Tag Archive | belonging

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is WITH A STAR IN MY HAND, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of With a Star In My Hand, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trading his poems for circus tickets,
Poems as ticket to university education,
Poems as true as love and as dangerous as truth…

Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, celebrated for his poetry as a young teen, exiled from his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man, Ruben Dario moved from traditional poetic forms to creating his own and spreading Modernism throughout Central and South America.

As a storytelling poet of mestizo heritage, Dario blended Spanish and indio tales with those learned from books and travel, showcasing the world’s wideness in the decades prior to World War I rather than merely his own emotions.

Margarita Engle (Jazz Owls recommended here, Lion Island here & Mountain Dog here) brings us another biography in verse, echoing the styles which Dario embraced during different stages of his life.

“Poets must speak, no matter the punishment.
We are observers with musical voices, testifying
in the courtrooms
of nature
and human life.” – Disappointment (page 70)

How is your true voice testifying to the truth you see?
**kmm

Book info: With a Star In My Hand: Ruben Dario, Poetry Hero / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books, 2020. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D Deaf and THE SILENCE BETWEEN US, by Alison Gervais (book review)

book cover of The Silence Between Us, by Alison Gervais. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lost her hearing at 13,
learned ASL at a school for the Deaf,
now…halfway across the country at a hearing high school?

Maya knows they had to move to Colorado for Mom’s job, but jumping into her senior year at a new school, needing an interpreter to understand lectures, lip-reading at lunch – exhausting.

Add her little brother’s cystic fibrosis relapses, Mom’s demanding work schedule, and trying to get a part-time job – everyone is stressed.

Not sure she’s interested in a relationship with a hearing guy, but Beau is nice and learning sign language to communicate better with her.

Why can’t he understand why Maya doesn’t want a cochlear implant?
Why can’t Beau’s wealthy father accept his college choice?
What if Maya’s best college option doesn’t choose her?

The author is Hard of Hearing, working with individuals of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community as each chooses how they interact with the hearing world amid misunderstandings, discrimination, and victories.

How are medical services near you prepared to assist Deaf patients during the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: The Silence Between Us / Alison Gervais. Blink YA, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for Ash, saving the world again: OTAKU, by Chris Kluwe (book review)

book cover of Otaku, by Chris Kluwe. Published by Tor Forge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Saving the world is easy for Ash and her team,
they do it in-game with ease and flair…
Now, can they save the real world?

After the Water Wars, CCA’s iron religious fist forces unbelievers into overcrowded Ditchtown, stilted above drowned Miami, and the Game is their best escape.

To pay for Mom’s care, Ashley courier runs at double-speed, hoping her brother can stay out of trouble, saving just enough to rent in-Game hapticwear.

As Ashura the Terrible, her team dominates the Game leaderboard by skill and sword and rocket maneuvers, ignoring racial and sexual threats posted on the ‘Net, staying a jump ahead of those who want their secrets.

Suddenly, they are caught in a real war between theocrats who believe their own prophecies and technocrats who worship their devices and data.

Now, it’s up to this team of young women stop a humanity-ending chain reaction in real time, outside the Game, with just one life left.

+++++
Read an excerpt of Otaku at the publisher’s website here.

How do you decide what’s really worth fighting for?
**kmm

Book info: Otaku / Chris Kluwe. Tor Forge Books, 2020. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Not him for her Matrimony! THE VIRTUE OF SIN, by Shannon Schuren (book review)

book cover of Virtue of Sin, by Shannon Schuren, published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Their prophet Daniel leads them all,
keeps them safe from the evil world Outside,
…if only what he said were true.

Imagine growing up in an isolated religious community, self-reliant, protected, safe in the desert away from an entire world of unbelievers.

Finally old enough to be paired in Matrimony by the leader who knows everything, absolutely everything, about you.

Except this prophet is a conman and every youth in the community is in grave danger.

How far will we follow those who promise safety from everyone not like us?
**kmm

Book info: The Virtue of Sin / Shannon Schuren. Penguin Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback June 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Safe in New Jerusalem from the outside world’s sins, Miriam and other teens are excited for the first marriage ceremonies of their generation.

But it’s not Caleb who chooses her, despite the dreams she reported to leader Daniel for years.

New husband Aaron isn’t who she thought, and neither is Daniel.

Who knows the truth here?

Cult or community in the California desert, its secrets are deep… told alternately by Miriam and Caleb.

Demon-fed magics & the SORCERY OF THORNS! by Margaret Rogerson (book review)

book cover of Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Can a book be evil or good if no one reads it?

Elisabeth knows only life in the Great Library where the most evil grimoires are caged and triple-locked, hoping to someday earn the rank of Warden and ever keep these sorcerous books from harming her land.

Now someone begins releasing the demons from these dread tomes to wreak havoc – but who and why?

