I have tried over and over again to write about this novel but I cannot find the words that accurately explain my thoughts and feelings surrounding it. I love this book. This book needs to be made available to read AND be discussed in every grade 8-12 classroom. Ferguson discusses subjects such as: intergenerational trauma, sexual assault, sexual identity, racism, among others gently and respectfully. Discussion around these topics is not sugar coated, but neither is it gratuitous. The beautiful note to the reader before the novel begins gives you an idea of the care and love Fergason has for her readers. She lists the trigger warnings of her content and tells us “More than anything, I care about you. Your health, happiness, safety, and well being matter more than reading this book.”
Black Bird Blue Road by Sofiya Pasternack is a beautifully written book about a young woman who escapes with her brother from a family steeped in traditional fear. Ziva is that “that” age where her family is beginning to find her a suitable husband. The only thing is Ziva wants to be a judge, just like her father. Although an arranged marriage is reason enough for fleeing her family, Zita also has a twin brother Pesha whom she is compelled to take to the Byzantine Empire to be healed. You see, Pesha has leprosy, and the entire family has basically accepted the idea that Pesha will die, except for Ziva. So, one night Ziva takes Pesha, and they flee their home only to be attacked by highwaymen who attempt to steal everything they have, kill Pesha and hold Ziva for ransome…that is until Ziva accidentally (on purpose?) frees a half-demon in exchange for escape, which is fine. Still, she and Pesha have a half-demon bound to them until they repay their debt. Will they make it to the Byzantine Empire safely? Will Pesha be cured? Will their ties to the underworld compromise not only their physical well-being but also their moral well-being? A very well-written, captivating story about family love, perseverance and living with the consequences of choice.
Each of Us a Universe by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo with Ndengo Gladys Mwilelo Calliope Scott is fascinated by Meteorite Mountain. In fact, she’s making it her mission to reach the top to find out the answers to the secrets it holds, especially the mystery of the meteorite, “the one that people say landed on the top of that spire…just because no one’s found it doesn’t mean it isn’t there, right? If it is, how do we know it isn’t magical?” ( page 45). You see, Cal is in need of magic, her mother has cancer, and her father is in prison, and although most of the community is supportive towards her and her mother, Cal still sneaks clothing from the lost and found at school, and steals cans of food from the grocery store. Then one day, a small change occurs in her world; a new girl named Rosine becomes an ally and a friend at school. Rosine, having lost her parents to war in another country, has arrived with her sister. Rosine, too, wants to find magic in the mountain to help her sister, who is “sick with sadness and making bad decisions” (page 77). Bound by this common quest, the two girls find strength in each other to succeed in their quest and forge a true friendship that strengthens both during a difficult time in their lives. This is a lovely book about friendship, overcoming adversity and perseverance. It also has a wonderful interview at the back with an actual “stardust hunter” that explains how you can collect “stardust” (micrometeorites) yourself. A perfect novel for a cross-curricular study linked to science.
Gabe in the After by Shannon Doleski This is a story about a pandemic and survival…like so many other books, TV shows, and movies that have popped up since Covid. However, this story reads a bit differently. Gabe Sweeney is one of 20 survivors (primarily children and young adults) who lives on a small island off the coast of Maine. Gabe and his group were evacuated there during the start of a deadly outbreak that they assumed killed most of the country’s population. The novel starts with Gabe scouting for survivors. For two years, Gabe has taken a small boat to the dock on the mainland to see if anyone is waiting, and so far, there has been no one. But today, Gabe finds (or rather his dog Mud) finds a young woman named Relle in the forest nearby. Relle has been on her own for most of the two years and had been making her home in a library until the roof caved in, making it uninhabitable. Since then, she has been wandering, hoping to find a community, a family of her own. From this initial incident, the novel follows Gabe in his tasks and responsibilities, one of which takes him days away from the island in search of medicine and ultimately to see what the outbreak’s status is in the world. During this time, Gabe has to deal with his feelings for Relle, with whom he falls in love. Let’s say dealing with these newfound feelings is a whole other story in survival. I really liked this book. Even though it was a story about a deadly pandemic, the narrative didn’t focus on that tragedy; instead, I found it a charming love story, growing up, responsibility, and finding joy and comfort in the little things in life. Suppose you’re looking for a story about zombies and murderous raiders. In that case, this is not the story for you, but if you’re looking for a wholesome story about first love and growing up, then definitely pick this one up.
Anna Armstrong is a brilliant precocious girl who has always been fascinated by space. In fact, she has attempted to launch herself several times into space but unfortunately her homemade rocket ships did not have sufficient enough power to get her there. Tragically, on the day of one of her “launches”, she learns that her mother and father have died on their way back home from Europe. Thirteen year old Anna then goes to live with her kind uncle Jack on his farm research center outside Smartt Indiana.
