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Book Review: The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

Publisher’s description

badSixteen-year-old Austin is always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, stops him cold. Austin—a talented musician himself—is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring music-biz orbit, pulling his true love, Josephine, along with him. None of Austin’s previous bad decisions, resulting in broken instruments, broken hearts, and broken dreams, can top this one. Witty, audacious, and taking adolescence to the max, Austin is dragged kicking and screaming toward adulthood in this hilarious, heart-wrenching YA novel.

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I gravitated to this because I loved the cover. Then I read the summary and knew I wouldn’t want to overlook this title. As an aging punk whose whole entire teenage life revolved around music—and falling hard for musician boys who made questionable choices—this novel spoke to me (though, once again, it was jarring for me to relate to the teenage characters but realize I’m older than both of the parents in this book—an all-too-common occurrence these days).

 

Set just outside of Minneapolis in Edina, 16-year-old Austin lives with his mother, who works in a nail salon. Her stodgy boyfriend Rick (who Austin at one point refers to as “the world’s least interesting man”) is often around, but Austin tries to just steer clear of him. Austin’s mom told him his dad died before he was born… but as the blurb up there tells you, that’s not true. Austin is a great character. He’s funny and self-deprecating with a history of doing stupid stuff to entertain girls. He’s a talented musician with grand dreams of moving to NYC after high school to become a famous singer-songwriter. But his friend Devon calls him Half-Song because Austin can never finish writing anything. He also is terrified of performing in front of people. He’s supposed to be spending the summer focusing on attending summer school, getting math tutoring, and working to not be sent to military school. Instead, he falls hard for his tutor, Josephine, gets in epic fights with his mother, becomes friends and bandmates with his bully, meets his not-dead (and very famous) father, and finally gets on the stage in front of people.

 

Part of the real joy of this book was seeing how events unfolded, so I won’t tell you too many plot details. The story wasn’t predictable—or when it was, I was roped in enough to believe it wouldn’t take that turn or play out that way. Austin is a great character who experiences a lot of wonderful things in this story (when he’s not busy falling down hills and nearly being killed by a lawnmower, or breaking expensive instruments, or getting in trouble for stealing a car) and even though I KNOW he makes bad decisions, and that people in his life make bad decisions, I thought maybe they’d turn it around. His relationship with Josephine is fantastic. She’s smart, funny, and his total opposite, but they connect through music and when she’s able to see past Austin’s reputation. She’s in his life at just the right moment, as he grapples with the reality of his father and is able to be as involved in making music as he’s always wanted to be. Austin’s journey isn’t an easy one to observe. I spent a fair amount of time wincing and lecturing him in my head. The ending of the book isn’t tidy or necessarily completely happy, but it is satisfying. You know me—I’ll take a realistic ending over a “happy” ending any time. A fun, smart, at times heartbreaking read about families, love, choices, consequences, and the power of music. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780544096677

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date:08/02/2016

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA May and June 2016 + Two Giveaways

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). 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 May 2016 and June 2016 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (March and April 2016 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers.

 

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: For teachers, librarians, and teens ONLY.

Since it’s June and Pride month I will run two giveaways with this post. US only, please. 

First giveaway: Three titles from this post, winner’s choice. The catch: you need to be a high school teacher or a librarian/work in a library. You can enter via Rafflecopter, by retweeting this post, or by commenting on this post. If it’s not obvious from your Twitter profile that you’re a teacher/librarian, please indicate so (via tweet or dm or in your comment etc).

Second giveaway: Three titles from this post, winner’s choice. The catch: you need to be a teenager. You can enter via Rafflecopter, by retweeting this post, or by commenting on this post. If it’s not obvious from your Twitter profile that you’re a teenager, please indicate so (via tweet or dm or in your comment etc).

Both of these rely on people being honest. This giveaway is specifically designed to get these books into the hands of actual teens.

Contest runs from June 7 until midnight on June 13.

 

MAY 2016

ifi wasIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (ISBN-13: 9781250078407 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 05/03/2016)

REVIEW HERE

A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different—and a love story that everyone will root for.

 

bloodThe Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer (ISBN-13: 9780062307910 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/03/2016)

Family secrets turn deadly in this edgy page-turner about the insidious limits of labels and the ties that bind just a little too tightly, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.

Growing up, Adrien and his sister, Grace, competed viciously for everything. It wasn’t easy being the adopted sibling, but Adrien tried to get along; it was Grace who didn’t want anything to do with him. When their scientist parents died in a terrible lab fire, there was nothing left to hold them together.

