Tag Archive | belonging

R is for RURAL VOICES: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America (YA book review)

book cover of Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everyone drives a truck and wears muddy boots,
talks slow and walks even slower –
today’s teens outside big cities go way beyond those tired old ideas.

An aspiring rodeo queen in Utah draws strength from her Puerto Rican roots.

A Michigan queer girl’s 4-H showmanship in swine competition might draw her crush closer.

Forced up a tree by an angry bull, best friends finally talk about whether Alina’s stories identify with her home state or strive to distance her from West Virginia.

This collection of viewpoints and vistas includes stories by David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Shae Carys, S. A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price, and Monica Roe.

I live outside a very small town where FFA and AP classes are on the same schedule, and young people can pursue big dreams with or without moving to the big city.

What rural voices have you heard lately?
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Book Info: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America / Nora Shalway Carpenter, ed. Candlewick Press, 2020. [editor interview] [publisher site]

N for NOAH MCNICHOL & THE BACKSTAGE GHOST! by Martha Freeman (MG book review)

Book cover of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Skulls and fake blood and foam swords,
“there are no small parts, only small players”
The play’s the thing!

Dad says wanting to act is just a phase, so the sixth grade play is Noah’s big chance to be on stage! Oh no – the drama teacher is out so the PE coach will direct them… in Hamlet?

Luckily, an older Jewish guy named Mike volunteers to help because strange things are happening while Coach Fig spends rehearsals on his phone!

The “No-Trauma Drama” script now has its original gruesome ending, the costumes and sets are way better than previous years’ Hamlet, and a cold breeze drifts backstage when all the doors are closed.

Despite not being cast as Hamlet, Noah is enjoying play practice and Mike’s interesting advice… and watching Mike vanish into thin air – is their guest director a ghost?

Noah’s college professor parents are arguing again about which subjects are more important – why is Dad the physics teacher so angry about literature?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is way more interesting than the family-friendly version written by the lady who donated the school’s nice theater – can they do the real one without interference?

Suddenly, their drama club one-night-only performance is the hot ticket in their New York town – break a leg!

Conversing with someone long gone – yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost / Martha Freeman. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is for LOVE & OLIVES, by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Love & Olives, by Jenna Evans Welch. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ten days away from Seattle, that’s all,
her artist’s eyes setting up camera angles,
heart breaking because her dad will leave again…

White buildings reflecting sunlight, the sparkling blue Aegean Sea – the Greek island of Santorini has captivated visitors for centuries, but sixteen year old Liv doesn’t want to be impressed by its beauty.

Neither does she intend to quickly forgive her long-estranged father for suddenly interrupting her summer plans by bringing her here for a filming project about their mutual fascination – the lost city of Atlantis.

On a tight schedule, she and dad’s young cameraman Theo crisscross the island to filming locations – why is Dad sometimes a no-show?

Dad is utterly convinced that he can prove the site of Atlantis to the scientific community – what exactly is he trying to prove to Liv?

Sleeping in a hidden nook of Theo’s family bookstore, glorious sunsets, more questions than answers in the village her dad returned to after emigrating to America – how much can 10 days change?

Each chapter is headed by an item from Liv’s list of 26 things left behind by her dad, a list kept close at hand as she and Mom moved often, struggling until meeting now-stepdad James.

A story of journeying from home to learn about love, from the author of Love & Gelato (my review) and Love & Luck (review here).

Where do you need to go to make an old story into a new truth?
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I is immigration stories: COME ON IN, ed. by Adi Alsaid (YA book review)

book cover of Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, ed. by Ali Alsaid. Published by Inkyard Press-Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being uprooted,
Growing in a different place,
Wondering if this is the right spot or not…

Since the earliest days of this country, people have arrived ‘from away’ in waves and trickles, immigrants with high academic credentials or no shoes on their feet, all seeking a better place.

Detained by TSA, keeping diaries of now and then, “where are you really from?” – these 15 stories by noted young adult authors who are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants illustrate the many facets of moving away and starting anew.

“The Wedding” of two Americans must be held in Canada so great-uncle from Iran may attend – travel ban keeping old man and his older brother from seeing each other for years.

High school in New Jersey is so different from Bombay that Priya cannot speak aloud, even as her little brother’s new hearing aids open up the world for him, in “First Words.”

Her grandparents finally have visas from Venezuela, but Valentina’s lost all her Spanish – how will they even communicate? “Hard to Say”…

Short story contributors include Adi Alsaid, Varsha Bajaj, Maria E. Andreu, Sharon Morse, Misa Sugiura, Nafiza Azad, Maurene Goo, Sona Charaipotra, Yamile Saied Méndez, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sara Farizan, Isabel Quintero, Justine Larbalestier, and Lilliam Rivera.

