Monday, November 13, 2017

a home in her heart

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




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

The story is sparsely written and beautiful. It alternates between flashbacks and the present, so we gradually learn the truth about what happened in those weeks before Marin left California.

I met Nina LaCour at YALSA where she talked about We Are Okay. She had thought it would be a sweet remembrance of her grandfather who had passed away, but it ended up being so much more. Written during a time of great upheaval and disillusionment in her life... there was huge contrast between her new family filled with love and hope, and the grief of her past.

This is a wonderful book of new beginnings, grief, uncertainty, solitude, relationships, family and love. Get it for the teens you know who have experienced change. Get this book for all the teens you know.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It’s a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby


I read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. It's a beautiful, haunting, poetic cautionary tale written in verse. I loved it, and I love Jason Reynolds.

I read this book just before Halloween, and this poem, along with so many others, have been stuck in my throat:

THEN THE YELLOW TAPE

that says DO NOT CROSS
gets put up, and there's nothing
left to do but go home.

That tape lets people know
that this is a murder scene,
as if we ain't already know that.

The crowd backs its way into
buildings and down blocks
until nothing is left but the tape.

Shawn was zipped into a bag
and rolled away, his blood added
to the pavement galaxy of

bubblegum stars. The tape
framed it like it was art. And the next
day, kids would play mummy with it.



In my neighborhood, front yards were decorated to look spooky and scary. One house was decorated with yellow police tape... and I haven't been able to wrap my head around the fact that what's a halloween novelty to one is an awful reality to another. 

In Long Way Down, fifteen-year-old Will Holloman is forced to consider the potential consequences of his actions as he, armed with a gun in his waistband and seeking revenge, waits for the elevator in his building to reach the ground floor. 

As the elevator descends, different ghosts of shootings past... each connected to Will in sometimes surprising ways... enter the elevator with him. They share experiences, question him and challenge his motives. It’s a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby, but it only takes seven floors, 60 seconds and six ghosts to make him question his quest for revenge.

Check out Long Way Down on NPR.

Get this book for teens who love stories written in verse. Get this book for all Jason Reynolds fans (The Boy In The Black Suit, All American Boys, When I Was The Greatest, Ghost).

This book is a provocative page turner about family, tradition and the cycle of violence that will stick in your throat and lodge in your heart for days to come.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Moxie Girls Fight Back!




I recently attended a workshop called Identity in YA: Representing All Teens through Library Programming. One of the facilitators of the workshop was Christine Pyles, Youth Services Manager from the Euclid Public Library in Ohio. She recommended the book Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu  for students interested in feminism, social justice, and civil protest. So I ordered Moxie; I read it in two days; I absolutely loved it.

Vivian is a high school junior. After awakening to some disturbing facts at her school - the football players get away with everything, dress codes only affect girls, and sexual harassment is just part of everyday life - Vivian forms Moxie, an anonymous school 'zine that invites other girls to band together and fight back.


My favorite part: the Hearts and Stars...




The parts about dress codes made my blood boil...
I glance down at my boring jeans and plain gray t-shirt. Each time a girl has been called out by an administrator, she's been forced to stand up like some doll on display as the administrator scans her carefully. When Kelly Chen had to stand in math class, her cheeks pinked up so quickly that I felt myself blushing out of sympathy. I'd rather die than have the whole class's eyes on me analyzing my clothes and body.



The dress code checks go on all week, and I find myself wearing my biggest, baggiest shirts and sloppiest jeans to avoid getting called out in front of everyone. Each time a girl has to stand up in front of the room for inspection, I find myself sinking deeper into my desk. On Wednesday morning, after we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge, Principal Wilson's pinched twang cuts into second period announcements. 
"You may have noticed we've put an emphasis on dress code this week, and we hope y'all will adhere to the rules and regulations detailed in the student handbook about modesty and proper dress." As he speaks, I notice a few girls near me roll their eyes at each other. I glance at my shoes and grin. Principal Wilson keeps talking. 
"Please remember that when you get dressed in the morning, you're coming to a learning environment, and we expect you to be dressed as a student, not a distraction. Ladies, I'm especially talking to you to keep tabs on your outfits and remember that modesty is a virtue that never goes out of style."

Moxie addresses mysogeny and rape culture head on, in a teen appropriate way, and with a nod to how many ways it affects our day-to-day lives.

Get this book for every teen you know. 

Be sure you discuss the ending Note From The Author.

Check out the additional resources:

feministing.org
rookiemag.com
bitchmedia.org
therepresentationproject.org
bust.com
thefbomb.org
scarleteen.com 

This is a great book for teens, and Amy Poehler has aquired the movie rights to Moxie. Be sure to read the book before seeing the movie. 

The past year has not been an easy one, but books like Moxie inspire us to fight back.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Literature transforms human experience


I read Dear Martin by Nic Stone as soon as it came out. And, I loved it. It is a raw and essential look at growing up black in America.  

