Attracted to the bold, the risky, and the unknown, Hattie Darrow plays Don Quixote to Reid MacGregory’s role as Sancho Panza. Reid is content playing Hattie’s side-kick extraordinaire in pranks and at parties.  Where Reid is calm and reasonable, Hattie is spontaneous and daring; her energy luminesces around her.  From the time Reid met Hattie in middle school, Reid saw her potential and declared: “Being Hattie Darrow’s friend would make me better” (51). As the two are about to enter their senior year in high school, Hattie is still Reid’s social oxygen.  “Humiliation is a language [Hattie] doesn’t speak, and she doesn’t want [Reid] toRead More →

A story of resilience, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist addresses the issue of homelessness from a child’s perspective. The Dunn family’s homelessness is brought on by the death of Isaiah’s and Charlie’s father, Gary Dunn, on November 24 due to a heart attack. Gary’s wife, Lisa subsequently falls into a debilitating depression accompanied by a bout with alcoholism. While his mother is incapacitated by grief, Isaiah is expected to watch and entertain his four-year-old sister and to keep up in school at Woodson Elementary.  This ten-year-old young man is forced to accept other responsibilities, as well.  Hoping to get the fundsRead More →

More than an adventure story, The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas is an earth (space) science lesson as well as a grief healing journey.  Overwhelmed by the pain of loss, eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez narrates her story to her deceased father, whose “missing you feeling” follows her everywhere.  With the Voyager 2 launch date only months away, Stella is desperate to visit with Carl Sagan who might send something into space for her on his Golden Record.  On her way home from the failed attempt, she encounters big needy eyes, “eyes that shimmered and seemed to have tiny galaxies insideRead More →

Strong-willed and filled with questions as a child, Clara Hartel loves time spent with her dad, who promises, “You’ll never be lost as long as I’m here” (99).  Having already lost her mother to thyroid cancer, Clara requires reassurance that she will not be completely abandoned.  So, when her father dies suddenly from a heart attack, eight-year-old Clara no longer feels safe and secure. Devastated by her father’s death, Clara figuratively confines herself in a glass coffin, like that remembered from the bedtime story of Snow White.  Psychologically shut away from the outside world, Clara goes through the motions of life, where sounds are muffled,Read More →

A teenage girl with an unknown power, her guy best friend with whom she’s so comfortable she doesn’t even consider romance, and a mysterious guy, brooding, beautiful, and seemingly dangerous who is suddenly everywhere she turns.  Twilight?  No, actually, these three teens are the main characters in The Fallen Series author Lauren Kate‘s new trilogy, Teardrop. Seventeen year old Eureka Boudreaux is a strong-willed, beautiful, and depressed.  Just months ago she lost her best friend, her mom Diana, to a rogue wave that inexplicably swept their car, and only their car, from a bridge connecting the Florida Keys to the mainland.  Now Eureka, wracked withRead More →

Set in the summer and fall of 1972, in the small town of Stony Gap, Virginia, Kathryn Erskine‘s latest, Seeing Red, is full to the brim with the little details of everyday life, woven together so expertly as to create a richly detailed portrait of a young man, his family, his town, and his world, that is an emotional powerhouse for readers, young and old alike.  12 year old Red Porter’s daddy, his hero, has recently died of a heart attack and Red’s entire world is reeling.  Left with doubt, debt, and nothing to keep them in Stony Gap, Red’s mama is preparing to sellRead More →