Tag Archives: New York City

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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Streetcar to Justice by Amy Hill Hearth

Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York by Amy Hill Hearth. January 2, 2018. Greenwillow Books, 160 p. ISBN: 9780062673602.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.5; Lexile: 1120.

Amy Hill Hearth uncovers the story of a little-known figure in U.S. history in this biography. In 1854, a young African American woman named Elizabeth Jennings won a major victory against a New York City streetcar company, a first step in the process of desegregating public transportation in Manhattan.

One hundred years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth Jennings’s refusal to leave a segregated streetcar in the Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan set into motion a major court case in New York City.

On her way to church one day in July 1854, Elizabeth Jennings was refused a seat on a streetcar. When she took her seat anyway, she was bodily removed by the conductor and a nearby police officer and returned home bruised and injured. With the support of her family, the African American abolitionist community of New York, and Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Jennings took her case to court. Represented by a young lawyer named Chester A. Arthur (a future president of the United States) she was victorious, marking a major victory in the fight to desegregate New York City’s public transportation

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. When Elizabeth Jennings, a young black woman on her way to church, refused to vacate a New York City streetcar and was literally torn off of it by its driver and roughed up by that driver and a police officer, there was no one around to photograph the event. Luckily, though, there were people who took up her cause for justice, including a young lawyer who went on to become a U.S. president (Chester Arthur). It was 1854, years before the Civil War and emancipation, and a century before Rosa Parks similarly stood her ground. But few people know about Jennings and how her case impacted discrimination laws in the northern city, where she lived as a free black gentlewoman. Hearth places this obscure gem of a story in context: illustrations from the era and extensive notes and references help readers follow the story. Those interested in the myriad origins of the civil rights movement will be fascinated by the case and how it galvanized the black community of its day.

Publishers Weekly (October 16, 2017)
Hearth (The Delany Sisters Reach High) draws on her journalism roots to carefully piece together the story of a mostly forgotten figure in the struggle for racial equality in the United States. African-American schoolteacher Elizabeth Jennings vehemently fought back when she was refused streetcar service in 1854 Manhattan; her victorious court case against the streetcar company helped integrate public transportation in New York. Hearth grounds Jennings’s story in vivid sensory detail: “she would have walked around piles of horse manure and maybe even the bloated remains of a dead animal or two.” Fifteen chapters pack in contextualizing information, often in sidebars, educating readers on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation in the north to Jennings’s contemporaries Frederick Douglass and Chester Arthur (Jennings’s lawyer and future U.S. president). Archival photos, newspaper clippings, and resources that include a timeline of Jennings’s life (she founded the first kindergarten for black children in New York City) augment a book that belongs in any civil rights library collection. Ages 8-12

About the Author

Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced HARTH) is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. Her topics include women’s history, forgotten stories, and elder wisdom.

Ms. Hearth and her husband, Blair, a native of Naples, Florida, live by the ocean in New Jersey, about an hour from Manhattan, with their rescued Boston Terriers. Her website is www.amyhillhearth.com

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You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins. September 12, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 320 p. ISBN: 9780374304904.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial prejudice