Now, after years apart, Adrien and Grace are forced to reunite at the elite boarding school where their parents were teachers. Being back around everyone he used to know makes Adrien question the person he’s become, while being back around Grace makes him feel like someone he doesn’t want to be.

For as much as Adrien wants to move on, someone seems determined to reopen old wounds. And when Adrien starts to suspect that Grace knows more about their parents’ deaths than she let on, he realizes there are some wounds no amount of time can heal. If Adrien isn’t careful, they may even kill him.

 

 

may queenThe May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (ISBN-13: 9780544640412 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 05/03/2016)

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. 

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

 

 

ask meAsk Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (ISBN-13: 9780062387950 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/03/2016)

REVIEW HERE

How do you define yourself? By your friends? Your family? Your boyfriend? Your grades? Your trophies? Your choices? By a single choice? From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Applescomes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins will find the powerful questions, the difficult truths, and the inner strength that speak to them in Ask Me How I Got Here.

Addie has always known what she was running toward, whether in cross country, in her all-girls Catholic school, or in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night, and she gets pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross country anymore; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit.

 

lilyLily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (ISBN-13: 9780553536744 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 05/03/2016)

Author Donna Gephart crafts a dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder.

Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

 

 

jerkbaitJerkbait by Mia Siegert (ISBN-13: 9781631630668 Publisher: Jolly Fish Press Publication date: 05/10/2016)

REVIEW HERE

Even though they’re identical, Tristan isn’t close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other’s lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can’t escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world.

Robbie’s future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie’s secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path.

How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?

 

 

love blindLove Blind by Christa Desir and Jolene Perry (ISBN-13: 9781481416931 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 05/10/2016)

Shy high schooler Kyle Jamieson and Hailey Bosler, a musician with degenerative blindness, team up to tackle a bucket list of greatest fears in this compelling novel that explores what it means to take risks.

It starts with a list of fears. Stupid things really. Things that Hailey shouldn’t worry about, wouldn’t worry about if she didn’t wake up every morning with the world a little more blurry. Unable to see her two moms clearly. Unable to read the music for her guitar. One step closer to losing the things she cares about the most.

For a while, the only thing that keeps Hailey moving forward is the feeling she gets when she crosses something off the list.

Then she meets Kyle. He mumbles—when he talks at all—and listens to music to drown out his thoughts. He’s loaded down with fears, too. So Hailey talks him into making his own list.

Together, they stumble into an odd friendship, helping each other tackle one after another of their biggest fears. But fate and timing can change everything. And sometimes facing your worst fear makes you realize you had nothing to lose after all.

 

 

fam fletchThe Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy (ISBN-13: 9780553521306 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 05/10/2016)

Love the TV show Modern Family? Wait until you meet the family Fletcher! With two dads, four adopted brothers, two cats, and one pug, the Fletchers will have you laughing out loud! 
 
Welcome to Rock Island, Where Time Stands Still!

The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from their first day on vacation, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. Their favorite lighthouse is all boarded up‘ and the Fletcher boys can’t figure out why or how to save it. Add a dose of Shakespeare, a very tippy kayak, a video camera, (maybe, possibly, or not) a swimming cat, and some new neighbors, and the recipe for a crazy vacation is complete.

Over the course of the summer, the Fletchers will learn that sometimes, even in a place where time stands still, the wildest, weirdest, and most wonderful surprises await.

 

illogicalHighly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (ISBN-13: 9780525428183 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/10/2016)

Teen and adult fans of All The Bright Places, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Everything, Everything will adore this quirky story of coming-of-age, coming out, friendship, love…and agoraphobia.

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

A hilarious and heartwarming coming-of-age perfect for readers of Matthew Quick and Rainbow Rowell, Highly Illogical Behavior showcases the different ways in which we hide ourselves from the world—and the ways in which love, tragedy, and the need for connection may be the only things to bring us back into the light.

 

genaGena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson (ISBN-13: 9781452138398 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 05/17/2016)

Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences—Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend—the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena’s world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes with a price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

 

 

 

ironThe Iron Phoenix by Rebecca Harwell (ISBN-13: 9781626397446 Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Publication date: 05/17/2016)

Seventeen-year-old Nadya Gabori lives a life of secrets in the island city of Storm’s Quarry. By day, she is the dutiful Nomori daughter, but by night, she sprints across rooftops, testing her abilities of speed and strength, abilities no normal girl should have. And she keeps her growing feelings for her friend Kesali from her conservative family. If her secrets were discovered by her people, the price would be banishment.

