Set in Riverton, Washington, Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June follows the life of Jay Collier, a young man who feels alone in his difference. A hyper-organized list maker, Jay is a statistics geek, mathematician, and reality tv aficionado who can recite the MTV, VH1, and Bravo show schedules. He is also an award-winning hoedown costumier and a self-proclaimed “inexperienced and getting-desperate gay virgin” (60). Jay’s life grows more complicated when his ride-or-die best friend, Lu Fuhrman, goes into “Heterosexual Hookup Mode.” While Lu experiences various milestones with her boyfriend, Chip, Jay feels abandoned and like he’s living in quarantine. Then, his mom is promotedRead More →

Because of her parents’ arguing at home, racist comments and insensitivity from classmates at school, stress induced anxiety, and the typical horrors of high school, Quinn Jackson keeps a journal filled with lists.  A coping mechanism of sorts, her lists serve to calm her mind, provide a sense of focus, and give her a foundation.  She also lists her goals and dreams, her fears and worries.  Her journal contains her feelings when she doesn’t know how to express them out loud. When her journal turns up missing and she instead has a red-covered spiral that belongs to Carter Bennett, Quinn determines that Carter must haveRead More →

The author of A Love Hate Thing, Whitney D. Grandison has written a new book entitled The Right Side of Reckless. Set in Akron, Ohio, this latest work features several characters to which readers might relate as well as multiple morals about authoring our own life stories and the power of revision and second chances in that process. On probation for assault, seventeen-year-old Guillermo Lozano calls himself the Patron Saint of Fuckups. Although he has anger issues, Guillermo is determined to shed his reputation as a wild, fearless, and selfish delinquent to find a new life and a sense of belonging in Briar Pointe andRead More →

Known as the lonely girl who writes computer code, sixteen-year-old Xia Chan is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in an incubator program for gifted young programmers. As a young tech prodigy, Xia has developed a predictive outcomes application (app) she calls Wiser. Because of this technology, she has been targeted by the Foundry, an institute run by Lars Lang in Silicon Valley. Only twenty youth are accepted for this all-expense paid experience. For one year, they live on campus in the San Francisco Bay area and compete to be that year’s Founder. Whoever wins will receive “one million dollars in seedRead More →

The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez is a huge undertaking. While it accurately depicts the “clique-centric hierarchy” and popularity contests that exist in high schools across the United States, it also dives deeply into ideologies—both political and personal. Along with Sanchez’s characters, the reader will confront some difficult questions and ponder possible solutions. One of those key questions is How do you claim space in a world that doesn’t want you? Sanchez expertly points out that everyone’s normal is different, and in a heteronormative society, that fact is bound to create some conflict. Initially, the book seems to be about a transgender teen who growsRead More →

Haunted by the spot on the wall where her finisher patch should go, seventeen-year-old Sadie Scofield is determined to finish the Texas River Odyssey after giving up and then getting injured when she partnered with her dad. Because Scofields never quit, Sadie is living in a shadow of regret as she clings to the “can’t keep up” memory and allows it to erode the relationship with her father. Anyone belonging to the discourse community of river rats or competitive boaters/racers will likely be on the same wave length as those in Holly Green’s young adult novel, In the Same Boat. Talking of sweepers, log jams,Read More →

Set in North Carolina, The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver is a book about coping with grief. It confirms that healing is a complicated process different for everyone. When Liam Cooper’s brother, Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Liam loses the normal in his universe.  The sixteen-year-old, non-binary musician can find no life outside the music he makes with the aid of GarageBand software. Even his friends Joel and Vanessa consider him too morose. Feeling like he doesn’t belong anywhere and trying to navigate the grieving process alone, his anger and depression consume him. Initially, Liam believes that he will move through theRead More →

Like Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, and the Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack, Julie Murphy invites her readers of Pumpkin to think critically about the prevailing philosophies that construct the social realities in which we all participate, sometimes without our awareness.  Murphy’s novel shares insight about the politics of high school and about the complicated dance adolescents perform between yearning for independence and basking in the comfort of not yet having to fend of themselves, of wanting to stand out and simultaneously blend in as they search for acceptance. Waylon is a flamboyantRead More →

A senior at Grove Hill High School in Michigan, Aubrey Cash aspires to be a veterinarian, but her best friend Reese is cursed with a romantic streak.  As a cheerleader, she is constantly encouraging Aubrey to date. Using her “Disney Princess Face,” she plays matchmaker. But in Aubrey’s scientific mind, “The whole concept of true love is inherently flawed” (45). Basketball star, Webster Casey is new in town after his parents’ recent divorce. Because he lives across the street from Aubrey, the two form a connection until Webster inexplicably fails to take her to the homecoming dance as promised. After getting close to a boyRead More →