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What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA August 2017

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers August 2017 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (July 2017 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list that I’m always working on. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or resources? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit Gay YA and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

August 2017

 

we nowWe Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson (ISBN-13: 9780735227828 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/01/2017)

The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown. 

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.

 

 

little-and-lionLittle & Lion by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9780316349000 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 08/08/2017)

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

 

 

spellbookSpellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (ISBN-13: 9780525429494 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/08/2017)

The highly anticipated new book from the acclaimed author of The Accident Season is a gorgeous, twisty story about things gone missing, things returned from the past, and a group of teenagers, connected in ways they could never have imagined.

One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won’t talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away.

Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tight to painful secrets.

When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it’s full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights.

Unless it’s leading them toward things that were never meant to be found…

 

 

dophinsDolphins in the Mud by Jo Ramsey (ISBN-13: 9781635337754 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 08/08/2017)

How can a young man rescue everyone when he’s entangled in his own net?

Chris Talberman is tired. Tired of taking responsibility for his autistic nine-year-old sister, Cece. Tired of his mother disappearing for hours at a time. Tired of having no friends and an oblivious father.

When a pod of dolphins is stranded in the cove by Chris’s home, his life changes. It starts when Cece runs toward the water’s edge and Chris must pursue her. That’s where Chris meets Noah Silver. Noah’s life of travel and homeschooling intrigues Chris, and the two begin a friendship they both hope will lead to more.

But when Chris’s mother abandons the family, Chris’s responsibilities increase exponentially. He’s only sixteen, but he knows how to take care of Cece better than their father. Chris wants to lean on Noah for support, but Noah is hiding an untreated mental illness—which could lead to tragedy.

 

dress-codesDress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens (ISBN-13: 9780062398512 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/22/2017)

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.

 

 

tigerTiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember (ISBN-13: 9781635334852 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 08/22/2017)

Tashi is a spy and killer—an elite warrior known as an inhabitor—taught from a young age to use their bond with the tiger Katala. When an enemy force captures the city, Tashi has no option but to escape. Their safety doesn’t last long, however. Soon the conquering army arrives at the secluded monastery where Tashi is hiding, needing a place to treat their wounded. It’s not long before their leader, Xian, takes an interest in Tashi.

Xian is cold, ambitious, and even cruel—at least at first glance. But Tashi is skilled at watching and reading people, and they find a softer side to the young commander—one that intrigues them.

Tashi’s loyalties are strained when they learn they have been deceived by the people who trained them, and they must choose between their countrymen and a budding romance with Xian. But fierce Katala faces no such conflict, and she massacres the soldiers she sees as invaders. Xian’s men are determined to take revenge against the tiger, but an inhabitor’s bond with their animal cannot be severed—neither can survive if the other is killed.

New Releases and Mini Reviews: Little & Lion, The Bakersville Dozen, and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

tltbutton6

Today is a good day for book releases, as apparently all the recent books I have chosen to read release today. Is it fate? Destiny? Hard to say. Let’s dive right in, shall we.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

august83Two step-siblings who were closer than close are reunited after one, Little (the female) spends a year in boarding school so that her step sibling, Lion (the male), can figure out how to deal with his bipolar disorder. At first the two of them deal with tension as they try to navigate who they are now after a year apart and the secrets they are both keeping, but as everything starts to unravel they have to learn to face their various truths.

There’s a bit of every aspect of teen life in this one: friendship, family, siblings, identity (both racial/ethnic and sexuality including frank discussions of bi and pansexuality), mental health, sex, teen, pregnancy, abortion, feminism, drinking and drug use, consent and more. It is in many ways the most authentically fleshed out and inclusive YA book I have ever read. There are a few brief moments where the character’s get a little didactic in how they talk about these various subjects, but it almost has to in order to make sure that the reader fully understands the topic at hand. For example, many readers may be unaware of the difference between bi and pansexuality and the discussion helps flesh out the concepts for the reader. There are moments in this book where teens clearly make bad decisions, sometimes even acknowledging that they are making bad decisions and then going on to make them anyway, and we see the ultimate results of those decisions. It’s a thoughtful look at the very real complexity of teen life with a respectful tone and engaging story. Brandy Colbert is a fantastic author and really does a good job of telling this story and diving into these issues.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

bakersvilledozenWhen compromising videos of several – a dozen to be exact – students go viral, life is not the same for the students in this Ohio high school. Then one of the Bakersville Dozen goes missing. Soon, a note is found with a challenge: find five trophies, follow the rules or everyone dies. It’s a macabre scavenger hunt full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming. Kristina McBride is a good author who deals with issues like online bullying, friendship, rivalries, broken relationships and more in the pages of this mystery thriller. Every step of the way you’re shouting to the teens, no don’t go into the basement and please call the police – which of course they can’t do or else we don’t have a story. And what a story it is.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

august81Genie thought she was just a regular girl trying to get into a good college, until the Monkey King shows up and she discovers that she is a celestial being with a destiny to fight demons. Things get complicated – and snarky. For those of us old enough to know what this means, it definitely has a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it in both storytelling and vibe, but has some unique twists in that it is steeped in Chinese culture and folklore. For the younger crowd, think Shadowhunters with a Chinese folklore infusion. I was not familiar with the legend of the Monkey King and found this story to be both entertaining and enlightening. It’s a fun read and that is high praise indeed. We need more flat out fun reads and this fits the bill.

About the Books

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined… (Amulet Books, 9781419725487)

Recently in Book Mail

stack booksBooks, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

the fixThe Fix by Natasha Sinel (ISBN-13: 9781634501675 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 09/01/2015)

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that come with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

 

 

my name is notMy Name is Not Friday by Jon Walter (ISBN-13: 9780545855228 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 01/05/2016. Paperback 5/30/2017)

Well-mannered Samuel and his mischievous younger brother Joshua are free black boys living in an orphanage during the end of the Civil War. Samuel takes the blame for Joshua’s latest prank, and the consequence is worse than he could ever imagine. He’s taken from the orphanage to the South, given a new name — Friday — and sold into slavery. What follows is a heartbreaking but hopeful account of Samuel’s journey from freedom, to captivity, and back again.

 

 

 

 

speak of meSpeak of Me As I Am by Sonia Belasco (ISBN-13: 9780399546761 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/04/2017)

A moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art — the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone.

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.

 

 

get it togetherGet It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (ISBN-13: 9781452151878 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 04/04/2017)

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

 

 

dead insideThe Dead Inside: A True Story by Cyndy Etler (ISBN-13: 9781492635734 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 04/04/2017)

For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”

I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

 

 

lucky broken girlLucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar (ISBN-13: 9780399546440 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/11/2017)

In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative—based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s—a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.

