Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: Game On: 15 Stories of Wins, Losses, and Everything in Between edited by Laura Silverman

Publisher’s description

A charming and inclusive YA anthology all about games—from athletic sports to board games to virtual reality—from editor Laura Silverman and an all-star cast of contributors.

From the slightly fantastical to the utterly real, light and sweet romance to tales tinged with horror and thrills, Game On is an anthology that spans genre and style. But beneath each story is a loving ode to competition and games perfect for anyone who has ever played a sport or a board game, picked up a video game controller, or rolled a twenty-sided die.

A manhunt game is interrupted by a town disappearing beneath the players’ eyes. A puzzle-filled scavenger hunt emboldens one college freshman to be brave with the boy she’s crushing on. A series of summer nights full of card games leads a boy to fall for a boy who he knows is taken. And a spin the bottle game could end a life-long friendship.

Fifteen stories, and fifteen unforgettable experiences that may inspire readers to start up that Settlers of Catan game again.

Amanda’s thoughts

I love anthologies. And you know what? I know a lot of people are having a hard time finding the time/concentration/bandwidth to really get into a book or even finish a book. Anthologies are the perfect antidote to the that! Lots of short stories that will maybe lead you to discovering a new author to love—that’s a win!

You might be like me and think, sports, whatever, who cares? My interest in sports is non-existent. But my interest in reading about them is there! And guess what? This is actually more about games than sports—so expand whatever you’re thinking of to include card games, outdoor neighborhood hiding games, board games, puzzles, amusement park games, Spin the Bottle, and more. As you would hope and expect out of an anthology, there is a wide variety of representation here as far as sexuality, race, and other identities. As I’ve said before, reviewing anthologies is kind of difficult, especially when you’re not going to detail every story included/review them separately. More than anything, when I review anthologies it’s to point out, hey, this cool book exists, it might not be what you’re imagining when you see the title, and you should go check it out.

So, you know—go check it out! This book knocks it out of the park. Score!

Review copy (finished) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780593352786
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/18/2022
Age Range: 12 – 17 Years

Book Review: Fools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos

Publisher’s description

Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet. 

Amanda’s thoughts

There’s something in this anthology for nearly everyone. Characters of all backgrounds and identities find themselves in classic romance tropes. Stories generally run 10-25 pages and are just long enough to capture the moment and feel satisfying. There are so many great anthologies out and I hope readers are finding them and discovering new authors to read.

Stories take place in all kinds of settings and genres. There’s a dog sled race, a mistaken identity on a car ride, a final exam at a magical academy, a secret-ish relationship between opposites, superheroes and villains, a fake Seder date, a birthday trip, an impending asteroid, and more. It’s kind of hard to really review an anthology, but I just wanted to write up this quick post to make sure people see that this fun new book is out. I know for me, concentrating on reading has become really challenging lately. I both want the escape but can’t stop my stress-brain from chattering at me. I’ve found anthologies and essay collection are the perfect thing to dip into. This was an entertaining read with great diversity and inclusion. What’s not to like?!

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780762472345
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date: 12/07/2021
Age Range: 13 – 18 Years

Book Review: Finding Refuge: Real-Life Immigration Stories from Young People by Victorya Rouse

Publisher’s description

When you read about war in your history book or hear about it in the news, do you ever wonder what happens to the families and children in the places experiencing war? Many families in these situations decide that they must leave their homes to stay alive. What happens to them?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 70.8 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution as of 2019. Over fifty percent of these people are under the age of eighteen. 

English teacher Victorya Rouse has assembled a collection of real-world experiences of teen refugees from around the world. Learn where these young people came from, why they left, and how they arrived in the United States. Read about their struggles to adapt to a new language, culture, and high school experiences, along with updates about how they are doing now and what they hope their futures will look like. 

As immigration has catapulted into the current discourse, this poignant collection emphasizes the United States’ rich tradition of welcoming people from all over the world.

