Tag Archives: interpersonal relations

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Field Notes on Love  by Jennifer E. Smith. March 5, 2019. Delacorte Press, 288 p. ISBN: 9780399559433.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The bestselling author of Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight returns with a meet-cute romance about Hugo and Mae, two teens who are thrown together on a cross-country train trip that will teach them about love, each other, and the futures they can build for themselves.

It’s the perfect idea for a romantic week together: traveling across America by train.

But then Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him. Her parting gift: the tickets for their long-planned last-hurrah-before-uni trip. Only, it’s been booked under her name. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Mae is still reeling from being rejected from USC’s film school. When she stumbles across Hugo’s ad for a replacement Margaret Campbell (her full name!), she’s certain it’s exactly the adventure she needs to shake off her disappointment and jump-start her next film.

A cross-country train trip with a complete stranger might not seem like the best idea. But to Mae and Hugo, both eager to escape their regular lives, it makes perfect sense. What starts as a convenient arrangement soon turns into something more. But when life outside the train catches up to them, can they find a way to keep their feelings for each other from getting derailed?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 8))
Grades 9-12. Hugo’s used to not having anything that’s really his own: as one of the semifamous Surrey Six, he and his five sextuplet siblings have secured a scholarship to the local university. But before he commits to the foreseeable future in England, Hugo’s going to have one little slice of freedom: a train trip he’s taking across America with his girlfriend. But then Margaret dumps him. And suddenly Hugo is left with two train tickets in her name that he can’t use—unless he finds another Margaret Campbell. Enter Mae, who has just been rejected from USC’s film school. Hugo’s ad seems crazy, but at her grandmother’s urging, Mae finds herself lying to her dads and boarding a train, where she hopes she’ll find material for a new film. Smith returns to the conceit that made The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (2012) succeed: travel as a vehicle for romance. Both Hugo and Mae’s alternating viewpoints are rich and introspective, and this will appeal to any teen that appreciates a thoughtful love story.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
Hugo Wilkinson, one of the “Surrey Six” sextuplets from Surrey, England, has been looking forward to a train trip across America with his girlfriend, Margaret Campbell. It would be a rare moment away from his siblings and the public scrutiny that will only get worse when they all enter university on a scholarship from a wealthy alumnus. But Hugo is blindsided when Margaret breaks up with him and he realizes her name is the only one on all their nonrefundable, nontransferable tickets and reservations. Margaret “Mae” Campbell lives in Hudson Valley, New York, with two loving gay dads and a doting Nana and was rejected by her dream film school. Discovering Hugo’s post seeking another Margaret Campbell to travel with, she applies to join him. After some initial awkwardness, the two form a connection. Hugo is loyal to his siblings, but he secretly wants something different for himself. Mae, who appears confident, has kept a part of herself hidden. As they travel, she interviews passengers, and their revelations spark a change in her. This warm, romantic, never overly sentimental story is told with humor and heart, the cinematic narrative easily moving between the two likable, charming protagonists. The well-portrayed supporting cast members, especially Hugo’s siblings and Mae’s Nana, appear in texts and video calls, providing insight into the protagonists. Hugo is biracial (black and white), and Mae is white. A deeply satisfying read about a life-changing journey full of poignant moments. (Romance. 12-18)

About the Author

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of seven novels for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She lives in New York City.

Her website is www.tinaconnolly.com.

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The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone

The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone. October 2, 2018. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781534422179.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

From debut author Peter Stone comes a heart-stopping, pulse-pounding political thriller that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter and House of Cards

When recent high school graduate Cameron Carter lands an internship with Congressman Billy Beck in Washington, DC, he thinks it is his ticket out of small town captivity. What he lacks in connections and Beltway polish he makes up in smarts, and he soon finds a friend and mentor in fellow staffer Ariel Lancaster.

That is, until she winds up dead.