 

 

unearthly thingsUnearthly Things by Michelle Gagnon (ISBN-13: 9781616956967 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 04/11/2017)

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre retold against the backdrop of San Francisco’s most fabulous—and dangerous—elites

After losing her parents in a tragic accident, surfer girl Janie Mason trades the sunny beaches of Hawaii for the cold fog of San Francisco and new guardians—the Rochesters—she’s never even met. Janie feels hopelessly out of place in their world of Napa weekends, fancy cotillions, and chauffeurs. The only person she can relate to is Daniel, a fellow surfer. Meeting him makes Janie feel like things might be looking up.

Still, something isn’t right in the Rochester mansion. There are noises—screams—coming from the attic that everyone else claims they can’t hear. Then John, the black sheep of the family, returns after getting kicked out of yet another boarding school. Soon Janie finds herself torn between devil-may-care John and fiercely loyal Daniel. Just when she thinks her life can’t get any more complicated, she learns the truth about why the Rochesters took her in. They want something from Janie, and she’s about to see just how far they’ll go to get it.

 

 

 

wonder of usThe Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson (ISBN-13: 9780545731515 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/25/2017)

Riya and Abby are:
Best friends.
Complete opposites.
Living on different continents.
Currently mad at each other.
About to travel around Europe.

Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:

They haven’t talked in weeks.
They’ve both been keeping secrets.

Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?

 

 

and we're offAnd We’re Off by Dana Schwartz (ISBN-13: 9780448493817 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/02/2017)

Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in!

Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter—and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. Nora couldn’t feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they’ve ever been. But seconds after saying goodbye to Alice at the airport terminal, Nora hears a voice call out: “Wait! Stop! I’m coming with you!”

And . . . they’re off.

13 Little Blue Envelopes meets Gilmore Girls in this fun, funny, and bittersweet summer adventure from Observer writer and the hilarious voice behind @GuyInYourMFA, Dana Schwartz. 

 

 

lines we crossThe Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah (ISBN-13: 9781338118667 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/09/2017)

Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart — and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.

Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.

 

 

restartRestart by Gordon Korman (ISBN-13: 9781338053777 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/30/2017)

Chase’s memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him.

One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.

From the #1 bestselling author of Swindle and Slacker, Restart is the spectacular story of a kid with a messy past who has to figure out what it means to get a clean start.

 

 

tash heartsTash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (ISBN-13: 9781481489331 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/06/2017)

From the author of Lucky Few comes a quirky teen novel about Internet fame, peer pressure, and remembering not to step on the little people on your way to the top!

After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka suddenly finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust in the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaption of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the 40,000 new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr gifs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with a fellow award nominee suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

 

 

i am a secretI Am a Secret Service Agent: My Life Spent Protecting the President by Dan Emmett and Charles Maynard (ISBN-13: 9781250130303 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Dan Emmett was just eight years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. From that moment forward, he knew he wanted to become a Secret Service agent, one of an elite group of highly trained men and women dedicated to preserving the life of the President of the United States at any cost, including sacrificing their own lives if necessary. Armed with single-minded determination and a never-quit attitude, he did just that. Selected over thousands of other highly qualified applicants to become an agent, he was eventually chosen to be one of the best of the best and provided protection worldwide for Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush.
I Am a Secret Service Agent skillfully describes the duties and challenges of conducting presidential advances, dealing with the media, driving the President in a bullet-proof limousine, running alongside him through the streets of Washington, and flying with him on Air Force One. With fascinating anecdotes, Emmett weaves keen insight into the unique culture and history of the Secret Service with the inner workings of the White House. I Am A Secret Service Agent is a must read for young adults interested in a career in federal law enforcement.

 

 

be true to meBe True to Me by Adele Griffin (ISBN-13: 9781616206758 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/13/2017)

It’s the summer of 1976 on Fire Island, where sunbathing, lobster bakes, and the Bicentennial celebration reign.

Jean, a sometimes cruel, often insecure, and always envious rich girl, is accustomed to living in her glamorous older sister’s shadow. So when Gil Burke, a handsome newcomer with uncertain ties to one of the most powerful families in the exclusive enclave of Sunken Haven, notices Jean—not her sister—Jean is smitten.

Then Fritz, a girl from outside the gilded gates who humiliated Jean in the Island’s tennis championship last year, meets Gil. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and she quickly falls Gil herself. Soon the girls are competing for much more than a tennis trophy, with higher stakes than either of them can imagine.

Through the alternating perspectives of Jean and Fritz, Adele Griffin captures the angst of feeling like you don’t belong and the urgency of first love with vivid language and perceptive wit.

 

 

a promising lifeA Promising Life: Coming of Age with America, A Novel by Emily Arnold McCully (ISBN-13: 9780439314459 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/25/2017)

For as long as he can remember, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau has been told that a promising future lies ahead of him. After all, his mother is the great Sacagawea, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of discovery. And thanks to his mother, Baptiste’s life changes forever when Captain Clark offers him an education in the bustling new city of St. Louis.

There, his mother charges him to “learn everything” – reading, writing, languages, mathematics. His life becomes a whirl of new experiences: lessons, duels, dances, elections. He makes friends and undertakes unexpected journeys to far-off places.

But he also witnesses the injustices Clark, as a US agent for Indian Affairs, forces upon the Osage, the Arikara, the Mandan, and so many others. He sees the effect of what some call “progress” on the land and on the people who have lived there for generations. And he must choose what path he will take and what place he will have in a rapidly changing society.

 

 

the girl with the red balloonThe Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (ISBN-13: 9780807529379 Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company Publication date: 09/01/2017)

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

 

 

 

 

podkinPodkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood, David Wyatt (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781328695826 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/05/2017 Series: Longburrow Series)

Redwall meets Watership Down as brilliant storytelling combines with spine-tingling action in a tale proving that anyone—even little rabbits—can achieve great things.

In a classic fantasy world of anthropomorphic rabbits, three young siblings are on the run from the villainous Gorm tribe who have killed and enslaved their clan. Podkin, once destined to be clan leader, has always been spoiled, but now he must act bravely as he, his older sister, and baby brother flee for their lives.

Facing pursuit and treachery, the three collect allies in their search for refuge, until at last they are ready to fight back against the Gorm and attempt to rid the land of an evil scourge.

 

 

obsessedObsessed: A Memoir of My Life with OCD by Allison Britz (ISBN-13: 9781481489188 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/19/2017)

A brave teen recounts her debilitating struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder—and brings readers through every painful step as she finds her way to the other side—in this powerful and inspiring memoir.

Until sophomore year of high school, fifteen-year-old Allison Britz lived a comfortable life in an idyllic town. She was a dedicated student with tons of extracurricular activities, friends, and loving parents at home.

But after awakening from a vivid nightmare in which she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she was convinced the dream had been a warning. Allison believed that she must do something to stop the cancer in her dream from becoming a reality.

It started with avoiding sidewalk cracks and quickly grew to counting steps as loudly as possible. Over the following weeks, her brain listed more dangers and fixes. She had to avoid hair dryers, calculators, cell phones, computers, anything green, bananas, oatmeal, and most of her own clothing.

Unable to act “normal,” the once-popular Allison became an outcast. Her parents questioned her behavior, leading to explosive fights. When notebook paper, pencils, and most schoolbooks were declared dangerous to her health, her GPA imploded, along with her plans for the future.

