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Equally a love letter to the power of music and a Holocaust remembrance. Lyrical, evocative language is the real strength of the book, though the story is equally engaging. It's almost more poignant because the heartbreaking details are reported so matter-of-factly, while the hopes and dreams are presented so magically, that the juxtaposition makes the harsh reality all the clearer. For fans of Number the Stars, Letters from Rifka, and other WWII tween/YA reads, this provides a new perspective, telling two Holocaust stories we don't often hear – a secular Jew's confusion over both her treatment, and afterward, her religion, and the significance of music during this terrible time. Exceedingly powerful, with illustrations acting like a garnish for the writing. -Broche
Unputdownable! 15yo Xiomara longs for the simple relationship she had with her mother before she became a curvy Afro-Latina, turning neighborhood boys’ heads despite wanting to be invisible to them. Burdened by her immigrant Catholic mother’s excessive devoutness, there’s no room for Xiomara to question her faith or wonder how she feels about Aman, a boy who encourages her interest in writing poetry & dubs her Poet X. Gutsy, yet vulnerable Xiomara finds her voice & tells her powerful truth in this stirring free verse story about becoming comfortable with oneself, finding your inner power, and learning how to wield it. Acevedo makes every word count. Her lovely metaphors adds dramatic dimension to the roller coaster ride of emotions. -Michelle
Spoiler alert: No one with cancer dies in this story. They do play Uno, shave their head, get stabbed, make new friends, enjoy glitter, attend camp, get kissed (!), and above all else, discover they are brave enough to continue living life, and as a result maybe, just maybe, Casen Martin, teen and formerly the youngest dancer at the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory before the big C happened, believes she might dance again. A heartfelt addition to the #ourvoices canon by a debut author. Ages 14+
Two days before Jane McKeene was born, the dead on the battlefields of the Civil War began to walk the earth. Though she was born to plantation owners, Jane’s mixed-race heritage and dark skin means she is now training at combat school to be an Attendant: a zombie-killer whose job it will be to protect the White woman she iscontracted to. But her tempestuous and curious nature embroil Jane and her friends in the politics and treacherous landscape of post-Reconstruction America in this alternate history. Cinder meets The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pride & Prejudice and Zombies featuring a new kick-ass heroine whose no-nonsenseapproach to life and zombie killing make for inspired storytelling. -Broche
This love story foiled by deportation reminds us of the difficulties that children of immigrants face and the importance of living your dreams instead of the dreams others have for you. As with Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything, this story is a love letter to the universe, the oceans, atomic matter, chaos, and all that exists in betweem. Ages 14+. -MICHELLE
Fifteenyearold Will’s older brother Shawn was just murdered. Will hops on an elevator bent on revenge, but on each floor a new passenger gets on, a passenger who is in some way connected to Shawn. 7 floors with 6 visitors, BRILLIANT freeverse story. Every word precisely chosen to grab your heart and mess with your head. A book to be shared and talked about for ages 13+. -MICHELLE
Black Yalebound graduating senior Justyce McAllister’s life takes on a new harsh reality when he’s roughed up by a policeman while innocently helping a friend. Justyce, feeling powerless to escape systemic racism, writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Are Dr. King’s teachings still relevant? LikeThe Hate U Give,this story thoughtfully encourages dialogue about the challenges of racial issues in America. A mustread for ages 13+. -MICHELLE
When fifteen-year-old Leigh’s Taiwanese mother commits suicide, she is visited by a great red bird who delivers a package from her mother with a note:
I want you to remember.
Certain that her mother has been reincarnated, Leigh travels from the U.S. with her white father to meet her Taiwanese grandparents for the first time. X.R. Pan’s astonishingly beautiful debut sensitively deals with Leigh’s mother’s long fight with depression amid a lifetime of heartbreak. Like Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, the magical elements are both haunting and exhilarating as we follow brave young Leigh’s metamorphosis into the strong resilient and brilliant artist she was meant to be, reminding us of the power of grief. For 13+. -Michelle