Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Book Review: Home and Away by Candice Montgomery

Publisher’s description

home and awayTasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team.

But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them—but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

What a great exploration of heartache, home, second chances, grace, forgiveness, family, race, and identity. This was the first book I’ve read from both this author and this publisher (Page Street Publishing) and I look forward to more from both.

 

Tasia’s life seems pretty great. The summary up there tells you all about it. But everything is thrown into chaos when she discovers her mother hiding a box of newspaper clippings and more from Tasia’s life. In that box is a picture of her Black mother with a white man—a man who turns out to be Tasia’s biological father. At 18, Tasia cannot believe she’s been lied to this long. Not only is the only father she’s ever known not her biological father, but she’s biracial. There are certainly all kinds of different and totally okay ways to react to both pieces of news. For Tasia, she decides to track down Merrick, her biological dad, and then move in with him for a while. She can’t get past her parents’ betrayal. She moves from her McMansion (her words) in her affluent neighborhood to Merrick’s small apartment, transferring to a public high school as well. Here she makes new friends, including bisexual Kai El Khoury, who was adopted by Merrick’s parents. It’s hard for Tasia to talk to her old friends about any of this, so she kind of withdraws from everyone, throwing herself into her new life. Her new life comes with a lot of introspection and suspicion. Who sent that box to her? Why did her mother never tell Merrick or Tasia the truth? Will she ever be able to forgive her parents? Through it all, she begins to understand just how many different sides people have, and that they don’t show all their sides to everyone.

 

I enjoyed this book for many reasons. Tasia is a football-player, which is hardly a big deal at all except for her new coach, who initially is a total jerk to her. She has all kinds of interesting friends, both old and new, with diverse identities, and makes many missteps with them, learning along the way how to be a better friend, how to trust more, and how to forgive and move on. Though initially I thought maybe the book was a bit too long to sustain the story, once it really got underway, there is so much going on, and so much that Tasia has to process, that I ended up wanting even more toward the end. Her explorations of the many tensions in her life and her many identities is compelling and honest. It was a joy to watch her find so many new truths on her path to healing and learn to reconcile the different pieces of her life. I hope this great book finds a large audience, because Tasia’s story is an important one. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781624145957
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 10/16/2018

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Training Staff to Work with Transgender Teens

thingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolIn 25 years of working with teens in a public library, it is only recently that I have served and worked with teens that openly identified as transgender. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in working with them and they have been gracious in helping me understand those mistakes. I’ve also had to work with admin to discuss policy challenges and work with general staff to provide quality customer service to these teens. So today, I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been learning. Let me be the first to say that there is a lot of terminology and language used when discussing transgender teens that I am just beginning to understand and that I may use or may be using incorrectly. I am an older cisgender woman from a conservative Christian background who is just learning and I want to share what I am learning with others like myself. It’s vitally important that we talk with our staff about GLBTQ issues and customer service to make sure that every patron who walks into our library is afforded the same equity, respect and quality customer service.

The first thing you should know is that sex and gender are not the same thing. I wish I could explain this to you further, but it’s a concept that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Boiled down to the very basics, sex is the biological construct while gender is the social construct. For more on this important discussion, I suggest doing some extensive research.

Sex and gender: Meanings, definition, identity, and expression

Sex and gender: what is the difference? | Journal of Applied Physiology

In addition, gender is not purely a chromosomal presentation despite what you probably learned in your basic genetics class. In the scientific community, they talk a lot about things like gender dysphoria, gene expression, endocrine disruptions, and more. However, I’m not a scientist and neither are most library staff. I feel like at the end of the day, the how, when, where and why don’t matter. It’s important that remember that the thing that matters is the person standing before us in our library.

It’s also important to keep in mind that language evolves. Transexuality, transvestite and transgender are all terms that have been used to identify members of the transgender community. Older members of the transgender community may refer to themselves in one way and younger members of the community may refer to themselves as a different way. Even a brief look into our MARC records reveals that the subject headings have changed. I have had some conversations with technical services about subject headings. I would love to see that catalog subject headings linked so that all titles would come up regardless what term a patron searches.

Transsexual, Transgender, Transvestite: Here’s what you should know

GLBT Controlled Vocabularies and Classification Schemes

In addition to talking with and respecting my teens, I have done a lot of research and reading on these issues to help me move past my own personal upbringing and biases to better understand and serve my teens. I’ve read a lot, for example, on the various things that they believe influences gender identity. From sex genes to endocrine disruptors to fertility treatments, there are a lot of environmental factors that influence gender expression. At the end of the day, none of this matters because what matters is the person standing before you asking to be treated with basic human dignity and respect. We owe it to our fellow humans to extend that basic respect to them and as a matter of good customer service, which every library should be striving to achieve, it’s the basic foundation: treat the person standing before you with common courtesy, basic respect, and with a full recognition that we’re all just fellow humans trying to make it day to day.

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/unLhY

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/unLhY

It’s also important that we recognize that there is a lot of hostility towards the GLBTQ community and that there are high incidences of homelessness, depression and anxiety, and suicide among GLBTQ teens. How we as teen librarians and how our staff as public servants respond to our transgender patrons is vitally important. It’s not an exaggeration for me to say that it can be a matter of life and death.

Pronouns Matter

When a transgender person “comes out” (and I’m not sure that is the correct terminology), they are making known to the public that they identify with a gender different from what they have previously appeared or presented on the outside. So although they may have presented or been identified as female, they have known for quite some time that they are male and at some point they make the decision to finally let the world know and live as their authentic self. From what my teens have shared with me, this is a very important and freeing moment. It’s very important to respect your teens and honor their requests to be called by the names and pronouns that they prefer. At some point, your teens may come to you and ask to be referred to as a different pronoun and this is vitally important.