Finally, she allowed herself to ask for help and was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This brave memoir tracks Allison’s descent and ultimately hopeful climb out of the depths.

 

 

vanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser (ISBN-13: 9780544876392 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/03/2017)

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.

 

 

 

long way downLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds (ISBN-13: 9781481438254 Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Publication date: 10/17/2017)

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 

 

calling my nameCalling My Name by Liara Tamani (ISBN-13: 9780062656865 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/24/2017)

Calling My Name, by debut author Liara Tamani, is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros. This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas.

Liara Tamani’s debut novel deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose. Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating.

Told in fifty-four short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel, a divine and tender enchantment. Calling My Name deftly captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.

 

 

closestThe Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves (ISBN-13: 9780062488534 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/07/2017)

The Closest I’ve Come is a raw and funny novel that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming, a must-read from talented debut author Fred Aceves.

Marcos Rivas wants to find love.

He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood—which seems impossible.

When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theater geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

 

 

calculusThe Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb (ISBN-13:9780544953338 Publisher: Clarion Books Publication date: 02/27/2018)

A poignant and empowering teen novel of grief, unrequited love, and finding comfort in one’s own skin.

Aden isn’t looking for love in her senior year. She’s much more focused on things like getting a solo gig at Ike’s and keeping her brother from illegal herbal recreation. But when Tate walks into Calculus class wearing a yarmulke and a grin, Aden’s heart is gone in an instant.

The two are swept up in a tantalizingly warm friendship, complete with long drives with epic soundtracks and deep talks about life, love, and spirituality. With Tate, Aden feels closer to her mom—and her mom’s faith—than she has since her mother died years ago. Everyone else—even Aden’s brother and her best friend—can see their connection, but does Tate?

Navigating uncertain romance and the crises of those she loves, Aden must decide how she chooses to see herself and how to honor her mom’s memory.

The Power of Humor in YA, a guest post by Jeff Strand

By way of introduction, I present to you dear reader Jeff Strand. Jeff Strand writes funny, irreverent, slap your sides humorous YA. It’s the kind of humor I don’t think there is enough of in YA, though if you like Jeff Strand I do recommend Lish McBride,  Sarah Rees Brennan and Lance Rubin as well. I am a huge fan of Jeff Strand’s books and today we are honored to have a guest post by him discussing humor in YA.

strand4

First of all, I do believe that kids should be forced to read the classics in school. I certainly don’t want a new generation to get out of something I had to endure.

“Endure” isn’t always the right word. I loved Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye. But Wuthering Heights? If you genuinely enjoyed Wuthering Heights, I salute you, but for me that book was constant “Gaaaahhhhh!!!” I have scarring memories of lines like ‘Wretched inmates!’ I ejaculated, mentally, ‘you deserve perpetual isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality.’ And right after that, ‘T’ maister’s down i’ t’ fowld. Go round by th’ end o’ t’ laith, if ye went to spake to him.’

For those weeks in English class, reading was a nightmarish activity. Consecutive words on a piece of paper? Ugh. Where’s my Playstation 4? (Playstation 4 did not exist when I was in school, nor did Playstation 3, 2, or 1, but I’m trying not to date myself.)

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

Again, it was right of my teacher to subject the class to that excruciating novel. It was good that he quizzed us on that miserable book. I retroactively admire him for making us write papers about it. This ghastly reading experience was good for our brains. We needed it. But we don’t want students to have post-traumatic stress disorder when they see a book, so there should be a balance of weighty books with fun ones. Humor!

I don’t mean humor as in the comedic works of William Shakespeare, which some say should have you holding your sides as you roll in the aisles with tears of laughter streaming down your face. ROFL!!! The footnote explains why that reference is hilarious! No, I mean books that would make an actual teenaged human being laugh.

I mean, you can’t gorge yourself on candy for every meal (sadly) but you want candy sometimes. Nobody can live on healthy food all the time. Actually, I guess they can. It’s not as if somebody’s going to say, “Since I only have nutritious dining options available, I’m just going to stop eating altogether!” So it’s a bad metaphor. Which is fine, because I’m talking about the kind of books where you don’t have to analyze metaphors.

strand2

As a kid, I always gravitated toward the “funny” books, although they tended to be more “lighthearted” than joke-filled. Judy Blume’s Fudge series and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, which I read over and over and over and over and over and over, were filled with wacky antics but not necessarily “Bwah hah hah hah!” types of reads. I would tell my friends about the crazy trouble these characters got themselves into, but I wasn’t quoting zany one-liners.

hitchhikers

The first laugh-out-loud funny book I read was Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My reaction was, “This is allowed? You can be this over-the-top goofy and funny and somebody will actually publish it?” I knew then what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to kidnap Douglas Adams, bury him in a shallow grave, assume his identity, and write his books for him. This plan turned out to be impractical, for a number of reasons, and I settled for trying to write like him.

Now, as a kid, I was most definitely not a reluctant reader. My parents were both avid readers and passed that on to me. Though the lighthearted romps were my favorite, I loved tales of adventure, mysteries…pretty much everything, old and new. I didn’t need anybody to dangle a carrot to get me to read. The reading experience itself was my carrot. (Again, I’m not here to do good metaphors. If you want good metaphors, Charlotte Bronte put plenty of them in Wuthering Heights.) (I’m here to do humor, like when you pretend that you thought Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, but of course it was her sister Emily. Charlotte wrote Captain Underpants.) (I apologize for that misinformation. Emily Bronte illustrated Captain Underpants but didn’t write it.)

But not everybody inherited a love of reading. And that’s why “fun” books are important. Sure, “fun” can involve swashbuckling pirates or high-speed cowboy horse chases, but humor is one of the strongest indicators that a book might be enjoyable to kids who aren’t predisposed to pick one up. “Hey, books don’t have to be gloomy! Books can make you laugh so hard that people give you weird looks!”

I don’t specifically write with a reluctant reader audience in mind, but few things are more gratifying than getting an e-mail that basically says, “I didn’t even know I liked to read! Reading to me was punishment! But your book, with all of its stupid jokes, made me realize that not all books exist to suck joy out of my life. What else have you written? What other books are like yours?”

Not all reluctant readers are going to discover nutty comedy novels and go on to develop a deep appreciation for deep complex literature. But at least it can be a step away from “Books! Ugh!”  Though I have not personally created a new generation of lifelong readers, I’ve at least converted a few of ’em, and it’s not through my brilliant character development or unbelievably gripping storylines. It’s ‘cuz they’re funny! There’s not just room for that kind of material in the world of young adult fiction—it’s a crucial part!

Of course, as an author of humorous young adult fiction, I would say that, but still…

To recap: Funny = Good. Impenetrable metaphor = Also Good. We need both.

About STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

You can’t always believe what you see in this hilarious coming of age novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and I Have a Bad Feeling about This

Harry Houdini. Penn and Teller. David Copperfield. Marcus Millian the Third.

