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? **kmm
Book Info: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America / Nora Shalway Carpenter, ed. Candlewick Press, 2020. [editor interview] [publisher site]
A new advice column to save the newspaper, a new job to feed them, a horse race to save them from a criminal!
Living secretly in a forgotten basement, 17-year-old Jo and her grandfather frugally manage on their small income while conversations drift down from the newspaper office above. Being Chinese means daily discrimination, even when carefully staying in society’s shadows.
Her grandfather is a legendary horse trainer, but when he’s injured, Jo must become lady’s maid to cruel debutante Caroline whose wealthy father controls much of 1880s Atlanta.
Like her black friends, Jo is expected to be neither seen nor heard, forced to the back of the horse-drawn trolley, shut out of most jobs.
But Jo must become bold to get medical treatment for her grandfather, to seize the role of advice columnist Miss Sweetie for the newspaper, to discover the tiniest clue about her parents and why they left her.
How many times can Caroline sneak away before the teen’s mother suspects and fires Jo for obeying her orders?
How often can Jo appear at the newspaper office as veiled Miss Sweetie before its young editor recognizes her voice?
How can she get grandfather’s cure from a notorious criminal with so little money in hand?
If Jo can dare to give advice to white society, perhaps she can dare to ride in a horse race as no woman ever has!
+++++ Before reading The Downstairs Girl, I didn’t know that Chinese workers were brought into the South during Reconstruction to replace slaves. No surprise that so many ran away from plantations to cities like Atlanta and Augusta.
What other under-told stories are you finding as you read these days? **kmm
Book info: The Downstairs Girl / Stacey Lee. G.P. Putnam & Sons, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Read this book – for the joy that freedom brings.
Read it – for the sorrow that war brings.
Read it – for our shared humanness, as Mariah and Caleb fall in love, despite all.
Every time I see Ebenezer in a church name, I will surely remember this story.
Can hope remain when trust runs thin?
Book info: Crossing Ebenezer Creek / Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Freed by the Yankees, Mariah and her fellow enslaved persons travel along with the Union Army, but not all soldiers believe they should be free.
The young teen girl rejoices when Capt. Galloway says “You now own yourselves” and promises to keep them free on their journey – away from Miss Callie’s strident commands and slave-driver Nero’s brutal whip.
Caleb lived through the Burning of Atlanta and now forages for Sherman’s Army. Meeting Mariah and little Zeke strains his “no attachments” resolution (and the young man is secretly glad).
How can Mariah keep her simple little brother safe?
Why are some men in the Union Army if they think slavery is right?
Mariah dares to dream of a future, not alone – but what secret does Caleb hide?
Told in alternating chapters by Mariah and Caleb is the story of past slavery and longing for full freedom, but first they must survive the upcoming showdown between Union and Confederate forces.
Hiding out in a new town,
new name, old worries,
if anyone ever finds out about Daddy…
After her dad is imprisoned for computer fraud, his lawyer helps Becca and her mom forge new identities in a faraway town. But it’s going to be so hard for the teen to keep their secret when her future after high school depends on her academic past.
How far should innocent family members suffer for a criminal’s actions?
Book info: Full Ride / Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 (hardcover), 2014 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: The certainty of college for Becca starts slipping away the moment her father is convicted of computer crimes, just before she starts high school. Racing far away from his Atlanta prison (ten years!?), she and Mom take their new identities (courtesy of Daddy’s lawyer) to an Ohio suburb and lay low.
Three staying-unremarkable years later, it’s time for SATs and college choices, and Becca decides to visit her dream school Vanderbilt (Daddy’s favorite) as her friends tour Southern universities.
How can she pay for any college without completing financial aid forms?
Could she win the Court Scholarship – a full ride?
But what if it’s one of Daddy’s scams that kept money in hiding?
