerSpace when my phone beeps and I see I have a text from The Teen:

“Are .gov websites trustworthy,” she asks.

And before responding, I pause.

In the past, I would have said yes without that pause. That’s one of the things I have always taught my teens, one of the first things you learn in library school, how to determine whether or not a webiste is authoratitive, biased, etc.

.Com is a commercial website, so you have to consider a lot of factors before deciding whether or not it’s a trustworthy source. Who is producing the site? What are their goals? What type of bias do they hold?

.Gov is a website produced by a government organization or agency. Those sites have always been considered reliable. They are full of facts and figures and data. WHO, the FDA, the EPA, the USDA, etc. – these are all government websites that get cited and used frequently and have been considered reliable – trustworthy – sources of information because they are produced by government agencies.

But after my brief pause, I answered The Teen’s question with a no. Government websites aren’t a trustworthy source of information in the year 2018 because data is being scrubbed, whole phrases are being banned, and a very anti-science bias is being pushed.

These are just a few of the discussions that you can find regarding this topic:

How Much Has ‘Climate Change’ Been Scrubbed From Federal Websites? A lot

Breast Cancer, LGBTQ Info Removed On Government Website

2017 Was a Big Year for Scrubbing Science from Government Websites

A webpage about lesbian and bisexual health was removed from US Government websites. This is a pattern.

These important pages have already been deleted from the White House Website

So I told her no; no having a .gov web address does not make an informational web resource trustworthy. And then I thought about the implications of what that means for us as a country: we can’t even trust our government websites to give us complete and accurate information. The very agencies that are tasked with keeping our water safe, our food safe, and protecting our health and well being, are being forced to remove and stop discussing the very information we need to keep us safe and informed because of the political agenda of people in power and those with enough money and political clout to influence them.

As a librarian who regularly works with the general public to find and evaluate information, I no longer feel comfortable telling the general public – even my own teenage daughter – that they can find a government website trustworthy while doing research for a report. Her question was, is a .gov website trusthworthy and the correct answer in the year 2018 is no. In a government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people, the fact that the answer is no should worry us all.

Friday Finds: May 18, 2018

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Proposal: Serving New Adults in Public Libraries

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018 Showcase and Giveaway

Twin Cities Teen Lit Con 2018: Mental Health in YA Literature Presentation

Recently in Audio Books

YA A to Z: Gaslighting, a guest post by author Anna Hecker

YA A to Z: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things, Historical Novels That Is . . . a guest post by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Around the Web

Schools See Steep Drop in Librarians, New Analysis Find

Hospitals See Growing Numbers Of Kids And Teens At Risk For Suicide

 

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. Rather than review all of them like I usually do, I’m stealing Karen’s Post-it note review idea and sharing the titles with you that way. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K-5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!

 

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

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Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

In the wake of a destructive tornado, one girl develops feelings for another in this stunning, tender novel about emerging identity, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.

When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm—and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.

Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks—and hopes—that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World exquisitely enriches the rare category of female middle-grade characters who like girls—and children’s literature at large.

 

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Wolfie and Fly by Cary Fagan, Zoe Si

A classic story of imagination, friendship, adventure and speeding through the ocean in a cardboard box. For fans of Ivy & BeanJudy Moody or Nate the Great.

Wolfie and Fly is an early chapter book at its simplest and best. Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door. Before she knows it, Wolfie is motoring through deep water with Fly as her second in command in a submarine made from a cardboard box.

Out on a solo swim to retrieve a baseball vital to the mission, Wolfie is finally by herself again, but for the first time, she finds it a little lonely. Maybe there is something to this friend thing…

 

 

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Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Aisha Saeed’s middle-grade debut tells the compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

 

 

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Whatshisface by Gordon Korman

When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all; the thing is haunted!

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Sunny (Defenders Track Team Series #3) by Jason Reynolds

Sunny tries to shine despite his troubled past in this third novel in the critically acclaimed Track series from National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds, with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics. They all have a lot of lose, but they all have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Sunny is the main character in this novel, the third of four books in Jason Reynold’s electrifying middle grade series.

Sunny is just that—sunny. Always ready with a goofy smile and something nice to say, Sunny is the chillest dude on the Defenders team. But Sunny’s life hasn’t always been sun beamy-bright. You see, Sunny is a murderer. Or at least he thinks of himself that way. His mother died giving birth to him, and based on how Sunny’s dad treats him—ignoring him, making Sunny call him Darryl, never “Dad”—it’s no wonder Sunny thinks he’s to blame. It seems the only thing Sunny can do right in his dad’s eyes is win first place ribbons running the mile, just like his mom did. But Sunny doesn’t like running, never has. So he stops. Right in the middle of a race.

With his relationship with his dad now worse than ever, the last thing Sunny wants to do is leave the other newbies—his only friends—behind. But you can’t be on a track team and not run. So Coach asks Sunny what he wants to do. Sunny’s answer? Dance. Yes, dance. But you also can’t be on a track team and dance. Then, in a stroke of genius only Jason Reynolds can conceive, Sunny discovers a track event that encompasses the hard hits of hip-hop, the precision of ballet, and the showmanship of dance as a whole: the discus throw. As Sunny practices the discus, learning when to let go at just the right time, he’ll let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside, perhaps just in time.