Amanda’s thoughts

This wide-ranging collection of the stories of young people who immigrated to the United States is as informational as it is moving. Rouse put this anthology together using students from her own school. Most of the stories look at refugees in the past 5-10ish years, but some go back as far as the 1970s. The format makes it easy to know what to expect and to be able to jump around and read stories in any order you’d like. An introduction covers what a refugee is, why people become refugees, and what happens both when they leave their homes and when they arrive in the US.

The stories are grouped together by continent/region, and then all follow the same format: an initial introduction with information about the country, history, and a look at why people left this place. Then, we get the stories from the refugees themselves. Each person talks about their life, what things were like where they lived, and what changed or finally pushed their family to leave. Most talk about their complicated feelings and the process of leaving, as well as what it was like getting settled in the US. Little epilogues give a short summary of where they are now in life—families, college, work, goals, dreams, hopes, etc.

Because the people included here are all writing to the same general prompts (and the essays seem heavily edited for continuity of content and voice) and because the editor of this collection sometimes sat down with students who told her about their experiences, the only downfall of this collection is that the voices of most of the essays sound the same. I don’t think, however, that criticism is big enough to take anything away from the anthology other than some personality/personal connection. This would be a very useful book to have in collections especially for students to dip into to select stories to read that speak to them for whatever reason. Though each essay is only a few pages (generally 4-6), they create very thorough pictures of just why people choose to or have to leave their homes. A great resource to help create personal connections and understanding. Readers who have their own immigration story will likely see their experience and feelings reflected in these pages.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781541581609
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Age Range: 12+

Book Review: Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell

Publisher’s description

Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.

In Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. Full of both sorrow and joy, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is an essential celebration of this rich and diverse community. 

The bestselling and award-winning contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.

Amanda’s thoughts

This anthology of personal essays has appeal far beyond just a teen audience, especially as many of the essay delve into the years beyond their teens. While I love anthologies, I don’t always read everything in them. I’ll skim some that are less appealing, skip others entirely after just a few sentences, etc. But here, I read all of them. This is a powerful and well put together collection.

The pieces included here cover a lot of ground. They speak of experiences from childhood through adulthood. They include authors from a bunch of places and backgrounds, writing about a wide variety of experiences, showing that, as Julian Randall writes, “There are as many ways to be Latinx as there are Latinx people” (81). Their essays cover things like culture, assimilation, community, belonging, language, religion, wholeness, resilience, and pride. They have complicated relationships to friends, family, places, history, and the idea of respectability. They struggle with being outsiders, with being immigrants, with the weight of expectations, with the presence and absence of people in their lives. They write about being invisible and being seen, about colorism, anti-Blackness, ancestry, power, whiteness, food, travel, acceptance, camaraderie, isolation, mental health, goals, dreams, love, survival, agency, and existence.

This wonderful and deeply personal look into 15 experiences from the Latinx diaspora will give readers plenty to think about and will surely make many readers feel seen and understood as they encounter authors whose lives, feelings, and experiences echo their own. A great collection.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781250763426
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years

Book Review: A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell

Publisher’s description

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Amanda’s thoughts

The best thing, to me, about anthologies is that they introduce readers to a wide array of authors and then hopefully send them looking for more of their work. This collection includes so many wonderful writers and oooh will people be in for great treats if they’re just discovering some of these voices.

Standout stories include Amerie’s poignant tale of orcs landing in Central Park and a trip into space (and through a wormhole) revealing not only points of connection, but a paradox and a startling revelation. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s story about a fisherman and his sea maid wife is beautifully written. Justina Ireland’s piece features a girl hoping to be apprentice to a sorcerer, dragons, curses, and murderous unicorns. My favorite story is Dhonielle Clayton’s about a girl with a disintegrating heart and her decision to either grow it back or choose a new one. Danny Lore’s thoughtful story is about a witch who braids hair and “fixes your head” both literally and metaphorically. J. Marcelle Corrie’s piece lets characters use a program to predict how life events will play out. Other stories feature mermaids, vampires, fireball witches, vengeance, healing, uprisings, love, freedom, and so much magic.

