Stacey Lee’s Kill Her Twice is a fascinating historical fiction/murder mystery written for young adults. Based loosely on the character Anna May Wong, who is considered the first female Chinese American Hollywood movie star, the novel tells the story of the challenges faced by Chinese people living in Los Angeles, California, in 1932. Lee presents her clues by alternating between the perspectives of two teens: May Chow, 19, and her sister Gemma, 17, who sell flowers in City Market. The girls’ father, Ba, always told his daughters that “his three fierce clouds—Mei Wun, or ‘beautiful cloud,’ for May; Gam Wun, or ‘fresh cloud,’ for [Gemma];Read More →

For her debut young adult novel, former stand-up comedian Kate Weston writes Diary of a Confused Feminist to serve several purposes: to create humor, to profile the feminist adventure from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Katarina Evans (a.k.a. Kat), and to shine a light on mental health, especially for those who endure anxiety and depression. If it can be said of humor, some of the lines spoken and thoughts pondered by the novel’s protagonist seemed a bit outside the realm of normal. But Weston herself admits that normal might not exist, given that every individual varies in that regard. In any case, the focus on sex,Read More →

Set in Melbourne, Australia, I Hope This Doesn’t Find You by Ann Liang features Sadie Wen and Julius Gong, two teens who are on a trajectory to future success. Having researched the highest-paying job and the most in-demand degrees, Julius plans to be a lawyer and Sadie a data analyst. Both young people attend Woodvale Academy, a selective high school for gifted students and populated predominantly by other young Asians. At Woodvale, “dreams, [like astronaut, playwright, and artist] are shattered and hobbies are traded for more stable, lucrative, practical careers” (130). Sadie has perfect grades and is the MVP in every sports team she isRead More →

Cover image for Your Blood, My Bones

Your Blood, My Bones by Kelly Andrew is a paranormal YA novel full of sinister things that will drag the reader into dark places. Protagonist Wyatt Westlock has always been kept away from the darkest parts of the legacy she inherited as one of the Westlock guardians of Willow Heath. Growing up on her family’s forest surrounded land, she is content to run wild with James and Peter, her childhood friends. She doesn’t question the dark rituals her father and his guildsman conduct in the dead of night, or why one of her best friends never seems to belong. After a tragic night, Wyatt’s motherRead More →

In her historical mystery The Voice Upstairs, Laura E. Weymouth tells a riveting ghost story with plot twists that keep the reader intrigued and engaged until the surprising ending. Under the influence of Weymouth’s pen, Wilhelmina Price (aka Wil) and Edison Summerfield (aka Ed) serve as protagonists and the voices that carry the story, which is set in 1920s England, forward. Triggered by her mother’s passing, Wil develops a death sense, which enables her to see a soul leave a body prior to death. She can also slip into the shadowland—the world between life and death—where she can lend her body and voice to aRead More →

In much the same way that Laurie Halse Anderson with Speak in 1999 aimed to shed light on the subjects of sexual assault, mental health, and forming an identity throughout one’s teenage years, Amber Smith chronicles the challenges of Eden McCrorey in her book The Way I Am Now (2023). Raped when she was barely fourteen, Eden struggles to acknowledge compliments and accepts only the love she things she deserves. Eden is afraid she will need depression, anti-anxiety, and sleeping medication forever. Although she feels things deeply and completely, Eden disconnects herself from most of what she loves: playing the clarinet and connecting at aRead More →

The plot of Sabina Khan’s recent book, What a Desi Girl Wants, revolves around the life of Mehar Rabbani, a mixed race girl who lives in Newton, Kansas. Speaking her mind is Mehar’s brand, which doesn’t always work in her favor. Prone to whining, Mehar hates being reasonable—a trait that backfires on her when she makes a trip to India to reconnect with her family on her father’s side. Hoping to salvage her relationship with her father, Mehar is intent on apologizing to him and mending their fractured bond. She also wishes to reconnect with her judgy grandma while in India for her father’s wedding.Read More →

Melissa See describes her novel Love Letters for Joy as “a love letter in itself—to disability, queer identity, and the intersectionality of the two.” Set in New York City, Love Letters for Joy tells the story of Joy Corvi, a quiet, academically-minded girl with cerebral palsy who wants the world to see her for who she is, not for her condition. Working hard to achieve valedictorian honors, Joy is in competition with her academic rival, fellow senior, Nathaniel Wright. Both hope to attend California Institute of Biology where they will pursue degrees in medicine. Because Joy, who attends Caldwell Preparatory Academy, wonders if there isRead More →

Tired of watching life from the sidelines, Baylee Kunkel wonders who she would be if she weren’t wearing the body of a fat girl. Although Baylee projects a confident version of herself, she is wildly insecure, judging herself and holding on to negative feelings about her body image. When it comes to the way she looks and the way she presents herself to the world, Baylee lives by a strict fashion code: She does not tuck her shirt into her pants and she does not knowingly accessorize with something that will accentuate her adipose tissue. Yearning to be seen, to be wanted, and to beRead More →