Collige virgo rosas is Latin for “gather, girl, the roses”—a favorite line of the dramatic and vivacious Cassandra Queen in Kyrie McCauley’s book We Can Be Heroes. But Cassie, who was a poet, a writer of music, and a budding actress, is now incorporeal—having been shot to death by her possessive and entitled boyfriend, Nico Bell. Seeking closure, Ghost Cassie returns to the town of Bell to take care of some unfinished business. Rather than accept a world where “it’s normal to lose someone you love to a bullet at school” (316), she wants the world to “read stories where girls are the heroes andRead More →

Wrecked by her parents’ divorce and then her brother’s disappearance three years ago, Andrea Murphy’s life has grown awful. The empty seat at the table, her unrelenting guilt that her brother’s disappearance is somehow her fault, and his ghost in the boxes stacked in the garage all haunt her. “I’m fine” is the lie she tells to hide the cracks and holes in her heart. As a reminder of his memory, she carries a missing piece of her brother in her pocket. When the pain grows too intense to bear, she rides her bike far and fast, letting the breeze whip through her hair whileRead More →

Girls who love science, engineering, and creativity; girls who are subversive and revolutionary; and girls who have moxie—that’s what Nothing But Trouble by Jacqueline Davies is made of–forget sugar and spice and everything nice!  Although this is mostly Maggie Gallagher’s and Lena Polachev’s story, it is also the story of Grandpop, Mrs. Gallagher, Mrs. Dornbusch, and any number of other secondary characters who reveal their ability to face difficulty with spirit, courage, determination, and attitude. Set in Odawahaka, a small town where the humiliations of childhood follow an individual forever, the plot of Davies’ book revolves around the town’s middle school, its teachers, its students,Read More →

While reading Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, I was immediately struck by the rich detail with which protagonist Willow Chance describes the world as seen through her 12 year old eyes. Willow, a genius who attends Sequoia Middle School in Bakersfield,California, goes to the mall not to buy things but to collect field notes and make diagnostic flash cards on skin disorders.  Besides medical conditions, Willow is obsessed with the number seven, plants, and order.  Rather than engage in small talk, Willow prefers “talk of theories and concepts mixed with facts and known quantities” (89).  Her favorite color is red. These interests and abilitiesRead More →