What Are Pronouns? Why Do They Matter?

Why Pronouns Matter – GSAFE

I will be the first to admit that changing pronouns can be challenging. Not because I haven’t respected my teens wishes, but because of force of habit. On occasion I slip and when I do, I always make a point of apologizing. Try to use the correct pronouns and when you mess up, apologize.

They/Them Pronouns

One day, after another pronoun slip, I declared to one of my teens that I was closer to that I was just going to start using they/them pronouns for everyone. This teen actually declared that this was a really good habit to get into to help avoid misgendering people that you didn’t really know yet. Our cultural go to has always been to default to he/she, which has often led to those moments on the public service desk when you have just misgendered someone. Training staff to default to they/them pronouns helps to ensure any misgendering by avoiding any assumptions of gender.

Using They/Them to Avoid Misgendering People?

Where is the bathroom?

I have often worked in a library where there is a men’s and a women’s bathroom and they are in different locations in the building. A coworker recently shared with me that when she is asked where the bathroom is, she makes no assumptions and just answers the question by giving directions to both bathrooms. Again, we serve a lot of patrons and trying to determine what bathroom they may be asking about can be tricky. I admit to having that moment where I have told someone the directions to the women’s restroom after assuming that they were female only to learn that they were male and were asking for directions to the male restroom. Being in the common practice of just providing directions to both bathrooms is another way that we can stop assuming we can easily see how a patron identifies and provide quality customer service. When someone asks for directions to the bathroom, don’t assume you know which bathroom they need and just provide directions to all the bathrooms.

Nongendered Bathrooms and Bathroom Laws

I’m not particularly in the habit of paying attention to when and how patrons are going to the bathroom, so I didn’t really know that our transgender male teens were using the male restroom until a man complained. An older gentleman came to our management and expressed concern that a teenage girl had walked into the restroom and he didn’t want to be accused of taking her in there and doing anything to her. What this older gentleman didn’t know is that this teen was a transgender male. We then began researching bathroom policies and even met with an architect to determine if there were ways that we could change our bathrooms to make them non-gendered. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of laws regulating bathrooms, including how many bathrooms you must have and how they must be labelled. These laws vary by state and it’s important that you consult with legal counsel to make sure that you are following the law and providing the best case scenarios for all of your library patrons. In part because of this bathroom issue, but also because of some other issues such as drug use, the library that I was working at eventually decided to have the bathrooms be locking restrooms where the key had to be requested at the Circulation Desk.

Transgender bathroom laws: Facts and myths – CNN – CNN.com

Let me take a moment here to add that having a family restroom or nongendered bathroom isn’t just a transgender issue, there are many disabled adults who may need assistance as well as children. Moving forward, every public space should definitely include inclusive bathrooms. If you can retrofit your bathrooms, please consider doing so.

Personal Opinions Don’t Matter When it Comes to Good Customer Service

For some of our staff, it was pretty easy to respect the teens wishes to be identified as they requested. For others, there was some real resistance. The issue of being transgender is very controversial for many people and there are some strongly held opinions on the topic. Though we can’t control what our coworkers believe, think or feel about GLBTQ issues, we can and should demand that they treat all of our patrons with equal respect and honor the wishes of our transgender teens in how they are identified. If a patron asks to be called a particular pronoun or asks to be called by a different name, it’s really important that our staff respect that. Demanding that our staff treat our GLBTQ patrons with respect is no different then demanding that they treat any and all patrons with respect. Failure to do so should be met with coaching and ultimately termination if needed.

Deadnaming

When a person comes out or transitions, to whatever degree they choose to transition or not, they will often choose a new name that better represents their true identity. For example, a teen perceived as female at birth may have been named Colleen by their parents but when they are finally ready to share with the world that they are male they may choose the name Cole. This example, by the way, is completely made up because as a librarian I respect patron privacy. Cole may not yet have legally changed his name to Cole, in part because minors have limited legal rights and also in part because there is a process and a cost to changing one’s legal name. However, it is important that all staff refer to Cole as Cole. Calling Cole by the name of Colleen is deadnaming and it is considered an offensive and very hurtful act of aggression.

How to Be Human: Talking to People Who Are Transgender – Healthline

Deadnaming: What Is It and Why Is It Harmful? – Healthline

If a transgender teen asks to be called by a different name, a note should be make in their library card status letting staff know about this desire. If you can, change the library card name altogether. But if you work with an administration that is a stickler for legal names, at least make a note of it and train your staff to call a patron by their preferred name. It’s not the same by any means, but I’ll use my husband as an example. His legal name is Timothy but he goes by the name Tim. I have only once ever heard someone call him Timothy and neither one of us responded because although that’s his legal name which he signs and appears on all of his documentation, he doesn’t go by that and it didn’t occur to him that someone was trying to get his attention using that name. My point is this: we allow people to shorten their names or go by nicknames all of the time. The first day of each new school year we allow students to tell us what name they prefer to go by when we call the first roll call. We can call our transgender patrons by their correct name, no matter what the legal paperwork says. It’s actually a standard practice and to not extend it to transgender individuals just reveals our own personal bias.