But when a murderer strikes again and again while a prophesied storm bears down
on the city, Nadya disguises herself and uses her gifts to fight the chaos that
threatens her home. When Kesali’s life is put in peril by the madness, Nadya will do anything to save her, even if it means risking all and revealing she is the one the city calls the Iron Phoenix.

 

 

draw the lineDraw the Line by Laurent Linn (ISBN-13: 9781481452809 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 05/17/2016)

REVIEW HERE

After a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author.

Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.

In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.

But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.

 

withoutWithout Annette  by Jane B. Mason (ISBN-13: 9780545819954 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.Publication date: 05/31/2016)

REVIEW HERE

Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood’s picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive.

While Josie struggles to navigate her new life, Annette seems to fit in perfectly. Yet that acceptance comes with more than a few strings. And consequently, Annette insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

At first, Josie agrees. But as Annette pushes her further and further away, Josie grows closer to Penn, a boy whose friendship and romantic feelings for her tangle her already-unraveling relationship. When Annette’s need for approval sets her on a devastating course for self-destruction, Josie isn’t sure she can save her this time-or if Annette even wants her to try.

 

art ofThe Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (ISBN-13: 9780374302375 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 05/31/2016)

REVIEW HERE

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.
As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

 

frannieFrannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup (ISBN-13: 9780062410207 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/31/2016)

Perfect for fans of Prep and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Frannie and Tru is a dazzling YA debut about a transformative summer in the life of a girl whose idol is not what he seems.

Frannie has always idolized her cousin Tru. At seventeen, Tru is charismatic, rich, charming—everything fifteen-year-old Frannie wants to be, and everything she’s not. So when Frannie overhears her parents saying that after a bad coming-out experience Tru will be staying with them in Baltimore for the summer, Frannie is excited and desperate to impress him. But as Frannie gets swept up in Tru’s worldly way of life, she starts to worry that it may all be a mask Tru wears to hide a dark secret. And if Tru isn’t the person Frannie thought he was, what does that mean for the new life she has built with him?

Confronting issues of race, class, and sexuality, Karen Hattrup weaves a powerful coming-of-age story that’s at once timeless and immediate, sharply observed, and recognizable to anyone who has ever loved the idea of a person more than the reality.

 

June 2016

true lettersTrue Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan (ISBN-13: 9780062380258 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/07/2016)

REVIEW HERE

If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student, and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world—letters he never intends to send—he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

James’s secret letters are his safe space—but his truth can’t stay hidden for long. Will he come clean to his parents, his teammates, and himself, or is he destined to live a life of fiction?

This heartfelt debut novel explores the muddy landscape of truth and lies and lays bare the sometimes painful but often hopeful work of writing one’s own authentic story.

 

tumblingTumbling by Caela Carter (ISBN-13: 9780451473004 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/07/2016)

Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.

 

you knowYou Know Me Well  by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9781250098641 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 06/07/2016)

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

 

jazzBeing Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings (ISBN-13: 9780399554643 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/07/2016)

Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings—named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens” of the year by Time—shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.
 
Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

 

lookLook Both Ways by Alison Cherry (ISBN-13: 9780553511864 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/14/2016)

Thoughtful, funny, and steeped in the wild drama of growing up, Alison Cherry’s new novel is the story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.
Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?

 

runRun by Kody Keplinger (ISBN-13: 9780545831130 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/28/2016)

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and-worst of all-confronting some ugly secrets.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books Winter and Spring 2016 Roundup and Giveaway

bloomsburyIt’s hard to stay on top of all the new books that are coming out soon. As an effort to highlight more of the review books I receive, I’ve taken to doing posts either about my recent book mail or highlighting a certain publisher’s list. Today I’m sharing with you what is new and forthcoming from Bloomsbury Children’s Books. As part of this showcase, Bloomsbury is offering to give away four ARCs. We will pick four winners to win one book each. The ARCs are: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange, When We Collided by Emery Lord, Whisper to Me by Nick Lake, and The Leaving by Tara Altebrando.

To enter you can hop on over to the Rafflecopter, (re)tweet this post, or follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething). Giveaway runs February 18 to February 25th. 

 

concentr8Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe (1/19/2016)

In a not so distant future London, riots have become the  norm. But things take a turn for the worse one day, when  the government suddenly stops their distribution of  Concentr8­­–a behavioral modification “miracle” drug akin  to Ritalin.