Okay, so Marcus isn’t a famous magician. He may not even be a great magician. But his great-grandfather, the once-legendary and long-retired Zachary the Stupendous, insists Marcus has true talent. And when Grandpa Zachary boasts that he and Marcus are working on an illusion that will shock, stun, and astonish, Marcus wishes he could make himself disappear.

The problem? Marcus also has stage fright—in spades. It’s one thing to perform elaborate card tricks in front of his best friend, Kimberly, but it’s an entirely different feat to perform in front of an audience.

Then Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

To uphold his great-grandfather’s honor, the show must go on. It would take a true sorcerer to pull off the trick Marcus has planned. But maybe he’s the next best thing…

Sourcebooks Fire (April 4, 2017)

Recently in Book Mail

Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

 

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

leaving kentLeaving Kent State by Sabrina Fedel (ISBN-13: 9781941861240 Publisher: Harvard Square Editions Publication date: 11/11/2016)

On May 4, 1970, the campus of Kent State University became the final turning point in Americans’ tolerance for the Vietnam War, as National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed student protestors, killing four and wounding nine. It was one of the first true school shootings in our nation’s history. A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy.

Told from the viewpoint of seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli, Leaving Kent State explores themes of the day that are strikingly similar to our own: terrorism, war, racial injustice, and gender inequality. As Rachel struggles to convince her dad that she should go to Pratt University in New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, Kent slips ever further off of its axis, in step with the growing discord across the nation. Caught between her love for her next door neighbor, Evan, a boy who has just returned from Vietnam, and her desire to escape Kent, Rachel must navigate a changing world to pursue her dreams.

“While our nation has largely forgotten what happened on May 4, 1970,” says the author, “it was a defining moment for the way in which Americans consider involvement in war. While popular sentiment initially blamed the students for the massacre, it became clear in the years immediately following that something had gone terribly wrong in our democracy for American troops to have opened fire on unarmed college students. In our own protest laden present, the shootings at Kent State remain a valuable lesson in the escalation of force during peaceful citizen protests.”

 

 

hope more powerfulA Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming (ISBN-13: 9781250105998 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 01/24/2017)

The stunning story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight—just debris from the ship’s wreckage and floating corpses all around—nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel floats with a small inflatable water ring around her waist and clutches two children, barely toddlers, to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa’s arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Sweden and a new life. For days, Doaa floats, prays, and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for these children. She must not lose hope.

Doaa Al Zamel was once an average Syrian girl growing up in a crowded house in a bustling city near the Jordanian border. But in 2011, her life was upended. Inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, Syrians began to stand up against their own oppressive regime. When the army was sent to take control of Doaa’s hometown, strict curfews, power outages, water shortages, air raids, and violence disrupted everyday life. After Doaa’s father’s barbershop was destroyed and rumors of women being abducted spread through the community, her family decided to leave Syria for Egypt, where they hoped to stay in peace until they could return home. Only months after their arrival, the Egyptian government was overthrown and the environment turned hostile for refugees.

In the midst of this chaos, Doaa falls in love with a young opposition fighter who proposes marriage and convinces her to flee to the promise of safety and a better future in Europe. Terrified and unable to swim, Doaa and her young fiance hand their life savings to smugglers and board a dilapidated fishing vessel with five hundred other refugees, including a hundred children. After four horrifying days at sea, another ship, filled with angry men shouting insults, rams into Doaa’s boat, sinking it and leaving the passengers to drown.

That is where Doaa’s struggle for survival really begins.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is an emotionally charged, eye-opening true story that represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for the promise of a safe future. Melissa Fleming sheds light on the most pressing humanitarian crisis of our time and paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of the triumph of the human spirit.

 

 

ten milesTen Miles One Way by Patrick Downes (ISBN-13: 9780399544996 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/21/2017)

The powerful story of a mind at the edge of unraveling, held together by love and acceptance.

Nest and Q walk through the city. Nest speaks and Q listens. Mile by mile, Nest tells Q about her life, her family, her past . . . and her Chimaera, the beast that preys on her mind and causes her to lose herself. Q knows only that his love for Nest runs deeper than the demon that plagues her thoughts, that he loves her in spite of—or perhaps because of—the personal battle she fights every day.

A beautifully-written, haunting story.

 

 

 

DEACONDeacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher (ISBN-13: 9780062422521 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

The love life of an awkward teen takes an unforgettable turn after he brings his grandmother to prom in this funny, offbeat, and smile-inducing contemporary romance that is pitch perfect for fans of Jesse Andrews and Robyn Schneider.

Promposals are taking over Deacon Locke’s high school and there is no place left to hide. But even with graduation looming, shy and unusually tall Deacon doesn’t think he can get up the nerve to ask anyone to the dance. Especially given all the theatrics.

It isn’t until Deacon confides in his witty and outgoing best friend Jean that he realizes should could be a great person to take. Only problem is Jean isn’t your typical prom date. She’s older. A lot older. And she’s Deacon’s grandmother.

But when Deacon meets Soraya—a girl unlike any other he’s ever met—he fears he has totally squandered his chances of having a prom he’ll never forget. Deacon couldn’t be more wrong. About everything.

 

 

ramona blueRamona Blue by Julie Murphy (ISBN-13: 9780062418357 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

 

it's not likeIt’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura (ISBN-13: 9780062473417 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

This charming and bittersweet coming-of-age story featuring two girls of color falling in love is part To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and part Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like the fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy…what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

 

 

my fairyMy Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson (ISBN-13: 9781510714113 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 05/16/2017)

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

 

 

queer thereQueer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager, Zoe More O’Ferrall (illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780062474315 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/23/2017)

This first-ever LGBTQ history book for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.

 

 

songs about a girlSongs About a Girl by Chris Russell (ISBN-13: 9781250095169 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 05/30/2017)

Pure wish fulfillment for anyone who hasn’t gotten over the One Direction breakup

Charlie Bloom is happiest behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. When former classmate Olly Samson gets in touch out of the blue, asking her to take backstage pictures of his new band, she takes him up on it. Charlie dreams of becoming a photographer, and it’ll be good experience.

But Olly’s band, Fire&Lights, isn’t playing ordinary gigs. They’re stars on the rise, the hottest boy band in the country—and Charlie is immediately catapulted into the band’s surreal world of paparazzi, sold-out arenas, and screaming fans. Soon enough, she becomes caught between Olly and Fire&Lights’ gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West. As the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles on a secret about the band—and herself—hidden within the lyrics of their new #1 single.

Music. Fame. Heartbreak: Chris Russell’s Songs about a Girl is the perfect next read for anyone who has ever wanted to say, “I’m with the band.”

 

 

washed ashoreWashed Ashore by Kerr Thomson (ISBN-13: 9780545904209 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/30/2017)

On a wild Scottish island, a tragedy washes up on the storm-beaten shore: the bodies of a whale and a man. Fraser, desperate for adventure, and Hayley, visiting from Texas, become tangled in the mystery.