 

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All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

A soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful middle grade novel, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me, from Leslie Connor, the award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch.

From comes Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.

When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

 

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Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano, Mirelle Ortega

“A charming and delectably sweet debut. Mischief, friendship, and a whole lot of heartLove Sugar Magic has it all.” Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

Debut author Anna Meriano brings us the first book in a delightful new series filled to the brim with amor, azúcar, y magia.

 

 

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Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.


Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.

 

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Confusion Is Nothing New by Paul Acampora

Ellie Magari just learned that her mother is dead. Perhaps that would be sad if Ellie had ever met the woman. Exactly who was Ellie’s mom? Does it even matter that she’s gone? Perhaps a dead mom can still help Ellie figure out what it means to be a girl in the world today. Either way, Ellie wouldn’t mind a role model beyond her master chef Dad.

Fueled by the bighearted sounds of ’80s rock and roll, plus large doses of Cyndi Lauper’s girl-power joy, Confusion Is Nothing New is about friendship, family mysteries, and the perfect pizza. It’s also about fathers and daughters and girls who understand that it’s good to make things, but breaking things is okay too.

In fact, sometimes breaking things is required.

 

 

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The Crims by Kate Davies

The Addams Family meets Despicable Me in the first book of this new trilogy, perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch!

The Crim family is full of notorious criminals. Notoriously inept, that is. Uncle Knuckles once tried to steal a carnival. Great-Uncle Bernard held himself hostage by accident. Aunt Drusilla died slipping on a banana peel. But Imogen is different. She was born with a skill for scandal. A knack for the nefarious. A mastery of misdemeanors.

Despite her natural talent for all things unlawful, Imogen got out of the family business years ago. But when the rest of the Crims are accused of pulling off a major heist—which seems doubtful, to say the least—Imogen is forced to step in to clear their names. Because only a truly skilled criminal can prove the bumbling family’s innocence….

 

Proposal: Serving New Adults in Public Libraries

When I began working in a public library to serve young adults, I was truly myself a young adult – the tender age of 20 – so it didn’t seem weird to me at the time that the library called teenagers young adults. As I grew older, however, I began to realize that what libraries meant when they said young adult services was services for teenagers. To this day, it rankles that what we mean by YA services is Teen services, primarily because 1) we are the only industry that calls teenagers young adults and because 2) teenagers do not think of themselves as young adults. I think that the label of YA for teenagers was a misstep.

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If I’m being honest, at every library I have worked at in the last 15 years, although our books have a YA sticker on them, the locations and services are called and marketed as Teen Services. This is because teens think of themselves as teens. In fact, I recently made “I LOVE YA” buttons to hand out at a promotional events and the teens didn’t even read it as I LOVE Young Adult (as in YA Lit) but as I LOVE YA (as in I LOVE YA MAN). This was a dramatic demonstration to me, once again, that there is a real disconnect between the publishing industry, libraries, and the very teens we serve in the language that we use.

In the current YA market, there is a real push for books set in college. I see and respect the need for the books, but I also recognize that for school and public libraries, putting books with adult aged characters in a college setting among more traditional YA books with teenage characters could make us very susceptible to real challenges. It’s one thing to make books available to everyone and say we don’t act as parents, it’s quite another to put them into a space targeted and marketed as teen and say these are acceptable to teen readers. These books, more than most YA, it occurs to me truly are young adult; they are very much about the young adult experiences of 19 to say 24 year olds, which are different then the teen experience because there are still very real legal, social, emotional differences between these two age groups.

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Emergency Contact is a NYT Bestseller on the Young Adult list that features a college setting

Throughout all of human history, we have known that people like to read up. Middle schools like to real books about high schoolers. So it makes sense that high schoolers would like to read books about the college experience, especially those high schoolers who are very near to entering college themselves. The question is, where do we put them? I am by no means an advocate for censorship or content warnings, I work actively hard to build a solid, well rounded and inclusive collection for my teen readers. But the reality is many teenagers have parents and some of them are very invested in what their child is reading at the library which something that libraries have always advocated: we’re not responsible for what your teen reads, you are. And let’s face it, many parents would have a legitimate complaint to be made if we put books with characters that are by all practical purposes adults into a collection marketed to teens. It’s one thing to look at a parent complaining about a book and say some teens have sex and quite another to look at a parent and say it’s okay that your teen is reading this book with adults having sex. It’s a challenge that would be hard to defend in the local press, and like it or not administrators care very much about challenges and the local press.