A Note About Transitioning

In some cases, a transgender individual will choose, or not, to transition to their gender. What that looks like is different for every person. For teens, it is even more limited in what they can do because they have to have parental support, financial means, and usually doctors will wait until a person is past puberty before hormone treatment or surgery is considered. That means that most teens have very limited ways in which they can control transitioning. Transgender male teens, for example, may choose to wear binders and cut their hair and buy all male clothes, but there are a lot of limitations to what transgender teens can do. I mention this only because I was in a meeting once with a coworker discussing our bathroom complaint and this co-worker said, “outside of cutting their hair, they haven’t really done anything.” The implication seemed to be that they weren’t trying very hard or putting in very much effort. It’s important for everyone who is cisgender to remember that coming out as transgender is a process, that there are a lot of cultural and financial barriers, and that transgender individuals don’t owe it to anyone to transition in a way or time that works best for anyone but themselves.

ENBY and Gender Fluid Teens

When talking about gender, we should also keep in mind that there are more than just cisgender and transgender people. Enby is a term that is used by non-binary individuals. An enby is a nonbinary person who identifies as neither male or female. The Teen is friends with an individual who is very femme (traditionally female presenting), has chosen a male name, and identifies as enby. This invidiual uses they/them pronouns. Other teens are what they refer to as gender fluid. They may fluctuate between genders or identify as any and all genders at once.

57 bus

I highly recommend to everyone the book The 57 Bus which has some good discussion of these terms within it. In fact, as we really began exploring these issues I requested from my administration that my staff be allowed to read this book on staff time because it’s an important and relevant book to serving our patrons and I don’t believe in asking staff to do something that they aren’t getting paid for.

Training Staff is the Goal

This is by no means an exhaustive look into any of the issues facing the transgender community nor is it a complete discussion of what public and school libraries need to know when considering serving the transgender community. What it is, however, is a reminder that we need to be having these discussion in the larger professional context but also at the local level. If your library hasn’t already, you need to go through your policies and procedures and make sure they are a good foundation for helping your staff know how to provide exemplary customer service to the transgender community. You need to be training staff in how to work with transgender individuals and reminding them that their personal opinions don’t matter when they’re at work, because I guarantee that you are employing some individuals that have very hostile feelings about the GLBTQ and transgender community.

This was not a thing that I had ever been trained about or discussed in almost 20 years of public library service, but necessity became the mother of invention. I am truly honored that my teens trusted me enough to share their journey with me, that they allowed me to fumble as I tried to figure out how best to serve them, and that I had the opportunity to advocate for them when issues came up. And make no mistake, issues came up and will continue to come up. I was forced to be reactive, but moving forward I will have the advantage of experience on my side and can now be more proactive. I highly recommend being proactive.

Libraries Respond: Protections for Our Nation’s Transgender Students

Serving Your LGBT Teen Patrons » Public Libraries Online

Inclusive Information for Trans* Persons: Public Library Quarterly

Supporting Transgender Individuals in Libraries

One final point I would like to make. Just as no group is a monolith, not all transgender individuals are the same either. I’m sharing with you here what my teens have taught me in our journey together. Take a moment to talk to and listen to a wide variety of members of the LGBTQA+ and keep listening. Language evolves, people change, and what we know about each other and the basics of good customer service are always evolving. Do the work and then keep doing the work.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA September 2018

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 September titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (August 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. 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 issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

September 2018

 

quarterbacks crushThe Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-391-6 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 09/04/2018)

Do nice guys always have to finish last?

For Dylan Porter, it’s starting to look that way. His plan is to finish high school, get a football scholarship, and come out to his family and friends when he has the cushion of being away at college. But none of that is going to happen if his failing grades get him kicked off the team.

His saving grace comes in the form of Tommy Peterson, the smartest kid in school, who also happens to be the Triple S that Dylan crushes on: smart, short, sexy. Dylan falls hard and when his feelings seem unrequited, he accidentally outs himself to his entire team, expecting them to oust him. But it’s anybody’s game as Dylan learns how to be honest about who he is and keeps his eye on the prize—the heart of Tommy Peterson.

 

 

neverthelessNevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage by In This Together Media (ISBN-13: 9781524771966 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/04/2018)

A powerful collection of essays from actors, activists, athletes, politicians, musicians, writers, and teens, including Senator Amy Klobuchar, actress Alia Shawkat, actor Maulik Pancholy, poet Azure Antoinette, teen activist Gavin Grimm, and many, many more, each writing about a time in their youth when they were held back because of their race, gender, or sexual identity—but persisted.

“Aren’t you a terrorist?” “There are no roles for people who look like you.” “That’s a sin.” “No girls allowed.” They’ve heard it all. Actress Alia Shawkat reflects on all the parts she was told she was too “ethnic” to play. Former NFL player Wade Davis recalls his bullying of gay classmates in an attempt to hide his own sexuality. Teen Gavin Grimm shares the story that led to the infamous “bathroom bill,” and how he’s fighting it. Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr tells of her harrowing time in Aushwitz, where she watched her family disappear, one by one.

What made them rise up through the hate? What made them overcome the obstacles of their childhood to achieve extraordinary success? How did they break out of society’s limited view of who they are and find their way to the beautiful and hard-won lives they live today? With a foreword by Minnesota senator and up-and-coming Democratic party leader Amy Klobuchar, these essays share deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence.

 

ruleRule by Ellen Goodlett (ISBN-13: 9780316515283 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 09/11/2018)

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett. 

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

 

 

summer bird blueSummer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (ISBN-13: 9781481487757 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/11/2018)

A mixed race teen struggles to find her way back to her love of music in the wake of her sister’s tragic death in this incisive, lyrical novel that’s perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jennifer Niven, by the author of William C. Morris Award finalist Starfish.

