Anyone wishing for a Halloween thriller will likely find it in The Last Girls Standing by Jennifer Dugan. With this horror story, Dugan creates Charlene Addison Barnes, aka Cherry, and Sloan Thomas, two survivors of a mass murder at Camp Money Springs where they had taken summer jobs as camp counsellors. Able to diffuse tension with a single sentence, Cherry survives the killing spree of a “save the Earth” cult with her memory intact. However, like a rabbit in a snare, Sloan is caught in a time loop in her head. Although Sloan wants to study social work and save the world, her perfect plansRead More →

J. Elle has set readers up for a sequel with her book House of Marionne. Set in New Orleans as well as in alternate realms where magic dwells, the novel features Raquell Janae Marionne (aka Quell) who has magic in her veins. But, it’s toushana, a form of black magic about which little is known. So, Quell wonders if she is a Darkbearer with poison in her veins. Taught to be cautious and afraid, Quell and her mother are constantly on the move, hiding from those who might wish to quiet Quell’s magic permanently. After running since she was five years old, Quell steps intoRead More →

The plot of Sabina Khan’s recent book, What a Desi Girl Wants, revolves around the life of Mehar Rabbani, a mixed race girl who lives in Newton, Kansas. Speaking her mind is Mehar’s brand, which doesn’t always work in her favor. Prone to whining, Mehar hates being reasonable—a trait that backfires on her when she makes a trip to India to reconnect with her family on her father’s side. Hoping to salvage her relationship with her father, Mehar is intent on apologizing to him and mending their fractured bond. She also wishes to reconnect with her judgy grandma while in India for her father’s wedding.Read More →

Although Forty Words for Love by Aisha Saeed is certainly a story about love, the plot runs much deeper to embrace other topics, as well. Topics like immigration, socioeconomic status, truth, and following one’s dreams also find a place in these pages. Saeed shares multiple morals as the story of Raf and Yas unfolds. When the story opens, readers learn briefly of Raf’s trek from Golub and about a sacred tree that allows or denies passage from one world to another. People from Raf’s world have a golden leaf birthmark that pulses and warms in warning if a person has moved beyond the perimeter ofRead More →

On par with books by David Levithan, All the Yellow Suns by Malavika Kannan is a story about a sixteen-year-old queer Indian-American girl who believes art’s power is to disrupt narratives and to recreate reality. Mayavati Krishnan is an optimistic, talented, and opinionated social justice activist. Set in Florida, Kannan’s book follows the lives of several brown teens who are fighting to be seen, not to be targeted and bullied by authority figures. Maya and her mother have been abandoned by Maya’s artist father whose true love is art. Because Rajendra made the choice to stay in India, Maya is angry, an emotion that sheRead More →

Although Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe is a romance novel, it is also about coping with loss, the effects of blame, and the importance of hope. Set in Tennessee, Rowe’s novel features two teens: Ray Evans and Orion Roberson. With her found poetry, Ray turns words into art. Entertained by romance, but not captivated by its drama, Ray spends her spare time on volleyball, classes, and art. Someone who likes creating beautiful things, Ray is also an artist on roller skates. After seeing the effect that love has had on her mother, Ray is afraid to love because of the risk of loss. She findsRead More →

Melissa See describes her novel Love Letters for Joy as “a love letter in itself—to disability, queer identity, and the intersectionality of the two.” Set in New York City, Love Letters for Joy tells the story of Joy Corvi, a quiet, academically-minded girl with cerebral palsy who wants the world to see her for who she is, not for her condition. Working hard to achieve valedictorian honors, Joy is in competition with her academic rival, fellow senior, Nathaniel Wright. Both hope to attend California Institute of Biology where they will pursue degrees in medicine. Because Joy, who attends Caldwell Preparatory Academy, wonders if there isRead More →

Tired of watching life from the sidelines, Baylee Kunkel wonders who she would be if she weren’t wearing the body of a fat girl. Although Baylee projects a confident version of herself, she is wildly insecure, judging herself and holding on to negative feelings about her body image. When it comes to the way she looks and the way she presents herself to the world, Baylee lives by a strict fashion code: She does not tuck her shirt into her pants and she does not knowingly accessorize with something that will accentuate her adipose tissue. Yearning to be seen, to be wanted, and to beRead More →

Basketball defines Barclay Elliot. As captain of the Chitwood High School basketball team in Georgia, Barclay dreams of eventually putting his talent to the test at a big-city D1 school with his best friend Zack Ito. The protagonist in Time Out by Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, and Carlyn Greenwald, Barclay believes that a team is a family who shares everything and supports one another; it is a place where talent, strength, and fortitude mix to hold one another up, no matter the burden. However, when his biggest fan and the father figure in his life, his grandpa Scratch dies before seeing the Wildcats win anotherRead More →