A junior at Willoughby High School, Eliza Quan is an ethnic Chinese girl who is smart although a bit prickly. A thinker who is passionate about facts and journalism, she doesn’t believe in self-aggrandizing or otherwise drawing attention to herself. In fact, she isn’t here to be liked. Similar to the attitude of her best friend Winona Wilson, Eliza doesn’t want to get noticed for the wrong reasons. However, Eliza does have one dream: to make it on the Wall of Editors. At Willoughby, the editor in chief of the school newspaper, the Bugle, is chosen by popular vote, and given that she’s the mostRead More →

Everyone faces his/her own challenges. And while many of us have no idea what it is like to have our every move monitored by the media paparazzi, British author Holly Smale takes readers down that path.  With the second book in The Valentines series, Far From Perfect, readers no longer just imagine what living under public scrutiny is like, we follow sixteen-year-old Faith Valentine as she fights for her own identity. Born into an extraordinary life of opportunities and fortune, Faith loves running and ballet but hates acting and publicity. The headlines write a version of her that isn’t real, and the gap between realityRead More →

Set in Ohio, Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson is about a post-apocalyptic world when an airborne virus more deadly than the corona virus has wiped out most of humanity. Terrified and overwhelmed, the few survivors must decide whether they wish to fight or they will give in to despair. Carson invites her readers to wonder what keeps us going since so many of our hopes and dreams—our reasons for living—are determined by sociocultural constructs. Do we recreate what we’ve lost or do we rebuild with something new and better? By asking what happens when all our reasons for living are taken away, CarsonRead 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 →

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 →

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Ashton is poised, disciplined, and focused.  Because her audition is approaching for the Corps De Ballet with the South Texas City Ballet Company, Hannah is relentless in her practice sessions. With its structure and predictable patterns, dancing keeps her panic under control.  To review her choreography when she can’t actually perform the steps, Hannah uses her hands as proxies for her feet. While engaged in this silent performance, Hannah’s best friend for twelve years, Astrid describes Hannah’s hands as looking like they are performing some kind of “badass sign language.” The only other pastime that consumes Hannah and can make her forget life’sRead More →

Eat Pray Love meets lust, love, soccer in Iva-Marie Palmer’s young adult novel Gimme Everything You Got. Set in Illinois in 1979 when Title IX was historically significant, Palmer’s book starts off with a snarky, candid, and humorous tone.  Who knew fulcrum could be sexually suggestive or that prolongedly was even a word, especially as an adverb to describe a fantasy kiss? I found myself laughing out loud about how genuine this all seemed. Initially, the discussion of masturbation and erogenous zones gave the novel an air of authenticity—given that such a focus is a natural part of the maturation process for teens—but it wasn’tRead More →

Those who have ever struggled with questions about family and tradition and what it means to respect the past while embracing the future will likely find themselves in the pages of We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler.  This poignant and well-crafted novel engenders a range of emotions—from anger to exasperation and from sorrow to exhilaration!  It not only leads readers to their own popcorn-scented memories and emotional free-falls but reminds us of personal failures and triumphs, revealing that joy really can trump tragedy if we remember to absorb the losses and store them in our hearts, because when the sun comes up, the showRead More →

Maximum racing is dangerous; one out of ten cars doesn’t make it to the finish line.  But race car driver Cassica Hayle is fast, flighty, and full of fierce life.  Possessing an addictive, restle ss energy and delighted by chaos and speed, Cassica craves life in the fast lane and wants to escape Coppermouth,  a barely surviving, backwater town where the stars at night are actually “restless orbital weapons moving steadily, left over from the Omniwar”(30) when death machines  “destroyed whole cities with lances of fire from space” (31). Now, in Coppermouth ,  people die from dust lung, a respiratory affliction resulting from dust blowingRead More →