Set in Olinda, Brazil, Salt and Sugar is a modern twist on the Romeo and Juliet story by debut author Rebecca Carvalho. Seventeen-year-old Larissa Ramires and Pedro Molina are caught in a multigenerational family feud. Poisoned by rumors and misunderstandings, both teens are competitive and snide with one another. For example, Lari has always been told to “trust neither thin-bottomed frying pans nor Molinas” (7). Beyond the bias of the feud, Grandma has taught Lari that “kitchens are magical places, where everything turns into delicious memories” (83). So, when Grandma dies, Lari is left with a legacy that she doesn’t understand and mildly resents. NeitherRead More →

Set in 1937, Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland is a fantasy built on how capitalism consumes culture and about the limitations of being a Black person in America. To spin her magical tale, Ireland creates Laura Ann Langston, a seventeen-year-old black girl who is impulsive and craves adventure. Not satisfied with just performing “root magic,” Laura wishes to earn her mage license so that she can open her own treat shop, raveling confections for the likes of J. Paul Getty, Howard Hughes, and Shirley Temple. Not willing to hitch her talent to a Mechomancer, whose constructs are based on the forces used inRead More →

As the title implies, a reader should be prepared to be confused when reading Katzenjammer by Francesca Zappia. The novel takes the reader down a nightmarish path of distress experienced by the main character, Cat. While it is clear that Cat suffers from depression and bewilderment in a world that makes no sense to her, the reason for that distress is not made clear until the novel’s conclusion. Through Cat, readers encounter a version of school that is unfortunately all too real for some students who experience bullying because of their differences. The dichotomy of us versus them is set out early in the novel.Read More →