Then, this past weekend at YALSA I heard Kwame Alexander speak on a panel during the opening session. This quote by Rudine Sims Bishop came up:
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” ― Rudine Sims Bishop

The panel was asked by the moderator about windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors in books.  And, I loved Kwame's response, which was along the lines of:   teens of color have been reading about white characters for years... and due in part to that... teens of color can manage well in a white world. Perhaps it's finally time for white teens to read about black characters. He went on to say that The Hate You Give isn't just a book for teens of color - he suggests putting THUG in the hands of white teens.

The same can be said for Dear Martin.  The book explores racial injustice and police brutality from the teen perspective.

In Dear Martin, Justyce McAllister is at top of his graduating class and set for admission to an Ivy League college. But none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, Justyce can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce asks himself, "What would Martin do?" And begins a journal of letters to the late Martin Luther King.

Get this book for all the teens you know.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

latest buzz in YA titles for 2018

I was just at YALSA in Louisville, Kentucky.  During the closing session on Sunday several publishers presented the latest buzz in YA titles for 2018.

Here are a few that look amazing...


From Macmillan Children's Publishing Group:


Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
This graphic novel adaptation of the novel (a national book award finalist), will be an amazing way for the book to come alive for new audiences.


Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created FRANKENSTEIN by Lita Judge
This is a novel written in verse and paired with black-and-white watercolor illustrations. Mary’s Monster is a unique and beautiful biography of Mary Shelley, the pregnant teenage runaway who became one of the greatest authors of all time. The book comes out in time for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein.


In Search Of by Ava Dellaira
This is a multi generational story of a mother-daughter pair, Marilyn and Angie. Angie is 17 and mixed race. Her mother, Marilyn, is a white single mother. In this novel, Angie uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.

Out Of The Blue by Sophie Cameron
In this novel, mysterious winged creatures have been falling from the sky for the past nine months - but none have survived the fall to Earth. When a female winged creature lands near Jaya—and is still alive—she doesn’t call the authorities. She hides her and tries to nurse the winged being back to health.
Set against the backdrop of a society trying to come to grips with the possibility of a world beyond, Out of the Blue is the story of how one unexpected turn of events can put you on a path toward healing.


Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This novel is the first book in a new trilogy. It is a fantasy of dark magic and danger. Teen Vogue calls this new trilogy, “One of the biggest young adult fiction debut book deals of the year. Aside from a compelling plot and a strong-willed heroine as the protagonist, the book deals with larger themes, like race and power, that are being discussed in real time.”


From Scholastic Publishing Group:



Hurricane Child by Kheryn Child
Twelve-year-old Caroline is a Hurricane Child, born on Water Island during a storm. Coming into this world during a hurricane is unlucky, and Caroline has had her share of bad luck already. Prepare to be swept up by this exquisite novel that reminds us that grief and love can open the world in mystical ways. 

Chasing King's Killer by James L. Swanson
In his meteoric, thirteen-year rise to fame, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a mass movement for Civil Rights through his relentless, peaceful, non-violent protests, public demonstrations, and eloquent speeches. But as violent threats cast a dark shadow over Dr. King's life, Swanson hones in on James Earl Ray, a bizarre, racist, prison escapee who tragically ends King's life. 

The Invasion by Peadar O'Guilin
This is book two (The Call was book one). For young adults who love horror, this is the series for them.
After so much danger, Nessa and Anto can finally dream of a happy life. But the terrible attack on their school has created a witch-hunt for traitors -- boys and girls who survived the Call only by making deals with the enemy.


From Penguin Young Readers Publishing Group:

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
From the author of Graceling, comes a novel that is composed of genre mashups.
If you could change your story, would you?
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”
What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

HOPE NATION by Rose Brock
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 Zenter, Renee Ahdieh, and many more! 

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
This is a stunning debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.
Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
This is the final installment of the Rebel In The Sands series. This novel will have you on the edge of your seat until the dust from the final battle clears.
As Amani Al'Hiza watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, she questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

A Land Of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Tareq lives in Syria with his warm and loving family, until the bombs strike.
This is a story of resilience in the face of darkness, and of one boy’s courage in desperate circumstances. But it is also the story of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. With Destiny as a narrator offering perspective and context, readers see that the conflict in Syria is part of a long chain of wars throughout time — and that, throughout all of those wars, there have also been heroes, small and large, who prove that humanity is ultimately inclined toward good.
A note from Asia Abawi: I wrote A Land of Permanent Goodbyes to humanize the refugee crisis we see today. Like with my first novel, The Secret Sky, I want readers to see beyond the headlines and short video clips. I’ll never forget, and never want to forget, the pain I felt day after day researching this novel – speaking with refugees, witnessing what was happening in Greece, standing in the lifejacket graveyard among thousand upon thousands of lifejackets, each representing a person who took the risk to live. The abandoned baby shoe I brought back home with me sits in my office and I often wonder where the little girl is now. I hope my book can in some way give the reader a better understanding of those who are living the crisis as they relate to the characters. And I hope maybe—just maybe—it will inspire them to do what they can to help or at least understand.