Very soon upon her arrival, Anna sees strange lights in the distance and eventually goes and investigates. There, she discovers a different dimension in time and space, where girl named Mara exists. Anna soon becomes involved in trying to help Mara save the world from the repercussions of time travel using Science to help them.
This is such a wonderful book about responsibility, friendship and science. The young people presented are supportive and caring towards each other and lessons learned about curiosity, responsibility and friendship abound.
This book should be added to school libraries as well as any little classroom library. It is a science fiction novel that is accessible to upper elementary and middle school students.
Thank you to Girl Friday Books and Netgalley for the free copy. Girl Out of Time is available for purchase on March 7
Daisy can see dead people- something she spends most of her life avoiding when she isn’t with her manipulative and controlling college boyfriend, Noah. unfortunately (unfortunately?) Noah has since broken up with her, and now Daisy has found herself stalking his whereabouts and dodging spirits. So when her mother calls and tells her that she has inherited and house and property away from the city, Daisy figures this is as good a time as any to move on with her life.
Brittany is a young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit and a very toxic relationship with her mother. She and her business partner Jayden have been moderately successful with their YouTube series on haunted houses. Now, they are about to research and film another series about a supposed haunted house with a history of violence. But this haunted house is different. Not only does it have a fascinating past, but it is also that house that Brittany’s mom claims “changed her from an abusive and neglectful parent to a completely reformed woman”. Miracle Mansion, she has named. Miracle Mansion is also the same house Daisy and her mother moved to 10 years earlier.
I loved this book. It so, so well written. It is also very, very creepy and gruesome at times. Both Dasiy and Brittany are characters that become independent through courage. Even though the book is heavy on the supernatural, the internal conflict both protagonists experience and how they deal with it are realistic.
Thank you to Netgalley and Margaret K McElderry Books for the advanced copy.
“I am imaginative and kind” taken from Orchid’s I Am Poem (pg 319)
I loved this book. When I finished reading it I knew that it should be in every library and every classroom. It would make the most amazing read aloud because it is abundant in timely topics and VERY approcable subject matter. It will encourage discussion amongst any age group.
I have read another of Entrada Kelly’s books Hello Universe which I absolutely loved so I knew I was probably going to love this one as well. Entrada Kelly has an uncanny ability to convincingly inhabit the world of adolescence thus creating authenticity to her story telling.
This is a novel about a group of seventh graders who, as most seventh graders, are trying to figure out who they are, which can be both difficult and easy when you live in the VERY small town of Fawn Creek (or referred to as “Yawn Creek” by most) and if you attempt to break away from that stereotype, you run the risk of being bullied and teased by those who are threatened by your uniqueness. The Fawn Creek seventh graders have recognized “who” others say they are: Lehigh takes a bit longer to learn so he is deemed “Slowly”, Dorothy doesn’t want to rock anyone’s boat let alone her own and wont even acknowledge anyone’s tears for fear it may lead to an uncomfortable conversation, Greyson prefers fashion design over duck hunting but can’t let his friends and family know for fear of judgment, and Janie, well Janie has been the minion of Renni, the queen bee herself, and even though Renni has moved away, Janie is still under her reign. But one day, a new girl comes to town. Orchid Mason is an enigma. It’s not just her name that is exotic, but she comes to little ol Fawn Creek from New York via Paris and, unlike the rest of them, she is extremely insightful,confident and kind. Orchid notices when you are hurting and asks if she can help, has a way of making you feel important and special no matter who you are, and she recognizes your strengths and helps you see them too. Orchid is as kind as she is beautiful.
This is a wonderful novel about friendship, courage, and being able to stand for what is right and just in front of those who ridicule you. It’s about being brave enough to choose kindness over cruelty, even if it means breaking from those who you once thought were your friends.
I would use this novel as a class novel study, or at least a choice for student book clubs.
Beatrice is a brilliant 16-year-old who has already been accepted into the university of her dreams; Oxford. The only problem is that Beatrice suffers extreme social anxiety, so much so she has been homeschooled for most of her life. Beatrice has never been to a party. She’s never had a friend; she has never even deviated from a specific weekly dinner menu. Needless to say, her parents aren’t thrilled with her acceptance, so they decide that Beatrice will have to prove to her parents that she is emotionally and mentally ready before they allow her to go. and boy do her parents have the perfect challenge for her, she will have to successfully a program, well actually a summer camp that is completely out of her comfort zone; camp where she will have to interact with others, speak in public, and share personal space…a Shakespearian Theatre camp! And while she is there, she’ll have to fulfil a list of accomplishments her parents create for her:
Make a friend.
Share a secret.
Walk up to someone and make small talk.
Accept an invite she doesn’t want to.