But Fraser’s younger brother Dunny is distraught by the discovery. He hasn’t spoken in years, and lately he’s been acting more strangely than ever.

Together, the three meet a man living in the abandoned caves nearby. They start to wonder if he might lie at the center of something darker than they had previously thought. For the whispering sea conceals a terrible secret, and to discover the truth, one of them must learn to listen…

 

 

breakingBreaking by Danielle Rollins (ISBN-13: 9781619637405 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school–or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen–her two best friends became the family she never had.

When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth . . .

With suspense and danger at every turn, Danielle Rollins keeps readers on the edge of their seats with this haunting thriller.

 

 

song of theSong of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (ISBN-13: 9781681192970 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. But at seventeen, Caro may be too late.

So when pirates burn ships and her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport mysterious cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name.

But when the cargo becomes more than Caro expected, she finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies. With much more than her father’s life at stake, Caro must choose between the future she knows, and the one she could have never imagined.

 

 

the possibleThe Possible by Tara Altebrando (ISBN-13: 9781619638051 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Another twisty psychological suspense from the author of The Leaving, where a teen searches for answers about her mother’s dark history, telekinesis, and the power of will.

What if . . . no one knows the truth about you? It’s been thirteen years since Kaylee’s biological mother, Crystal, once infamous for her supposed telekinetic ability, got a life sentence for killing Kaylee’s little brother in a fit of telekinetic rage. Today, Kaylee’s living a normal life with her adoptive parents and almost never thinks of Crystal. Until a woman shows up on Kaylee’s doorstep, asking to interview her for a podcast about her mother. Was the whole telekinesis thing a hoax, or does Crystal have some kind of special powers? Is it possible that Kaylee has them, too? It would certainly explain some of the stranger things that have happened to her over the years.

What if . . . she did the interview? Met her mother for the first time since the trial? Can her mother prove she can make things happen with her mind? Can Kaylee do the same? And what if she has been doing it, all along? As the podcast begins airing, everyone in Kaylee’s life–everyone in the country–is hearing this dark history and asking questions that even Kaylee has never dared ask herself.

The Possible is a twisty, surprising story, and an exploration of the power of our own minds, the power of will, and how our histories define us . . . or not.

 

 

Ali - Saints and MisfitsSaints and Misfits by S. K. Ali (ISBN-13: 9781481499248 Publisher:Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/13/2017)

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

 

 

we come apartWe Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (ISBN-13: 9781681192758 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/13/2017)

Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship slowly blossoms into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and their hope and dreams of a better future. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

This illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve finished.

 

 

little wrecksLittle Wrecks by Meredith Miller (ISBN-13: 9780062474254 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/27/2017)

In this haunting and explosive debut, Meredith Miller explores the truth behind three girls on the cusp of adulthood, and all the shocking realizations that come under the guise of growing up. Perfect for fans of I’ll Give You the Sun and Girl in Pieces.

Ruth, Magda, and Isabel are different from everyone else. They can see beneath the seemingly perfect, cookie-cutter exterior of their small town of Highbone, Long Island. They know that below the surface, each house is filled with secrets, indifference, and violence.

These girls refuse to become willing participants of these fake lives. Instead, they are determined to fight every condescending comment, every unwelcome touch, and every lie they’ve been told.

When the opportunity to commit the perfect crime appears, the girls finally start to see their way out of Highbone. But for the first time, Ruth, Magda, and Isabel are keeping secrets from each other. As they drift apart, the weight of reality starts to set in. These girls can’t save each other. They might not even be able to save themselves.

 

 

this is howThis Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes (ISBN-13: 9780062379931 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/11/2017)

The author of Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. plunges readers into a world where the internet is always watching—and judging—in this compelling story about mistakes, repercussions, and online vigilante justice. Perfect for fans of Sarah Darer Littman’s Backlash or Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything.

After waking up from a coma, Genevieve Grace can’t remember the car crash that killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTuber turned teen music idol. Genevieve knows she was driving, but because of what’s been reported in the media, everyone assumes the other driver, Brad Freeman, is guilty. As she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—what if she’s the one at fault?

While the internet and social media viciously condemn Brad, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house near Zion National Park to hide from curious classmates and intrusive reporters. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident. And eventually, she will have to come to grips with what happened…and her role in it.

 

whos that girlWho’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh (ISBN-13: 9780062447777 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/11/2017)

This laugh-out-loud debut is filled with hilarious awkward encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count—all with the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix—who has recently hit the mainstream big-time—returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

To help keep her mind off of Sebastian and his maybe-about-her, maybe-not-about-her song, Nattie throws herself into planning the school’s LGBTQIA dance. That proves problematic, too, when Nattie begins to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

 

 

what goes upWhat Goes Up by Katie Kennedy (ISBN-13: 9781619639126 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/18/2017)

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict . . .

From the author of the acclaimed Learning to Swear in America comes another high-stakes adventure that’s absolutely out of this world.

 

 

1616 Ways to Break a Heart by Lauren Strasnick (ISBN-13: 9780062418722 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy—even inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before hot tempers turned to blowout fights. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly hidden in places only he will find. And as he pieces together her version of their love story, he realizes that she has one final message for him. One that might just send his carefully constructed life tumbling down.

Unfolding through letters, texts, and chats, Lauren Strasnick’s smart, sexy, page-turning new novel is the ultimate he said/she said breakdown of a relationship gone wrong.

 

 

galleryThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (ISBN-13: 9780062467775 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

A beautiful and evocative look at identity and creativity, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is a stunning debut in magical realism. Perfect for fans of The Walls Around Us and Bone Gap.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn’t ever before. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

 

 

everything all at onceEverything All at Once by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062493095 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

A soaring novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found, perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Rainbow Rowell.

Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. But she’s about to take a leap into the unknown…

When Lottie’s beloved Aunt Helen dies of cancer, it upends her careful, quiet life.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the world-famous author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series. She knew a thing or two about the magic of writing, and how words have the power to make you see things differently.

In her will, Aunt Helen leaves Lottie a series of letters—each containing mysterious instructions. As Lottie sets about following them, she realizes they’re meant to make her take a risk, and, for once in her life, really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about her aunt’s past—and the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series—Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.

Part mysterious adventure, part love letter to the power of books, this is a brilliantly woven novel about loving, reading, writing, grieving, and finding the strength to take a leap.

 

 

inevitableThe Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger (ISBN-13: 9781250116222 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 07/25/2017)

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together, to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad. And to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy links Birdie and Bash together – yet neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall – hard – the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

 

 

 

authenticsThe Authentics by Abdi Nazemian (ISBN-13: 9780062486462 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/08/2017)

The Authentics is a fresh, funny, and insightful novel about culture, love, and family—the kind we are born into and the ones we create.

Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.

But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.

With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

 

 

bad girl goneBad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews (ISBN-13: 9781250058812 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 08/08/2017)

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

 

 

art of feelingThe Art of Feeling by Laura Tims (ISBN-13: 9780062317353 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/15/2017)

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places, this contemporary YA novel explores the friendship between a girl in constant pain and a boy who feels nothing at all.