As rumors and accusations about her death fly around Capitol Hill, Cameron’s low profile makes him the perfect candidate for an FBI investigation that he wants no part of. Before he knows it—and with his family’s future at stake—he discovers DC’s darkest secrets as he races to expose a deadly conspiracy.

If it doesn’t get him killed first.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:  Mild sexual themes; Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. High-school graduate Cameron Carter has secured an internship with Congressman Billy Beck. When he moves to Washington, D.C., Cameron is full of idealism and political drive. He has even managed to find a friend and confidante in Ariel Lancaster, a fellow staffer, who is much more welcoming than his roommates (who act partly as superfluous comic relief). But just as Cameron feels he’s hitting his stride, Ariel dies in a car crash, an FBI agent corners him in an elevator, and the seemingly perfect congressman’s kindness and attention takes on a sinister dimension. As Cam gets swept up in an investigation he wants no part of, he teams up with the FBI agent and the daughter of the Mexican ambassador to try to get to the bottom of a dangerous conspiracy. Although the antagonists are somewhat two-dimensional, Stone’s debut novel will nevertheless engage readers looking for a politically charged, high-stakes thriller with a hint of romance. Hand to fans of Ally Carter’s All Fall Down (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
During a summer internship, a teenage boy is thrust into the middle of a murderous political game in Stone’s thriller debut. Cameron Carter is in serious trouble. He was thrilled when a summer internship in his congressman’s office, the opportunity of lifetime, landed in his lap. He makes friends with fellow interns, impresses several staffers, and even sparks a relationship with Lena Cruz, the adventurous daughter of the Mexican ambassador. But when Ariel, a staffer who had taken Cameron under her wing and asked for his help on a secret project, dies suddenly in a car crash, fissures of doubt around her death begin to break apart the shiny facade of the capital and the congressman himself. Character development takes a back seat to an enthralling plot of power, greed, and murder that threatens to swallow its protagonist whole. Cameron is something of an Everyman—a white teen in a very white Washington, D.C., he is YA’s answer to Harrison Ford—but his dogged (even reckless) proclivity for pursuing questions and some complexity with regard to his supposedly deceased mother keep readers from losing him in the high-octane plot. Some artless setup for a sequel may detract from the narrative’s overall punch, but readers can’t help but wonder what will come next. While not pushing the genre into new territory, Stone has crafted a narrative driven by that most potent of fuels: political intrigue. (Political thriller. 14-17)

About the Author

Peter Stone is a lifelong fan of thrillers on the big screen, small screen, and page. Prior to his career in TV and film marketing, he worked in Washington, DC, first as an intern on Capitol Hill and later as a Spanish tutor for a former Speaker of the House. The Perfect Candidate is his debut novel. He lives in Tokyo, Japan, with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.peterstonebooks.com

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The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas. August 21, 2018. Feiwel & Friends, 219 p. ISBN: 9781250129987.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 930.

Whip-smart, hilarious, and unapologetically honest, Rachael Lucas’s The State of Graceis a heartwarming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.
“Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.”
Grace is autistic and has her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.
Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Underage drinking