Amidst the chaos, five teens pick a man seemingly at  random and chain him up as a hostage in a warehouse.  Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet  sidekick­­–the only person he has ever trusted. But even  Troy didn’t see this coming, and as their story unfolds  over six tense days, one thing is clear–­­none of them will  ever be the same again.

Told from the perspective of multiple characters in a  world familiar to our own, this searing look into the  power of psychological medication is perfect for fans of  thoughtful fiction like Panic and The Program series.

 

 

rebelRebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange (2/16/2016)

With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional  depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes  readers on literary thrill ride.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked,  tattooed wild child. The Bully: Bigger is better, so York bullies everyone  who crosses his path. The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is waiting it out  until he goes Ivy League. The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked  for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves  hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops,  they decide to hop into the nearest car they see and take  off. Normally these four would never be caught dead  together, but when their getaway takes a dangerous turn,  sticking together will be the only way to avoid ending up  dead.

 

what you alwaysWhat You Always Wanted (An If Only Novel) by Kristin Rae (3/29/2016)

If Only . . . he was the boy she’s been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!

Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family–but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball–not dance–is Jessie’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

 

when weWhen We Collided by Emory Lord (4/5/2016)

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power to save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

 

burningBurning by Danielle Rollins (4/5/2016)

After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few  months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the  hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then  Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest  security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no  one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things  begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only  be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that  Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get  out, but how can they save themselves when the world  has forgotten them?

Readers will be rooting for Angela and her friends to find  the truth and save themselves in this spine­-tingling story  rich with secrets and conspiracies.

 

whisper to meWhisper to Me by Nick Lake (5/3/2016)

Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.

Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.

 

 

courtA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (5/3/2016)

Return to the faerie realm of Prythian in the stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ New York Timesbestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

 

long gameThe Long Game: A Fixer Novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (6/7/2016)

Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

Perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Ally Carter, the second book in this thrilling series will leave readers breathless.

 

leavingThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando (6/7/2016)

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been. A riveting mystery for fans of We Were Liars.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

This unforgettable novel brims with rich characters, tense storytelling, and high stakes.

 

break meBreak Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt (6/7/2016)

With its sizzling romance and thrilling tension, this second book in the Once Upon a Crime Family series will hold readers spellbound.

All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow in her father’s path and head up the Family business. But new legislation is about to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade.

Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for Alex, a tech whiz, to fix. But he copies confidential Family information he’ll only return in exchange for a kidney transplant he urgently needs. Fulfilling their bargain takes longer than expected, and Maggie finds herself falling for the ailing Alex. Like it or not, she must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for it.

 

learningLearning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy (7/5/2016)

Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize–if there’s ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri’s 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he’s not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.

 

chasingChasing Stars by Helen Douglas (7/19/2016)

A love story that spans generations and time continues in this captivating tale that’s perfect for fans of A Thousand Pieces of You.

Hunted down by a ruthless “cleaner” from the future, star-crossed lovers Eden and Ryan have been forced to travel a hundred years forward to 2123. Ryan has broken fundamental laws of time for them to be together, and now they face his trial and permanent imprisonment . . . and a life without each other.

Eden knows that she must save Ryan, but he’s under tight security–and getting caught would mean life imprisonment for the both of them. All Eden wants is Ryan, but is it possible to be together when it seems the whole universe is against them?

Fans of Claudia Gray, Amie Kaufman, and Meagan Spooner will be captivated by this epic cross-century romance where love bends the laws of time and reason.

 

all weAll We Have Left by Wendy Mills (8/9/2016)

A haunting and heart-wrenching story of two girls, two time periods, and the one event that changed their lives–and the world–forever.

Interweaving stories from past and present, All We Have Left follows two girls, Alia and Jesse, who discover that hatred and love have the power to reverberate into the future.

Then: Alia is a proud Muslim, even if it makes high school more difficult. Grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia decides to confront her father at his Manhattan office, putting her in danger she never expected. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside. There she meets a boy who risks everything for her.

Now: Jesse is haunted by the past. Ever since her brother died in the September 11th attacks, her dad’s rage and grief has overshadowed their lives. When one hate-fueled decision turns Jesse’s life upside down, the only way to make amends is to face the past and find out the truth of her brother’s last day.

 

almost kingThe Almost King by Lucy Saxon (8/16/2016)

A thrilling tale of adventure, deadly secrets, and romance on a ship traversing the skies of a distant world.