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.

But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.

 

 

you don't knowYou Don’t Know Me but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow (ISBN-13: 9780062494191 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/29/2017)

There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.

Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life.

Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, consisting not only of the greatest family ever but of a snarky, loyal, sometimes infuriating best friend, Rose; a sweet, smart musician boyfriend, Julian; and a beloved camera that turns the most fleeting moments of her day-to-day routine into precious, permanent memories.

But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?

Rebecca Barrow’s bright, honest debut novel about chance, choice, and unconditional love is a heartfelt testament to creating the future you truly want, one puzzle piece at a time.

 

sliderSlider by Pete Hautman (ISBN-13: 9780763690700 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/12/2017)

David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better. He’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent two thousand dollars on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday.

As if training to be a competitive eater wasn’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him “Mal”). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan.

Master talent Pete Hautman has whipped up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.

 

 

 

victoriaThe Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes (ISBN-13: 9781481480895 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/19/2017)

A shy, rule-following teen winds up joining a local rock band in this laugh-out-loud, heartfelt coming-of-age novel.

Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

 

 

starfishStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (ISBN-13: 9781481487726 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/26/2017)

A gorgeous and emotionally true debut novel about a half-Japanese teen who grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

 

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA March 2017

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers March 2017 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (January and February 2017 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list that I’m always working on. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

 

March 2017

 

inexplicableThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (ISBN-13: 9780544586505 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

 

 

 

 

drivenDriven by MB Mulhall (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-278-0 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 03/07/2017)

As an eighteen-year-old ex-con living on the streets, Oliver doesn’t have it easy. Don’t show weakness and survive to repent are the daily mottoes he lives by.

A chance encounter with a clumsy older lady leads him to temporary room and board in exchange for being the errand boy for spinster twins in a fairy-tale home—much to the dismay of their concerned neighbor Simon.

Inside, Oliver fights a battle between staying and going. The guilt of a horrible accident eats away at him, keeping him from getting too close to anyone, even when sparks start to ignite a heart he long thought broken.

Will Oliver get over the past and allow himself a chance at a happiness, love, and better life? Or will the blackness in his soul take over and demand he pay the ultimate price for his crimes?

 

 

other f wordThe Other F-Word by Natasha Friend (ISBN-13: 9780374302344 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Milo has two great moms, but he’s never known what it’s like to have a dad. When Milo’s doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo’s extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he’s always wondered about.

Hollis’s mom Leigh hasn’t been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy—giddy, even—by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis’s half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.

 

 

piperPiper Perish by Kayla Cagan (ISBN-13: 9781452155838 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

 

 

pants projectThe Pants Project by Cat Clarke (ISBN-13: 9781492638094 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 03/07/2017)

“My name is Liv (Not Olivia)… I’m not technically a girl.

I’m Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool because I probably won’t get to save the world one day.”

Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy, but with his new school’s terrible dress code, he can’t even wear pants. Only skirts.

Operation: Pants Project begins! The only way for Liv to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn’t just a mission to change the policy—it’s a mission to change his life. And that’s a pretty big deal.

 

 

seven days of youSeven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse (ISBN-13: 9780316391115 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Anna and the French Kiss meets Before Sunrise in this smart and swoony debut.

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven Days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days….Until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

 

 

queens of geekQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde (ISBN-13: 9781250111395 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 03/14/2017)

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek, an empowering young adult novel by Jen Wilde, is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

 

 

born bothBorn Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria (ISBN-13: 9780316347846 Publisher: Hachette Books Publication date: 03/14/2017)

A candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love from one of the world’s foremost intersex activists.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing–but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it–and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

 

 

star-crossedStar-Crossed by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781481478489 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 03/14/2017)

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

 

 

shadow runShadow Run by Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland (ISBN-13: 9780399552533 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 03/21/2017)

Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

 

all you needAll You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-321-3 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 03/21/2017)

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s  dad.

 

 

honestly ben2Honestly Ben (Openly Straight #2) by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9780545858267 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except…

There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith, and John Green, Honestly Ben is a smart, laugh-out-loud novel that will speak to anyone who’s struggled to be “honestly ____________” in some part of their lives.

 

 

lotterysThe Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue (ISBN-13: 9780545925815 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed “good girl” of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant “Grumps,” who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn’t been part of any of their lives.

Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps’s clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household… He’s worse than just tough to get along with — Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?

 

 

radio silenceRadio Silence by Alice Oseman (ISBN-13: 9780062335715 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/28/2017)

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

 

 

things-i-shouldThings I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik (ISBN-13: 9780544829695 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along.  Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

Recently in Book Mail

Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

 

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

carefulThe Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (ISBN-13: 9780399186738 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/31/2017)

The girls of Devonairre Street have always been told they’re cursed. Any boy they love is certain to die too soon. But this is Brooklyn in 2008, and the curse is less a terror and more a lifestyle accessory—something funky and quaint that makes the girls from the shortest street in Brooklyn special. They wear their hair long and keys around their necks. People give them a second look and whisper “Devonairre” to their friends. But it’s not real. It won’t affect their futures.

Then Jack—their Jack, the one boy everyone loved—dies suddenly and violently. And now the curse seems not only real, but like the only thing that matters. All their bright futures have suddenly gone dark.

The Careful Undressing of Love is a disturbing and sensual story of the power of youth and the boundless mysteries of love set against the backdrop of Haydu’s brilliantly reimagined New York City.

 

 

crazy messyCrazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos (ISBN-13: 9780399175534 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date:02/07/2017)

From National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos–a fresh take on happily ever after, and friendship, that is anything but a love story.

When your namesake is Pablo Neruda—the greatest love poet of all time—finding “the one” should be easy. After all, sixteen-year-old aspiring artist Neruda Diaz has been in love many times before. So it’s only a matter of time before someone loves him back.

Callie could be that someone. She’s creative and edgy, and nothing like the girls Neruda typically falls for, so when a school assignment brings them together, he is pleasantly surprised to learn they have a lot in common. With his true love in reach and his artistic ambitions on track, everything is finally coming together.

But as Neruda begins to fall faster and harder than ever before, he is blindsided by the complicated nature of love—and art—in more ways than one. And when the relationships he’s looked to for guidance threaten to implode, Neruda must confront the reality that love is crazier, messier, and more beautiful than he ever realized—and riskier, too, than simply saying the words.

 

 

we-are-okayWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780525425892 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/14/2017)

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.

 

 

secrets-andSecrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang, Mike Holmes (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781626720770 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 03/07/2017 Series: Secret Coders Series #3)

Stately Academy is no ordinary school: it was once home to an elite institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper, Eni, and Josh won’t rest until they’ve learned the whole story, but they aren’t the only ones interested in the school’s past. Principal Dean is hot on their trail, demanding that the coders turn over their most powerful robot. Dean may be a creep, but he’s nothing compared to the guy who’s really in charge: a green-skinned coding genius named Professor One-Zero.