How do we welcome people and invite them to come on in?
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H is for brainy pigeon HOMER ON THE CASE of the missing watch! by Henry Cole (MG book review)

book cover of Homer on the Case, by Henry Cole. Published by Peachtree Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Racing for home,
Navigating by instinct,
Aware of changing conditions – and crooks!

Homer enjoys training for competitions as Otto and Grandpa drive far from town and let the homing pigeon free to zoom back to his rooftop enclosure – watch out for hawks en route!

He taught himself to read the newspapers lining his cage and keeps up with all the town news, so Homer knows he’ll find his bird friend Carlos and some free food at the street fair in the park.

They witness a bold daytime heist, as two rats steal a gold bracelet! That’s just the first in a rash of thefts as park visitors are suddenly missing a gold pen, a shiny hairclip, jeweled dog collars.

Otto and Homer are happy to meet Charlotte and her vivid green Amazon parrot Lulu in the park – where the new bird-buddles get word from Carlos that Grandpa’s keepsake gold watch has just been stolen!

That’s the last straw! Lulu can speak her own mind in Human, and speedster Homer can read the Dick Tracy comics – this brilliant pair of birds will find the thieves who are stealing lovely keepsakes from their neighborhood park!

Over the streets, down into the storm drains?
Why would rats and cats steal so many things they can’t eat?
Can they convince Otto and Charlotte to help them get to the bottom of this mystery?

Enjoy the author-illustrator’s detailed sketches of our brave bird heroes and their faithful human friends as they follow the clues just like Homer’s favorite fictional detective!

**kmm

Book info: Homer on the Case / Henry Cole, writer & illustrator. Peachtree Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G for GLIMPSED by a high school fairy godmother! by G.F. Miller (YA book review)

book cover of Glimpsed, by G.F Miller. Published by Simon Schuster BYFR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Seeing their deepest wish,
Sending a few ‘nudges’ into nearby minds –
teen fairy godmother improving lives… right?

Charity can ‘glimpse’ someone’s most-longed-for future and secretly help them attain it – with best friend and fashion maven Sean’s help as needed – and sees past successes in her California high school halls.

Her grandmother (and fairy godmother mentor) warns that trying to nudge Vindhya from robotics club to Homecoming Queen in nine days is too fast, that people need time to change themselves based on the suggestions that Charity plants in their minds.

Uh oh! Adorkable Noah has figured out that the super-popular Pom squad dancer is also a fairy godmother and is ready to tell all!

Eldest in his Star Trek-obsessed family, Noah is sure that her ‘gift’ is logically explainable, and since Charity granted Holly’s wish to be popular which took Holly away from Noah… time to examine the data.

Could she help get Noah and Holly to their Happily Ever After without nudging anyone?

Who’s right – big sister Hope far away from their too-quiet house, workaholic Mom denying that she has any gift, or her grandmother embracing it extravagantly?

Is she pushing Glimpsed relationships in the right direction or are the Glimpses controlling her?

Ask for Glimpsed at your local library or independent bookstore to find out which path Charity chooses for her own future!

Do you want a Glimpse to become true…really and truly?
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Book info: Glimpsed / G. F. Miller. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F is four friends FACING THE SUN & big changes, by Janice Lynn Mather (YA book review)

book cover of Facing the Sun, by Janice Lynn Mather. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poems and stories and whispers,
Secrets and revelations and sorrows,
Good friends can endure them together… right?

Eldest of five, Eve is so tired of chasing after siblings, being the perfect pastor’s daughter, awash in her parents’ worries about losing the church to developers and something about her father’s health that they won’t tell her. Singing with Toons in the perfect acoustics of that small building is harmony and peace and maybe a little more.

Her single mom keeps Nia on such a short rope, claiming that an all-girls summer arts camp just across the bay wouldn’t be safe, that she needs to read every story before they print the neighborhood newspaper. Borrowing a song heard in the sea-grove as the poem for her camp application could be Nia’s ticket to some breathing room this summer.

Faith’s mother is getting further from reality, and trying to balance homework and dance lessons at her sister’s studio and maybe liking Toons and getting home to keep Mummy safe while her father works late is pulling Faith apart. She doesn’t live on Pinder Street like most of her school-friends, but it hits hard to find out that Daddy’s down there, saying the neighbors have no rights to go onto the beach anymore.

Keekee wonders why she’s the one getting grief from their mom when it’s Toons who’s stepping around with Faith and Eve and Paulette. Her songs channel some of the sting from neighbors’ scorn, those who don’t understand that Angel’s home laundry business supports folks who can’t afford to go to the clinic for condoms or period products.

