Tag Archives: boarding schools

29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz. December 18, 2018. Inkyard Press, 395 p. ISBN: 9781335541543.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

How many dates will it take to find The One?

Jisu’s traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul’s premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu’s success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu’s compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she’ll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn’t parent and matchmaker approved?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Racial insensitivity

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. Ji-su has gotten used to the pressure her parents put on her to excel in school, but the summer before her senior year they’ve pushed into her personal life, arranging matchmaker-organized dates (seons) so she can meet the perfect guy to complement her perfect future. But when they suddenly send her from her ultracompetitive South Korean high school to one in San Francisco, Ji-su’s dating life gets even more complicated. 29 Dates is a sweet, unique take on the high-school rom-com. Ji-su’s parade of suitors allows the novel to consider any number of dynamics and types before zooming in on the all-important endgame pairing. The details of Ji-su’s life in South Korea and in the U.S. are intricately woven into the story in a way that makes the book feel cinematic and inviting. This latest by de la Cruz is perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014), or those who love classic rom-coms and are looking for the next great narrative convention.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
A South Korean high school student spending her senior year in the United States navigates a new school, dating, and college pressures. Ji-su, who is enduring a succession of blind dates set up for her by her ambitious parents through a matchmaker, suddenly finds herself attending a private school in San Francisco, something her parents hope will help her stand out when she applies to college. Although she is heartbroken to leave behind her beloved besties, Euni and Min, she soon makes new friends, including Filipino-American heartthrob Austin; popular, high-achieving Korean-American Dave; and confident, friendly, Lebanese-American Hiba, who becomes a close friend. Ji-su continues going on arranged blind dates in California but also experiences feelings of attraction toward both Austin and Dave, all while applying to (and waiting to hear from) highly competitive colleges. The conceit of the book—following Ji-su through 29 blind dates over the course of her senior year—helps the plot move along swiftly and introduces readers to a wide variety of Korean boys with different personalities and interests, helping to break stereotypes about Asian males. Characters of a range of ethnicities populate the book, and the cultural details about life in Korea are realistically drawn and impressive in their accuracy. A surprise ending brings the story to a satisfying close that will thrill fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014). A surefire hit wherever lighthearted romances are popular. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)

About the Authors

Melissa de la Cruz grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.  Her website is www.melissa-delacruz.com/

Around the Web

29 Dates on Amazon

29 Dates on Barnes and Noble

29 Dates on Goodreads

29 Dates on LibraryThing

29 Dates Publisher Page

Advertisements

People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us by Dana Mele. February 28, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 384 p. ISBN: 9781524741709.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Suicide, Homophobic language, Inappropriate relationship between teacher and student

 

Book Trailers

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Murder, mayhem, and unreliable friendships take center stage in Mele’s debut novel. Kay Donovan, a popular girl known for her soccer skills and her biting humor, gets more than she bargained for when she and her friends go to the lake, after a night of dancing, and a girl’s body turns up, frozen and with her wrists slit. When Kay gets an email the day after, things take a dark turn, and she ends up ruining the lives of former friends and classmates in an effort to assuage her own guilt. As she embarks on the digital scavenger hunt in an effort to clear her name, Kay starts to wonder who is actually behind it all. To some extent, the pacing is inconsistent, and certain characters are static in the end, which may lead readers to wonder how certain relationships came to be. Mele, however, manages to weave a tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge in the style of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), but with its own twists to keep readers on their toes.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2017)
For some girls, it’s a killer getting into Bates Academy. For others, attending the elite prep school means getting killed.When Kay Donovan and her popular senior classmates uphold the tradition of skinny dipping in the lake after the Halloween dance, they’re surprised to find the dead body of Jessica Lane, a fellow student. But it’s not the first time Kay has seen a dead body—and someone knows it. As she, her friends, and other acquaintances begin answering questions for the police, the teen also receives an email from Jessica’s account that takes her to a revenge website. There, Kay receives instructions to take down all her friends—this one for doping, that one for sleeping with a professor—or her own secrets will be revealed. The debut novel has all the tropes one would expect from a prep school mystery: plenty of backstabbing, predominantly white young socialites (except for Brie with “smooth brown skin”), and frequent parties with alcohol and sex. Yet this intertwined mystery that has readers figuring out Jessica’s murderer and Kay’s secrets (and their possible connections) is more than these clichés. The characters and their relationships are nuanced, especially bisexual Kay, who has intimate encounters with males and females. The blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense makes this a fizzy read for fans of the genre. (Mystery. 14-18)

About the Author

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler.

