Hennessey, M.G. (2016). The Other Boy. NY: Harper Collins.
Los Angeles has been good to Shane Woods, a twelve year old who likes baseball, comics, and who has lived as a boy since moving there years ago. Everything is going swell. He and his best friend, Josh, even have a spot on the baseball team. But it all comes crashing down when a bully discovers Shane’s secret, one he has not even revealed to Josh yet (he always planned to!) because well, it never seemed to be the right time.
The Other Boy highlights emotional pressures some transgender kids endure in elementary Continue reading
Menon, S. (2017). When Dimple Met Rishi. NY: Simon & Shuster.
Dimple and Rishi, two Indian-America teenagers, have finished high school and are excited to brave the beginning of the rest of their lives, however each have very different viewpoints of what that looks like. Dimple (who unfortunately never materialized any real dimples to live up to her name) has passionately chosen to pursue her career, beginning with a Stanford education. Rishi on the other hand is more traditional, choosing tradition and obedience over doing what makes his soul sing. His little brother, who is now bigger, taller, and much more muscular than the MIT-bound Rishi, suggests he be more balanced and reminds him of the comics he used to love.
Dimple and Rishi go to a computer programming summer camp in San Francisco; Dimple is thrilled to be studying with some of the best in the field and surprised her parents allowed her to go, while Rishi signed up because both sets of parents have actually set up an arranged marriage for their children and want them to get to know each other a bit before leaving for colleges on separate coasts. Rishi, a Continue reading
Glaser, M. (2017). The Book Jumper. NY: Feiwel & Friends.
This is one you’ve got to read if you’re a bibliophile and you liked the concept of Inkheart. In The Book Jumper, Amy Lennox and her mother pick up and travel from Germany to her grandmother’s house on the Scottish island of Stormsay. She’s not looking forward to it, and upon arrival her grandmother already has one rule in place – she must read. Except Amy discovers she has the power to jump into books and interact with the characters! In fact, she discovers her family shares this skill and they are also keepers of an antiquated library. Amy quickly learns that a book jumper’s duty is to insure important ideas aren’t stolen from books; indeed, there is a book thief on the prowl. She meets another book jumper, Will, and together they travel from world to world, meeting famous characters and fighting to save crucial ideas before the books themselves are lost forever.
Incredibly crafted and plot-driven, this story is unique enough to keep you happy. I especially found myself wrapped up in the Gothic island setting.
Thomas, K. (2017). Little Monsters. NY: Delacorte Press.
Little Monsters is a guilty pleasure thriller from Kara Thomas that reveals how teenage girls are capable of taking their emotions and actions to an extreme level. Set during a Minnesota winter, Kacey Young has recently moved out of her unstable mother’s house to her father’s house with a warm welcome from her step mother, step brother, and half sister. They truly want what is best for Kacey, who has lived a tough life and has some dark secrets. Along with all of these changes, Kacey is also adjusting to a new school and making friends.
Very quickly, Bailey and Jade become her besties, showing up at her window one night to sneak her out to a haunted, abandoned barn for a seance, with Kacey’s younger half sister unexpectedly tagging along. The town’s legend of the Red Woman adds a slice of horror to the plot, and when Bailey goes missing following a party the next night, a convoluted psychological mystery Continue reading
LaCour N. (2017). We Are Okay. New York: Dutton Books for Young Readers.
We Are Okay‘s entrancing cover with a girl standing on her bed looking out into the ocean is perfect for this psychological mystery told through flashbacks. Marin is at university in upper state New York, having fled from California and the very people who love and want to support her following her Gramps’ death. Truly an orphan now, it’s turns out to be the secrets Marin encountered, slowly revealed to us, that made her abruptly leave home and cut off all ties.
When the story begins Marin is staying on an isolated college campus over winter break. Her roommate, Hannah, just left for Christmas, and now she is expecting a visit from her best friend, Mabel. As you may imagine, the December New York setting is stark, cold, and isolated, ready to match Marin’s depression. We aren’t privy to the background of Marin and Mabel’s relationship, yet like the rest of the story it Continue reading
Brown, P. (2016). The Wild Robot. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Peter Brown’s art has come to middle grade fiction, and combined with his equally bare bones writing style, he has created a meditation on nature versus technology, a philosopher’s handbook, if you want to go that far.
After falling off a cargo ship and bobbing along in the ocean, Roz reaches the shores of an island where otters manage to open up her shipping box and activate her. Roz opens her eyes, looks around this place – the only place she’s ever known – and even though she is indeed a robot, she considers it home. However, survival quickly becomes her primary focus, when a storm sweeps her down in a mudslide, angry bears chase her, and a mama bird makes sure Roz lands with a clank out of a tall and sticky pine tree. Intriguingly, Roz begins to observe the island’s animals and learn their ways and their language. The line between real and robot is tenuous and appealing in Continue reading