An avid fan of the hunch, Natalie Temple is interested in true crime. Despite her mother’s admonition, that murder is “not entertainment,” Natalie forges her mother’s signature on the form to join East Ferry High School’s True Crime Club. She also pores over book about murderers like the Golden State Killer and the Zodiac, spends hours on true-crime message boards where she trades theories with faceless strangers, and produces a “blood-drenched” podcast called Killing Time with her best friend and technical genius, Katie Lugo. Under the influence of the club’s advisor, Mrs. Lynn Halsey, Natalie learns that the world is not “some soulless hellscape,” thatRead More →

A historical reenactor in his own youth, author Michael Leali not only writes about his experiences in The Civil War of Amos Abernathy but invites all readers to challenge the histories we have been told. In this debut novel targeted for young readers, Leali focuses on thirteen-year-old Amos as he battles against entrenched attitudes and fights for his friends Ben Oglevie—a young man whose parents are homophobic—and Chloe Thompson—a young Black woman who wants to share the truth about her ancestors. Reenacting 19th Century History is like time travel for Amos, who works as a junior volunteer at the Living History Park (LHP) in AppleRead More →

Feeling small, alone, and unloved, Ellis Truman has been abandoned by her parents. With a father addicted to drugs and an alcoholic mother who is mostly absent, Ellis is often home alone. She grows up embarrassed of her house, her parents, and who she is. She grows up in a world of in-between, unsettled, angry, and unsure of where she belongs. Then, Sandry Albrey, who grew up in Indiana with Ellis’ father, offers Ellis a home.  Sandry knows Tru’s shortcomings as well as the depth of his love. It is from her that Ellis will also learn the true meaning of love. Although Sandry welcomesRead More →

In his novel Drifters, Kevin Emerson explores what it feels like to be adrift, to not fit in or to feel empty and alone.  Where Micah Rogers blooms in a group of people, Jovie Williams withers. Now, Micah has disappeared, and Jovie feels untethered. Her missing friend leaves a hole in the world and a hollow feeling inside Jovie. Although other people are able to “move on” with their lives, Jovie is obsessed with finding her friend. When she discovers evidence that suggests Micah may have found a way to cross into an alternate universe, she is determined to bring her back. Jovie secures theRead More →

Twelve-year-old Logan Foster is good at research, deductive reasoning, and logical problem-solving. However, he is not so adept at emotional responses, human interaction, and reading social cues. This unique protagonist evolves into the hero of Shawn Peters’ novel The Unforgettable Logan Foster.  Set in Santa Monica, California, Peters’ novel retells the story of an orphan who loves comics. Logan considers comics relatable because most superheroes are orphans. They also work to undermine villains and thwart bullies. When Gil Grant and Margie Morrow visit the El Segundo Transitional Orphanage (ESTO) as promising prospective foster parents, Logan experiences the feeling of being wanted and decides it feelsRead More →

Set in Paris, Kentucky, Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee is a queer coming-of-age story about Cline Louise Alden. Alden ladies have music in their marrow, and according to Cline’s Gram, music is medicine. Thirteen-year-old Cline, who plays her secondhand guitar with finesse, imagines herself in Nashville singing her heart out at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. If knowing better means keeping quiet when a good song is on the radio, Cline is happy to remain ignorant.  For as long as she can remember, she has dreamed of making it big as a singer/songwriter. Cline gets the chance to be noticed forRead More →

Color, detailed imagery, melodious prose, and the idea that “trees hold their stories in their bark and their leaves” (186) are all tell-tale signs that The Turtle of Michigan was written by a poet. Naomi Shihab Nye shares the story of eight-year-old Aref who initially experiences worry, anger, and loneliness at the thought of leaving Oman. Yet those feelings are replaced by excitement, relief, and adventure at this new chapter in his life. On his way to the United States, Aref discovers the mysterious world of airplanes and air ports where “musical voices and delicious accents float on the air” (30). Set in both Muscat,Read More →

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a fascinating book about two sisters: Myra, a seventeen-year-old painter with dreams of securing a full-ride scholarship to the Conservatory for Music and the Arts; and Lucy, a thirteen-year-old aspiring biologist who hopes to improve the environment, save endangered animals, and change the world with her discoveries. With the sudden disappearance of both their mother and father, Myra’s whole world unravels. Abandoned and without resources, the two Whitlock girls can scarcely afford food and rent, let alone the medical care Lucy needs as her illness worsens. A prisoner of guilt and loneliness, Myra doesn’t know howRead More →

A junior at Willoughby High School, Eliza Quan is an ethnic Chinese girl who is smart although a bit prickly. A thinker who is passionate about facts and journalism, she doesn’t believe in self-aggrandizing or otherwise drawing attention to herself. In fact, she isn’t here to be liked. Similar to the attitude of her best friend Winona Wilson, Eliza doesn’t want to get noticed for the wrong reasons. However, Eliza does have one dream: to make it on the Wall of Editors. At Willoughby, the editor in chief of the school newspaper, the Bugle, is chosen by popular vote, and given that she’s the mostRead More →