Anyone looking for a book with a strong female character will find it in Barely Floating by Lilliam Rivera. Set in East Los Angeles, Rivera’s book features twelve-year-old Natalie de la Cruz Rivera y Santiago, aka Nat. A hard-to-contain fat girl with astucras (cunning), Nat feels it is her duty to school anyone who acts out of bounds. Bull-dozing her way into situations, she’s fearless. After seeing the performance of an artistic swimming team, the LA Mermaids, Nat decides she wishes to be on the synchronized swimming team. She not only wants to do something glamorous but to wear the sequined and shiny costumes. However,Read More →

Twelve years ago, Frances Frida Ripley (aka Frankie) was born near the sea during a storm, which seems to have imprinted on her, making her prone to volatility and moodiness. She is often impatient with her six-year-old sister, Birdie, and temperamental with her parents. Given her outbursts, Frankie has grown accustomed to her father’s admonishment: “Shouting creates negative energy and harmful interpersonal toxicity. Plus, it messes with our heads” (19). Frankie is frustrated by how adults always try to sort out or tidy up feelings, putting labels on them or nudging them into another shape. When Frankie doesn’t get her way, she rages. Her parentsRead More →

I honestly don’t know how she does it. Every A.S. King book I read grabs me by the throat, reaches down into my heart, and completely engulfs me in a powerfully told, unflinchingly portrayed, ultimately redemptive story of a teenager on the edge of his or her own particular abyss.  King skillfully, lovingly, and realistically creates well-rounded young people whose lives are pretty crappy when the story opens but through their own choices, dogged perseverance, and sometimes a little help from a friend or an adult with a clue, rise above the cards that were dealt to them and come brilliantly, if not a littleRead More →