Aleks Vasin doesn’t want any part of the boring village life mapped out for him–he wants excitement and the chance to travel. So Aleks heads south to the great city of Rensav and enlists in the army, but after a brutal few days, he realizes that he’s signed himself away to a life far worse than the one he just left.

Aleks escapes, hoping to find safety somewhere in the north. On the way, he finds love, adventure, and a skyship full of technological discoveries beyond his wildest dreams. He just might just prove himself a hero too–but only if he can evade the vengeful soldiers on his trail who want him back.

The second book in an exciting YA sci-fi series, The Almost King returns to the epic, sweeping world of Tellus with a story that’s perfect for fans of Seeker and the Starbound series.

 

poppyPoppy by Mary Hooper (8/30/2016)

Set against the backdrop of World War I, this romantic novel is equal parts sweeping and heartbreaking.

England, 1914. Poppy is 15, beautiful, and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. She will become a servant to the aristocratic de Vere family . . . and bury her feelings for their youngest son, Freddie. He could never marry a girl like her.

But the path for Poppy’s life changes when it becomes clear that the war isn’t going to end soon. England needs every able bodied person to serve in battle, which, for Poppy, means volunteering on the front lines as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. As she experiences what people are capable of–the best of humanity and the worst–Poppy will discover how to be her own person.

This sweeping drama vividly blends swoon-worthy romance with the story of a girl looking for her place in a war-torn world is perfect fans of Elizabeth Wein and Ruta Sepetys.

 

bombsThe Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan (9/13/2016)

This new thriller from a breakout author is a compelling story of war, friendship, and heartbreaking choices—perfect for fans of Andrew Smith.

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. But after Charlie meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken.

Then the bombs and soldiers come from Old Country, and Little Town changes forever. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his worst enemy. Charlie wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will . . . But to protect Pavel, he’ll have to kill someone else first.

From the acclaimed author of When Mr. Dog Bites comes a powerful story that asks the question–how far would you go to save the people you love?

16 2016 YA Books I’m Anxiously Anticipating

Like many of you (I’m guessing), I keep multiple reading-related lists. I keep track of what I read each year. I keep track of what ARCs I’ve gotten and hope to read. I keep track of what books I either want to get when they come out or hope to track down as ARCs but haven’t yet. There’s the list of 2016 LGBTQIA+ books. Look, I like lists. Even just listing my lists was fun for me. So anyway, I scanned through all my various relevant lists and pulled together this new list (yay!) of 16 YA books I can’t wait to read. In some cases, it’s because I liked the author’s previous work. In some cases, it’s a debut that’s caught my attention. In some cases, it’s just that I like reading my friends’ work. My list could have easily been “66 2016 YA Books I’m Anxiously Anticipating.” Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are anxious to read in 2016!

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

some of the partsSome of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby (Random House, 2/16/2016)

For fans of Love Letters to the Dead and I’ll Give You the Sun comes a heartrending story of a teen who sets out on an unusual quest.

For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she’s okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. Then Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, and it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built up:

ORGAN DONOR.
Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never revealed to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.

Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of.

 

lookLook Both Ways by Allison Cherry (Random House, 6/14/2016)

Thoughtful, funny, and steeped in the wild drama of growing up, Alison Cherry’s new novel is the story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.
Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?

 

original fakeOriginal Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (Penguin Young Readers Group, 4/19/2016)

In this Banksy-inspired illustrated novel, an escalating sibling rivalry train wrecks and vengeance is a street-art act of war

Introvert Frankie Neumann hates his life, and understandably so. He’s got a weird, tutu-wearing sister, Lou, and even weirder parents, Bridget and Brett—Frank Sinatra and Dr. Frank-N-Furter impersonators, respectively. And, he’s just the guy who makes pizza at Pizza Vendetta. Though he has secret artistic aspirations of his own, his over-the-top family makes him want to stay in the background. But Frankie’s life is about to change—becoming way more interesting, even a little dangerous, but definitely cool.

After his shift at the pizzeria one night, Frankie meets David and Rory, cousins and errand runners for the mysterious Uncle Epic, a legendary anonymous street artist and Frankie’s absolute idol. Little could Frankie dream that his new adventures with Uncle Epic would lead to the perfect opportunity to strike back at his insufferable sister for a lifetime of torture. But things go haywire quicker than you can say “street art kicks righteous ass,” and the lines are suddenly blurred between art and Frankie’s real life.

