Eleven years old and living in Phoenix, Arizona, Nathan Todacheenie is bouncing from one parent to another after loud arguments fractured the family. Now his divorced dad is dating, and Nathan is not happy about having to share his dad’s time with Leandra. So, he concocts a plan to spend summer break with his grandmother, who summers in New Mexico at her ancestral home on the Navajo Reservation, forty-five minutes north of Church Rock. Under the pretense that he will conduct a science experiment to compare water consumption between Nali’s (his grandmother) heirloom kernels that have been passed down to her through many generations andRead More →

When “quiet, nerdy Ada Bloom finally has a verifiable love interest” (2), several people are surprised—including Ada. After five months, dating affable, athletic Leo Robinson, who is captain of the swim team, the two teens decide their relationship has reached the threshold of “the next step.” After Leo pops the question, Ada realizes she is not ready, and her relationship unravels from there. Cynthia Hand spends the rest of her novel With You All the Way exploring what makes someone believe he or she is ready for sex. She also addresses various motivations for the sexual act: curiosity, revenge, being sixteen, doing something risky andRead More →

The plot of Pamela N. Harris’s debut novel When You Look Like Us revolves around the life of sixteen-year-old Jay Murphy, his sister Nicole (Nic), and his grandmother Marie Murphy (MiMi). MiMi’s hands are “badges of honor, proof of hard work” (56), and Jay looks forward to the day when she can rest them. He vows that “MiMi is going to retire in Florida, or wherever else she wants to” (17) once he builds her nest egg as repayment for her sacrifices. The family lives in Newport News, Virginia, in a housing project called the Ducts. Despite what other people might think, Jay is livingRead More →

With her middle grade novel I Am Defiance, Jenni L. Walsh joins the group of authors who have written about the chilling period in human history that reminds us of the power of hate and the danger of silence: World War II-era Germany and Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror. However, Walsh takes her readers of historical fiction beyond that era to remind us all of the power of action, resistance, words, and asking questions rather than blindly accepting what we are told. This book comes out in time to mark Hitler’s April 20th birthday so that readers might examine the truth through the curious eyesRead More →