Like the Fleetwood Mac Song “Go Your Own Way,” Eric Smith’s protagonists Adam Stillwater and Whitney Mitchell—in his novel You Can Go Your Own Way—must decide whether love and sharing their worlds is worth the risk or whether divisiveness and potential loneliness is their reality. Set in Philadelphia, Smith’s novel alternates between the two lead characters in its telling, giving readers insight and perspective.  A lover of old movies, music, and pin ball arcade games, Adam is struggling to let go of his father’s dream in exchange for his own since he feels as if giving up on the dream would mean he is alsoRead More →

Having been raised by her grandparents, Maria (Ri) Fernández has a lot of questions: Why did her mother abandon her? Why is Grandma so cold to their Mexican American neighbors? Why doesn’t the family speak Spanish? Why is Grandma keeping secrets? Wishing to “be enough” in Grandma’s eyes and yearning to study journalism and become a writer—not the doctor or engineer that Grandma wants—Ri feels like an outsider in her own life.  She is tired of everyone else telling her what’s best for her without regard for what she wants. Estranged from her Mexican identity—mostly due to her grandmother’s insistence about the sacrifices she hasRead More →

Readers of M.T. Anderson and Ben Oliver will likely appreciate Sacha Wunsch’s recent release, Lies My Memory Told Me. This dystopian thriller follows the story of quiet, sixteen-year-old Nova Reynolds and her friends Andi and Kade as they work to solve the mystery of what Experion Enterprises is attempting with their new technology called Enhanced Memories. Enhanced Memories (EM) are originally created to be “nothing but good,” a magical solution to safely giving people access to experiences to enhance their quality of life: travel without the expense, a lived experience that delivers empathy and nuances of living another life, and ultrarealistic entrainment without the riskRead More →

Keeping It Real by Paula Chase follows the story of a group of black teenagers who are accepted to a program for disadvantaged youth called Style High. Sponsored by Flexx Unlimited, a hip-hop media company owned and operated by Marshall and Manita Johnson, Style High gives budding fashion designers some real experience working up concepts for approval, using their inspiration, and being ready for anything the fashion world might throw at them. So when fourteen-year-old Marigold Johnson’s best friend Justice Freeman gets accepted, Marigold decides she wants to work at Flexx for the summer.  After all, her parents own the company. Although her parents areRead More →

Readers of Kim Johnson and Angie Thomas will likely enjoy Kneel by Candace Buford. Set in Monroe, Louisiana, Kneel follows the story of the Jackson Jaguars high school football team and their two star players: Marion LaSalle and Russell Boudreaux. Football is the two athletes’ ticket out of Monroe and out of poverty. Marion is possibly the best quarterback in Louisiana, and Russell is a regionally ranked tight end. For both, their bodies are their greatest assets. Although Russell is no slouch in the classroom, the field is the only place where Marion is on top. However, that is taken from him when he isRead More →

Collige virgo rosas is Latin for “gather, girl, the roses”—a favorite line of the dramatic and vivacious Cassandra Queen in Kyrie McCauley’s book We Can Be Heroes. But Cassie, who was a poet, a writer of music, and a budding actress, is now incorporeal—having been shot to death by her possessive and entitled boyfriend, Nico Bell. Seeking closure, Ghost Cassie returns to the town of Bell to take care of some unfinished business. Rather than accept a world where “it’s normal to lose someone you love to a bullet at school” (316), she wants the world to “read stories where girls are the heroes andRead More →

Anyone interested in reading a book that will prompt a deeper understanding of the complexities of racism should find a copy of The Problem with the Other Side by Kwame Ivery. This occasionally humorous but heartbreaking novel follows the lives of a pair of teens in New Jersey whose sisters decide to run for study body president. By alternating between the perspectives of Sallie Walls and Ulysses Gates (aka Uly), Ivery invites his readers to confront their own biases while also considering the nuances of a mixed-race relationship in a world where two people with a simple pigmentation difference often cannot date without repercussions. WhileRead More →

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 →