With his novel—You Only Live Once, David Bravo—Mark Oshiro writes a time-bending adventure story for middle grade readers. The two protagonists, David Bravo and Antoine Harris have been friends forever, but now that they are entering Mira Monte Middle School in California, their lives are about to change drastically. When his teacher Mr. Bradshaw invites the class to give a short, introduce-yourself presentation about their cultures and backgrounds, David is faced with indecision. What does he include or leave out? Adopted as an infant, David’s knowledge of his origin story is limited. As he overthinks the task, David faces an identity crisis: Who is he?Read More →

Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes – Protagonist Yamilet Flores cares about only two things: 1. Protecting her younger brother and 2. Hiding her sexual orientation from everyone at her new Catholic school. After being outed by the girl she’d thought of as her best friend at her previous school, Yami is determined to protect her secret at all costs. Something that grows increasingly difficult as her feelings for Bo, the only openly gay girl at school, grow as well. At home, Yami struggles to feel supported by the people in her life. Through snide remarks, Yami knows that her mom considers beingRead More →

Apart from his name, Cymbeline Igloo thinks he is normal in every way. A friendly and supportive nine-year-old, Cymbeline isn’t aware of how odd his life story is until a nightmare invades with the heaviness of death. One of Cym’s classmates pushes him into the pool during a school activity, an action which triggers Cym’s mom, Janet Igloo, to have a mental breakdown. Now, Cymbeline’s routine and familiar life has been disrupted in a major way. Cym is left to solve the mystery of his mother’s discomfort with swimming. As Cym sleuths out the details with the help of Veronique Chang—a genius and fellow classmateRead More →

The plot of One True Loves by Elise Bryant revolves around the life of smart, capable, artistic, and driven, Lenore Bennett. Each time she has a relationship with a boy, Lenore feels chosen and treasured—only to realize she has been nothing more than a chick on the side or a stepping stone to another relationship. Intent on protecting herself from the pain of such hurt, Lenore decides to live with her guard up and her heart on lockdown. However, “rooting out fuckboys and exposing their crimes against womankind” (29) proves to be a difficult mission with a friend like Tessa who is intent on writingRead More →

Set in Paris, Kentucky, Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee is a queer coming-of-age story about Cline Louise Alden. Alden ladies have music in their marrow, and according to Cline’s Gram, music is medicine. Thirteen-year-old Cline, who plays her secondhand guitar with finesse, imagines herself in Nashville singing her heart out at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. If knowing better means keeping quiet when a good song is on the radio, Cline is happy to remain ignorant.  For as long as she can remember, she has dreamed of making it big as a singer/songwriter. Cline gets the chance to be noticed forRead 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 →

Keeping It Real by Paula Chase follows the story of a group of black teenagers who are accepted to a program for disadvantaged youth called Style High. Sponsored by Flexx Unlimited, a hip-hop media company owned and operated by Marshall and Manita Johnson, Style High gives budding fashion designers some real experience working up concepts for approval, using their inspiration, and being ready for anything the fashion world might throw at them. So when fourteen-year-old Marigold Johnson’s best friend Justice Freeman gets accepted, Marigold decides she wants to work at Flexx for the summer.  After all, her parents own the company. Although her parents areRead More →

Taking place in 19th century England, this book begins with torture and intrigue. Immediately we’re dropped into a London full of smog and flickering lanterns. The world is cold and merciless, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil. Will, the protagonist, finds himself hiding in London after his mother is murdered. It doesn’t take long for Will’s enemies to find him and when they do Will is thrust into a magical world he didn’t know existed. He is revealed to be the last champion for the Light, the last barrier standing between the world that he knows and one that isRead More →

Told in three parts, The Leopard Behind the Moon is written like an oral legend. Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev sets her tale in Sesa—a faraway place amid the marula trees where a group of people live in a village with strict laws about not going out at night or opening the magical door that protects them all. However, on the three-year anniversary of his father’s death, ten-year-old Ezomo sees the leopard that killed his father and feels compelled to follow it. His foolhardiness involves two of his friends: Muja and Chimama, and the three have quite an adventure.  Ezomo discovers that although the night is dark andRead More →