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.

 

 

navigators touchThe Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember (ISBN-13: 978-1945053702 Publisher: Duet Books Publication date: 09/13/2018)

After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.

She petitions the Jarl in Frisia for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?

Inspired by Norse mythology and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, this companion novel to The Seafarer’s Kiss is a tale of vengeance, valor, honor, and redemption.

 

 

unbrokenUnbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens by Marieke Nijkamp (ISBN-13: 9780374306502 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 09/18/2018)

This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today’s teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.

The contributing authors are awardwinners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis—and their characters reflect this diversity.

 

 

magic weptMagic Wept by Andi Van (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-674-0 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 09/18/2018)

The Mages’ Guild Trilogy: Book 2

Jorget wants desperately to hone his magical abilities, but it’s almost impossible in Archai Castle, where the mad king would kill him if he caught him using his forbidden talents. But a chance presents itself when Jorget’s mentor, the royal priest Denekk, sends him on a quest in search of a magical weapon. While it seems his opportunity to make a name for himself has finally arrived, Jorget has no idea what he’s really getting himself into.

In the Mages’ Guild of the Dragon’s Claw, Kelwin Tiovolk and his beloved, guild leader Tasis Kadara, are finally enjoying a peaceful life. Unfortunately, it can’t last—the king has designs on a weapon that can destroy the guild, and in order to protect his home, Kelwin will have to leave it.

Saving the guild seems impossible with so many determined to stop them, but if Kelwin and Jorget stand together, they might find the strength to defy the odds and preserve all they hold dear.

 

 

kensKens by Raziel Reid (ISBN-13: 9780735263772 Publisher: PRH Canada Young Readers Publication date: 09/18/2018)

Heterosexuality is so last season: Kens is the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls, a shocking parody for a whole new generation.

Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.
Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself — inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?

 

 

black wingsBlack Wings Beating (Skybound #1) by Alex London (ISBN-13: 9780374306823 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 09/25/2018)

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer—while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

In this first young-adult fantasy novel in a trilogy, Alex London launches a soaring saga about the memories that haunt us, the histories that hunt us, and the bonds of blood between us.

 

 

backstagersThe Backstagers and the Ghost Light (Backstagers #1) by Andy Mientus, Rian Sygh (ISBN-13: 9781419731204 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 09/25/2018)

Jory didn’t know what to expect when he transferred to St. Genesius Prep, an all-boys school known for their incredible theater department. He ends up on the stage crew—or “backstagers” as they like to call themselves—and discovers the magic that happens behind the scenes of each production.

When some of the cast members decide to play with a Spirit board, the ghost light goes out. Ghost lights are supposed to protect the theater from ghosts sneaking in the shadows. The kids don’t think too much of it. However, when they decide to put on the musical Phantasm, strange things start happening right away: a fallen light, a missing prop, a star with something to hide. Could there be evil spirits in the theater?

 

 

my lifeMy Life as a Diamond by Jenny Manzer (ISBN-13: 9781459818316 Publisher: Orca Book Publishers Publication date: 09/25/2018)

Ten-year-old Caspar “Caz” Cadman loves baseball and has a great arm. He loves the sounds, the smells, the stats. When his family moves from Toronto to a suburb of Seattle, the first thing he does is try out for the local summer team, the Redburn Ravens. Even though Caz is thrilled when he makes the team, he worries because he has a big secret.

No one knows that back in Toronto, Caz used to live life as a girl named Cassandra. And it’s nobody’s business. Caz will tell his new friends when he’s ready.

But when a player on a rival team starts snooping around, Caz’s past is revealed, and Caz worries it will be Toronto all over again.

Will Caz’s teammates rally behind their star pitcher? Or will Caz be betrayed once more?

A heartwarming, funny, fast-paced story about the bravery it takes to live as your true self, no matter the cost.

 

 

nightingaleNightingale by Amy Lukavics (ISBN-13: 9781335012340 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 09/25/2018)At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA August 2018

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 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (July 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. 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 issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

August 2018

 

deadendiaDeadEndia: The Watcher’s Test (Book 1): Book 1 by Hamish Steele (ISBN-13: 9781910620472 Publisher: Nobrow Ltd. Publication date: 08/07/2018)

Barney and his best friend Norma are just trying to get by and keep their jobs, but working at the Dead End theme park also means battling demonic forces, time traveling wizards, and scariest of all–their love lives!

Follow the lives of this diverse group of employees of a haunted house, which may or may not also serve as a portal to hell, in this hilarious and moving graphic novel, complete with talking pugs, vengeful ghosts and LBGTQIA love!

 

 

dark beneathThe Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube (ISBN-13: 9781492657071 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/07/2018)

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her.

Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

 

 

mammothMammoth! by Dakota Chase (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-672-6 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 08/07/2018)

In what might be their most dangerous adventure so far, Grant and Ash are sent back in time ten thousand years to recover a mammoth talisman for their teacher, Merlin. Life is a struggle in the Stone Age, and if they want to eat, they’ll have to learn to use spears, track animals, and build fires without the benefit of matches.

Most importantly, they must recover the artifact so they can get back to their own time, but it won’t be easy. They’ll need to reunite two warring tribes, help a boy around their age prove his worth, and demonstrate their own courage on a deadly mammoth hunt. In this harsh and unforgiving world, hate and suspicion are as prevalent as they are in modern times, but understanding and acceptance can also be found if they know where to look.

