Sixth grader Bea Embers is a bright, competitive, and strong-willed girl. She and her mother have always been a team of two, but their quiet mornings eating Corn Pops and sharing the ritual of their “three things they’re grateful for, big or small” come to an abrupt end when Mom gets pregnant and decides to marry Wendell Valentine, who has three sons: Cameron, Tucker, and Bryce and multiple pets. Her mother’s marriage also means moving away from Aunt Tam with whom they share a wall in their condominium in Vermont.  It further means not living in the same neighborhood as Maximilian, Bea’s best friend whoRead More →

Eat Pray Love meets lust, love, soccer in Iva-Marie Palmer’s young adult novel Gimme Everything You Got. Set in Illinois in 1979 when Title IX was historically significant, Palmer’s book starts off with a snarky, candid, and humorous tone.  Who knew fulcrum could be sexually suggestive or that prolongedly was even a word, especially as an adverb to describe a fantasy kiss? I found myself laughing out loud about how genuine this all seemed. Initially, the discussion of masturbation and erogenous zones gave the novel an air of authenticity—given that such a focus is a natural part of the maturation process for teens—but it wasn’tRead More →

Maria Padian’s new novel Out of Nowhere captures the truth of the adage that the only thing constant in life is change.  Padian’s protagonist, high school senior and soccer team captain Tom Bouchard, experiences the futility of one’s efforts at controlling outcomes.  He discovers how even a simple action or choice can have far-reaching repercussions and realizes that luck can “curl up next to you one minute, then bite you the next” (275). Enniston,Maine, provides the backdrop for this novel that explores these issues, as well as the contemporary topic of cultural collisions.  Tom’s quiet hometown becomes the home to an influx of Somalian refugeesRead More →