I see this rise in YA books featuring college age characters as an opportunity which I am embracing to push for more and better services to truly young – or new -adults. Libraries have always engaged in adult services, but early adulthood is challenging and can often be overlooked. Once again, however, the terminology gets in the way. Industry wise, young adult means teen, so calling these new services young adult – even though they are targeted to adults who are very young in the adult world – can be confusing. And yet the term new adult has come to mean a very particular type of literature that has a heavy emphasis on sex, which is unfortunate because I think new adult is exactly the term that we need. So for all intents and purposes, I think public libraries should truly embrace the term new adult and start serving them in very real ways.

Infographic on the Teen Brain and Development

https://www.teensafe.com/blog/judgement-call-an-infographic-on-the-teen-brain/

The transition from being a teenager to a new adult is a complex one. For some people it happens quickly, for some it is a slower transition. Many teenagers have been having adult responsibilities for a while now, many new adults won’t face true adult challenges until they are closer to their mid-twenties. It’s a complicated and complex time period. Legally, a person becomes an adult at age 18, but we know through brain science that it is not until the age of 24 or 25 that we begin making more concrete, adult types of decisions and engaging in more adult like thinking. Many parts of adolescence continue into adulthood in contemporary society, but numerically there is that finite dividing line of age 18. Legally, everything changes on your 18th birthday in most circumstances. We can argue whether that’s good or bad, but it is current reality.

Creating Services and Collections for New Adults

What I am proposing at my library is to create some new and special collections and services targeted to new adults, those ages 19 through say age 24.

New Adult Collection

For my collection, I have found a space which is incredibly close to the teen collection, which makes it a very smooth transition. I would include a variety of titles that center the new adult experience, including the well spring of YA titles set in college that are currently being released. Anyone can read them, because anyone can read anything at the library, but we are not labeling them as teen. Some of the series and authors I would house here include Sarah J. Maas, some of the older Rainbow Rowell books, and Cora Cormack.

Some example lists can be found here:

10 YA Books Set in College – Book Riot

Go Back to School With These 6 YAs Set in College – Barnes & Noble

10 New and Upcoming College-Set YA Novels – The B&N Teen Blog

7 YA Novels That Take on the Journey from High School to College

Young adult books set in college or after high school (58 books)

College and Career Planning and Test Books Collection

While we’re at it, I am proposing making a specific college and career planning collection a part of this collection. So it would flow nicely: Teen, New Adult, College and Career Planning. They’re all right there together and more clearly labelled for discovery. Books would include topics such as paying for college, choosing a college, career planning and test prep books.

Circulating Adulting 101 Kits

We have also been talking about circulating some non-traditional materials. We initially had tremendous success with our circulating maker kits, though with the creation of our Teen MakerSpace this circulation died and we took the kits apart and just assimilated the pieces into the Teen MakerSpace. However, circulating Adulting 101 kits are something we are investigating because if we’re being honest, a lot of what it takes to get started in adulthood can be expensive and overwhelming.

For example, we could include a Baking 101 kit that has a couple of cookbooks, some baking pans, measure cups, etc. Or a Basic Home Repair 101 kit that has a basic home how-to book, a basic tool set, work gloves, etc. With the news that many teens are putting off learning to drive until adult hood, we’ve even talked about a Driving 101 kit that would include a basic car repair book, a driver’s handbook, collapsible cones to practice driving, etc. These kits, like any other library material, could be checked out by anyone so teens learning to drive or older adults who want to try some basic home repair may be interested in them as well. There are a lot of interesting things we can do here if we choose to go in this direction.

Make! After Hours

In the midst of all of this, is our Teen MakerSpace. Due to limited space and safety concerns, we have a very strict age limit for our Teen MakerSpace. But we could host a monthly after hours event for new adults and take those tools out of the space and set up stations throughout the library. This would allow us to host an event for new adults where they could engage in making and be social with their peer group.

As I mentioned, this proposal is, I think, a natural way to help our teens transition into new adulthood, while also providing some more targeted services to an age group that can get really lost in the transition from teen to adult services. It helps that it works really well for our physical space. All of our teen services and collections are on the main floor near our adult collections and services and there is space near both to help provide for these new collections. We have the right space to make this work if we so choose to follow through. It’s actually quite a natural and beautiful bridge amongst all of the spaces, almost like it was meant to be.

To be clear, we are currently at the proposal stage. I’ve done the research, written the proposal, and turned it in. Who knows what will happen next, because there are a lot of pieces and parts in play and I am not the only staff person requesting space, time and money. But even if we don’t adopt this plan or don’t adopt it now, I think it’s a good plan. I think doing targeted services to new adults will help libraries cultivate and maintain adult supporters, it bridges the gap in the same way that we used to argue for young adult services. If we make the effort to serve teens, it would be a real loss to lose them in early adulthood and then have to try and find ways to woo them back once they have children or get a little bit older. I think it’s a natural progression of library services that many libraries have been under-serving.

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher’s description

girl made ofFor readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

BILLY STARS

There’s what I tweeted after I finished this book. What a powerful and memorable read. I read a LOT of books. Often, as the weeks and months pass, the details get lost to me. I’ll remember I liked something, but not necessarily all of the reasons why. Or I’ll forget characters’ names or how the book made me feel. But this book? This book will stay with me. All of it.

