Set in Riverton, Washington, Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June follows the life of Jay Collier, a young man who feels alone in his difference. A hyper-organized list maker, Jay is a statistics geek, mathematician, and reality tv aficionado who can recite the MTV, VH1, and Bravo show schedules. He is also an award-winning hoedown costumier and a self-proclaimed “inexperienced and getting-desperate gay virgin” (60). Jay’s life grows more complicated when his ride-or-die best friend, Lu Fuhrman, goes into “Heterosexual Hookup Mode.” While Lu experiences various milestones with her boyfriend, Chip, Jay feels abandoned and like he’s living in quarantine. Then, his mom is promotedRead More →

Seventeen-year-old Ambrose Cusk and another spacefarer, Kodiak Celius, are aboard the Coordinated Endeavor, a spaceship bound for Saturn’s moon Titan to rescue Ambrose’s sister, Minerva Cusk. Earth’s two remaining countries, Fédération and Dimokratía have combined their forces to accomplish this mission. Brought together by a crisis, each young man brings his expertise and biases to the mission. Ambrose’s skills include playing the violin, programming AIs, translating computer code, and having a high awareness of his feelings.  Kodiak’s gifts are piloting, mechanical engineering, survivalism, and hand-to-hand combat. The Dimokratía space program selects its spacefarers by testing millions of children in its orphanages and determining those whichRead More →

Set on Wilneff Island in Nova Scotia, Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel The Girl from the Sea revolves around the life of fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon.  Morgan likes to keep her life tucked neatly into boxes, but she finds that plan unraveling when she meets Keltie. Keltie brings a sort of wild, chaotic, fairy-tale magic to Morgan’s otherwise grounded life. Keltie is a selkie, a seal who transforms into a human to walk on land for a period of time.  It is Morgan’s kiss that provides the magic for the transformation. But Morgan wants to keep that part of her life hidden from her friends Serena, Lizzie,Read More →

Set in North Carolina, The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver is a book about coping with grief. It confirms that healing is a complicated process different for everyone. When Liam Cooper’s brother, Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Liam loses the normal in his universe.  The sixteen-year-old, non-binary musician can find no life outside the music he makes with the aid of GarageBand software. Even his friends Joel and Vanessa consider him too morose. Feeling like he doesn’t belong anywhere and trying to navigate the grieving process alone, his anger and depression consume him. Initially, Liam believes that he will move through theRead More →

Like Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, and the Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack, Julie Murphy invites her readers of Pumpkin to think critically about the prevailing philosophies that construct the social realities in which we all participate, sometimes without our awareness.  Murphy’s novel shares insight about the politics of high school and about the complicated dance adolescents perform between yearning for independence and basking in the comfort of not yet having to fend of themselves, of wanting to stand out and simultaneously blend in as they search for acceptance. Waylon is a flamboyantRead More →

Too overcome by grief to write or even to think about college, Noreen Mirza runs. Running helps her forget since any memory of her Aunt Sonia—who adored Islamic art and architecture—is replaced by the demand for breathing. Running takes her out of her head and provides a respite from the grief. So, when her mother gets offered an assignment in Delhi, India, the two Mirza girls pack up and escape. Noreen justifies this gap year as a tribute to her beloved Sonia Khala who never got to make the trip she always talked about and who would be excited if she knew where Noreen wasRead More →

Ember Williams leads an active life at Heller High. She covets a 4.0 GPA, runs track, and captains the debate team. On the surface, she looks like a high-achieving teenager with a bright future. But there are secrets at Heller High. Secrets that Ember wants to uncover and force into the light. The Red Court is a rumor, smoke vanishing into nothing under the fluorescent lighting of Heller High’s hallways. It’s rumored to be a secret society made up of female students, led by a mysterious ‘Queen of Hearts.’ They say the Red Court grants wishes. Desperate students can stuff a note in an unclaimedRead More →

Living in Brazil, Felipe cannot think about other people’s suffering because he has too many issues of his own, so being gay is a small detail in a truckload of crises. He is a shy, anxious, socially-challenged young man with low self-esteem, conditions which largely center around his obesity.  Given these challenges and his experiences with bullies, jumping to the worst-case scenario is Felipe’s specialty. Instead of having to endure this life in which he lost out in the talent lottery and his dad gave him the fat gene before abandoning him, Felipe wishes he were a superhero, one who could create force fields soRead More →

Although Leah Johnson is a writer and editor, You Should See Me in a Crown is her first novel. Set in Indiana, the story features seventeen-year-old Liz Lighty whose life has been derailed by her mother’s death to complications with sickle cell disease (SCD).  Living with her grandparents where money is tight and taking care of her brother Robbie who has Acute Chest Syndrome, an inherited form of SCD, keeps Liz on edge. Because she feels like everything about her makes her stand out, Liz has mastered the art of being a wallflower.  On the fringes and out of the spotlight, Liz hopes to hideRead More →