 

 

rebel wavesThese Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch (ISBN-13: 9781538551998 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/07/2018)

The thrilling new fantasy series-full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a dangerous quest in a new world-from Sara Raasch, bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice-but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian-but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country-or if he’s building his own pyre.As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are … and what they are willing to become for peace.

 

hereticsHeretics Anonymous by Katie Henry (ISBN-13: 9780062698872 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/07/2018)

Put an atheist in a strict Catholic school? Expect comedy, chaos, and an Inquisition. The Breakfast Club meets Saved! in debut author Katie Henry’s hilarious novel about a band of misfits who set out to challenge their school, one nun at a time. Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Robyn Schneider.

When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism.

Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

 

 

fresh inkFresh Ink: An Anthology by Lamar Giles (ISBN-13: 9781524766283 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/14/2018)

All it takes to rewrite the rules is a little fresh ink in this remarkable YA anthology from thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors writing today including Nicola Yoon, Jason Reynolds, Melissa de la Cruz, and many more, and published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. This collection features ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print. It will give readers the opportunity to discover how the next chapter is up to them.

Careful—you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written—whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play about topics like gentrification, acceptance, untimely death, coming out, and poverty and ranging in genre from contemporary realistic fiction to adventure and romance. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: Schuyler Bailar, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon G. Flake, Eric Gansworth, Malindo Lo, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Aminah Mae Safi, Gene Luen Yang, Nicola Yoon

 

 

raging onesThe Raging Ones by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie (ISBN-13: 9781250128713 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 08/14/2018)

An edge of your seat sci-fi romance with twists and turns that you will never see coming!

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

 

 

7thThe 7th of Victorica by Beau Schemery (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-211-7 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 08/21/2018)

Gadgets and Shadows: Book Two
A Sequel to The 7th of London

Since Seven saved London and Queen Victoria, problems have begun growing in Victorica, formerly the free states of America. With government corruption running rampant and slavery becoming epidemic, rumors are flying about the Confederacy of the South building an army and threatening war.

Still haunted by the memory of his old enemy, Seven and his lover, Silas Kettlebent, are sent to investigate the growing corruption of the South, but they find that the problem runs deeper than they could have possibly imagined. Seven is determined to see not only the slaves freed, but the colony as well. It’s going to take the combined efforts of slaves, criminals, politicians, and Abraham Lincoln to avoid a devastating war, and if Seven has anything to say about it, to ensure the freedom of every single Victorican from British rule.

He’ll just have to do it while contending with the ghost of a previous enemy and another’s thirst for revenge.

 

 

toilToil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood (ISBN-13: 9781335016270 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 08/28/2018)

Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.

History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. Toil & Troublefeatures fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure—and to kill.

A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients—and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.

This collection reveals a universal truth: there’s nothing more powerful than a teenage girl who believes in herself.

 

 

 

ruin of starsRuin of Stars (Mask of Shadows Series #2) by Linsey Miller (ISBN-13: 9781492647522 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/28/2018)

The thrilling conclusion to the Mask of Shadows duology that weaves a tale of magic, shadows, and most importantly, revenge.

As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father.

But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten.

 

 

dariusDarius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (ISBN-13: 9780525552963 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/28/2018)

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

“Heartfelt, tender, and so utterly real. I’d live in this book forever if I could.”
—Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough—then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

Book Review: DeadEndia: The Watcher’s Test by Hamish Steele

Publisher’s description

deadendiaBarney and his best friend Norma are just trying to get by and keep their jobs, but working at the Dead End theme park also means battling demonic forces, time traveling wizards, and scariest of all–their love lives!

Follow the lives of this diverse group of employees of a haunted house, which may or may not also serve as a portal to hell, in this hilarious and moving graphic novel, complete with talking pugs, vengeful ghosts and LBGTQIA love!

 

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I’m always marrying things—a really yummy pancake, a cute dog, a good book. Add this graphic novel to my marriage line-up; I’m in love with this book.

 

Really, this book had me at trans protagonist, graphic novel, talking dog, girl with anxiety disorder, and hell portal. It’s like all my favorite things together in one place. If only they had also obsessively eaten donuts and the dog was a dachshund and not a pug! Barney, who is trans, has recently left home, after it was made clear that he wasn’t welcome there. His friend Norma Khan hooks him up with a job as a janitor at the Pollywood amusement park where she works as a guide at a haunted house (a job she likes because there is a script). It’s the least popular attraction there, in the area referred to as Scare Square. Barney figures it will be a good place to stay while he’s homeless, and it maybe would have been, if it hadn’t turned out that the haunted house was also a portal to a bunch of demons. Before long, Barney, Norma, and Barney’s dog, Pugsley, are constantly battling demons through shifting timelines and dimensions. The planes are described as a “big, interdimensional, supernatural cake,” and it’s hard to know who is mostly harmless, who may be helpful, and who eventually becomes bad in a another timeline. When a demon possesses Pugsley early on, he retains the ability to speak, even after they manage to exorcise the demon. Norma has known about the demons for ages, but for Barney, this is all so new and odd at an especially new and odd time in his life.