 

Relationships in twins Mara and Owen’s world are closely-knit. They attend an arts magnet program with all the most important people in their lives. Hannah, Owen’s girlfriend, is one of Mara’s best friends. Charlie, Mara’s very best friend, is also her ex-girlfriend (Mara is bisexual; Charlie is nonbinary). And Owen’s best friend, Alex, has always been there, but Mara finds herself turning to him more and in new, unexpected ways. When Hannah says that Owen raped her at a party they all were at, Mara is devastated. She knows her brother would never do that. But she also knows Hannah would never lie about that. She turns to their small group of friends, including both Hannah and Owen, as she tries to process what happened. Mara has her own reasons for fiercely thinking that “believe girls and women” is a good policy (beyond it just being a good policy). She’s held on to a secret for years, a secret that ruined her relationship with Charlie. Mara and Owen’s parents believe Owen when he says he didn’t rape Hannah. They urge Mara to understand the need to be united on this, to not talk to anyone about it, to make sure they all have the story straight. But Mara is sick of not talking about things. She stands by Hannah, especially when Hannah comes back to school and is repeatedly greeted with, “Hey, slut, welcome back.” Mara, Charlie, and Hannah all have truths to tell. They rely on each other, and the support of girls (particularly in their feminist group at school, Empower) to find the strength to not be silenced. 

 

This masterpiece is gutting. It’s not just the characters, the dialogue, and the writing are all wonderful—they are—but that the story is so real. So true. So common. Maybe not the specifics, but the general story. This is in incredibly important read about the aftermath of a sexual assault, about consent, rape culture, family, friendship, and feminism. A powerful, heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting read. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781328778239
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/15/2018

 

 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018 Showcase and Giveaway

tltbutton7Beyond the people I work with and the people this blog has led me to get to know, by far the best aspect of blogging for TLT is the constant influx of books. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.

 

 

IMG_2100Today I’m sharing with you titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All annotations are from the publisher.

I’m also doing a giveaway for some of these ARCs. Enter via the Rafflecopter between May 15th and May 20th. One winner will win 3 books. U.S. only!

 

 

 

dark hollowThe Gift of Dark Hollow by Kieran Larwood, David Wyatt (ISBN-13: 9781328696014 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 08/07/2018)

Book two in the series that is Redwall meets Watership Down continues the stirring adventure of the young rabbit Podkin One-Ear as he battles to save his land from the evil Gorm tribe. The Longburrow series is Middle Earth for middle graders!

 

 

 

 

 

 

chimney rockThe Race to Chimney Rock by Jesse Wiley (ISBN-13: 9781328549969 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/04/2018)

Go west, young pioneer–your journey begins here! In this first leg of your trek on the Oregon Trail, you need to find your way to Chimney Rock–but not without unpredictable challenges ahead. This is the first installment of four books that will take you all the way to Oregon Territory–if you make the right choices.

In book one of this exciting choose-your-own-adventure series, it’s 1850 and your first goal is to get your family, covered wagon full of supplies, and oxen to Chimney Rock on time. But hurry–you’ll need to make it through the rugged mountains before winter snow hits. Plus, there are wild animals, natural disasters, unpredictable weather, fast-flowing rivers, strangers, and sickness that will be sure to stand between you and your destination!
Which path will get you safely across the prairie? With twenty-two possible endings, choose wrong and you’ll never make it to Chimney Rock on time. Choose right and blaze a trail that gets you closer to Oregon City!

 

IMG_2804Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo (ISBN-13: 9781328809568 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/04/2018)

The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

A meningitis outbreak in their underprivileged neighborhood left Sylvia Acevedo’s family forever altered. As she struggled in the aftermath of loss, young Sylvia’s life transformed when she joined the Brownies. The Girl Scouts taught her how to take control of her world and nourished her love of numbers and science.
With new confidence, Sylvia navigated shifting cultural expectations at school and at home, forging her own trail to become one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master’s in engineering from Stanford University and going on to become a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Simultaneously available in Spanish!

 

 

 

girl in the locked roomThe Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn (ISBN-13: 9781328850928 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/04/2018)

Ghost story master Mary Downing Hahn unrolls the suspenseful, spine-chilling yarn of a girl imprisoned for more than a century, the terrifying events that put her there, and a friendship that crosses the boundary between past and present.

A family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jules’s parents love the house, but Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she sees a pale face in an upstairs window, though, she can’t stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor—in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier?

Her fear replaced by fascination, Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.

 

maryMary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator by Catherine Reef (ISBN-13: 9781328740052 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/18/2018)

On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history. 

The story of Frankenstein’s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Mary ran away to Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was just sixteen. It was there, during a cold and wet summer, that she first imagined her story about a mad scientist who brought a corpse back to life. Success soon followed for Mary, but also great tragedy and misfortune.
Catherine Reef brings this passionate woman, brilliant writer, and forgotten feminist into crisp focus, detailing a life that was remarkable both before and after the publication of her iconic masterpiece. Includes index.