 

 

california-dreaminCalifornia Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas by Penelope Bagieu (ISBN-13: 9781626725461 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Before she became the legendary Mama Cass—one quarter of the mega-huge folk group The Mamas and the Papas—Cass Eliot was a girl from Baltimore trying to make it in the big city. After losing parts to stars like Barbra Streisand on the Broadway circuit, Cass found her place in the music world with an unlikely group of cohorts.

The Mamas and the Papas released five studio albums in their three years of existence. It was at once one of the most productive (and profitable) three years any band has ever had, and also one of the most bizarre and dysfunctional groups of people to ever come together to make music. Through it all, Cass struggled to keep sight of her dreams—and her very identity.

 

 

stone heartThe Stone Heart (Nameless City Series #2) by Faith Erin Hicks (ISBN-13: 9781626721586 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 04/04/2017)

Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself.

To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he’s stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City. . . . But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

 

 

cheesusCheesus Was Here by J. C. Davis (ISBN-13: 9781510719293 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 04/04/2017)

Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren’t real—if they were, her kid sister wouldn’t be dead. So when the image of baby Jesus appears on a Babybel cheese wheel, she’s not buying the idea that God’s got a dairy obsession. Soon, religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s hometown, tiny Clemency, Texas. Overnight, news vans fill the streets and religious pilgrims start searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store.

Hell-bent on proving the so-called miracles are fake, Del convinces her best friend, Gabe, to help her find the truth. While Gabe’s willing to play detective, as a preacher’s son he’s more interested in finding evidence that supports the miracles. But when the whole town becomes caught up in religious fervor and even the late-night talk show hosts have stopped laughing and started to believe, finding the truth might cause more trouble than Del can handle. This novel is neither pro nor anti-religion, and will appeal to fans of contemporary YA novels that explore deep themes with an element of humor. The voice and characters are funny, strong, and full of heart. This is a book for anyone who loved Saved!

 

 

city ofCity of Angels by Kristi Belcamino (ISBN-13: 9781943818433 Publisher: Polis Books Publication date: 05/09/2017)

The first Young Adult novel from acclaimed, multi award-nominated author Kristi Belcamino, a gritty mystery about a destitute teen named Nikki who lives above a punk rock bar and must investigate the disappearance of a young girl, set against the boiling tensions of early 1990’s Los Angeles

Nikki Black, 17, a self-imposed lone wolf since her mother died, fled suburban Chicago to escape her painful past. But when her so-called boyfriend reveals why he really lured her to Southern California — to star in child porn flicks — she ends up on the streets of L.A. with only the clothes on her back and a twelve-year-old addict named Rain trailing in her shadows. The girls seek refuge at a residential hotel above a punk rock bar in downtown L.A. a few months before the city erupts into chaos during the 1992 riots. At The American Hotel, Nikki makes friends and for the first time in years feels as if she has a real family again.All that changes when Rain disappears. Everyone except Nikki, including the police, thinks Rain succumbed to the seductive allure of addiction and life on the streets. Nikki finds herself fighting for her own life the closer she gets to unveiling a sinister cover-up by a powerful group that secretly controls the city of angels. City of Angels is an edgy, gritty, mature Young Adult mystery about a teenager’s struggle to not only belong — but survive.

 

 

how-dare-the-sun-riseHow Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta (ISBN-13: 9780062470140 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/16/2017)

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.

Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.

Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.

In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.

 

 

the names theyThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (ISBN-13: 9781619639584 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/16/2017)

From the acclaimed author of When We Collided comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

 

 

gritGrit by Gillian French (ISBN-13: 9780062642554 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/16/2017)

Raw and moving, this contemporary realistic debut novel will leave readers of E. Lockhart and Gayle Forman breathless as it unflinchingly unfolds the tragic secrets being kept in a small, deceptively idyllic Maine town.

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they’d realize there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make—all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.

 

 

elizaEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (ISBN-13: 9780062290137 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/30/2017)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea‘s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace’s fanfiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 

 

crossingCrossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (ISBN-13: 9781599903194 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/30/2017)

When Mariah and her young brother Zeke are suddenly freed from slavery, they join Sherman’s march through Georgia. Mariah wants to believe that the brutalities of slavery are behind them, but even as hope glimmers, there are many hardships yet to come. When she meets a free black named Caleb, Mariah dreams in a way she never dared . . . of a future worth living and the possibility of true love. But even hope comes at a cost, and as the difficult march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah’s dreams are as vulnerable as ever.

In this powerful exploration of a little-known tragedy perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys, readers will never forget the souls of Ebenezer Creek.

 

 

 

aftercareAftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (ISBN-13: 9781250114846 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 06/27/2017)

In the tradition of Rainbow Rowell and Jandy Nelson, a powerful, big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

Aftercare Instructions, an electric, format-crushing debut, full of heart and hope, follows Gen on a big-hearted journey from dorm rooms to diners to underground theaters—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.

 

waste ofWaste of Space by Gina Damico (ISBN-13: 9780544633162 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 07/11/2017)

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.
And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

 

 

 

it all comes downIt All Comes Down to This by Karen English (ISBN-13: 9780544839571 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 07/11/2017)

It’s 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she’s the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents’ marriage is rocky. There’s also her family’s new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life—and her own place in it—is even more complicated than she’d once thought.
Leavened with gentle humor, this story is perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia

 

 

 

venturessVenturess by Betsy Cornwell (ISBN-13: 9780544319271 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 08/01/2017)

The young inventor Nicolette Lampton is living her own fairy-tale happy ending. She’s free of her horrible stepfamily, running a successful business, and is uninterested in marrying the handsome prince, Fin. Instead, she, Fin, and their friend Caro venture to the lush land of Faerie, where they seek to put an end to the bloody war their kingdom is waging. Mechanical armies and dark magic await them as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and for themselves.
Smart and unconventional, this novel will appeal to readers of romance and adventure alike.

 

 

 

confessionsConfessions from the Principal’s Kid by Robin Mellom (ISBN-13: 9780544813793 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 08/01/2017)

During the school day, fifth-grader Allie West is an outsider. Everyone knows the principal’s kid might tattle to her mom! But after school, Allie is an insider. She’s friendly with the janitor, knows the shortest routes around the building, and hangs out with the Afters, a group of misfits whose parents are teachers at their school. Although Allie secretly loves her insider life, she’s sick of being an outsider—so she vows to join the Pentagon, the popular math team led by her ex–best friend. But can Allie change her status without betraying where she really belongs?

 

 

 

 

the listThe List by Patricia Forde (ISBN-13: 9781492647966 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2017)

Farenheit 451 meets The Giver in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

 

 

secret-history-of-usThe Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby (ISBN-13: 9780062299468 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/01/2017)

Gorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.