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Online))
Grades 8-11. Grace, a 15-year-old with high-functioning autism, feels as if she is the only one on the planet who didn’t get a handbook of how life works. She does her best to avoid any kind of attention, although some of her teachers are unsympathetic. She is also a natural target for resident mean-girl Holly, who has issues of her own. Grace is content with her best friend Anna and her horse, Mabel, but when Gabe comes along and kisses her at a party, nothing is quite the same, and Grace’s life starts to spiral out of control. Meanwhile, her father is away for his work, and her mother has taken up with a former school friend named Eve, whose negativity and possessiveness is having a poisonous effect. Still, the people around Grace have faith in her, and she starts to develop faith in herself. Strong, fascinating Grace honestly articulates her meltdowns and gaffes in her first-person narrative, and if the characters around her seem less rounded, it only makes her shine brighter.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
For British teen Grace, life with Asperger’s syndrome, as she describes it, feels “like walking in step, but with someone trying to trip you up—and you’re juggling at the same time, with people pelting more and more balls at you.” Her loving mother, her reliable best friend, and her beloved horse, Mabel, provide a support system, but the unpredictability of high school tests even her sturdiest routines. In a distinct and endearingly sarcastic voice, Grace tells the story of her tenth-grade year. She faces disruptive changes at home (her parents may be splitting up) and at school, where teachers are skeptical about her need for accommodation, and peer relationships become more nuanced and complex. Increased social demands prove especially exhausting. Loud parties are terrifying, crowds are suffocating, and a trip to the bowling alley is “sensory hell”—but she sees the benefits when classmate Gabe starts paying her special attention. Their relationship blooms into a sweet, hopeful sort-of romance that inspires Grace to take more social risks; some of her ideas prove unwise—in a particularly cringe-making scene, Grace brings her horse to a public beach—but most come to tender resolutions. This gentle, sensitive slice-of-life story seamlessly weaves Grace’s unique neurological worldview with the universal angst of coming-of-age. jessica tackett macdonald

About the Author

Rachael Lucas lives and works in a Victorian house by the seaside in the northwest of England with her partner (also a writer) and some of their six children, as well as an ever-expanding collection of animals.

She is the author of the Carnegie nominated and critically acclaimed The State of Grace and several adult novels, including the UK top ten bestseller, Sealed with a Kiss.

Her website is rachaellucas.com.

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There There by Tommy Orange

There There by Tommy Orange. June 5, 2018. Knopf, 304 p. ISBN: 9780525520375.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking—Tommy Orange’s first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.

Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohol, Criminal culture, Explicit discussion of defecation

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 17))
The at-first disconnected characters from whose perspectives Orange voices his symphonic debut are united by the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Some have been working on the event for months; some will sneak in with only good intentions, while others are plotting to steal the sizable cash prizes. Creative interludes from an omniscient narrator describe, for example, the names of First Nations people or what it means to be an Urban Indian: “We ride buses, trains, and cars across, over, and under concrete plains. Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere or nowhere.” Opal recalls occupying Alcatraz as a child with her family; today she raises her sister’s grandchildren as her own after their unspeakable loss. With grant support, Dene endeavors to complete the oral-history project his deceased uncle couldn’t, recording the stories of Indians living in Oakland. In his thirties, with his white mother’s blessing, Edwin reaches out to the Native father he never met. While anticipation of the powwow provides a baseline of suspense, the path Orange lights through these and his novel’s many other stories thrills on its own. Engrossing at its most granular, in characters’ thoughts and fleeting moments, There There introduces an exciting voice.

Library Journal (April 1, 2018)
DEBUT Orange’s visceral first novel, set in past and present-day Oakland, weaves more than ten plot lines involving the lives of Native Americans. All intersect in a crescendo of violence at the Oakland Powwow. Tony Loneman starts off the narrative with an honest discussion of his fetal alcohol syndrome, which he calls “the Drome.” He also features in the conclusion piloting a drone. Video artist Dene Oxendene records stories while Orvil Red Feather is a dancer. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield and her sister -Jacquie Red Feather are most central to the novel. Jacquie and Opal were part of the historic occupation of Alcatraz-where Jacquie became pregnant-eventually giving up her daughter for a blind adoption. A chronicle of domestic violence, alcoholism, addiction, and pain, the book reveals the perseverance and spirit of the characters; from Jacquie as a substance abuse counselor ten days sober to the plight of Blue, the daughter she gave up, escaping from an abusive relationship. -VERDICT This book provides a broad sweep of lives of Native American people in Oakland and beyond. Echoes of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets meets the unflinching candor of Sherman Alexie’s oeuvre; highly recommended.

About the Author

Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.

 

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Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell

Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell. March 13, 2018. Razorbill, 320 p. ISBN: 9780448494265.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 660.

The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she’s been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it’s time to evacuate.

Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey–and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks’s dark past come to light, Audrey can’t help but wonder if there’s danger in the pull she feels–both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Marijuana, Arson, Animal abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. The morning she’s evacuated from her Orange County home to escape an approaching fire, Audrey Harper is already nearing the brink of collapse. After what seemed like the perfect summer romance with her boyfriend, mysterious, brooding Brooks, the autumn has left her with too many questions about who Brooks really is—and who she’d be without him. Unfolding over the course of a single day, the narrative manages to mix the ticking-clock tension of the approaching, unforgivable fire with flashbacks that pull back the curtain on a mystery without slowing the pace. First-time author Ezell has perfectly captured the disquieting feeling inherent to the dawning realization of an undesirable truth. She avoids assigning Audrey’s multilayered pain a neat set of labels or causes, allowing the character space to explore them. This is a gripping novel about finding out who you are under the worst circumstances, and still maintaining hope that your new sense of self will carry you through to better times.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
The Sunday morning after she loses her virginity, white 16-year-old Audrey Harper is home alone when the evacuation order arrives.A wildfire rages in the nearby canyons, and it’s spreading, moving toward the gated Orange County community where she lives with her mother, father, and 13-year-old sister. Audrey’s boyfriend, Brooks, a volunteer firefighter, is creepily euphoric about the prospect of fire; he seems to look forward to it. As Audrey acts to save some of her family’s most cherished belongings, including her sister’s secret pet kitten, and to find a safe place to wait out the fires, she reflects on her sometimes-rocky relationship with Brooks. The story is deftly punctuated with flashbacks of the past several months—from Audrey’s meet-cute with Brooks to falling in love to their ill-fated three-month “anniversary”—showcasing events leading up to the present. As the story moves forward, and the fire moves closer to home, Audrey discovers Brooks hasn’t told her the whole truth about his past. Is he the tortured soul he’s led her to believe he is, or is he a manipulative liar? Clues throughout hint at the fire’s origins; observant readers will have it figured out in no time. Audrey is aware that her gated community is “painfully whitewashed and lacking in diversity”; to that end, characters are assumed white. A decently entertaining story of love, loss, and hope. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

A Southern California native, Heather Ezell was evacuated for a fire at the age of three and subsequently grew up with an obsessive fear of wildfires. She has been chasing reprieve from California’s heat ever since–from the Rocky Mountains to Interior Alaska. Heather graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she writes, practices amateur ballet in the forest, and obsesses over the weather.

Her website is www.heatherezell.com

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Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn. March 13, 2018. jimmy patterson, 384 p. ISBN: 9780316471602.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Kira’s life changed eight months ago when her alcoholic father went to rehab, and she moved from her small Texas hometown to stay with her aunt. She left behind her dance team, close friends, and a boyfriend. Now it’s time to return, and she’s nervous. Is her father sober for good? Will she and Jay resume their relationship? When Kira discovers her father has opened their home to three friends from rehab, and Jay is now dating one of her best friends, she is furious and plans her own “12 steps” to the life she once had. Although Kira’s path is often predictable—denial, anger, grief, and understanding take turns leading her through emotional growth—Penn nicely captures the all-consuming emotions of a teen wrestling life into some sort of order. A comfortable new romance and an unexpected death provide comfort and catharsis. Penn’s note to the reader explains that she too had a father who suffered from alcoholism, and it’s this loving, compassionate hindsight that will speak honestly to readers in the same situation.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 15, 2018)
The 12 steps to sobriety are tough; the 12 steps to repairing high school friendships are also difficult. After a year away, Kira is returning home to small-town Cedarville, Texas, to once again live with her recovering-alcoholic father in the house they once shared with Kira’s late grandmother. The white teen’s re-entry stumbles immediately when she learns that some of her father’s fellow rehab patients are staying there too. Kira also needs to work on rekindling friendships with her friends, as she avoided contact with them after she left. Then there’s Jay, Kira’s ex-boyfriend, who has moved on in Kira’s absence to friend Whitney. What’s a girl to do? In Kira’s case, the answer is to create her own 12-step program to return to a normal life. Penn creates a realistic character in Kira, one who finely balances the rational thoughts of a child of addiction with the emotional struggles of a high school student. Kira’s journey should speak to many teenage readers, even those who do not have firsthand experience with addiction or addicts. All of the characters (there are some people of color among Kira’s friends) are captured with a sophisticated eye and create a well-rounded story. Latino Alex—a friend-turned–love-interest—may be too good to be true, but readers will probably easily forgive that. An author’s note offers resources. A smart recommendation for readers looking to escape into a substantive world of personal discovery. (foreword) (Fiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Farrah Penn was born and raised in a suburb in Texas that was far from the big city, but close enough to What-A-Burger. She now resides in Los Angeles, CA with her gremlin dog and succulents. When she’s not writing books, she’s writing things for BuzzFeed or sending texts containing too many emojis. 12 Steps to Normal is her first novel.