 

Norma has nicknames for everyone working at the park—it helps with her anxiety, because she’s always worried she will forget someone’s name, so she just calls them nicknames. Barney has a crush on Logs, Logan, who runs the flume log ride. But it’s hard to start up a new relationship when you’re constantly being visited by faceless echo demons, or an angelic punisher, or turned into an animal, or dealing with a fear-eating skull, or being visited by a happiness vampire. Norma starts hanging out with Badyah, a cute hijabi girl, who helps her move past her social anxiety a bit (though Norma doesn’t like being asked to hang out, is horrified with herself when she can’t come up with an excuse to not hang out, and is disgusted to have “plans” to know facts about Badyah), but she also seems a therapist. When trying to describe to someone why her one day of everything seeming strange and scary is nothing to how every day is for Norma, she says, “It doesn’t make me pathetic. It doesn’t make me weird. It makes me brave.” The main characters all have kind of a lot of real-life things to deal with and don’t exactly need the excitement and drama (and terror) that comes with demons, but, willing or not, they slog through this time-traveling battle royale with each others’ help. Complicated emotions, strong friendship, demons, and plenty of LGBTQIA+ representation. All that and bright, bold illustrations AND great writing? Total win. Sweet, funny, and enjoyably, delightfully weird. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781910620472
Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.
Publication date: 08/07/2018

Book Review: The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth by Jo Langford

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a starred review, which originally appeared in the July 2018  School Library Journal.

 

pride guideThe Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth by Jo Langford (ISBN-13: 9781538110768 Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Publication date: 06/01/2018)

Gr 9 Up—This frank, conversational, and often humorous look at sex, sexuality, gender, and expression is aimed at teens who identify as something other than heterosexual and cisgender. Langford, a bisexual therapist, sex educator, and parent, presents a wide range of information in short, if somewhat dense and visually unappealing, sections. Chapters tackle biology; puberty; body image (with a heavy emphasis on trans teens and dysphoria); intersex conditions; gender identities such as transgender, genderqueer, and agender; transitioning; dating and relationships; consent; and more. Sexual expressions and orientations covered include asexual, demisexual, gray-asexual, and bisexual, with conversations about erasure. A final chapter aimed at parents offers tips, a discussion of what not to do when one’s child comes out, and more. Sidebars go into more depth on other subjects (tucking and binding, the singular “they,” homophobia). Langford also discusses outdated terms and slurs. This inclusive, thorough resource respectfully presents information relevant to many queer teens and adults raising LGBTQIA+ kids. VERDICT Shelve this empowering guide where both parents and teens will find it.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA July 2018

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 July titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (June 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. 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 issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

July 2018

 

pride guideThe Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth by Jo Langford (ISBN-13: 9781538110768 Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Publication date: 07/08/2018)

Sex education materials meant to explain important basics to kids are too-often not written with an empathic understanding of what those basics are. This is particularly obvious regarding books that include LGBTQ identities. Even when they do hit the mark, many have a limited scope and don’t take into account the practical realities of developing sexuality.

The Pride Guide is written explicitly for the almost ten percent of teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or any of the unique identities that are not heterosexual/ cisgendered. It explores sex, dating, relationships, puberty, and both physical and online safety in one resource.

The issue, today, is not whether or not queer youth will get sex education. The issue is how and where they will gather information and whether or not the information they gather with be applicable, unreliable, or exploitative. Equipping teens and their families with knowledge and self-confidence, this work provides the best protection against the unfortunate consequences that sometimes accompany growing up with an alternative gender or identity.
With real-world information presented in a factual and humorous way, responsible adults can teach queer youth to (and how to) protect themselves, to find resources, to explore who they are, and to interact with the world around them while being true to themselves and respectful of others.

Written with these issues in mind, The Pride Guide covers universal topics that apply to everyone, such as values clarification, digital citizenship, responsibility, information regarding abstinence as well as indulgence, and an understanding of the consequences and results of both action and inaction. For LGBTQ youth, this is a resource containing information on the unique issues queer youth face regarding what puberty looks like (particularly for trans youth), dating skills and violence, activism, personal safety, and above all, pride.

Parents and other supportive adults who are motivated to educate themselves and who are interested in gaining some tools and skills around making these necessary conversations less uncomfortable and more effective will benefit from this book. The go-to resource for making informed decisions, The Pride Guide is indispensable for teens, parents, educators, and others hoping to support the safe journey of LGBTQ teens on their journey of discovery.

 

jesseJesse 2.0 by Annabelle Jay (ISBN-13: 9781640801967 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 07/10/2018)

What if you aren’t the only you?

Shy and studious Maddy Stone faces just that question. Months ago he lost his boyfriend, Jesse, to suicide, and now he’s volunteering at a psychiatric hospital. When he intervenes to save a man there, he’s shocked to find a face he recognizes. It’s Jesse, who explains that he’s been cloned… by Maddy’s father. And when the reproduction technology duplicated him, he was ordered to avoid Maddy at all costs. Breaking that rule puts them both in danger.

Maddy, his girlfriend, Georgia, and Jesse—who Maddy calls Jesse 2.0—are on the run. But as the secrets continue to come to light, Maddy is faced with a decision—continue with his life or be the Maddy he was before technology intervened.

 

 

brightBright We Burn by Kiersten White (ISBN-13: 9780553522396 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/10/2018)

The tumultuous, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the New York Times bestselling AND I DARKEN series–the epic saga that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Who will live? Who will die? And who will rule triumphant?

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

 

 

the letting goThe Letting Go by Deborah Markus (ISBN-13: 9781510734050 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 07/17/2018)

Everyone Emily has ever loved has been brutally murdered. The killer has never been caught, but Emily knows who’s responsible.

She is.

It’s the only possible explanation. Emily is the one thing all the victims have in common, which can only mean that someone—or something—is killing them to make her suffer.