Her website is www.danamele.com

Around the Web

People Like Us on Amazon

People Like Us on Goodreads

People Like Us Publisher Page

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. May 2, 2017. Harry N. Abrams, 400 p. ISBN: 9781419723735.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 13))
Grades 9-12. Noteworthy, by Riley Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie, 2016), features a girl who isn’t sure of anything at all. Jordan Sun is a junior at her performing-arts boarding school, but her low voice and Chinese features keep her from getting cast. Jordan’s on scholarship—her family struggles financially because of her disabled father’s medical bills—and her parents are overly invested in her success. So when she fails yet again to get cast, she considers other options. A spot has opened in the Sharpshooters, an elite all-male a cappella group. It’s college-application gold, so Jordan dresses up like a guy, borrows her cousin’s name, and auditions. Crazier still, she gets in. Jordan Sun, contralto, becomes Julian Zhang, tenor, living a double life as she’s drawn into the world of the Sharpshooters and into what it’s like to be a boy. In some ways, pretending helps her become more sure of her identity: she’s questioned her sexuality before, but as she spends more time as Julian, it becomes increasingly clear that she’s bisexual. Conversely, as she grows more comfortable acting like a guy, the surer she is that she’s not actually a transgender boy: “I knew it innately. The struggle to fit into some narrow window of femininity didn’t exclude me from the club.” It’s a smart critique of gender roles—male and female—in today’s society (a particularly notable scene is one in which Jordan, as Julian, is told in no uncertain terms to “man up” by a respected teacher), and it’s all delightfully wrapped up in a fun, compelling package of high-school rivalries, confusing romances, and a classic Shakespearean case of mistaken identity.

Kirkus Reviews starred (March 15, 2017)
Redgate deftly harmonizes a lighthearted plot with an exploration of privilege, identity, and personal agency. Jordan Sun is a Chinese-American high school junior from a working-poor family who feels a bit out of place at her prestigious, arts-focused boarding school in upstate New York. Though the school’s diversity policy is bringing in more students from minority backgrounds, most of her classmates are still wealthy and white. After continued rejection for roles in the theater department, Jordan decides to try her hand at something new and joins one of the school’s legendary a cappella groups: a traditionally all-male one. To audition, Jordan adopts the male persona of Julian, and when Julian is accepted to fill a tenor spot with the group, Jordan must slip into the role of her life. As a first-person narrator, Jordan is often dryly sarcastic, but it is her lyrical prose that brings depth and empathy to a story that could otherwise be another needless riff on the cross-dressing trope. “It’s too simple to hate the people who have doorways where you have walls,” she reflects. Wearing Julian’s identity causes Jordan to question her assumptions regarding femininity, masculinity, and sexuality. Jordan ultimately shatters her own self-limiting expectations and in doing so encourages readers to do likewise. A heart song for all readers who have ever felt like strangers in their own skins. (Fiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Riley Redgate speaks exclusively in third person, so this works nicely. She loves horror films, apocalyptic thunderstorms, and the Atonement soundtrack. When writing author bios, she feels as if she is crafting some weirdly formal Tinder profile.

She plans someday to start a melodramatically epic rock band named Millennial Filth. Until then, she writes acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, also novels.

Her website is rileyredgate.com.

Around the Web

Noteworthy on Amazon

Noteworthy on Goodreads

Noteworthy on JLG

Noteworthy Publisher Page

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood. March 21, 2017. Katherine Tegen Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780062402639.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.4.

Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 5-8. Chantel Goldenrod is the most talented student at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. While others struggle for years to summon a familiar, Chantel summoned hers (a snake named Japheth) at age six. Unfortunately for the more magically minded, Miss Ellicott emphasizes deportment and obedience over the study of spells, potions, and wards. But when Miss Ellicott and the rest of the sorceresses disappear, Chantel must ignore all rules in order to find them. Meanwhile, it’s hard to identify the true enemy. Is it the evil Marauders surrounding Lightning Pass who threaten to attack the city wall? Or the patriarchs and king who hoard the scarce food supply while citizens go hungry? Good thing Chantel has capable companions in her sensible friend Anna, a Marauder boy on the run named Franklin, and a dragon called Lightning. This fantastical adventure is a sheer delight, featuring a smart, kind, and brave heroine. Though the story involves the darkness of people’s hearts when they lust for power, it maintains a playfully humorous and good-natured tone. The king and patriarchs are narratively limited by their selfish behavior, but most of the other significant characters exhibit a realistic mix of strengths and flaws. Recommended for fantasy readers who want a plot on the cozier side, but still with serious consequences.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2016)
Owl’s bowels! Someone’s kidnapped the sorceresses of Lightning Pass!Atop a steep, twisting street above the walled Kingdom sits Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens—Spells, Potions, Wards, Summonings and Deportment Taught to Deserving Surplus Females. Here, spells are second to deportment as the young students train to be proper sorceresses—“shamefast and biddable.” Tall and black, 13-year-old Chantel is the school’s most magical maiden, and she doesn’t give a hoot about deportment; she just wants to practice magic. After Miss Ellicott and the other sorceresses who keep the city safe disappear, Chantel finds that the remaining adults—all men—are useless. The patriarchs want to continue their iron rule over the city, and the king wants to take control away from the patriarchs. With barbaric Marauders from outside the wall banging at the gates, it’s up to Chantel to save the city and its people from destruction from without—and within. Aided by a fire-breathing dragon, a crossbow-wielding boy, and a long-dead queen, Chantel is a force to be reckoned with. The narrative makes fun of the follies of bureaucratic patriarchy, subverting gender roles by reinforcing them, trusting readers to spot the irony. In a hilarious turn, the novel plays with the skin-as-food-color trope: Anna, Chantel’s white best friend, is described as having “skin the color of raw chicken.” Chantel is a magical heroine to be celebrated, deportment notwithstanding. (Fantasy. 8-14)

About the Author

Sage Blackwood lives at the edge of a large forest, with thousands of books and a very old dog, and enjoys carpentry, cooking, and walking in the woods of New York State.

Her website is www.sageblackwood.com.

Around the Web

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded on Amazon

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded on Goodreads

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded on JLG

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded Publisher Page