Walters, E. (2017). 90 Days of Different: Orca Publishers.
Cute and lighthearted, Eric Walters’ new one, 90 Days of Different, chronicles the summer Sophie has turned eighteen, is waiting to go to university, and her boyfriend has recently dumped her because she’s too predictable and boring. While the book itself can be a little predictable, it is not boring. In fact once Sophie’s best friend, Ella, who agrees with the ex-boyfriend, challenges Sophie to do one new and different thing each day of the summer, it’s then very quick and charming. Sophie imagines this challenge will transform her from boring into fun, so she agrees to let Ella set and and schedule the entire summer of challenges.
The chapters swing quickly through hilarious situations where Sophie is far out of her comfort zone. As far as character development goes, Sophie does grow, but there are so many various things going on with a new addition each day, that we don’t get an in depth look at who Sophie is becoming.
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
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
Thomas, A. (2017). The Hate U Give. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.
Inspired by the movement #BlackLivesMatter, The Hate U Give is an incredibly relevant and heartbreaking account of a sixteen year old girl who witnesses the killing of her childhood best friend at the hands of the police. Everyday Starr leaves her own neighbourhood where her family owns the corner store, to attend private school in an affluent neighbourhood. Up until this point, Starr had done fairly good job of keeping her two worlds separate –dating someone at school who is white, while still being very much a part of her own community, until now. Even though Khalid was unarmed and innocent at the time of his murder, the press makes him out to be a thug.
The Hate U Give (or THUG) will inevitably spark discussion on race. It reminded me a lot of All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely because both books deal with witnessing a police killing of an innocent young black man and grappling with the decision to come forward as a witness, or not speaking up out of fear. Continue reading
Gardner, W. (2017). You’re Welcome, Universe. New York: Knopf.
You’re Welcome, Universe is Whitney Gardner’s debut novel that smoothly weaves layer upon layer of diversity, beginning with Julia, a teenager who is Indian American and Deaf. She has two moms (who are also Deaf) but the story doesn’t pause for very long on this LBGQT+ detail; it simply is the way it is. Deaf culture, however, is a world that gets explored. And the inclusion of art is inter-dispersed throughout the pages of the book with drawings done by the author.
Julia’s character is real and raw and flawed. Often she is frustrated by people’s cluelessness regarding deafness, and she can be very abrupt about it. When we first meet her, she is in the principal’s office for spraying graffiti on school property. Nevermind she was covering up slurs about her friend, she still gets expelled.
Graffiti is another underrepresented world that is allowed a front row in this novel, and its validity is exposed. Julia’s passion for her art takes her around the city at night when she draws and then “tags” – not her name since graffiti is illegal – but a special signature that is hers alone. Little does Julia expect someone else to draw over her drawings, making them even better! An all-out graffiti war unfolds as we all wonder who is behind it.
Federle, T. (2016). The Great American Whatever. NY: Simon & Schuster.
The last page hasn’t been turned yet, but I had to let you know … The Great American Whatever is an endearing, laugh out loud journey with Quinn Roberts, a sixteen year old whose sister, Annabeth, recently died in a car accident. Quinn, Annabeth, and Quinn’s best friend, Geoff, grew up doing everything together from lemonade stands to making movies. Throughout the book we get to see the screenplay in Quinn’s head of how he thinks life should go juxtaposed with what really happens. Screenwriting was Quinn’s passion, but he lost the interest and ability to write since Annabeth’s death.
After months of hibernating in his bedroom, Geoff pulls Quinn out to their first college party where he meets Amir and develops an immediate Continue reading