Full of hope, strength, magic, and beauty, this anthology is an essential addition to all collections. Don’t miss this powerful look at creation, future, and resistance.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781984835659
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/10/2020

Book Review: Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

Publisher’s description

black enoughEdited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

Contributors:
Justina Ireland
Varian Johnson
Rita Williams-Garcia
Dhonielle Clayton
Kekla Magoon
Leah Henderson
Tochi Onyebuchi
Jason Reynolds
Nic Stone
Liara Tamani
Renée Watson
Tracey Baptiste
Coe Booth
Brandy Colbert
Jay Coles
Ibi Zoboi
Lamar Giles

Amanda’s thoughts

This is a truly excellent collection of contemporary short stories. There wasn’t a dud in this anthology, which is pretty impressive, because I usually feel like collections  are often so uneven, that they have a few strong stories and just as many forgettable, undeveloped stories. These stories all focus on being young and black in America. They look at identity, tradition, ideas of blackness, relationships, and experiences in various urban and rural areas across the country.

In Renée Watson’s piece, 17-year-old Raven, a counselor at a camp for young girls from the Portland, Oregon area, is surprised to find one of her campers is her father’s daughter from the family he had after he left when Raven was seven. Varian Johnson’s story is set in South Carolina and follows Cam, who is visiting his grandma, as he deals with code switching, being called an Oreo, and thinking he’s not black enough for the girl he likes. Leah Henderson sets her story at a prep school where art, futures, and authentic selves are all in question. Lamar Giles’s “Black. Nerd. Problems” entertainingly focuses on a group of mall employees at an after-hours mall party.

Kekela Magoon’s main character mourns the loss of a school friend who was maybe the only person to see her real self. Jason Reynolds shows us a group of boys walking home from the pool through Bed-Stuy dreaming of the perfect sandwich. Brandy Colbert’s “Oreo” deals with a potentially Spelman-bound senior, her parents’ complicated feelings about HBCUs, and how her cousin from Missouri thinks she “acts white.” Tochi Onyebuchi shows readers a Nigerian American debate superstar who unexpectedly finds a passion for metal music. Liara Tamani’s story is set at a church camp where there’s pressure to send naked selfies. Jay Coles brings readers to the tiny town of North Salem where two boys from feuding families reveal their feelings toward each other while getting ready to compete in the big horse race.

Rita Williams-Garcia’s story is the only one to veer into fantasy, with a gay male model encountering an 1840s slave (either in a wash basin or in a dream) who can’t understand his modern life and freedoms. Tracey Baptiste’s “Gravity” takes place in a brief time span on a dance floor when a Trinidadian girl is sexually assaulted by her dance partner. A real standout story is Dhonielle Clayton’s “The Trouble with Drowning,” in which twin sisters from a wealthy area of Washington, DC experience a growing distance and a family unwilling to address mental health issues.

Justina Ireland’s main character, Devon, is in “the backwoods of Maryland” for the summer while her mother gets help for her depression and begins dating a local girl, trying to learn to live in the moment even though their relationship seems sure to end when they both leave for college. Coe Booth’s is set at college, where computer science student Garry hopes to be reunited with Inaaya, a girl he knew (and fell for) from past summer hackathons. Nic Stone’s main characters come from very different upbringings, but learn to see each other beyond their stereotypes and bond over their love of Percy Jackson books. And finally, Ibi Zoboi looks at the one night of freedom of Nigeria (Geri), the daughter of Black nationalist revolutionary freedom fighter caught for tax evasion who can’t wait to be eighteen and leave the confines of the movement.