Her website is www.farrahpenn.com.

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I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. March 27, 2018. Viking Books for Young Readers, 258 p. ISBN: 9780425290774.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

A fateful accident draws three strangers together over the course of a single day:

Freya who has lost her voice while recording her debut album.
Harun who is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved.
Nathaniel who has just arrived in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose.

As the day progresses, their secrets start to unravel and they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is bestselling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Homophobic language

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 10-12. Freya sacrificed family for her music career, and now, just as she’s poised to make it big, she loses her singing voice completely. Harun, caught between the boy he loves and the family he doesn’t want to disappoint, prepares for a trip that could force him into a life he doesn’t want. And Nathaniel, self-contained and used to having only his father in his life, arrives in New York with almost nothing. When a chance encounter throws the three together, none of them will leave unchanged. Forman’s (If I Stay, 2009) latest is a mature, quiet examination of loss. The bulk of the narrative takes place over the course of just one day, with intermittent flashbacks giving depth to the characters. During that day, the three, who come from varying, diverse backgrounds and families, face their individual demons and try to find the paths they’ve lost. Tightly woven and, in places, heartbreaking, this is a masterful exploration of human emotion that will appeal to adults as well as older teens.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2018)
A chance meeting leads to intimate connections for three struggling nineteen-year-olds in Forman’s (If I Stay, rev. 7/09; I Was Here, rev. 1/15) latest novel. Freya is an up-and-coming singer who has lost her voice, to her controlling manager’s chagrin. Harun is a college student with a broken heart and an impossible decision to make: tell his devout Muslim family he is gay, or travel to Pakistan and bring home a bride. Nathaniel just flew into the city, and he’s hiding the true reason for his visit. After colliding in a three-way meet-cute—Freya falls from a Central Park pedestrian bridge and lands on Nathaniel, with Harun stepping in as a helpful bystander—the teens each privately feel drawn to one another; their day, like their relationships, unfolds organically as they each find opportunities to take control of their lives, with the others providing quiet support. Narration flits among the teens’ perspectives; this keeps the pace lively, but some more abrupt shifts are disorienting. Intermittent flashback chapters deepen the characters’ compelling backstories. A precipitously tense conclusion offers no easy answers for Freya, Harun, or Nathaniel, instead providing a stirring reminder of the great risks of isolation and the immense solace and power that community—even with virtual strangers—can bring. jessica tackett macdonald

About the Author

Gayle Forman is an award-winning internationally bestselling author. Her books include Just One Day, Just One Year, I Was Here, Where She Went and If I Stay, which was made into a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

Her newest novel, Leave Me, is her first one starring adults. (She refuses to say it’s an adult novel because she knows plenty of adults read YA and vice-versa).

Gayle lives with her husband and daughters in Brooklyn.  Her website is www.gayleforman.com.

