Since I had recently watched an episode of Dr. Phil in which an individual was being treated for the condition which forms the underlying conflict in Remedy by Eireann Corrigan, I guessed the mysterious illness early on. Because Corrigan’s protagonist, Cara Jean Wakely couldn’t exactly articulate her current ailment and stated that she and her mother Shaylene moved around a lot, those details tipped me off. However, the reader doesn’t learn the secret until much later when Cara’s friend Xavier Barnes (aka Science Kid) plants the idea in her brain. Xavier, who lectures and sometimes drones and laughs at his own jokes, loves gathering dataRead More →

The plot of Pamela N. Harris’s debut novel When You Look Like Us revolves around the life of sixteen-year-old Jay Murphy, his sister Nicole (Nic), and his grandmother Marie Murphy (MiMi). MiMi’s hands are “badges of honor, proof of hard work” (56), and Jay looks forward to the day when she can rest them. He vows that “MiMi is going to retire in Florida, or wherever else she wants to” (17) once he builds her nest egg as repayment for her sacrifices. The family lives in Newport News, Virginia, in a housing project called the Ducts. Despite what other people might think, Jay is livingRead 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 →

A magnet for mystery and adventure and interested in creepy things, Devlin Quick loves sleuthing.  All her detective practice is training for the day she can devote herself to finding her dad’s killer.  Sleuthing runs in the family since Devlin’s dad covered international politics as an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and her mom, Blaine, is New York’s Police Commissioner with a reputation for being “fierce and fair and fearless” (94).  Although twelve-year-old Devlin is willing to leave the fierce quality to others, she acts when she encounters a wrong. Set in both Manhattan, New York, and in Big Timber, Montana, The DevlinRead More →

Somewhat like the choose-your-own-adventure books with alternate endings, Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore occasionally leaves the reader with the feeling of being lost in a maze, confused by the various plot twists and turns or coming upon a similar detail and experiencing déjà vu.  Although Cashore’s book is intended for linear, cover-to-cover reading, when the book’s protagonist, Jane, approaches an important choice, the reader follows her down that path to see how the decision plays out. The novel begins on a boat, with Jane travelling to Tu Reviens, a house on an island and a place of opportunity.  She had promised her deceased aunt MagnoliaRead More →

If you’re the sort of person who secretly reads the end of a novel first, then Emily Lockhart’s new book Genuine Fraud was written with you in mind because it begins with Chapter 18 and works its way to Chapter 1. Lockhart writes about two young women: Imogen Sokoloff and Jule West Williams, two orphans and school friends who defy social conventions but have histories that bind them.  Imogen, a New York City, private-school blond, is an open-minded, confident, and desirable friend and hostess who draws people in with her power, money, enthusiasm, and independence.  She refuses to strive for greatness or to work toward other people’s definitionsRead More →

While Lady Julia Lindsay Mackenzie Wallace Beaufort-Stuart (aka Julie) is home from a Swiss boarding school and exploring her grandad’s Murray Estate in Strathfearn, Scotland, she wanders upon a pearl thief and receives a blow to the head.  As she tries to recall the events of that fateful day on the Fearn River and to untangle a mystery of thievery, assault, and murder, she learns that memory is a strange and unreliable thing.  To solve the mystery, Julie must string together the clues, like pearls torn from a necklace. Besides being a mystery, The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein fits my definition of Cultural IdentityRead More →

Jeffrey Salane has created an action-packed book for tweens with his new novel, Lawless. Although the book has multiple settings, the story largely occurs in the southern hemisphere atLawlessSchool, a private and exclusive school for the children of master criminals.  The story’s protagonist is twelve-year-old M Freeman, whose doting dad gave her the moon but is now dead and has remained a beautiful mystery for six years.  M’s mother, an impeccably stylish artist mogul and unstoppable workhorse has little time for M.  Home-schooled and living in a house the size of a small castle, M feels neither like a princess nor a prisoner.  Instead, sheRead More →