The stories, settings, and writing styles are varied. While readers will never know what to expect when they flip to the next story, they will not be disappointed. Each story is thoughtful and engaging, with tones varying from serious to more lighthearted. One of the best things about anthologies is the potential to introduce readers to writers they are unfamiliar with. This collection features so many wonderful authors and I hope that, if readers don’t already know their work, these stories will encourage them to seek out their books. Teachers and librarians, put this book up on a display featuring books by the authors included here. A great exploration of identity and cultures—a necessary addition to all collections. 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780062698728
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/08/2019

Book Review: Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles edited by Jessica Burkhart

Publisher’s description

life insideYour favorite YA authors including Ellen Hopkins, Maureen Johnson, and more recount their own experiences with mental illness in this raw, real, and powerful collection of essays that explores everything from ADD to PTSD.

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? Not the occasional morning, but every day? Do you find yourself listening to a voice in your head that says “you’re not good enough,” “not good looking enough,” “not thin enough,” or “not smart enough”? Have you ever found yourself unable to do homework or pay attention in class unless everything is “just so” on your desk? Everyone has had days like that, but what if you have them every day?

You’re not alone. Millions of people are going through similar things. However issues around mental health still tend to be treated as something shrouded in shame or discussed in whispers. It’s easier to have a broken bone—something tangible that can be “fixed”—than to have a mental illness, and easier to have a discussion about sex than it is to have one about mental health.

Life Inside My Head is an anthology of true-life events from writers of this generation, for this generation. These essays tackle everything from neurodiversity to addiction to OCD to PTSD and much more. The goals of this book range from providing home to those who are feeling alone, awareness to those who are witnessing a friend or family member struggle, and to open the floodgates to conversation.

Participating writers include E.K. Anderson, J.L. Armentrout, Cyn Balog, Amber Benson, Francesca Lia Block, Jessica Burkhart, Crissa Chappell, Sarah Fine, Kelly Fiore, Candace Ganger, Meghan Kelley Hall, Cynthia Hand, Ellen Hopkins, Maureen Johnson, Tara Kelly, Karen Mahoney, Melissa Marr, Kim McCreight, Hannah Moskowitz, Scott Neumyer, Lauren Oliver, Aprilynne Pike, Tom Pollack, Amy Reed, Cindy Rodriquez, Francisco Stork, Wendy Tolliver, Rob Wells, Dan Wells, Rachel Wilson, and Sara Zarr.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Frequent readers of this blog will know just how important the topic of mental health is to those of us at TLT. In fact, we focused a whole year on examining Mental Health in YA Literature. The fact that not only are there now so many books that deal with mental health in good, accurate, supportive ways, but anthologies like this, that share authors’ real stories, is wonderful. I think it’s invaluable to see these real stories—to have so many prominent voices lending themselves to helping remove shame and stigma, to showing teen readers that they are not alone—they are, in fact, in pretty great company.

 

The authors included here write about a wide swath of mental health-related topics. In these 31 essays, they share about: anxiety, panic attacks, dermatillomania, OCD, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, addiction, PTSD, self-harm, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, social anxiety, trichotillomania, nervous breakdowns, anorexia, and more. Generally writing in a very conversational tone, they talk about their symptoms, their medications, their treatments, their fears, their hope, and their survival. They talk about family histories of mental illness, shame, avoidance, recovery, and the sometimes long, hard road to getting help. The authors discuss things that have helped them, like medication, therapy, yoga, service animals, rehab, hospitalization, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, sleep, diet, and so much more.

 

Many of the authors note how hard writing this essay was, how even after (in most cases) years and years of treatment and acceptance, it is still extremely difficult to share these very personal stories. It’s so important that teens can see these stories, not just fictionalized in literature, but in nonfiction collections like this. While no one person experiences their mental illness exactly like any other, all of the authors in this anthology show that the most important common thread of their journeys is one of help and hope. An important addition to all collections. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781481494649
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 04/10/2018

A Recap of the HOPE NATION Launch Event at Irving Public Library – and a GIVEAWAY

 Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and letters that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Marie Lu, James Dashner, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Julie Murphy, Jeff Zentner, Renee Ahdieh, and many more!

“Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and letters that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Marie Lu, James Dashner, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Julie Murphy, Jeff Zentner, Renee Ahdieh, and many more!”