What’s good about fencing off the beach and tearing down the church so rich people can stay at yet another Bahamas hotel?
Who set the church building on fire as protest?
Where is Toons? Where?

Ties between friends and families twist and tangle in this beachside neighborhood where change seems all-peril, little promise. A tale told in the voices of all four friends, from the Bahamian-Canadian author of Learning to Breathe (my no-spoiler review here).

How do you make yourself brave enough to face changes?
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Book info: Facing the Sun / Janet Lynn Mather. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D for daring & doubts in WWII: I AM DEFIANCE, by Jenni L. Walsh (MG book review)

book cover of I Am Defiance: a novel of World War II, by Jenni L. Walsh. Published by Scholastic Press | BooksYALove.com

Purity of Aryan blood!
Devotion to the Fuhrer!
Questions not allowed!

Brigitte tries to act just like the other girls in her Hitler Youth JM group, but the 12 year old worries that a leader may discover big sister Angelika’s disability or Papa’s empathetic heart and take them away to the camps that no one talks about.

A pamphlet with unusual words like ‘freedom’ and ‘resistance’ appears in apartment mailboxes, and her botany professor Papa silently takes it away. Then comes another, and Brigitte’s JM leaders denounce the White Rose group for trying to undermine the Nazi government.

Then the third pamphlet arrives, and Brigitte agrees with Papa and Angelika that it carries more truth than the official state radio and newspapers. They’ll pretend to be ‘good Germans’ for now…until they can leave Munich safely.

Can Angelika hide her limp well enough to continue at university?
Can Brigitte hide her new knowledge from JM friends and leaders?
Is there any chance that the Schmidt family gets out of this war intact?

As Allied bombers close in on Munich, the secret trapdoor to the cellar may be what saves them, if their neighbors don’t report them first!

What is your defiance against the wrongs you see?
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Book info: I Am Defiance: a Novel of World War II / Jenni L. Walsh. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C for CHASING LUCKY & choices & second chances, by Jenn Bennett (YA book review)

book cover of Chasing Lucky, by Jenn Bennett. Published by Simon Pulse | BooksYALove.com

Moving, again.
Mom’s secrets, of course.
People don’t change… or do they?

Josie dreads going back to Mom’s Rhode Island hometown where the Saint-Martin women’s “unlucky in love” curse is well-known.

But someone has to run the family bookstore while her aunt and grandmother are trekking in Nepal, so here they are for the historic coastal town’s summer tourist rush and run-ins with old friends and adversaries.

Rich families like Adrian’s sail their fancy boats and working families like Lucky’s fix them up – no love lost between the golden ones and the year-round residents.

That goldens’ party with her cousin was a mistake – turning down drunken Adrian’s advances makes 17-year-old Josie a target for the rich kids’ ridicule all summer.

When did the aspiring photographer’s childhood best friend Lucky turn into the town bad boy?
Why does he help her out of a sticky situation with the police?
What’s the truth about that scandalous picture suddenly making the rounds?

Hopefully her long-gone famous photographer father will get back in touch and help Josie escape this tiny town and go to art school on the West Coast…

A romantic boat ride, a sudden storm, vandalism, long-buried secrets unleashed in this tangled love story.
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Book info: Chasing Lucky / Jenn Bennett. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for ANA ON THE EDGE, by A.J. Sass (MG book review)

book cover of Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass. Published by Little, Brown | BooksYALove.com

Figure skating competition = rules and regimens.
Chinese-American home = expectations and routine roles.
Can time on the ice become Ana’s freedom and focus?

Age 12 means moving up to the next figure skating competition level for Ana and also following her coach to a new Bay Area rink, with new choreography and music and routine.

Ana likes her short hair, sleek skating leggings, and bold Juvenile national championship choreography. But Intermediate ladies will be skating to a princess theme, and Ana doesn’t like the quiet music or boring moves that famous Miss Lydia has chosen or having to wear a skirt to practice or the huge bill that her single mom must pay!

As a skating rink assistant this summer, Ana can earn free practice hours – too bad she has to miss being with her best friend at her old rink and at their synagogue. Awesome that she meets new student Hayden, who just moved here and is now publicly identifying as a boy.

Hayden assumed Ana was a boy too, and she didn’t correct him. Will he get mad when he finds out?

Ana feels very in-between about girl or boy – what does that all mean?

And this new choreography and music… how can Ana make it more Ana?

Discovering who you are takes time and work – Ana may have the people nearby who will help!
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Book info: Ana On the Edge / A. J. Sass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.