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Release by Patrick Ness

Release by Patrick Ness. September 19, 2017. HarperTeen, 279 p. ISBN: 9780062403193.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Sexual harassment, Homophobic slurs, Homophobia

 

Book Trailer

Author Interviews

Reviews

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
Ness follows seventeen-year-old Adam through one eventful day. A goodbye party is planned for his ex-boyfriend Enzo, but first there’s a revelation from Adam’s pious brother, a threatening encounter with Adam’s lecherous male boss, a much more positive encounter with his current boyfriend Linus, and a confrontation with his evangelical minister father. Meanwhile, in occasional interspersed passages, the ghost of recently murdered classmate Katherine wanders the town. The book is full of references to Mrs. Dalloway and to Virginia Woolf (“Adam would have to get the flowers himself”; Katherine is drowned with weighted pockets), and its author’s note cites its debt to that book and to Judy Blume’s Forever. Release echoes the latter’s frankness about teen sexuality, as well as the gravity Forever gives to teen concerns: only Katherine needs to let go of her earthly life, but Adam needs to let go of things, too, and Ness treats these as equally important. The voice here is more grounded than Mrs. Dalloway’s, and most of the book is closer to realism than Ness’s in-some-ways-similar More Than This (rev. 11/13), but this book’s self-awareness lends its events a dreamlike feel. Though it functions as an accessible, standalone coming-of-age story, awareness of its influences makes for a layered reading experience. shoshana flax

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
An extraordinary, ordinary day in the life of Adam Thorn.Seventeen-year-old, tall, white, blond, evangelical-raised Adam begins his day buying chrysanthemums for his overbearing, guilt-inducing mother. From the get-go, some readers may recognize one of many deliberate, well-placed Virginia Woolf references throughout the narrative. He goes on a long run. He has lunch with his bright, smart-alecky best friend, Angela Darlington, who was born in Korea and adopted by her white parents. In a particularly uncomfortable scene, he is sexually harassed by his boss. He also partakes in a 30-plus–page act of intimacy that leaves little to the imagination with his new boyfriend, Linus, also white. The scene is fairly educational, but it’s also full of laughter, true intimacy, discomfort, mixed feelings, and more that elevate it far beyond pure physicality. Meanwhile, in parallel vignettes, the ghost of a murdered teenage girl armed with more Woolf references eerily haunts the streets and lake where she was killed. Her story permeates the entire narrative and adds a supernatural, creepy context to the otherwise small town. What makes these scenes rise about the mundane is Ness’ ability to drop highly charged emotion bombs in the least expected places and infuse each of them with poignant memories, sharp emotions, and beautifully rendered scenes that are so moving it may cause readers to pause and reflect. Literary, illuminating, and stunningly told. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking TrilogyThe Crash of HenningtonTopics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award.

Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London. His website is www.patrickness.com

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What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard. June 6, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 400 p. ISBN: 9780374304638.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 590.

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Debut author Ballard details exactly what 16-year-old Elizabeth loses as she strives for perfection and eventually learns to accept herself. Elizabeth has achieved her ultimate goal, being a size zero, by starving herself. Yet her achievement results in her being placed in a psychiatric facility and forced to lose what she’s come to think of as her “perfect” size. Puzzling packages soon start arriving for Elizabeth that bring out painful memories, and she wonders how, or if, she will survive anorexia to return to her normal life. Ballard’s tender novel is one of recovery and acceptance. She enters into the complex world of teenagers and the sensitive issues they deal with on a daily basis, clearly depicting how teens can succumb to medical conditions such as anorexia. Deliberate pacing makes the story a little difficult to get into during the first few chapters, but readers will gradually fall deeper and deeper into the story. A heartfelt account that shows a lot of promise from a new author.