Do an outdoor activity.
Pull a prank.
Execute a dare.
Hug three people.
The dream of attending Oxford is enough to get Beatrice out the door and onto the bus that will take her to camp; however, she soon faces embarrassment and rejection when she tries to cross a task off her list and talk to a stranger who just happens to be the most popular girl at camp; the “Ice Queen”. I found this novel charming and a wonderful break from popular teenage angst-riddled dystopian literature. It is very well written with endearing characters (I absolutely LOVE Mia and Nolan!) It is a sweet, light-hearted novel that will be the perfect light summer reading fare.
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the free copy
Ellie doesn’t physically fit the standards set by society today and therefore is bullied relentlessly. In this novel written in verse we are given a brutally honest first person narration of a young girl’s emotional and sometimes physical abuse dealt to her by kids at school as well as some members of her own family.
The author’s use of verse is very effective in creating pathos in the reader becoming melodramatic.
For adults it is a quick and simple read that reminds us that “no matter your size or who you are, you are lovable and deserve for people to treat you like you’re a valuable person” (Fipps pg 245). For young readers it is a novel; it is an accessible read in both writing style (word choice, tone) and theme.
Trigger warning for those who have suffered bullying and abuse.
Twelve-year-old Maddie is a normal teenager who just wants to do normal things like having a party at her grandmother’s vacant house without her parents knowing.
Maddie has it all arranged: she will tell her mother she is staying with her father and tell her father she is staying at her mother’s. Having succeeded in this ploy she then buys junk food and awaits the arrival of her two best friends. Unfortunately, her friends cannot come so Maddie spends the night alone with her junk food and old black and white movies.
Now, everything would be fine and dandy if the political situation hadn’t been precarious. With curfews and military vehicles a common sight, life for Maddie and her family has been different, to say the least. Tragically, the evening Maddie decides to trick her parents and stay at her grandmother’s, the state is evacuated and Maddie is left all alone with nary a human around to help her. Soon the power is cut off and food becomes scarce and Emma is forced to use her imagination and grit to survive both the physical and mental hardship she encounters.
This novel is written in verse, and in being so adds a wonderfully melancholy tone to the writing. It reads like a stream of consciousness, therefore, making Emma’s experience more emotionally impactful.
How does Emma spend her days? Will Emma survive? Will her parents ever come to realize she has been left behind?
A great book to have in a classroom library or middle school book club.
Escape from Chernobyl is a fictional account of the Chernobyl disaster, a global incident that most young people know nothing about.
16-year-old Yuri Formichev is an intern at the Chernobyl power plant in Pripyat Ukraine on the border of what was then the Soviet Union. Yuri’s dream is to be an engineer at the nuclear reactor but in the meantime, he is assigned as a custodian hoping to impress his superiors so that he can work his way up to intern as an engineer. Yuri lives with his Aunt, Uncle, and his two cousins Alina and Lev.
The story immediately throws us into the action of the story. Yuri has just arrived for his shift at the reactor when he feels a shaking of the walls. Soon the walls crack and other workers are covered by debris. In the meantime a man is knocking at the door of Yuri’s family telling them they must leave the city for their safety. If they leave they will be abandoning Yuri.
Will Yuri survive? Will Alina and Lev escape the radiation that is beginning to permeate the area?
Escape from Chernobyl is a perfect read for reluctant readers. It is short, engaging, and accessible to people of all reading levels.
Life hasn’t been easy for Danielle “Danny” Warren. When she was 7, her adventurous father leaves her and her mother to become a famous “Reality Star”. Danny believes her father abandoned her because she suffered a horrible accident and lost her eye, an accident that not only stole her sight but also her courage. When her father invites her on a trip with him to the Amazon to film an episode of his Reality show, Danny believes it would be the perfect time to get to know her father and prove to him that she is not the frightened little girl he left behind. Unfortunately, the plane crashes into the jungle, and Danny not only has to face but she must also come to accept the man her father truly is.
The Speed of Falling Objects is truly an adventure story where the protagonist experiences more than her fair share of peril all the while falling in love for the first time.
I love novels with puzzles and riddles, hidden passageways, and old libraries. In The Inheritance Games, we have all of these with a bit of romance and mystery thrown in. Avery Grambs inherits 2 billion dollars from a stranger much to the dismay of his grandsons. There is, however, one the condition, upon receiving the estate, she must live in the mansion for one year, along with the same family he has disinherited. During this time she navigates through clues and puzzles in order to find out who, in fact, is her mystery benefactor. Much to her chagrin, Avery finds herself attracted to one of the grandsons, an attraction that complicates things because she can trust no one.
A wildly entertaining YA novel with a smart and feisty protagonist. Both the characters and the plot keep the reader entertained throughout. Sure to be part of a series.