In her novel The Weight of Blood, Tiffany D. Jackson tackles a tough topic: segregated proms and their underlying societal racism. She also unpacks light-skin privilege and explores telekinesis so that she can effectively paint a picture of her protagonist, Madison Washington (Maddy). Under the thumb of an abusive father, Maddy is unaware that she’s strong, brave, and powerful. She dreams of someday being part of a movie crew and sharing a Hollywood set with famous superstars. She envisions working in the design department, sewing elaborate costumes or maybe creating in the kitchen, cooking gourmet meals. But more than anything, she “wants someone to loveRead More →

Newbery Honor Winner, Rodman Philbrick introduces adolescent readers to an account of historical fiction in his new release, We Own the Sky. Both adventure and history, the novel features eighteen-year-old Josephine Michaud and her twelve-year-old brother, Davy. Orphaned in 1924 after both of their parents have perished in separate mill accidents, the two adolescents become the wards of Ruthie Reynard and enter a strange new world of flying machines and daredevils. Their mother’s famous cousin, Ruthie is not only a record-setting aviatrix but the star of her very own flying circus and the first pilot of any gender to fly nonstop between Chicago and NewRead More →

Based on the YouTube sensation, Storybooth compiled by Marcy Kaye and Joshua Sinel is a collection of “amazing & heartbreaking & inspiring stories” told by “brave teens bold enough to share a piece of themselves with the world.” The collection features true confessions, secrets, struggles, embarrassments, heartbreaks, and other facets of diverse and fragile lives. The compilation is brimming with emotion, and many of the stories cover difficult subjects, like rape, homophobia, racism, suicide ideation, self-harm, bullying, abuse, and experimentation with sexual intimacy. The multifarious voices inspire readers and remind us that we are all in this world together, trying our best, not just toRead More →

In her new book for middle-grade readers, The Secret Battle of Evan Pao, Wendy Wan-Long Shang not only explores how young people often deal with conflict but also wonders about their capacity for reconciliation. Through her main character, sixth grader Evan Pao, Shang shares what it means to be “Mr. Sensitive” in a world that often shows no mercy. A human lie-detector with bright and curious eyes, Evan has a sense for when people are not telling the truth. However, his ability fails him when it comes to his father’s swindling ways, which ultimately force the family to flee their home in California. Their moveRead More →

Although Mason Deaver’s novel The Feeling of Falling in Love is indeed a love story, as the title implies, it is also about self-esteem, social class differences, and the exploration of sexual and gender identity. Neil Kearney, a transgender teen, has a “friends with benefits” relationship with his friend Josh. Both use the relationship for stress relief and mutual pleasure. However, when Josh decides he loves Neil, Neil panics and invokes the Pull-Out Clause. Now, he has a week to prove to Josh that he has moved on with his roommate, Wyatt Fowler.  What could possibly go wrong, especially since Wyatt claims to be aRead More →

Joining Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, Marie Arnold’s book I Rise has potential to inspire activism while also offering rich allusions to influential personalities from the Black community as well as allusions to Black poets like Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, and Sonia Sanchez; in addition to Black musicians like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. Through her story telling, Arnold creates a safe space for all traumatized youth. Almost fifteen, Ayomide Bosia no longer has the energy to carry the sadness and pressure of activism life. She yearns to be young and unencumbered by the heavy responsibility that her mother shoulders daily. Ayo’sRead More →

With his novel—You Only Live Once, David Bravo—Mark Oshiro writes a time-bending adventure story for middle grade readers. The two protagonists, David Bravo and Antoine Harris have been friends forever, but now that they are entering Mira Monte Middle School in California, their lives are about to change drastically. When his teacher Mr. Bradshaw invites the class to give a short, introduce-yourself presentation about their cultures and backgrounds, David is faced with indecision. What does he include or leave out? Adopted as an infant, David’s knowledge of his origin story is limited. As he overthinks the task, David faces an identity crisis: Who is he?Read More →

The history of the Jewish Empire of Khazaria would die out completely if not for stories like Black Bird, Blue Road. In this historical fiction account, Sofiya Pasternack shares the story of Ziva and Pesha, twelve year old twins. Stubborn, persistent, passionate, and observant, Ziva aspires to be a judge. Her brother, Pesha may not have the same fire, but he is brilliant in his own way. Ziva is convinced that with his inventive mind, Pesha will find a cure not only for the leprosy that afflicts him but for other diseases, as well. Selfless and kind, Pesha also has a gift for learning languages.Read More →

The first installment in a duology, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber is a fantasy, adventure, and romance story all rolled into one. It features Wren Greenrock and her twin sister, Rose Valhart. The two girls were separated at birth and raised in diverse locales with different values and perspectives. Rose has lived the life of a pampered princess at Anadawn Palace while Wren grew up near the Whisperwind Cliffs beside the ocean in a commune of witches. Now that Rose is about to be crowned queen, her grandmother has determined that a witch would better serve the kingdom of Eana. So, sheRead More →