With the perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and joy, the characters in Julie Bauxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things come to feel like old friends who make any day better. This young adult novel is sure to appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.
Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Slater, CD. (2017). The 57 Bus. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The 57 Bus reads along like a fictional story. You meet characters, learn about their lives, and begin to root for these teens because they’re all good kids. But one wrong, spur of the moment decision, and now this story has become tragedy of sorts. The setting is Oakland, California, where there is a huge disparity of wealth, but it’s also one of the more progressively-minded cities in the States. As the city bus criss-crossed different pockets of Oakland, two teen-agers overlapped paths on their ride home from school everyday for a short eight minutes. Robert and his buddies are black and are from a crime-ridden neighbourhood; Sasha is white, attends a private school, and identifies as agender – neither male nor female. Fooling around, the teens egg on Robert to light the edge of Sasha’s skirt on fire as he sleeps. The material catches on the fourth try. Robert and his friends jump off the bus and turn around to the see the doors closing and Sacha’s skirt erupting in a ball of flames. They ended up with second and third degree burns.
The 57 Bus is a true story. The author elaborates on her 2015 New York Times Magazine article, compiling a book full of interviews, social media posts, Continue reading
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