At seventeen years old, the protagonist in The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy, Grace Marie Pierce, is living the life of a privileged girl, the pure embodiment of the American dream with money, security, friends, and hope for a golden future.  Hardly ever angry, Grace has been sheltered by wealth and fame as the daughter of Janelle Pierce, an investment broker who swaddles herself in luxury: exotic travel, expensive clothes, and other unlimited material comforts.  Janelle occasionally escapes the heat of Phoenix, Arizona, and the stress of the financial world by visiting her favorite place, Blue Lakes in Ridgway, Colorado, where the serenity and theRead More →

When coping with emotional turmoil, our subconscious often takes us away as a kind of protection.  In the event that disassociation doesn’t occur, we find other ways to deal with or to control deep psychological pain.  Because physical pain can cancel out emotional pain, some people resort to self-harm to feel a sense of control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation.  This external way to express inner turmoil distracts the sufferer from painful emotions or helps the person who self-injures to actually feel again. Inundated with impressions of horror and hiding those impressions until they are unbearable, Charlotte Davis, the seventeen-year-old protagonist in Kathleen Glasgow’s debutRead More →

The quiet calm of the wait and the comfort of savory smells make cooking a favorite activity for Maddy, the protagonist in Jewell Parker Rhodes’ recent release, Bayou Magic.  Although she was born Madison Isabelle Lavalier Johnson, Maddy is often called Bird Bones because she is small and thin.  At ten years old, Maddy is not yet comfortable in her own skin, and she wonders why she sees the world differently than her four sisters do. Maddy prefers listening, watching, and dreaming.  Now it’s her turn to have a bayou summer, and her sisters, who each took their turn, warn her of all the drawbacksRead More →

How do you become a man when you don’t have a man in your life?  What does it mean if your father left you and your mom?  Or worse, was never in your life to begin with?  In Dead Ends, the second book by Arizona author Erin Jade Lange,  the question of fathers and the legacies they leave to their children unites unlikely friends on a journey of discovery, healing, and transformation. In his high school, there are the “haves” and the “have-nots”, and Dane Washington is a “have not”.  What Dane does have, however, is a fierce temper and the power to back itRead More →

Getting boxed in by one aspect of your life is something everyone tries to avoid. It doesn’t matter what the social label is, in the microcosom of high school, once you become a jock, stoner, preppy, emo, slut, skater – whatever – the label sticks.  People see you and treat you accordingly.  It’s near impossible to “start over” within the confines of your life as you know it, even though most everyone wants too.  Usually it’s going off to college, or moving to a new town, that gives people the chance to wipe the slate clean and try out new, hidden side to their personality.Read More →

Coretta Scott King Honoree Jewel Parker Rhodes tells a beautiful tale of determination, hope, and connection in her forthcoming book for young readers, Sugar.  Reading this wonderful book brought to mind other strong-willed young girls who recognize and rise above their limited circumstances (Lillie in Freedom Stone, Deza in The Mighty Miss Malone, Zulaikha in Words in the Dust, and Addie in A Thousand Never Evers) to become more than their communities or their social circumstances would have expected them to be. Set five years after the end of the Civil War, 10 year old Sugar has lived her whole life on River Road sugar plantationRead More →

Tyler is caught between the girl he has and the girl he wants. Since the very first day of freshman year, he’s been completely, head-over-heels in love with beautiful, wounded, and enigmatic Becky.  He yearns for her, creates endless stories about who he believes she is and the perfect romance they’d have if she would just notice him, and goes through his high school days telling himself that it’s enough to be be her only friend.  And since winter break of freshman year, he’s been in a comfortable, all-too-easy, autopilot relationship with Syd.  Syd is smart, mature, and for reasons Tyler can’t explain, into him.Read More →

Just finished reading, and loving, the advance reading copy of Fat Cat, the second novel by Arizona’s Robin Brande. (due from Random House in Oct ’09) Catherine (Cat) is a smart, wise-cracking, funny high school junior who is trapped in a fat suit. She wishes there was a way to unzip the suit and start living her real life; but instead she’s trapped in a body that keeps her from being the person she longs to be.  Start of junior year and she’s in for a tough year:  lots of AP classes, no real social life to speak of (except her awesome best friend Amanda),Read More →

We just love Tucson author & illustrator Chris Gall!  His books are awesome, his art is amazing, and he’s a funny guy.  His new book, Dinotrux, is due out in June 2009 and the rights have been acquired by Dreamworks for a full-length, 3-D animated feature.  Yeah Chris!  Check out his blog for an animated trailer of the book, which will, of course, confirm your suspicions – that prehistoric trucks once roamed the earth!  Posted by CoriRead More →