Between The Lines by Nikki Grimes
This is the thought-provoking companion 15 years in the making to Bronx Masquerade. Through the magic of literature, mere months have passed since we were last in Mr. Ward’s school, where open-mike poetry readings changed the culture of the classroom over the course of a year. It’s a new school term, with a fresh slate of students, except for Tyrone Bittings, a carry-over from Bronx Masquerade. However, it is Darrian Lopez, a boy with newspaper ink in his veins, who acts as the Greek chorus this time around. As Darrian and his classmates get to know one another through poetry, they bond over the shared experiences and truth that emerge from their writing, despite their private struggles and outward differences. A beautiful story highlighting the power of words.

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!
Her name is Sarah. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish in 1939 Germany. And her act of resistance is about to change the world.

Boots On The Ground by Elizabeth Partridge
America’s war in Vietnam - over a decade of bitter fighting, it claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American soldiers and beleaguered four U.S. presidents. More than forty years after America left Vietnam in defeat in 1975, the war remains controversial and divisive both in the United States and abroad.
Elizabeth Partridge proves once again that nonfiction can be every bit as dramatic as the best fiction.


Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly
This is the final book in the Trouble trilogy, and it is a non-stop thrill-ride. The schemes might be over-the-top but this Breakfast Club cast is irresistibly real as they cope with regular high school stuff from social media shaming to dating your best friend, all with a twist no one will see coming. Fans of mysteries and detective series should start with book one: Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine.


From Harlequin Teen Publishing Group:

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache
Sometimes the F-word can have more than one meaning…
For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For them, the F-word is feminist—the type of girl who hates them to the core and is determined to make them lose their home.

The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves of a whole that can rarely survive without the other. The twin who survives is considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. 
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. 
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
This debut novel is librarian-recommended for teens who have aged up from Wonder by RJ Palacio... so it better be good :)
Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret… Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up…. After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape. Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right.
This book is a powerful affirmation of the fagility and strength of families.

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson
Just as opposites attract, they can also cause friction, and no one feels that friction more than Rex and Rosie’s daughter, Willow. Rex is serious and unsentimental and tapes checklists of chores on Willow’s bedroom door. Rosie is sparkling and enchanting and meets Willow in their treehouse in the middle of the night to feast on candy.

After Rex and Rosie’s divorce, Willow finds herself navigating their two different worlds. She is clearly under the spell of her exciting, fun-loving mother. But as Rosie’s behavior becomes more turbulent, the darker underpinnings of her manic love are revealed.

Whimsical, heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a novel about the many ways love can find you. Rosie Colored Glasses triumphs with the most endearing examples of how mothers and fathers and sons and daughters bend for one another.

This novel is recommended for teens who are touched in some way by the current opioid epidemic in America.





Monday, October 23, 2017

Turtles All The Way Down


Spoilers

I love John Green and I loved Turtles All The Way Down.

When you first get the book, read chapter one while listening to John Green read chapter one...


From GoodReads:
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

There is so much to be said about Turtles All The Way Down, and so many have already done so. My favorite thing about John Green's novels is the care he puts into his opening sentence. Check out the opening of TAtWD...
At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time - between 12:37pm and 1:14pm - by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn't even begin to identify them.

Here are some of the wonderful things I've found with regards to TAtWD:

144 Thoughts I Had While Reading Turtles All The Way Down posted by TeamEpicReads

John Green on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Jennifer Senior's thoughtful review of TAtWD in The New York Times.

Watch Let's Talk About Books on vlogbrothers to learn about the book, The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought by David Adam.

Spoilers abound with John Green's AMA on reddit.

Laura Miller's review of TAtWD on Slate.

Constance Grady's review of TAtWD on Vox.com


tuatara

 A Pettibon spiral

Pogue's Run (jogger's mouth)


Be sure to get this book for all the John Green fans you know. Get this book for all the YA readers you know who have experience with mental illness (either their own or someone they love).

Enjoy reading Turtles AllThe Way Down!


Sunday, October 8, 2017

a walking, talking miracle

This weekend I read Release by Patrick Ness.


Ness writes, “How do we ever, ever survive our teenage years? Every young person you meet is a walking, talking miracle.”

From GoodReads:
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches... 

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

The story takes place during one monumental day in Adam Thorn's life. But it's also written as two different stories: one is Adam's day, the other is a supernatural tale of murder. Both stories come together to define identity and the power of love and loyalty.


Adam and his bestfriend Angela have an amazing farewell:
"When is it that you've got my back again, Adam?" Angela asked in their usual farewell. 
He grinned, "Always. Until the end of the world." 
"Oh, yeah. That's right." She hung up.

If you've read any other books by Patrick Ness, then you know his books are recommended for a more mature YA audience. 

Get this book for the young people you know who are struggling with letting go:
"How do I let go?"... 
"That's the question, isn't it?" says the boy. "For everyone." 
"Everyone," the spirit agrees. 
The boy takes a breath. "Today was a day I had to let go of a lot of stuff. Like everything that was tying me down suddenly got untied."