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 7-11. How do you make a sweeping family saga feel present and relevant for a teen audience? Jump across time and space and highlight just those pivotal adolescent moments that are as unifying as they are unique: starting a new school, claiming one’s faith, embracing one’s identity, or falling in love. Perkins has created a resonant and memorable tale that is both episodic and wholly unified. Sonia and Tara Das immigrate to New York City with their parents in the 1970s. They are swept into the culture of the vibrant city and quickly push back at their mother Ranee’s traditional expectations of good Indian girls, while their more permissive father encourages Tara’s acting, Sonia’s activism, and independence for both. Twenty year later, their decisions echo in the lives of their own daughters. Sonia’s daughter, Chantal, challenges her family to understand her biracial identity, while Tara’s daughter, Anna, takes a stand to defend her rights in a creative and stylish way. It is Anna and Chantal who ultimately bring Ranee’s character to life as the granddaughters, foils for each other, bear witness to Ranee’s personal awakening after the 9/11 attacks. Full of sisterhood, diversity, and complex, strong women, this book will speak to readers as they will undoubtedly find a kindred spirit in at least one of the Das women.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2017)
Perkins’ latest, inspired by the author’s own experience as the youngest of three sisters who arrived in the United States in the 1970s, is told in alternating voices across three generations. This saga tells the intertwined stories of Ranee Das, the matriarch, who uproots her family from Ghana (and then the United Kingdom) to find fortune in the United States; Sonia and Tara, her daughters, who struggle with identity and acceptance; and Anna and Chantal, Ranee’s granddaughters, who fight injustices at home and in their communities. As in the author’s other books, this novel features inspiring South Asian girl and women protagonists grappling with love, faith, and culture, as well as the intersections among their personal, communal, and national histories. The chapters from Ranee’s point of view, highlighting her redemptive transformation from racist mother-in-law to doting grandmother to a half-black grandchild, and those told in Sonia’s and Tara’s voices, including their turns from awkward and aspiring immigrant teenagers to New York Times reporter and Bollywood star respectively, are lushly drawn and emotionally resonant. The final third of the book, however, from the points of view of Anna and Chantal, is less so; its plotlines—Anna’s quest to redecorate her elite private school’s locker rooms and Chantal’s wrecking of her rich, white boyfriend’s Porsche—seem contrived and hastily written. While “issues” permeate the book (war, migration, racism, colorism, body positivity, environmentalism), they are more deftly woven into the narrative in the earlier, historical chapters than the later, contemporary ones. Although the book loses steam and heart toward the end, the earlier chapters, moving and rich in character and setting, make up for it. (Historical fiction/fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award) Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers.

She currently writes and resides in San Francisco. Her website is www.mitaliperkins.com

Teacher Resources

You Bring the Distant Near Discussion Questions

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In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

In 27 Days by Alison Gervais. July 25, 2017. Blink, 352 p. ISBN: 9780310759058.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him.

Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything – including her life – to keep Archer safe.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Online))
Grades 8-11. As Hadley Jamison mourns a classmate who committed suicide, a man calling himself Death offers her a unique opportunity: go back 27 days into the past to prevent Archer Morales from taking his life. Hadley is suddenly jerked backward in time and finds that her mission is far from simple—Archer’s anger toward the world pushes her away. Even more treacherous is Hadley’s discovery that Death isn’t the only eternal being with its eyes on her. Gervais transitions her hit Wattpad story into a fleshed-out novel, managing to retain the energy that earned it more than two million readers. The book’s centerpiece is plucky Hadley herself. Despite all efforts to thwart her, Hadley remains resolute in her mission to save a stranger from an untimely death. In doing so, she must confront how her own seemingly perfect family is far more dysfunctional than she’d like to believe. This is a fun, quick, yet emotional read that readers will have a hard time putting down.

School Library Journal (June 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-Sixteen-year-old Hadley Jamison is strangely troubled by the suicide of one of her classmates. Though she knew Archer only from sitting next to him in English class two years earlier, she wonders whether she could have done anything to keep the quiet, surly boy from killing himself. After Archer’s funeral, a man known as Death approaches Hadley and offers her the opportunity to go back in time 27 days to save Archer. Hadley accepts, and over the next several weeks, she forces her company on Archer, convincing him to tutor her in geometry and working at his family’s coffee shop. She becomes close with his family, soon spending all her free time with them, in stark contrast to her usual routine of evenings alone in her Upper East Side apartment. Slowly, Hadley learns the truth about what led Archer to commit suicide. Her stubborn refusal to leave him alone seems noble in the context of a lifesaving mission but in reality would be disturbing. Repeated violations of personal boundaries should not be romanticized. The message that one teenager should take on total responsibility for preventing another’s suicide is also troubling. VERDICT Fast-paced and filled with romance, this would likely appeal to some reluctant readers. However, the immature writing style, the clumsy and heavy-handed delivery, a tone that is too light for the subject matter, and unhealthy messages for teenagers should make librarians pause before adding this to their collections.-Liz Overberg, Zionsville Community High School, IN

About the Author

Watty Award-winning author Alison Gervais has been writing for as long as she can remember. In 2011, she began posting her work on Wattpad.com and has been active on the site ever since. If she’s not writing, she can be found re-reading Harry Potter, watching Supernatural, or trying to win the affection of her two cats, Kovu and Rocket.

 

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In 27 Days on Amazon

In 27 Days on Goodreads

In 27 Days on JLG

In 27 Days Publisher Page

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. November 1, 2016. Delacorte Press, 384 p. ISBN: 9780553496697.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 650.

