Coles, J. (2018). Tyler Johnson Was Here. NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Jay Coles writes from the heart, he writes well (every sentence is handsomely and seductively infused with Black culture), and he has produced 2018’s fast-paced picture of American police brutality, of the systematic corruption rampant in its justice system, and of how racism impacts and traps people.
What a compelling cover!
Trevor Johnson is shot by a white policeman simply for the colour of his skin – all of this caught on videotape – leaving a grieving mother and twin brother, who together make their way through each day even though their grief is overwhelmingly painful and raw. Continue reading
Jackson, T. (2017). Allegedly. NY: Katherine Tegen Books.
“Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official.“
Step back, because you may have an idea of how this story could unfold, but there is a lot waiting under the surface. In a heart-wrenching, emotional break out novel, Tiffany Jackson delivers true grit on the page. Mary has been in Baby Jail and group “homes” ever since being convicted at age 9 for the death of a baby her momma was babysitting. Mary hasn’t believed it mattered much if she covered for her Continue reading
Lockhart, E. (2017). Genuine Fraud. NY: Delacorte Press.
It is very rare that you read a book and are shocked by the ending. We Were Liars by the same author was one of those books. Although Genuine Fraud is completely different, there are parts of this book that surprised.
It begins at the end of the book, where one of the main characters, Jules, is running from the FBI, but you don’t know why. The setting starts off in a swanky resort in a warm climate. From there you begin to read backwards and you slowly discover why she is running from the police. What you discover is a young woman who has been trained to be a spy since her spy parents were murdered when she was little. She has become a polarizing villain, who Continue reading
Perkins, S. (2017). There’s Someone in Your House. NY: Dutton Books for Young Readers.
Stephanie Perkins takes a departure from her sweet teen romances (Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After) to delve into the world of teen slashers. There’s Someone in Your House is as spooky as it sounds. When Makani Young leaves behind her dark past in Hawaii to come live with her grandmother in Nebraska for the final year of high school, she tries to stop hating herself and make a new start. Her friends, Darby, Alex, and Ollie are diverse and each have a perspective to contribute to the plot.
I needed to suspend my disbelief throughout the book in order to derive the most pleasure possible and just enjoy it for what it is. The killer is actually revealed halfway through the book – the biggest bummer to me – and it wasn’t even a huge reveal or shock. Also, their motive felt like something an adult would feel after years of reflection. But again, no big deal if you’re willing to go with it. It’s mostly a love story after all.
The creepy crawly things that happened were fun, and even though I wouldn’t give this book particularly high marks, I would still recommend it if the title peaks your interest and you need to fall into a tumultuous teen drama.
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
Kaufman A. & Kristoff J. (2015). Illuminae. New York: Ember.
Illuminae is a stunning book about an illegal mining colony that gets attacked by a rival mining corporation. The plot is told in an unusual fashion, as the book does not contain the normal word after word story. Instead it is mostly comprised of several chat rooms, emails, maps, interviews, transcripts, etc. This style of telling the story makes a real impact and you feel like you’re right there experiencing these events with the characters. The story follows two main characters, Kady, onboard a science vessel called The Hypatia and Ezra, onboard an attack vessel called The Alexander. They’re just two of the thousands of refugees that escaped the attack. Now they’re part of a heavily damaged fleet that’s slowly limping towards safety, a wormhole station called Heimdall, with an attack vessel, The Lincoln, slowly closing in to mop up the mess. If they don’t think of something to get to the wormhole in time, The Lincoln will destroy the fleet, killing everyone. It feels like it couldn’t get any worse, except it could. From a faulty and somewhat lethal 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
Werlin, N. (2017). And Then There Were Four. New York: Penguin Random House.
Five prep school kids are tossed together under mysterious circumstances. When one is murdered, they begin talking and piecing together what they know about their families, and a terrifying idea surfaces. What if they are all targets? The premise is classically entertaining, mimicking Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, when a group of strangers are assembled on a remote island only to be murdered one by one.
The chapters alternate between two of the five friends, Saralinda and Caleb, she speaking in the present tense, he in the past for some reason, but both pushing forward the pace of the story. Nancy Werlin knows how to create complex characters whose voices captivate us. We become swept up into the mystery as they go on the run from their cloistered, island-esqe school to an actual island, Fire Island in New York. Here there are no cars, only dirt paths through tall grass, and little Continue reading