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
A young woman struggles with anorexia in this debut. High school junior Elizabeth has dropped to a dangerous 90 pounds before being sent to Wallingfield Psychiatric Facility by her worried parents. She’s unsure what to expect and is somewhat ambivalent about her treatment—she doesn’t want to get better if it means that she has to gain weight. However, as this engrossing and heartfelt novel progresses, Elizabeth finds that the enforced, monitored meals and various therapy groups at Wallingfield are at once sources of shame, frustration, and hope. Vivid descriptions of the panic and visceral disgust she experiences at the prospect of eating juxtapose well with the account of her progress as she begins to confront just how profound the effect her mother’s disordered relationship with food and body image has had on her. That some of this account is noticeably expository finds compensation in Elizabeth’s well-developed character. Elizabeth develops supportive friendships with several girls at the center, and a romantic subplot with a boy she knows from school adds an appealing layer to the first-person, confessional narrative. The ethnicities of the main characters are not specified, though mention is made of a friend of Elizabeth’s standing out as the only Indian student at school, suggesting that the community is predominantly white. Readers will root for the novel’s likable main character and gain some understanding of the complexity of her illness at the same time. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of Berkeley, California, with her husband and two daughters. What I Lost is Alexandra Ballard’s debut novel.

Her website is www.alexandraballard.com.

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Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Far From the Tree: Young Adult Edition: How Children and Their Parents Learn to Accept One Another . . . Our Differences Unite Us by Andrew Solomon. July 25, 2017. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 464 p. ISBN: 9781481440905.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1050.

From New York Times bestselling author Andrew Solomon comes a stunning, poignant, and affecting young adult edition of his award-winning masterpiece, Far From the Tree, which explores the impact of extreme differences between parents and children.

The old adage says that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, meaning that children usually resemble their parents. But what happens when the apples fall somewhere else—sometimes a couple of orchards away, sometimes on the other side of the world?

In this young adult edition, Andrew Solomon profiles how families accommodate children who have a variety of differences: families of people who are deaf, who are dwarfs, who have Down syndrome, who have autism, who have schizophrenia, who have multiple severe disabilities, who are prodigies, who commit crimes, and more.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, Far From the Tree explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other—a theme in every family’s life. The New York Times calls the adult edition a “wise and beautiful” volume, that “will shake up your preconceptions and leave you in a better place.”

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Criminal culture, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Racism, Homophobia, Psychological trauma, Physical abuse, Sexual assault and abuse, Clinical discussion of sexual abuse, Self-harming

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
How do parents react when a child is far different from themselves—and how do those children cope with difference?This young-readers’ edition of the original 2012 tome is far shorter but follows an identical format. In the first and last chapters, the author speaks of his own life journey as a gay Jew; in between he tells of families encountering the following differences: deaf, dwarfs, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, rape, crime, and transgender. He speaks with sensitivity about children who find community—or not—with others like themselves. He discusses such deeply philosophical and ethical questions as whether cochlear implants at birth are leading to the genocide of the Deaf community and whether parents of “pillow angels”—severely disabled children—should agree to medically stunt their children’s growth so the children can always be moved by loving arms instead of cranelike equipment. He argues that many children born “far from the tree” eventually find acceptance and even celebration among their families—but also despairs for those who deal with schizophrenia and those conceived by rape. Readers are not spared distressing details: a severely autistic child smears himself with excrement, then flings it at his parents; a family pet is killed gruesomely as a warning to a lesbian couple and their transgender child; there’s a substantial list of parents convicted of killing their children—and who are given light or even nonexistent jail sentences. Less mature teens—or those with low self-esteem—may well profit from confining their reading to the eloquent, encouraging first and last chapters. Virtually every teenager struggles with difference and identity; at its best, this book will help its readers understand and embrace intersectionality. (notes, further reading) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Andrew Solomon writes about politics, culture, and health. He lives in New York and London. He has written for many publications–such as the New York TimesThe New Yorker and Artforum–on topics including depression, Soviet artists, the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan, Libyan politics, and deaf culture. He is also a Contributing Writer for Travel and Leisure. In 2008, he was awarded the Humanitarian Award of the Society of Biological Psychiatry for his contributions to the field of mental health. He has a staff appointment as a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell Medical School (Weill-Cornell Medical College).

His website is andrewsolomon.com

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Far From the Tree Reading Guide

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