Yesterday The Teen and I attended the HOPE NATION launch party at Irving Public Library. One of her best friends, a big reader and also the daughter of a YA librarian, was there with us as well. We were excited to learn more about this anthology, get copies signed, and to hear the authors share their stories. Here is a recap of that event with some of the Tweets I sent out as I live Tweeted.

Read TLTer Amanda MacGregory’s Review Here:

Book Review: Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration

And yes, The Teen did wear her favorite fuzzy pink slippers to the event to meet some of her favorite authors. We kid her about them, but I also love that she is who she is, likes what she likes, and just goes with it. I think they also make a fun juxtaposition to her frequent all black wardrobe.

The panel consisted of authors Ally Carter, Julie Murphy and Angie Thomas! These are three of the contributors to the HOPE NATION anthology. And the first question was editor Rose Brock asking why they agreed to be a part of this anthology.

Texas woman taps popular young adult authors in new book for teens

As a librarian who works at a small town library with a high rate of teen poverty, I am always glad to see stories set in rural areas that reflect rural and small town poverty.

The panelists were then asked what their stories are about. Ally Carter talked about wanting to be a famous writer and getting out of her small town. Julie Murphy talked about how they lost their home her senior year of high school and the concept of having a home and having the concept of home in your heart. Angie Thomas talked about wanting to give hope back to all of the readers who had given her hope and helped to make her dreams come true.

 

When it was opened up to audience questions, an audience member asked Angie Thomas how she should respond to parents who objected to The Hate U Give being offered in schools.

A second audience question and the audience member asked how we could get guys to read these books when there are girls on the covers. The audience member also suggested that these books needed different covers without girls on the covers to appeal to male readers.

All of the panelists did a great job of discussing how we needed adult males to help break down the barriers and stereotypes about reading “girl books”. Ally Carter shared a story about a male librarian who had booktalked The Gallagher Girl series to his school and he had emailed her to say it was the most popular book series at his all guy school. This was an example of men doing the work and challenging cultural norms and stereotypes.

At the end of the event the authors did a signing and The Teen got copies of several books signed for herself and we got a copy of the first Gallagher Girls book signed for Thing 2 (she’s almost old enough now for this series!). And, guess what? I got all the panelists to sign a copy of HOPE NATION to give away here to you all. So just do the Rafflecopter thing by Friday, March 2nd at Midnight to be entered to win a copy of HOPE NATION signed by Rose Brock, Ally Carter, Julie Murphy and Angie Thomas. Open to U.S. residents only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock

Publisher’s description

hope nationHope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and personal stories that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Angie Thomas, Marie Lu, James Dashner, Nicola Yoon, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Jason Reynolds, Renée Ahdieh, and many more!

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and—in some cases—even hopeless. The teens of today are the caretakers of tomorrow, and yet it’s difficult for many to find joy or comfort in such a turbulent society. But in trying times, words are power.

Some of today’s most influential young adult authors come together in this highly personal collection of essays and original stories that offer moments of light in the darkness, and show that hope is a decision we all can make.

Like a modern day Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul or Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for TeensHope Nation acknowledges the pain and offers words of encouragement.

Authors include: Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, James Dashner, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregario, Kate Hart, Bendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, and Nicola Yoon.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Let me first just say that I really wish the summary for this book didn’t compare this to inspirational books like Chicken Soup or Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. For one, I’m not sure how relevant those comps are for actual modern teens, and for another thing, I see those things and immediately think, GACK, no thank you. While this is a book focused on hope and encouragement, it, to me, is nothing like those titles. It is far better. Thank goodness.