 

love blindLove Blind by Christa Desir and Jolene Perry (Simon Pulse, 5/10/2016)

Shy high schooler Kyle Jamieson and Hailey Bosler, a musician with degenerative blindness, team up to tackle a bucket list of greatest fears in this compelling novel that explores what it means to take risks.

It starts with a list of fears. Stupid things really. Things that Hailey shouldn’t worry about, wouldn’t worry about if she didn’t wake up every morning with the world a little more blurry. Unable to see her two moms clearly. Unable to read the music for her guitar. One step closer to losing the things she cares about the most.

For a while, the only thing that keeps Hailey moving forward is the feeling she gets when she crosses something off the list.

Then she meets Kyle. He mumbles—when he talks at all—and listens to music to drown out his thoughts. He’s loaded down with fears, too. So Hailey talks him into making his own list.

Together, they stumble into an odd friendship, helping each other tackle one after another of their biggest fears. But fate and timing can change everything. And sometimes facing your worst fear makes you realize you had nothing to lose after all.

 

whateverWhatever by Suzanne Cudd Goslee (Roaring Brook Press, 8/2/2016)

Hilarity ensues when a slacker teen boy discovers he’s gay, in this unforgettably funny YA debut.

Mike Tate is a normal dude. He and his friends have a crappy band (an excuse to drink cheap beer and rock out to the Lemonheads) and hang out in parking lots doing stupid board tricks. But when Mike’s girlfriend Lisa, who knows him better than he does, breaks up with him, he realizes he’s about to have a major epiphany that will blow his mind. And worse–he gets elected to homecoming court.

It’s like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin’ cheerleaders.

With the free spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the raw voice of Winger, and characters reminiscent of Freaks & Geeks, this debut YA offers a standout voice and a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.

 

9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.inddOutrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (Penguin Young Readers Group, 5/24/2016)

From the author of the critically acclaimed Under a Painted Sky, an unforgettable story of determination set against a backdrop of devastating tragedy. Perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Breakout author Stacey Lee masterfully crafts another remarkable novel set against a unique historical backdrop. Strong-willed Mercy Wong leads a cast of diverse characters in this extraordinary tale of survival.

 

we are the antsWe Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon Pulse, 1/19/2016)

From the “author to watch” (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.

 

enter titleEnter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia (Disney-Hyperion, 8/2/2016)

I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.

Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.

What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.

But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.

Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)

In this wholly unique, wickedly funny debut novel, Rahul Kanakia consciously uses the rules of storytelling—and then breaks them to pieces.

 

smaller evilThe Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn (Dutton Books for Young Readers, 8/2/2016)

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman’s not sure, but more than anyone he’s ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he’s failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he’s always trusted the least: himself.

 

you know meYou Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (St. Martin’s Press, 6/7/2016)

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still andThe Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author ofNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

 

when weWhen We Collided by Emery Lord (Bloomsbury USA, 4/5/2016)

Seventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.

Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?

 

words for yesThe Word For Yes by Claire Needell (HarperCollins, 2/16/2016)

At once honest and touching, Claire Needell’s debut novel is a moving look at date rape and its aftermath, at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

The gap between the Russell sisters—Jan, Erika, and Melanie—widens as each day passes. Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

The Word for Yes will inspire necessary conversation about a topical and important issue facing our society. The book includes a thoughtful author’s note that provides resources for readers.

 

the way i usedThe Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 3/22/2016)

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

 

the memoryThe Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (Scholastic, 1/26/2016)

When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.

But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage  and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.

Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

 

ask meAsk Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (HarperCollins, 5/3/2016)

From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Apples comes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. This thought-provoking and sophisticated read further confirms Christine Heppermann as an important voice in the tradition of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and A. S. King.

Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free-verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit. Like Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, Christine Heppermann is a voice to turn to for the truth of difficult subjects. Ask Me How I Got Here is a literary exploration of sexuality, religion, and self-discovery.

 

3P JKT Geeks_Guide.inddThe Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash (Simon & Schuster, 6/14/2016)

John Hughes meets Comic-Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author ofThree Day Summer.

Graham Posner has fallen for his best friend Roxanne and has planned (in excruciating detail) a perfect weekend for her at Comic-Con, where he intends to confess his love. But things start falling apart before the weekend even starts, and Graham has to make a lot of crazy promises to get things to go his way. When Roxanne meets her “ideal guy” at the convention and Graham finds himself with some stiff competition, the stakes are raised even higher. Will all of his geeky knowledge and charm be enough to win her heart?