 

 

bluecrowneBluecrowne: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford (ISBN-13: 9781328466884 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/02/2018)

Return to the world of the bestselling Greenglass House, where smugglers, magic, and pyrotechnics mix, in a new adventure from a New York Times best-selling, National Book Award–nominated, and Edgar Award–winning author.

Lucy Bluecrowne is beginning a new life ashore with her stepmother and half brother, though she’s certain the only place she’ll ever belong is with her father on a ship of war as part of the crew. She doesn’t care that living in a house is safer and the proper place for a twelve-year-old girl; it’s boring. But then two nefarious strangers identify her little brother as the pyrotechnical prodigy they need to enact an evil plan, and it will take all Lucy’s fighting instincts to keep her family together.

Set in the magical Greenglass House world, this action-packed tale of the house’s first inhabitants reveals the origins of some of its many secrets.

 

 

westWest by Edith Pattou (ISBN-13: 9781328773937 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/23/2018)

In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East, Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.

 

senior pupsSweet Senior Pups (True Tales of Rescue) by Kama Einhorn (ISBN-13: 978-1328767035 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 11/20/2018)

Photo-packed series explores the stories and science behind animal sanctuaries. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Visit the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland to meet three very special old dogs—Mino, Buffy, and Jack—who are ready and waiting to make new families very happy. Includes full-color photos, maps, and graphics throughout.

At many animal shelters, older pets are often overlooked in favor of puppies and kittens. But you’ll find only dogs over the age of six at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland. Mino, Jack, and Buffy are three dog roommates at the SDS, each having a unique personality but all of them in need of a new home. For every dog at SDS, the road to release is a different one but always features rescue, recovery, rehabilitation, and ultimately release. Join Mino as he shares stories about Buffy, Jack, and the SDS staff they get ready for their forever families. Other books in the photo-packed Sanctuary Stories series include Welcome, Wombat.

 

 

welcome wombatWelcome, Wombat (True Tales of Rescue) by Kama Einhorn (ISBN-13: 978-1328767028 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 11/20/2018)

Photo-packed series explores the stories and science behind animal sanctuaries. An up-close look at what life is like at a real wombat sanctuary in Australia—straight from a wombat herself in a nonfiction chapter book for elementary-aged readers. Includes full-color photos, graphics, and maps.

When a new baby wombat shows up at Sleepy Burrows Sanctuary in Australia, Chance, the veteran wombat, is excited to show the new gal the ropes. Before any animal can be successfully released, many things have to happen. After rescue comes recovery, then rehabilitation, and finally, release. Those are animal-sanctuary tenets—an animal will remain safe until release or until it dies. For Chance and the new wombat, Panzer, this means learning how to find food, dig, and find a lifelong companion. Readers will love Chance, Panzer, and the crew of wombats. Other books in the photo-packed Sanctuary Stories series include Sweet Senior Pups.

 

 

beaversBeavers by Rachel Poliquin (ISBN-13: 9780544949874 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 12/04/2018)

Beavers, the first book in the new middle-grade nonfiction Superhero Field Guide series is a look at the most unsuspecting of animal heroes.

Meet Elmer, an ordinary beaver. He may not be as mighty as a lion or as dangerous as a shark. He may be squat and brown. But never underestimate a beaver.

I can almost hear you saying, “But aren’t beavers just lumpy rodents with buck teeth and funny flat tails?”

Yes, they are! And believe it or not, those buck teeth and funny flat tails are just a few of the things that make beavers extraordinary.

 

 

clickClick by Kayla Miller (ISBN-13: 978-1328911124 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/09/2019)

A debut graphic novel about friendship and finding where you “click” in school.

Olive wants to get in on the act . . .
. . . Any act!

Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?

Author-illustrator Kayla Miller has woven together a heartfelt and insightful story about navigating friendships, leaning on family, and learning to take the stage in the most important role of all.

 

 

bad babysittersBad Babysitters by Caroline Cala (ISBN-13: 978-1328850898 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 02/05/2019)

A funny new middle grade series about three 12-year-old best friends who start a babysitting club in their small California town. Perfect for fans of series like Whatever After and the Dork Diaries.

Once upon a time, a girl named Kristy Thomas had a great idea: to form The Baby-Sitters Club with her best friends. And now twelve-year-old Malia Twiggs has had a great idea too. Technically, she had Kristy’s idea. (And technically, little kids seem gross and annoying, but a paycheck is a paycheck). After a little convincing, Malia and her friends Dot and Bree start a babysitting club to earn funds for an epic birthday bash. But babysitting definitely isn’t what they thought it would be.

Three friends. No parents. Unlimited snacks. And, okay, occasionally watching other people’s children. What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

owlsThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith (ISBN-13: 978-1-328-52689-2 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 02/19/2019)

In this delightfully creepy novel from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Ronald L. Smith, twelve-year-old Simon thinks he was abducted by aliens. But is it real, or just his over-active imagination? Perfect for fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Louis Sachar.

Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding.

Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale.

 

Twin Cities Teen Lit Con 2018: Mental Health in YA Literature Presentation

Saturday, May 12 was Twin Cities Teen Lit Con, a wonderful yearly event that I have now had the honor of speaking at for the past three years. This year it took place at Chaska High School, an absolutely stunning (and giant!) school. If you’re unfamiliar with Teen Lit Con, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a convention dedicated to teen (YA) literature. This event is FOR teens—teens win the prizes, teens get first dibs at getting a seat in sessions, etc. I feel extremely fortunate to not only present there each year, and meet so many wonderful teens, but to then also be able to hear fantastic talks from YA authors from around the country. Big thanks to everyone at MELSA, the Teen Lit Con team, the many volunteers, and Chaska High School for the amazing day. What a lot of work went into pulling it off.

 

Waiting for the kickoff panel with Angie Thomas, Adam Silvera, Melissa de la Cruz, and Barry Lyga.

Waiting for the panel with Angie Thomas, Adam Silvera, Melissa de la Cruz, & Barry Lyga.

 

 

 

Two years ago, I presented on new and forthcoming YA. Last year I also presented on Mental Health in YA Lit. I presented one session to an absolutely packed room. You can read more about that here. This year, they asked me to present my Mental Health in YA Lit talk twice, so we can accommodate everyone who wanted to attend without squishing people into one session. I was a little nervous because my first session was opposite Adam Silvera’s talk and wasn’t sure anyone would come see me when they could be seeing Adam. Fortunately, my room filled up.

 

 

 

 

Callum and his BFF Miya came with me and were lots of help setting up all my free stuff.

 

Mental Health in YA Lit is one of my main areas of interest. I have presented on this topic before at NerdCon: Stories and for the International Bipolar Foundation (that webinar is archived and available in the link). Since 2016, we at Teen Librarian Toolbox have been running a Mental Health in YA Literature project (#MHYALit). This link will take you to the hub for our project, which so far has had well over 100 guest posts from authors, bloggers, librarians, and other teen advocates, often about our own mental health struggles and successes. I am passionate about advocating for mental health awareness, care, and representation in YA books. I never tire of talking about it.

 

Thank you to To Write Love on Her Arms, Mental Health Minnesota, and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for providing me with free materials to hand out at each presentation. Thank you to my fellow Teen Librarian Toolbox blogger Karen Jensen for the reading- and TLT-related buttons. I also made buttons that said STRONG on them to hand out. Thank you to the great Buffy Summers for saying so many things that apply to both literal and metaphorical demon-slaying.

 

 

 

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IMG_2764 (1)A big thank you to the years of effective care and treatment behind me, and to the medications that allow me to get out of bed every day and function. Other than my laptop, the most important thing I packed for Teen Lit Con was my anxiety medication that I needed to pop before I could get up and speak in front of people. Thanks, science!

 

 

 

 

Posted around Chaska High School.

I’m going to post a few relevant statistics slide from my presentation here (click on the pictures to enlarge the slides). My presentation was a mix of the reasons why good, accurate, and compassionate mental health depiction in young adult literature is so vitally important; a look at the staggering statistics about teen mental health; and a rundown of just some of the many YA books I recommend that get mental health rep right. I also made handouts (because I love handouts) with YA titles that deal with mental health. Those are available here: Teen Lit Con 2018 handouts MHYALit and 2018 TLC Additional handoutSchools and libraries, please feel free to reproduce these and share these, but please leave my credit at the bottom of the page. 

 

 

 

 

 

My pal Dezra brought me this on Saturday. She couldn’t have known I would talk about feeling like a superhero in my talk. Sometimes you just share a brain with your pals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As has happened each time I’ve given a presentation on this topic, people came up to talk to me afterwards to share their stories or thank me for speaking out about a topic that still carries so much shame and stigma. All of those conversations after I talk are so important to me, but it’s the one with actual teenagers that really get me. One teen quietly asked me, “But how do I actually get some help if my parents don’t think there’s anything wrong with me?” Oof. As people waited to talk to me after, one attendee slipped me a note of thanks. Those conversations, those hugs, those notes are all so meaningful to me. If there is any one upside of living with mental illness (and believe me, it’s pretty hard to find one), it’s that I get to speak up about something so vitally important and help people feel less alone.

 

I had a long conversation after my morning presentation with a teacher who is advocating HARD for increased support and understanding of the mental health challenges her students are facing. We talked about using the privilege we have to speak up while so many others can’t. As a white middle class woman with lots of resources and support, I feel like it’s my duty to talk about something that remains so hard for others to talk about. I’ve somehow developed an impenetrable shell around me, one that doesn’t let the constant shame and stigma the world hurls at mentally ill people to get to me. There are so many who want to listen and who want to talk. There are so many who are so relieved to not feel alone. We’re not alone in this fight. The reminder is so powerful.