January #ARCParty – A look at some new YA lit releases

The Teen, The Bestie and I gathered together to discuss some January 2017 and upcoming YA releases recently. Here's a brief look at what we looked at and how the teens felt about them. Because we did it on Instagram (we often talk books and Teen MakerSpace on the TeenLibrarianToolbox Instagram page, though fair warning, you'll see pictures of my kids there too), the pictures can be hard to see here. You can also find the January #ARCParty storified here.

janarc1 janarc2 janarc4 janarc5 janarc3 janarc6 janarc7

Exclusive Deleted Scene from UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin

For 10 years, I worked at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Ohio. This is significant to this story because one of our branches was in LaRue, the home of Jim Thorpe and the pro-football team which featured the Oorang Indians. We had entire programs built around Jim Thorpe. But it still always tickles me when other people talk about Jim Thorpe, in part because I’m not super involved in the world of sportsball of any kind and I forget that other people are and they know things about it. Today we are honored to share with you a deleted scene from the new book, UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin.

undefeated

I always wind up with a lot of deleted material, and often whole scenes, but this was the once instance in Undefeated where I cut an entire chapter. I love the story, but I knew the same themes would be covered later in the story, once Jim Thorpe arrived on the scene.

On an October night in 1902, Pop Warner sat in his home on the Carlisle campus, wondering what he could possibly do to turn his football program around. The team had gone 6-4-1 in 1900, with losses to Penn and Harvard, and a 35-0 thrashing at the hands of Yale. 1901 was worse. A beating by old school, Cornell, set off a seven game winless streak, and the team finished with a losing record. Warner could not possibly justify his salary with these kinds of results.

      There was a big game with a strong Cornell team in four days. And Warner, an optimist at heart, was wrestling gloomy thoughts. 

      “It looked,” he later said, “as if victory was going to be impossible.”

      Halfway into the 1902 season, Carlisle was 3-1. Not bad, but they hadn’t played any top teams yet, which is what made this Cornell game so important. That and the fact it was Pop’s old school. And the fact they’d crushed Carlisle 17–0 the year before. And the fact that Pop’s younger brother Bill, one of the country’s top linemen, was the Cornell team captain. Was he really going to let his kid brother humiliate him again?

      Yeah, probably.

      Bill was six-foot-one, 220, and Cornell’s other linemen were nearly as big. They’d use mass plays to batter Carlisle’s smaller line. But the bigger problem was the state of the Carlisle team. Nikifer Schouchuck, the sturdy center from Alaska, had been hurt so badly the week before, he was still in the hospital. Albert Exendine, a promising eighteen-year-old left end, could hardly walk on his badly sprained ankle. Martin Wheelock, who Pop called “my best offensive weapon,” was down with a case of pleurisy, an excruciating inflammation of the membrane lining the lungs and inner side of the ribcage. “His pain was so great that he couldn’t bear even to have the bedclothes touch him,” Warner remembered.

      Warner was pondering limited options when there was a knock on the door. It was another of Pop’s best players, Antonio Lubo. His arm was in a sling.

      “Coach, I’d give anything if I could play against Cornell,” Lubo said. “I know how Schouchuk and Wheelock can’t play. I’d like to go up there for you and for Carlisle.”

      In a game with Navy the year before, Lubo had suffered a compound fracture of his left wrist. The wound got infected, and still hadn’t healed properly. But here he was, begging to play.

      “Not with that arm,” Warner told him.

      “But that wouldn’t make any difference,” Lubo insisted. “I’ve been exercising and have kept in good shape in every other way.”

      Warner asked Lubo where he thought he could play.

      “Tackle, in Wheelock’s place.”

      “No. That’s out of the question. A tackle must have both arms.”

      “Well, then, center.”

      “No, a center must use both hands to pass the ball.”

      “Well,” Lubo said, “I know I could play somewhere.”

      Pop had always been a tinkerer, the type of guy who liked to take things apart and put them back together. He had an idea. The next morning he found two strips of leather and sewed them into a finger-to-elbow cast. He slipped it over Lubo’s wrist, stuffed it with cotton, and wrapped the whole thing in a thick layer of tape.

      “Thank you, coach,” Lubo said with a huge smile.   

      That inspired a movement. “All the cripples around the place asked for harness that would enable them to play,” Warner recalled. Albert Exendine’s ankle injury was fairly straightforward. “We bound his crippled limb with tape so tightly that he couldn’t move his foot.” The real challenge was Martin Wheelock, who sneaked out of the infirmary and showed up at Pop’s door.

      Warner ordered him back to bed.

      “If you can fix Lubo, you can fix me,” Wheelock said. “There’s nothing wrong with my arms or legs; all I’ve got is pleurisy.”   

      “But you can’t run, Martin.”

      “Change me from guard to center. Then I won’t have to run.”

      Against his better judgment, Warner shaped two sheets of aluminum into a sort of lightweight suit of armor. Wheelock wriggled his tender chest into the contraption, and taped it in place.

      On the field at Cornell, Pop chatted with his brother before the game. Bill asked how the Carlisle team was feeling.

      “So-so,” Pop said, shrugging. “I’ve got a sick lad at center and a one-armed chap at guard.”

      “Say! We don’t want to play a bunch of cripples.”

      Pop smiled. “Don’t worry old boy. You’ll find ‘em lively enough.”

      Cornell was the stronger team, moving the ball steadily with power runs. But Carlisle hung around, making just enough third down stops to keep it close. “Mostly it was Lubo and Wheelock,” Warner recalled. “How Lubo did it with his lame arm I don’t know. And time and time again, Wheelock winced in pain as he came in contact with his opponents.”

      Late in the second half, with Cornell leading 6–5, Carlisle recovered a fumble at the Cornell thirteen. Four plays later, third down and goal from the Cornell two, quarterback Jimmie Johnson handed it to Charles Williams, who dove over backs of his blockers, Lubo and Wheelock, landing across the goal line.

      Carlisle held on for the win, 10–6.

      Bill Warner hobbled over to shake his brother’s hand. He told Pop, “Thank the Lord these boys weren’t feeling well.” 

About UNDEFEATED

Jim Thorpe was an incredible Native American athlete and Olympic gold medalist, and Pop Warner was an indomitable coach and football mastermind with an Ivy League background. Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the greatest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

UNDEFEATED is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse author Steve Sheinkin, it’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

Just in time for pre-Super Bowl football roundups and coverage, Steve Sheinkin brings Jim Thorpe’s inspiring story to life, highlighting his heritage and the previously little-known and astonishing history of Native American boarding schools.

Meet Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Stealthe World’s Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.

Published by Roaring Brook Press | On sale January 17, 2017 Hardcover | $19.99 | 9781596439542

Take 5: Book Links of Interest for January 2017 (Collection Development Tools)

newyalitIt’s 2017! Which means it’s time for new books. Here is a list of some links to new YA coming out this year, and a couple that focus on this month.

15 of the Best YA Books for January 2017 : Bustle

60 Diverse Books To Look Forward To In 2017 – Bookishness and Tea

22 of Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YAs of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

26 of Our Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Novels of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

17 2017 YA Books To Have On Your Radar : Amanda MacGregor (Teen Librarian Toolbox)