Any reader who enjoys genre bending and a good mystery will likely appreciate Artifice by Sharon Cameron. Set in Amsterdam in 1943-1946, the novel is most clearly a historical fiction piece about the Holocaust, but it’s not “just another Holocaust story.” In this account, Cameron focuses on the efforts of Resistance workers who set out to save the children. An estimated 600 Jewish toddlers and babies were saved from death in the concentration camps. It is also a story about art. Isa De Smit lives in a home that houses Gallery De Smit, a place that is “full of art and artists. Lessons in herRead 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 →

A young, Black Muslim woman living in Abington, Virginia, Sabriya (Bri) Siddiq revels in the feeling of control she has during ballet and dreams of reaching the American Ballet Theater.  When a terrorist attack happens at Union Station in Washington, D.C., all plans come to a halt. Hakeem Waters is the alleged terrorist, and with that name, people immediately assume that he’s Muslim. Soon, hate crimes are on the rise and Muslims across the country are targets. As a method of release, Bri starts blogging in what she believes is a private online journal that turns out to be public because of a setting oversight.Read More →

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a fascinating book about two sisters: Myra, a seventeen-year-old painter with dreams of securing a full-ride scholarship to the Conservatory for Music and the Arts; and Lucy, a thirteen-year-old aspiring biologist who hopes to improve the environment, save endangered animals, and change the world with her discoveries. With the sudden disappearance of both their mother and father, Myra’s whole world unravels. Abandoned and without resources, the two Whitlock girls can scarcely afford food and rent, let alone the medical care Lucy needs as her illness worsens. A prisoner of guilt and loneliness, Myra doesn’t know howRead More →

Where the Rhythm Takes You is Sarah Dass’ debut novel, and it joins the ranks of romance novels while being set in Tobago with scenes at Pigeon Point—the stuff postcards and dreams are made of. Through her protagonist Reyna, Dass shares her knowledge of Caribbean culture, cuisine, geography, and music as she explores the loss of a parent and the fear of following one’s dreams. A gifted painter, Reyna has grown up surrounded by nature’s constant growing, dying, and changing while immersed in the family business of owning and operating a seaside resort hotel, the Plumeria.  Her mummy is a perfectionist and a taskmaster, butRead 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 →

To cope with the stresses of middle school and the complications of life, Theo Goodwin escapes into his drawings where he can become Theo-Dare.  As his comic book alter ego, he conquers demons with his superpowers and the help of his sidekick, Super G. Super G is Georgia Rosenbloom, another sixth grader whose biggest passion, aside from art, is astronomy. She and Theo have been inseparable friends since forever, and their mothers are colleagues at Columbia University. When Georgia’s dad—the renowned and accomplished artist Hank Rosenbloom—dies suddenly, the loss throws Georgia out of her orbit. Unlike others who see the value of his art andRead More →

Nervy but not nuts, Buck Anderson craves adventure.  Most comfortable surrounded by rock and roots and earth, Buck’s passion is caving.  And living in southwest Virginia in the Appalachian foothills, this stubborn, risk-taker has many opportunities for discovering, exploring, and hoping to make history.  When his best friend David Weinstein moves away, thirteen-year-old Buck loses his cautious cave-exploring partner, and “the first rule of caving is never—not ever—do it alone” (2). Although Buck disobeys this rule more than once, his fascination with caves and their potential danger is only one strand of the plot in Going Where It’s Dark by Newbery Award-winning author Phyllis ReynoldsRead More →

Seven Reasons to Read The Seventh Most Important Thing Set in Washington, D.C. in 1963, The Seventh Most Important Thing recalls a time when Looney Tunes, Bazooka bubble gum, and Mad magazines were popular and when diner tables were often cloaked with red and white checkered table cloths and it took a dime to use the pay phone. It features characters like thirteen year old Arthur Owens who struggles to stop remembering his dad who died instantly when he hit a tree while riding his motorcycle and about whom his mother often said, “Tom Owens’s biggest problem was that he never grew up” (79); like probation officerRead More →