 

We had such a great day at Teen Lit Con. As a pretty hardcore introvert, being on display like that, socializing that much, drained me. But I can’t think of a better reason to feel totally tapped out than hanging out with people who love YA books. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

 

(This post is cross-posted on my personal blog, amandamacgregor.net. Hop on over there to see lots of pictures of my three dachshunds, reviews of adult books I’m reading, parenting meltdowns, plenty of talk about mental health, and many more random thoughts.)

Recently in Audio Books

I’ve been on a bit of an audio book kick lately. My commute is about 25 minutes each way, which gives me a good period of time to listen to audio in the car. First up is the latest installment of Libba Bray’s Diviners series – Before the Devil Breaks You.

97803161260691Like the two that come before it, Before the Devil Breaks You is a tour de force. You can see our reviews of the two previous novels in the series here and here. Each book is so vast and detailed that it takes a number of years between each for them to be published; enough time, in fact, that each new novel has seen a revamp of the cover illustrations. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the excellent audio narration done by January LaVoy. The novels are peopled by a diverse ensemble cast of characters, and the narration does justice to each and every voice. If you’ve been following the series, this episode ramps up the stakes considerably and sets the stage for the final showdown I am assuming will come in book 4.

From the publisher:

New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…

 
After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.
With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.
51qqOVIguKL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Next I stepped into the fabulous world of Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious. The publisher says:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

This is an excellent mystery that will leave you waiting for the next installment. Johnson moves back and forth between the time periods seamlessly and we really get inside of the head of the protagonist, Stevie Bell. The audio narration is performed by Kate Rudd, who managed to remind me quite a bit of Maureen Johnson herself. If you haven’t checked out Maureen’s podcast, Says Who, you should give it a try.

9780525555384Next up was an aborted attempt at John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, oddly enough also narrated by Kate Rudd. Unfortunately for me, the excellent quality of the narration combined with the insightful writing caused me a great deal of distress every time the main character describes one of her obsessive compulsive coping mechanisms that was just a little to real and graphic for me. I’ve decided to continue on with the book in print format so I can skim the parts that get under my skin (so to speak.)

From the publisher:

It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

So what’s up next? I’m currently a few chapters in to Kate Milford’s Ghosts of Greenglass House and am enjoying it immensely.

YA A to Z: Gaslighting, a guest post by author Anna Hecker

Today as part of the YA A to Z series, TLT is honored to have author Anna Hecker here discussing with us the topic of gaslighting.

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TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, including rape.

In the 1944 classic film Gaslight, a handsome pianist convinces his young wife to move back to the London townhouse she abandoned after her aunt was murdered there. There, he embarks on a systematic campaign to drive her insane.

Although she seems perfectly healthy he rarely lets her leave the house or have visitors, claiming her fragile health can’t handle it. When he calls her forgetful she protests, but then she begins “losing” small objects—and starts to feel like she’s losing her mind.

Slowly, her husband’s tactics begin to work. She questions her own judgment. She thinks she’s seeing and hearing things. In her isolated state, believing she can’t trust her own instincts, she increasingly comes to see her husband as the one pillar of sanity in her crumbling world.

It’s from this famous film that we derive the term “gaslighting.” In its simplest form, it means manipulating the truth to make someone feel like they’re going crazy. It’s a favorite tactic of sociopaths, cult leaders, and politicians; in an era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” who doesn’t feel like they’re being systematically driven crazy sometimes?

How to Know If You’re a Victim of Gaslighting | Psychology Today

Popular gaslighting tactics include:

  • Blatant lying, even in the face of evidence. (“I didn’t have my arm around that girl. That Instagram must have been Photoshopped.”)
  • Denying or contradicting things they’ve said or done. (“I never said I’d take you out for your birthday.”)
  • Twisting their victim’s words to have unintended meanings. (“You said you’d support me no matter what, but now you won’t even loan me twenty bucks?”)
  • Claiming their victim is unstable, over-sensitive, or mentally ill. (“You don’t believe me? You have serious trust issues.”)
  • Blaming their victim for their own behavior (“If you weren’t so controlling I wouldn’t have to sneak around.”)
  • Withholding information. (“I can’t even talk about this when you’re being so irrational.”)
  • Enlisting others to help destabilize their victim. (“My friends all think you’re crazy, too.”)

Of particular relevance to teen readers, gaslighting is common within abusive relationships. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 3 college women have been in an abusive dating relationship, and 1 in 10 high school students has experienced physical violence from a dating partner in the past year. While gaslighting and physical or emotional abuse don’t always go hand-in-hand, they can be a key part of why teens choose to stay in abusive relationships. When they’re told often enough that they’re over-reacting, that they deserve to be mistreated, or simply that what happened didn’t really happen, they begin to question their sanity. In a world where facts aren’t facts and reality isn’t reality, they turn to their abusive partner for stability—just like Ingrid Bergman’s character in Gaslight.