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 22))
Grades 8-12. On a summer morning in New York City, Daniel and Natasha wake up as strangers. This is a day that could catapult their lives into entirely new directions that neither of them wants to take. Natasha has only hours left to prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica, after a minor legal infraction jeopardizes their stay in the U.S. Daniel dreads sealing his fate with an alumni interview that will pave his way to a career in medicine, as his Korean family expects. Despite a day packed with Natasha’s desperate race against time and a tangled system, and Daniel’s difficult tug-of-war between familial pressures and autonomy, love finds a way in, takes hold, and changes them both forever. Yoon’s sophomore effort (Everything, Everything, 2015) is carefully plotted and distinctly narrated in Natasha’s and Daniel’s voices; yet it also allows space for the lives that are swirling around them, from security guards to waitresses to close relatives. It’s lyrical and sweeping, full of hope, heartbreak, fate, and free will. It encompasses the cultural specifics of diverse New York City communities and the universal beating of the human heart. Every day—like every book—begins full of possibility, but this one holds more than others.

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 1, 2016)
Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate. With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

About the Author

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason.

Her website is www.NicolaYoon.com.

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You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche. November 1, 2016. Razorbill, 352 p. ISBN: 9781101998939.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 910.

It’s always been you—you know that, right?

At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

An epic ensemble piece in the vein of Fame and Let’s Get Lost, You in Five Acts is a eulogy for a friendship—the heartbreaks, the betrayals, the inside jokes, the remember-whens. And the tragedy that changed everything.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes; Drugs; Underage drinking; Racist violence; Homophobic slur

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
Five teenagers live for their art in this coming-of-age story of achievement, ambition, and heartache.LaMarche’s latest novel (Don’t Fail Me Now, 2015, etc.), which chronicles the tribulations of a group of friends in their senior year at a prestigious New York arts conservatory, is a pleasing mix of Fame and Gossip Girl. Each character narrates a section, addressing it to the titular “you,” who changes depending on the narrator: Joy, the black ballerina and a passionate perfectionist terrified of failure; Liv, a Puerto Rican actress whose party-girl ways have tragic consequences; Ethan, the nerdy, white Russian immigrant’s son, a playwright with Broadway ambitions; Dave, a white teen celebrity desperate for a fresh start away from his mistakes in LA; and Diego, a Latino dancer for whom ballet is a ticket to a better life. The author knows her subject matter well, and she effectively captures the essence of teenagerhood, from the hormones and the slang to the heartbreak and paralyzing self-doubt. As in a Shakespeare play, everyone is in love with the wrong person, and it takes most of the novel and some dramatic events for everyone’s feelings to be sorted out correctly. Of the five storylines, Joy’s—in which she copes with body shaming and other indignities that have kept the rarefied world of ballet largely off-limits to black women—is the most compelling. Given the current political climate, the characters’ struggles with the white establishment create a poignant and timely socially conscious narrative. (Fiction. 14-18)

School Library Journal (October 1, 2016)
Gr 8 Up-Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan, and Dave are students at Janus Academy, the highest-rated arts school in New York City. They are all friends, but more than that, they have one thing in common-they are all tired. Joy is tired of struggling to be recognized as a serious contender for prima ballerina by her parents and teachers. Diego is sick of always being seen as just a friend-especially by the one girl he wants the most. Liv yearns for some escape from her daily life. Ethan has had enough of the girl of his dreams always looking through him. Dave is tired of his past successes defining his future. None of the five realize that their world is changing, and it’s all coming down to one pivotal moment that spirals out of their control. LaMarche crafts the novel in five parts, each narrated by one of the main characters. The protagonists are diverse, intelligent, and solidly teen in their perspectives. Each voice is distinct and recognizable. From the beginning, the story is counting down to a culminating event, and the author is able to develop suspense but also keep the book humorous and romantic. The conclusion is heartrending and timely but also unexpected and fresh. Different points of view keep the work moving at a fast pace and add to its compulsive readability. VERDICT Purchase for all libraries that serve teens.-Morgan Brickey, Arlington Public Library, TX

About the Author

Una LaMarche is the author of two young adult novels, Five Summers and Like No Other, and Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer, a collection of humor essays based on some of her more questionable life choices. She is also a contributing writer for The New York Observer and The Huffington Post, and blogs at The Sassy Curmudgeon. Una lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Her website is www.unalamarche.com.

Teacher Resources

Writing Tips from Una LaMarche

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You in Five Acts on Amazon

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