Graduated from med school at 16,
the youngest doctor in America!
(still no driver license…)
As “Genius Girl” Saira begins her internship in pediatric oncology, she expects to be challenged by medical situations – not a hostile hospital supervisor or or failing the driving test yet again or falling in love with a patient.
Link thought she was another ‘cancer kid’ and doesn’t react well when he finds out she’s actually a doctor on his ward. Maybe he’ll let her help with his music competition online anyway.
Chemo, radiation, bone marrow donation – the terms and realities and after-effects play out among the young patients in the three interns’ caseload. And there are only 2 spots in the residency to follow…
How can she reconcile how the accounting department and medical teams see patients’ cancer treatment options so differently?
If Link’s treatment doesn’t work, how can she deal with being his last love when he is her first?
How will her extended Indian-American family react when they discover that Vish has been her ‘boyfriend’ so long because he’s not ready to come out?
Cancer has touched us all – what are you doing to help? **kmm
Book info: Symptoms of a Heartbreak / Sona Charaipotra. Imprint (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Old scandals have their own life span,
roles of tragic hero and heartless villain already set –
but what if there’s more to the story?
Son of a murdered man, Gus tries to push past cerebral palsy‘s effects on his body and small-town gossip about his moms, but high school is still brutal.
Called back to dad’s hometown after Grandma’s stroke, Kalyn enrolls in school using another name, her dad being a murderer in prison and all that.
Of course, Gus and Kalyn meet and become friendly before they figure out the connection… and that’s just the start of this wild ride of secrets, outright lies, tangled friendships, and squinting at the truth.
Ever befriended someone whose past needs forgetting? **kmm
Book info: Wild and Crooked / Leah Thomas. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Also by this author: Because You’ll Never Meet Me – no-spoiler recommendation here
Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).
But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?
Is what you can do the same as your identity?
Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.
Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.
Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?
As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.
Ophelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…
Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.
Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.
“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?
“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?
“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?
Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.
Happy book birthday to Dumplin’ as Willowdean decides that the size of her heart matters more than the size of her thighs when pageant season arrives.
Glad that the author finally made it to Texas herself, although breaking the name of our state flower into two piece for the pageant title is dang near treasonous.
Today is also “Sing It Out Day” – how appropriate! Dolly Parton‘s 40 albums and self-acceptance inspire Willowdean to “go big or go home” – what inspires you?
Book info: Dumplin’ / Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A small Texas town beauty pageant gets a big shake-up as non-traditional contestants enter, led by sizeable and sassy Willowdean who’s ready for new things and her share of love.
Mom relives her Miss Texas Blue Bonnet days each year, helping slim cheerleaders prepare for the pageant as her own daughter enjoys being fat and almost happy.
Dumplin’ (oh, Mom, drop that nickname, please!) moons over handsome Bo at work and wonders if she’ll get stuck in this small town like recently deceased young Aunt Lucy whose size finally kept her housebound.
Willowdean and Lucy loved Dolly Parton’s songs and self-acceptance, so when classmates say the pageant isn’t for her, the teen decides it’s time to challenge the system – and so do other not-gorgeous girls from school!
Hone your talent? Time for a roadtrip to Aunt Lucy’s favorite music venue!
Find the perfect dress? Hello, vintage stores!
Get an escort for the pageant? Oh… maybe Bo?
She’s not entering the pageant to piss off Mom, but this sassy sweetheart and her new friends have read all the rules and know it’s their right to try – in front of the whole town. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Never be a teenage cliche.
Never do what’s expected.
Never take rules too seriously…
Somehow, the list of “Nevers” that best friends made just before high school (so they would stay originals) isn’t as iron-clad when they unearth it during that interminable spring semester of senior year, so they decide to make each “never” into “always”.
“Never be recognized by your lunch spot”
“Never hook up with a teacher”
“Never pine silently after someone”
Read the beginning of this August 2015 title free here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Dave and Julia and their “nevers” list.
What “I’ll never…” statements have you reappraised in your life?
My book talk: Best friends Dave and Julia decide to do every “never” on their long-time list during the final months of high school, but the California teens might wish that some rules had stayed unbroken so their hearts would stay that way, too.
The pair want to stay original (like Julia’s ever-roving birth mom) by avoiding the typical cliches in high school – running for student office or dyeing your hair a rainbow color – and they’ve stuck to that list for nearly four years. Suffering now from senioritis, it’s time to break all those rules!
From Julia “hosting a beer party” when her dads were gone to Dave and his brother helping her create the ideal lunch spot at school, the ten items on the list start getting crossed off.
When Dave becomes interested in Gretchen, Julia realizes that “never date your best friend” is the rule she most wants to break – but is it too late?
Never…expect Julia’s mom to visit when she promises.
Always…remember their favorite bench overlooking Morro Bay.
Sometimes…rules are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re not.
Friendship, love, and choices fill this funny and sad book as the two best friends have to find out which expectations are worth any risk. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Be a “good girl” until married? (unlike her own mom)
Go to college? (unlike her immigrant parents)
Do anything to be popular? (unlike…hmmm)
Gabi feels pulled apart by all the different demands of her mom, her teachers, her very-Mexican friends, her be-more-white schoolmates, society’s get-skinny-now-fat-girl messages – what’s going to come out on top during her senior year?
How do you stay strong against societal pressure?
Book info: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces / Isabel Quintero. Cinco Puntos Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.
My book talk: Conflicting messages from family, friends, and society leave Gabi wondering if she can truly achieve her dreams or if she must conform to the expectations of her Mexican heritage in Southern California.
As her senior year begins, Gabi still wants to lose weight, have a normal family, and have a boyfriend (and a first kiss!). Instead, she copes with her best friend’s unintended pregnancy, her meth-head father’s random appearances, and the fallout of her other best friend finally coming out to his very traditional Mexican family.
Creative writing class becomes an unexpected source of joy in her life, a distraction from the escapades of her younger brother (always overlooked by their mom, who is so critical of Gabi) and the overlong visit of her busybody aunt.
A first kiss – hooray! Macho heartbreaker – boo!
Supporting Cindy through morning sickness – not fun. Working with Martin on poetry – much better!
All the drama with mom and dad – so bad. A chance to attend prom with a real boyfriend – excellent!
Will Gabi be able to escape her mother’s unending lectures on staying ‘a good girl’ and go to college away from this stuffy town? Read her honest journal to find out. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
My book talk:When a life-threatening illness pulls Lane out of his overachiever lifestyle, the high school senior can’t imagine that rule-breaking and a now-lovely acquaintance from summer camp could make what’s left of his life so much worth living.
Diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis and sent away for a rest cure, Lane frets about AP classes left behind instead of relaxing to slow down his disease’s progress. Finding Sadie from junior high camp days helps him try for some memorable moments in his life instead of his planned rush to get ahead.
Sadie has been at Latham longer than anyone, has watched other teens with super-TB go out the gate either well or dead, and is sure that falling in love here is a terrible idea. She certainly didn’t count on Lane or his adorable eyes or his willingness to join her group of rule-breakers like wisecracking Nick and musical Charlie.
Planning for college or getting a driver’s license – how does it make sense when they may never leave Latham?
Rumors of a cure for their TB show up on the news regularly – what if the researchers really find one?
Told in alternating chapters by Lane and Sadie, this story of the Extraordinary Means that folks will use to stay alive celebrates making the most of the time you’ve got, especially when your candle is burning down fast. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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