Set in Melbourne, Australia, I Hope This Doesn’t Find You by Ann Liang features Sadie Wen and Julius Gong, two teens who are on a trajectory to future success. Having researched the highest-paying job and the most in-demand degrees, Julius plans to be a lawyer and Sadie a data analyst. Both young people attend Woodvale Academy, a selective high school for gifted students and populated predominantly by other young Asians. At Woodvale, “dreams, [like astronaut, playwright, and artist] are shattered and hobbies are traded for more stable, lucrative, practical careers” (130). Sadie has perfect grades and is the MVP in every sports team she isRead More →

Any reader who enjoys genre bending and a good mystery will likely appreciate Artifice by Sharon Cameron. Set in Amsterdam in 1943-1946, the novel is most clearly a historical fiction piece about the Holocaust, but it’s not “just another Holocaust story.” In this account, Cameron focuses on the efforts of Resistance workers who set out to save the children. An estimated 600 Jewish toddlers and babies were saved from death in the concentration camps. It is also a story about art. Isa De Smit lives in a home that houses Gallery De Smit, a place that is “full of art and artists. Lessons in herRead More →

In Kingdom of Without, Andrea Tang pens a story about socioeconomic class differences and the challenges that those in the lower classes face just to survive. To tell her story, Tang creates an allegory that bumps up against truth and gives the reader ample food for thought. Set in Beijing, nearly 150 years since General Yuan Shikai successfully declared himself the Emperor of China in 1915, the story opens in the Sixth Ring, where a seventeen-year-old street urchin is getting new prosthetics from Ge Rong. An art and engineering savant who is talented not only with biohacks, Ge Rong engineers tools and techniques for aRead More →

Guilt is the glue that keeps Rana’s immigrant family together. In the Muslim world that Rana is from, the goal is to become a dutiful wife. However, that is a version of womanhood that Rana can’t live up to. She’s gay but keeps her sexual identity secret. Because she’s suffering from the loss of one of her best friends, Louie who died a mysterious death, Rana quits basketball and carbo loads her pain. As she shrinks into herself, her teacher Ms. Murillo tries to draw her out, telling her that her opinion matters and offering her meditation as a way to open up to possibility:Read More →

With By Any Other Name, Erin Cotter writes a historical fiction novel about William Shakespeare’s London, sharing ample allusions to his work and plays. The story opens in 1593 London at the Rose Theater, where young Will Hughes is aging out of the theater because his voice is changing and he will no longer be able to play the female parts. To further complicate his life, the plague is making its way through the city, and theaters will close until it passes. As a result, his patron, Christopher Marlowe (Kit) encourages him to find another home. Home. The word makes Will’s breath catch. At eightRead More →

On par with The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis is a thrilling page-turner with all the ingredients of a good spy novel. Although Rosalyn (Ross) Quest is only seventeen years old, she is a master thief, having acquired her experience through her family-run business of thieving. Living on the remote island of the Bahamas, Ross seeks social contact with people beyond her family. In fact, she seeks escape. While the heists provide their own brand of exhilaration, Ross feels isolated. She sees her options as staying locked up in the family industry where trusting people outside the familyRead More →

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim is a fantasy blended with elements of both English and Asian folklore. While Lim tells a tale of two sisters and their unbreakable bond, she also relates key truths about human nature—those that regard greed, treachery, and trust. The only time Channari Jin’aiti feels truly alive, truly free, and truly awake is when she is in the jungle. Since her sister Vanna was born, Channi has hunted the Demon Witch who has taken the body of a tiger as her vessel and searches for the dragon pearl. “The Channi of the jungle and the Channi who lives in herRead More →

With This Indian Kid, Eddie Chuculate writes what he subtitles A Native American Memoir. Recounting events from his life during the years 1976-1984, Chuculate conveys how living in Oklahoma—where the races grew up together—the library was his second home. The days of his youth and adolescence were filled with playing sports, gardening, fishing, writing, and listening to music. A addict of sorts, Eddie “lived and breathed sports.” He was “an all-star in summer baseball, shot hoops in the backyard goal year-round ‘til midnight, and was a safety, running back, and kickoff returner in football” (124). His only problem at school came in basketball because CoachRead More →

Through his novel The Broke Hearts, Matt Mendez shares a story that spans generations and blurs genres. A sequel to Barely Missing Everything, the style of this follow-up is unique in that multiple stories are being conveyed within its pages. Told from various view points and with screen play scripts, flashbacks, and Lotería cards interwoven in the prose, The Broke Hearts illustrates how the past never leaves us and how “being a warrior is about doing the hard thing every time” (4). Mendez also shares insight about having hopes and dreams but how life gets in the way with moments of heart break. JD SanchezRead More →