Fantasy, horror, mystery… could you resist the whispers of promised power and keep the grimoires locked up?
**kmm

Book info: Sorcery of Thorns / Margaret Rogerson. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Deeply dangerous Grimoires imprisoned in the Great Libraries are being set loose upon the land of Austermeer – the Wardens suspect high sorcerers, the sorcerers know better.

Raised in a Great Library, Elisabeth hears the beings trapped within the bindings and pages of every grimoire.

Unable to prove that someone else freed the horror at Summershall, the teen is taken by sorcerer Thorn to the capital for trial.

Demon-fed magics, paper-whispered madnesses, treachery, loyalty, love, and the fate of the world!

REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB! #PeriodPower in middle school! by Kim Harrington

book cover of Revenge of the Red Club, by Kim Harrington. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Riley is so glad that girls started the Red Club at her Massachusetts middle school before she got her first period and is happy to help lead the group supporting one another through menstruation’s ups and downs.

She is beyond mad when the school administration shuts down the club due to “parent complaints,” removes the emergency supplies from the Red Club’s locker, and suddenly starts enforcing an antiquated dress code that only impacts girls.

Time for the eighth grader to use her school newspaper investigative reporting skills to find out who complained about the Red Club and how to update that dress code!

Co-leader Cee puts together an action plan, and the “Revenge of the Red Club” begins – normalizing period talk, boys wearing clothes out of dress code as allies, and more.

But can the Red Club control the way that the rest of the school reacts?

Is Cole interested in Riley or in the developing news story?

Why is Riley’s best friend Ava acting so weird?

The world would be a better place if every school had a Red Club support group, and the Hawking Middle School girls are determined to get theirs back!

Want more information about menstruation issues? Check out Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto here.

How is your school supporting this part of adolescence and everyday life?
**kmm

Book info: Revenge of the Red Club / Kim Harrington. Aladdin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can CHICKEN GIRL ever be herself again? #yalit by Heather Smith (book review)

book cover of Chicken Girl, by Heather Smith. Published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When her Rosie the Riveter tribute photo is altered and mocked online, 1940s culture fan Poppy withdraws from her friends and family.

The Canadian teen’s twin brother is happily out, her roller derby team will just have to do without her.

At least she’s hidden from the world as she wears a chicken suit to advertise for a local restaurant.

Introduced to a group of homeless-by-choice friends by a lively little girl, Poppy looks forward to evenings with them under the bridge – Thumper with his Bible, Lewis saving money for transition surgery, Buck photographing absolutely everything.

Poppy’s now becomes bearable, but what of the future?
Will social services take little Miracle from her struggling mom?
Is her twin Cam really happy at his new summer job?

Chicken Girl is puns and poses, exploration and misunderstanding, community and much more. Read an excerpt here for free, courtesy of the publisher.

Who’s in your friend-family?
**kmm

Book info: Chicken Girl / Heather Smith. Penguin Teen, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Like all EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS, she must fly! by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (book review)

book cover of Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis. Published by Bloomsbury Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sure that she is truly a bird and that wings will soon burst out from the scars on her back, 11-year-old December is placed in yet another foster home, leaving everything behind except her secret journal.

She does find Eleanor nicer than most foster parents and is intrigued by her work rehabilitating injured birds (but not the taxidermy hobby…ew).

At her new school, she’s welcomed by Cheryllynn who loves the brightest dresses and snobby Jenny who says that’s really Charlie.

If December climbs a high enough tree, will she be able to fly away from unhappy memories?

Can she really help Eleanor teach a wounded hawk to fly free again?

Will Eleanor give up on December like everyone else has?

Her vast knowledge of birds hasn’t prepared December very well for dealing with humans, but Eleanor and Cheryllynn seem better than most people.

Who has given you hope when storms kept you from soaring?
**kmm

Book info: Extraordinary Birds / Sandy Stark McGinnis. Bloomsbury Kids, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Hard-hitting football CRACKING THE BELL, by Geoff Herbach (YA book review)

book cover of Cracking the Bell, by Geoff Herbach. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running plays, making big hits,
workouts, routines, football team captain…
now with agonizing brain distress.

Football saved Isaiah when the alternative was reform school. But it can’t bring back his dead sister or his easy relationship with Grace or his swagger on the field, knowing that any tackle could bring another concussion that puts him lights-out for good.

But if Isaiah stops playing football, what’s left for him?
If he doesn’t, will he have any future to work for?

His divorced parents are sure he’ll go to college in their small Minnesota town…but other college scouts have seen his hard-hitting defensive play and want to talk.

Odd-jobs guy Joey says journaling will help the high school senior process his past problems and present dilemmas…can it make the headaches and screeching sounds in his head go away?

Grandma Gin tells him to stay away from Grace who’s finally getting her act together…but how can he?

Happy book birthday to Cracking the Bell , as Isaiah tries to hide his symptoms from Coach even while he knows that the decision to keep playing is all on him.

One hit can knock out a player forever – youth football, yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Cracking the Bell / Geoff Herbach. Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.