Rookie » Let’s Talk About Gaslighting

It’s important for teens experiencing gaslighting to know they aren’t alone…and they aren’t crazy. Fortunately, a new crop of teen and middle-grade books is confronting gaslighting in unique and brave new ways=. Here are a few to add to your shelves:

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ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE  by Anica Mrose Rissi

What it is: A YA contemporary about a storybook romance gone wrong

Who it can help: Young people in manipulative, abusive relationships

This chilling tale of a storybook romance gone wrong rings all too true because of the slow, insidious way in which the gaslighting takes place. When Betts meets older, alluring Aiden, it’s love at first sight. But things quickly go south. He makes her question her own perceptions and memories and worries out loud that she’ll hurt him…even as he’s hurting her more every day.

This story will ring true for anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship. It’s a perfect way to start a conversation, and the list of resources at the end will hopefully help those in dangerous situations take steps toward finding a way out.

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WHEN THE BEAT DROPS By Anna Hecker

What it is: A YA contemporary about love, music, friendship, and finding your beat

Who it can help: People who rely on their romantic relationship for more than love

In my debut novel, WHEN THE BEAT DROPS, 17-year-old Mira’s seemingly wonderful new boyfriend gaslights her into ignoring some of his less-than-savory activities. Because he’s also her manager, her career as a DJ is tied up their relationship—an advantage he deliberately presses.

All too frequently, victims of domestic abuse have more at stake than just their relationship. They may depend on their partner for social status, transportation, tutoring, financial help, or even (ironically) as a way to escape an abusive home life. Realistically, those relying on their relationship for outside needs may need help finding a new way to meet those needs before they can be persuaded to leave.

blood water paint

BLOOD WATER PAINT By Joy McCullough

What it is: Historical YA fiction based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi

Who it can help: Teens experiencing gaslighting or abuse from an authority figure

At seventeen, Artemisia is one of Rome’s most talented painters. But when her painting teacher rapes her, everything turns upside down. As he tries to convince her it was consensual, she finds herself questioning everything about her world—and a woman’s place in it. Told primarily in verse, this powerful tale of rape and redemption is the perfect jumping-off point for discussions about sexual and emotional abuse by authority figures. The verse format may also appeal to reluctant readers.

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BURRO HILLS By Julia Lynn Rubin

What it is: Gritty LGBTQ YA contemporary about a teen discovering his homosexuality in a dead-end town

Who it can help: Teens experiencing gaslighting and bullying by friends

Jack Burns is a resident—though oftentimes he feels like an inmate—of desert town of Burro Hills. Growing up surrounded by the broken dreams of his parents, Jack wonders if he will ever just get out. Get out of dealing drugs. Get out of poverty. Get away from the suffocating masculinity in high school boys. And get out of his own head.

All that changes when Connor comes along, captivating Jack and challenging him to find escape in new ways. But Jack’s old friends don’t want to let him go so easily: and they’re willing to lie, threaten, and manipulate to keep the status quo. A double-whammy for teens exploring their sexuality or feeling gaslit by friends, this is a stark look at toxic masculinity and the damage it can cause.

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THE LAND OF YESTERDAY By K.A. Reynolds

What it is: A MG fantasy in which a young girl travels to a magical land to save her family

Who it can help: Middle-grade readers who may be experiencing gaslighting but are unable to articulate it

The gaslighting in this middle-grade fantasy is unique because it’s being perpetrated by… a house?! When Cecelia Dahl’s little brother, Celadon, dies tragically, his soul goes where all souls go: The Land of Yesterday. When Cecelia’s mother leaves to go after her ghost-brother, Cecelia’s house, which has a soul, uses guilt, manipulation, and fear to force Cecelia into an ultimatum: embark on a journey to the deadly Land of Yesterday to bring back her mother, or have the house hurt Cecelia and her family even more than she could imagine.

While it’s painful to think of middle schoolers as victims of gaslighting and emotional abuse, it’s also an unfortunate reality. This whimsical novel can help articulate the meaning of gaslighting to young readers.

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THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS By Ann Braden

What it is: A MG contemporary exploring issues of class, gun control, and emotional abuse

Who it can help: Middle-grade readers who may be experiencing gaslighting or abuse by an authority figure

Seventh-grader Zoey doesn’t want to join the debate club. She just wants to stay under the radar: taking care of her younger siblings while her mom works, hanging out with her friend Fuschia, avoiding the rich kids in her school, and doing what it takes to stay in her mother’s boyfriend’s good graces so they can keep living in his nice, clean trailer.

But joining the debate club forces her to confront the truth about Fuschia’s situation, her mom’s relationship, and her own place in the world. A poignant and relatable read for middle graders who are afraid of speaking out for fear of not fitting in, it explores gaslighting by authority figures in a fresh (and, frankly, heartbreaking) way.

About Anna Hecker

Anna_Hecker_HeadshotΓÇöSmall copy

Anna Hecker grew up at the dead end of a dirt road in Vermont. She holds an MFA from The New School and spent a decade writing ad copy and chasing beats before returning to fiction, her first love. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and fluffy bundle of glamour, Cat Benatar.

Author Links:

Preorder: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Website: annahecker.com

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