Who to trust, how to live so that no one connects them with Daddy’s nationally reported crimes, how to think about a future past high school – Becca and Mom think they have it under control, but…
Simon says the ‘homo sapiens agenda’ is that straight and white are the norm options, but he believes there should be no default setting for a human being! What do you think?
Book info: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Becky Albertalli. Balzer+Bray, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.
My book talk: Simon has a bit part in the play, but when a classmate threatens to publish his flirty emails with an anonymous guy at school, the Georgia teen must decide whether to step up to protect the sweetest guy he’s never met or set up his best friend Abby on the most awkward date ever.
As ‘Jacques’ he shares favorite music and deepest dreams with ‘Blue’ but they haven’t met in person. No one will probably care when Simon comes out publicly, but Blue hasn’t come out either, so letting nerdy Marty put their relationship on Creekwood High’s gossip tumblr isn’t the junior’s decision to make.
Best friend Abby has a huge crush on best friend Nick (who is completely oblivious), Blue wants to keep his growing relationship with Simon as email-only, and Oliver Twist rehearsals are getting strange as Marty always tries talking to Abby and Simon wonders who, who, WHO is Blue?
As hints about their true identities creep into their emails (Blue is Jewish, Jacques has two sisters), the guys discuss coming-out to their families, music to dream of the future by, and whether they should stay forever unknown to each other.
Wait, not ever get together in person?
Is this a love story or a tragedy? Simon sighs… (One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Being “one of the guys” is better than being ignored by former-best-friends…
Being unadorned is better than her stepsisters‘ cloud of perfume and makeup…
Being shut out by her best friend of all time is pain unbearable…
Charlotte has long been content to be the behind-the-scenes arranger-of-everything for the band, but when lead singer Oliver takes credit for all her lyrics, she starts to question the status quo.
Is it time for Char to break away from Sad Jackal like her best pal Trip did or should she stay and grab the spotlight for her own talents?
Dealing with insiders and outsiders,with people who’ve moved away and those who refuse to move on, with seeing past the surface to discover the truth, Charlotte’s golden summer moves into cooler weather and changes in the band, its members, and her outlook.
While not a novel in verse as her earlier After the Kiss (my no-spoiler review here), McVoy’s newest book features true, realistic spoken and unsaid dialogue along with Charlotte’s soul-baring lyrics. Find both books at your local library or independent bookstore.
My Book Talk: Being considered “one of the guys” by Oliver, Trip, and Abe is fine with Charlotte, as she gives them the girl-perspective on life and keeping their band together behind the scenes. When a new guy joins the band and encourages her to grab the mike, their whole dynamic changes and Char isn’t sure if the guys can handle it.
She and Trip have been friends forever, but after he and lead singer Oliver have “creative differences” Trip leaves the band, and Sad Jackal must audition a new lead guitar player. Now who’s going to create all the melodies for Char’s lyrics?
Char has to deal with Trip’s sudden distance at school, her stepsisters’ giggle-pop taste in music at home, and weird vibrations at band practice, as new guitarist Fabian starts treating her like a girl. New lyrics just stream from her pen as her stepsister has a messy break-up, as other friendships ebb and flow… and Sad Jackal is hired to play at the school’s Halloween dance.
Trying to balance her commitment to the band with tough school classes, she agrees to be brilliant slacker Benji’s study buddy despite Trip’s dire warnings. As Halloween nears, Charlotte allows her stepsisters to give her beauty treatments and lets Fabian coax her into singing harmonies that turn into full-blown solos.
Does Fabian really see her as a girl instead of just another member of the band?
Can Oliver deal with Charlotte taking the microphone or does he want her to stay out of his spotlight?
What if her need to sing the stories she writes as lyrics is stronger than the band’s need for her to smooth out all the details for them?
And why is Trip avoiding all her calls now, when she needs his viewpoints most of all?
Rooted in Atlanta’s alternative music scene, Charlotte struggles to decide if it’s time to stop just Being Friends With Boys and get going with her life in music and beyond. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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