 

With the exception of Levithan’s fictional piece based on being at the Women’s March in Atlanta, the rest of this collection is essays from a wide variety of authors. Libba Bray writes about the car accident that changed her life and the hope she finds, loses, and learns will come around again. Angie Thomas discusses the current political climate, the publication of her book The Hate U Give, and three particular encounters after its publication. Ally Condie talks about, among other things, depression and the things and people that help with hope. Marie Lu writes about moving from China to America and survival and adaptation. Jeff Zentner talks about the hope that lies in young Book People and the power of stories. Nicola Yoon recounts the challenges of being an interracial couple. Kate Hart explores her combative relationship with hope. Gayle Forman takes on the topics of travel, hope, and life after 9/11. Christina Diaz Gonzalez talks about baseball, being the only Hispanic girl in her small North Florida town, and her Cuban grandmother. Atia Abawi writes about her dream of being a journalist, persistence, roadblocks, and believing in yourself. Alex London talks about the 90s, prom, drag, and the gender binary. Howard Bryant writes about his newspaper internship in a small Pennsylvania farm town and the lessons he learned there. Ally Carter reveals how long she kept her desire to be a writer a secret. Romina Garber recalls her move from Argentina to the US as a child and what it meant to be an immigrant. Renee Ahdieh  talks identity and how it shaped her. Aisha Saeed writes about apologies and being an American Muslim. Jenny Torres Sanchez discusses growing up afraid of her father and the abuse that he suffered as a child. Nic Stone talks about being African American in this post-2016 election era. Julie Murphy finds home and hope in unexpected places. I.W. Gregorio shares how a repressed teen grew up to become a urologist, and discusses breaking taboos and getting rid of awkwardness. Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely have a conversation about their tour for All American Boys and the conversations and kids who have stuck with them.

 

My favorite thing about anthologies has always been finding new authors to explore, and this collection, that offers so many personal stories and chances for readers to connect on a variety of shared experiences and interests, will surely point young readers toward new names. I am automatically repelled from anything billed as “inspirational” (it’s just how I’m built), but this look at hope and connection will show readers that they are not alone in their experiences, feelings, or concerns. Definitely worth picking up, even if just read to the pieces by your favorites. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781524741679
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 02/27/2018

Book Review: Meet Cute by various authors

Publisher’s description

meet cute

Stories by: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Nina LaCour, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I so love a good collection of short stories. And this one of the many cute, funny, and unexpected ways romances can start is diverse, sweet, and has something for nearly everyone. 

In Katie Cotugno’s piece, an unlikely couple shares a moment and possibly nothing more while hiding out at a party. In Nina LaCour’s story, two girls meet over Twitter during a customer service crisis. Ibi Zoboi’s contribution is about Cherish, a 6’5″ black girl desperate to get out of her super white town but wait listed at all of the HBUCs she applied to. Just when she sees a way out, she meets the one interesting boy in town. Katherine McGee’s science fiction story finds Alexa, a computer programmer working on a revolutionary virtual reality program, going on a date with a boy a computer algorithm says should be a perfect match… only he’s not who she thinks he is. Sara Shepard’s story involves a musician and a record label intern. Meredith Russo writes about Nina, a trans student who’s embroiled in a bathroom battle at school where her classmate Lexie is among the most unspoken of her opponents. Dhonielle Clayton’s piece revolves around a love blueprint—coiled tattoos on hands—that eventually fade to match your love’s. When her main character holds hands with a boy she meets (something that is forbidden), she sees many futures for herself. Emery Lord’s tale about two girls meeting in a security line at the airport proves that sometimes you just totally get someone right away. Jennifer Armentrout’s piece reveals a connection made via an overdue library book. Jocelyn Davies’ main characters, Dev and Samara, find out the statistical odds of falling in love at first with someone on the subway. Kass Morgan’s story looks at two candidates for a one-way mission to Mars and the reasons they have for leaving. Julie Murphy’s story has two girls competing on a reality show for a date with a musician, but discover they’re both interested in someone else. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s story is about a waitress and a customer, a boy, with an, unbeknownst to her, complicated relationship. Nicola Yoon’s piece about the Department of Dead Love, which performs relationship autopsies, finishes off the collection.

This is a super fun and cute collection. The stories are all very different, featuring a variety of characters, identities, and settings. This will be an easy recommendation for many readers. Plus, the cover is so dang cute, it will sell itself. Me + this book = true love. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781328759870
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/02/2018