Set in a world similar to our current reality but not quite, The Darkening by Sunya Mara is a study of both psychology and sociology. Mara explores the consequences of classism and social hierarchies while also taking a deep dive into the effects of despair, vengeance, hate, pain, and anger. In the process, she also asks some critically important questions worthy of soul-searching. Seventeen-year-old Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries and refers to herself as “a hopeful little screwup from the fifth ring” (216). Her father’s fear has kept her safe, but Vesper wonders if it is wrong to want more out of lifeRead More →

Mix adventure, jokes, and a little mystery, and you have a recipe to keep most readers engaged.  Dave Eggers applies this formula to the writing of his recent middle-grade novel, The Lifters, which is actually an extended metaphor for combatting despair. The protagonist of The Lifters, twelve-year-old Granite Flowerpetal wishes for a name that is both easily understood and easily spelled, so he shortens his name to Gran, not realizing at the time how readily that version might be confused with the term some individuals use to refer to their grandmothers. Gran, who shares a bedroom with his five-year-old sister Maisie, hears his parents talkRead More →