Determined never to subject another person to the same horrible fate as her parents, friends, and pets, Emily sequesters herself at a private boarding school, keeping her classmates at a distance with well-timed insults and an unapproachable air. Day after day, she loses herself in the writing of Emily Dickinson—the poet makes a perfect friend, since she’s already dead.

Emily’s life is lonely, but it’s finally peaceful. That is, until two things happen. A corpse appears on the steps of the school. And a new girl insists on getting close to Emily—unknowingly setting herself up to become the killer’s next victim.

 

 

hullHullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie (ISBN-13: 9781524770198 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/17/2018)

Fans of Pierce Brown and the Illuminae series will love this epic space adventure that New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis says “you will devour in one sitting.”

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together–a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintian unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

 

 

denisDenis Ever After by Tony Abbott (SBN-13: 9780062491220 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/24/2018)

Written by award-winning author Tony Abbott and perfect for fans of The Ethan I Was Before and The Thing About Jellyfishthis bittersweet middle grade novel follows the ghost of Denis Egan as he teams up with his living twin brother to solve the mystery of his death.

Denis Egan is dead.

He’s okay with that. It’s been five years since he died, and the place where souls go is actually pretty nice. Sure, there are some things about his life and how it ended he can’t quite recall, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. Remembering could prevent Denis from moving on to whatever’s next.

However, something is standing in his way. His twin brother Matt can’t let go of him, and as long as the living are holding on to his memory, Denis can’t rest in peace.

To uncover the truth about what happened that day five years before, Denis returns to his hometown and teams up with Matt. But visiting for too long has painful consequences for Denis, and Matt’s renewed interest in his brother’s passing is driving a wedge between his still-grieving parents.

Can the two boys solve the mystery of Denis’s death without breaking apart the family he’s left behind?

 

 

three timesThree Times the Charm by A.M. Burns, Caitlin Ricci, and Kimberly Cooper Griffin (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-434-0 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 07/24/2018)

Senior year is full of trials, but for one group of friends, it might mean facing life and death.

Raine and Amelia have always been close friends, but it isn’t until Mel, a flirtatious out-and-proud lesbian, moves to their school that they recognize their feelings might be something more.

But the three girls have little time to enjoy their budding romance before a crisis strikes. The eating disorder that Amelia’s been hiding for years is ravaging her health, even if she cannot admit the problem to herself. The trio must rally and stand together, because in a fight for Amelia’s life, they can’t afford to lose.

 

Book Review: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a starred review, which originally appeared in the June 2018  School Library Journal.

 

super late★Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (ISBN-13: 9781449489625 Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication date: 05/01/2018)
Gr 8 Up—Cartoonist Kaye, who is transgender, reveals the many ups and downs of starting hormone replacement in this collection of strips from her webcomic Up and Out. In a “Before” section, she writes about her life before fully understanding her identity and transitioning, which helps ground the short, disconnected comics. The strips begin four months into Kaye’s decision to take hormones, and express her joy and excitement along with her impatience, frustration, dysphoria, and internalized transphobia. She describes moving home, changing her name, and coming out and explores self-image, reactions from others, misgendering, and more. Kaye shares many affirming experiences such as her parents using the right pronouns, her forays into trying out different clothes and makeup, and her reminders that she is valid no matter how she looks or is perceived, but never shies away from moments of frustration or self-loathing. The strips are like reading a diary—raw, honest, emotional, and not always uplifting. While Kaye’s feelings are complicated, she is ultimately hopeful. The simple line drawings add warmth and whimsy to the small snippets of text. Though Kaye focuses on her experiences as an adult, teens will relate to her reflections on identity and acceptance. VERDICT An important and accessible work, especially given that relatively few books tackle the process of transitioning.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA June 2018

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 June 2018 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (May 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. 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 issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

June 2018

social intercourseSocial Intercourse by Greg Howard (ISBN-13: 9781481497817 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, has his world turned upside-down by a jock in this laugh-out-loud novel that’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets The Parent Trap.

Beck:
The Golden Girls-loving, out-and-proud choir nerd growing up in the “ass-crack of the Bible belt.”

Jax:
The Golden Boy, star quarterback with a slick veneer facing uncomfortable truths about himself and his past.

When Beck’s emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn’t happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he’s ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown’s first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.

In his hilarious and provocative debut, Greg Howard examines the challenges of growing up different in a small southern town through the lens of colorful and unforgettable characters who stay with you long after the last drop of sweet tea.

 

summer of usThe Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse (ISBN-13: 9780316391139 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

A swoon-worthy story about five best friends on a whirlwind trip through Europe, perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith.

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

 

 

mariamMariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim (ISBN-13: 9780062445735 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three Pakistani-American teenagers, on a trip through the land of pork ribs, mechanical bulls, and Confederate flags. It’s going to be quite an adventure.

The summer after her freshman year of college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala, and religious but closeted Umar.

But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what could be a better escape than a spontaneous road trip down to New Orleans?

With the heartbreaking honesty of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ mixed with with the cultural growing pains and smart snark of When Dimple Met Rishi, this wry, remarkable road-trip story is about questioning where you come from—and choosing the family that chooses you back.

 

summer of saltSummer of Salt by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062493620 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Magic passed down through generations. An island where strange things happen. One summer that will become legend.

Practical Magic meets Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap in this lush, atmospheric novel by acclaimed author Katrina Leno.

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

 

last summerThe Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood (ISBN-13: 9781492622192 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

One summer will challenge everything the Garrett sisters thought they knew about themselves—and each other in this captivating new novel by Jessica Spotswood.

As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it’s hard to dream big when she’s so busy taking care of everyone else.

Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a boyfriend…so it’s not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?

Kat lands the lead in the community theater’s summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?

Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn’t sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen…

Told through four alternating points of view, readers will laugh, cry, and fall in love alongside the Garrett girls.

 

 

cardboardThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (ISBN-13: 9781524719388 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

“A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have.” —Kirkus, Starred

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters—and their own inner demons—on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be—imagine that!

The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.

 

 

brujaBruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas Series #2) by Zoraida Cordova (ISBN-13: 9781492650652 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

 

 

dear rachelDear Rachel Maddow: A Novel by Adrienne Kisner (ISBN-13: 9781250146021 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/05/2018)

In Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

 

 

running with lionsRunning with Lions by Julian Winters (ISBN-13: 9781945053627 Publisher: Novelstream dba Interlude Press Publication date: 06/07/2018)

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie Sebastian Hughes should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing, and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood-best-friend Emir Shah shows up at summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends spark more than just friendship between them.

 

 

 

sometime afterSometime After Midnight by L. Philips (ISBN-13: 9780425291634 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Late one night in a dingy Los Angeles club, Nate and Cameron meet and discover they have much more in common than their love of an obscure indie band. But when Nate learns that Cameron is the heir to a soul-sucking record label—the very one that destroyed his father’s life—he runs away as fast as he can. The only evidence of their brief but intense connection is the blurry photo Cameron snaps of Nate’s Sharpied Chuck Taylors.

When Cameron’s sister Tess—a famous model and socialite—posts the photo on Instagram for her legions of fans, the internet just about breaks with the news of this modern fairy tale. “Anyone know the owner of these shoes?” she writes. “My Prince Charming brother is looking for his Cinderfella!” But while the viral sensation begins to bring the pair back together, their own demons and pasts might get in the way of any happily ever afters . . .

 

 

supermoonSuperMoon by H. A. Swain (ISBN-13: 9781250116277 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/12/2018)

A futuristic thriller about the colonization of and culture clashes between the Moon and Earth from H.A. Swain, the author of Hungry and Gifted.

Sol is the month between June and July on the thirteen-month Moon calendar. It’s the only time teenagers have to themselves between rigorous scientific training and their ultimate lab assignments in their colony on the Moon. Their families emigrated from Earth to build better lives; but life on the Moon is far from perfect, as Uma learns on the eve of Sol.

Uma meets an Earthen girl who becomes a fast friend, and much more. What Uma doesn’t know is that the girl is assigned to infect Uma with a plague that a rogue faction of Earthen scientists hope will wipe out Moon soldiers. Will Uma be the cause of a pandemic? Whom can she trust, and moreover, whom does she love?

 

 

final draftFinal Draft by Riley Redgate (ISBN-13: 9781419728723 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before graduation, Laila’s number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing.

A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval—and fixing her first-ever failing grade—leads to a series of unexpected adventures. Soon Laila is discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, and the beauty of temporary flings and ambiguity. But with her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

 

a love songA Love Song for Mr. Dakota by Gene Gant (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-431-9 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Reeling from his parents’ divorce, trying to care for his alcoholic mother, and ridiculed at school for being biracial, Brodie cannot afford to lose the only two people he has in his corner: his girlfriend, Fawn, and his best friend, Abel. But a family emergency takes Abel to another city, Fawn decides she needs time to herself, and Brodie is alone.

In his attractive new English teacher, Mr. Dakota, Brodie finds an unexpected ally. The young teacher is no stranger to betrayal and loneliness, and what begins as friendship soon becomes something deeper and more dangerous. Brodie’s new desires scare and confuse him, even if they’re not reciprocated. Overcome, he makes a choice that may ruin more lives than his own… if he cannot find the courage to stand on his own when doing so is the most difficult.

 

 

art ofThe Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan (ISBN-13: 9781944995652 Publisher: Amberjack Publishing Publication date: 06/19/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist.

When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, though, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves.

Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.

 

 

unbindingThe Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (ISBN-13: 9781510727052 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 06/19/2018)

A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.

 

my crunchy lifeMy Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-392-3 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/26/2018)

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

 

 

drum rollDrum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (ISBN-13: 9780062791146 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/26/2018)

Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat in this big-hearted middle grade novel. Not to be missed by fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever!

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

Book Review: I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton

Publisher’s description

funeralHow do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you dream?

Do you try on love just to see how it fits?

Do you grieve?

If you’re Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what’s happened–and is happening–to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Things in Avery’s life are not going great. He’s laid up after being injured in a car accident. His mother has (finally) gone to rehab. He’s temporarily living across the street from his home with his grandpa, whom he calls Pal, and his grandpa’s girlfriend, Babs. Things are a little weird with Luca, his neighbor and best friend—they’d made a plan to be each other’s firsts, but this seemingly simple plan is complicated by life and complex feelings. Through all of this, Avery, who writes poetry, is discovering the work of many other poets (Plath, Berryman, Sexton, O’Hara, Ginsberg, Dickinson), thanks to his English teacher, and finding his own voice and ways of processing life.

 

Walton’s novel will challenge readers. It’s a mix of narrative, poems, imagined conversations/dreams, and bits of a eulogy. As we move back and forth in time, readers will see that Avery is speaking at Pal’s funeral, but it takes a while to find out how we got there. Avery’s grief, pain, loss, fears, love, hope, passions, and identity all get expressed and explored through poetry and music. This short book packs a powerful punch as it looks at grief, love, addiction, and hope. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780545709569
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/29/2018