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December 19, 2014

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How It Went Down

How It Went Down, Kekla Magoon Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), October 2014 Reviewed from final copy For many, the second half of 2014 will be remembered as the time when police violence against black communities sparked outrage, protest, and calls for change. This is a timely and sorrowful moment for How It Went Down to arrive […]

I’ll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson Dial Books for Young Readers, September 2014 Reviewed from digital galley and final copy A lot of things make me cry. A great book, a sad movie, and occasionally, a really moving commercial*. I have a long list and I’m really honest about being particularly susceptible. But I’m […]

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, Steve Sheinkin Roaring Brook Press, January 2014 Reviewed from final copy This is a difficult review to write. The reason I’m struggling has nothing to do with Steve Sheinkin’s book, and everything to do with it. My thoughts keep turning to Michael Brown, […]

Roundup: Boarding School Blues

This morning, we’re looking at two novels set in boarding schools; And We Stay is Jenny Hubbard’s follow up to her 2012 Morris Award Finalist, Paper Covers Rock, and debut author Chelsey Philpot is inspired by classic literature in Even in Paradise.* Both novels feature a young woman with a traumatic past who, in her […]

A Matter of Souls

A Matter of Souls, Denise Lewis Patrick Carolrhoda Lab, April 2014 Reviewed from final copy Whenever I review a book, I try to remind myself of my personal quirks as a reader. A major one I have is that it usually takes me approximately four-to-eight pages before I feel firmly oriented in a story. This […]

We Need Diverse Books (Ballet Edition)

Diversity in YA has received a lot of attention recently, thanks to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag that’s evolved into a formal organization for activism and awareness. Brandy Colbert’s debut YA novel, Pointe was published just two weeks before the influential hashtag was born. Excellent timing because Pointe isn’t only a novel with a narrator of color; it’s a novel […]

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton Candlewick Press, March 2014 Reviewed from ARC Here’s some magic realism by way of fairy tales with writing that’s often achingly beautiful. Some books engage your intellect and others grab your heart; some books, however, immerse you in a sensory experience. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrow […]

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, Candace Fleming Schwartz & Wade, July 2014 Reviewed from ARC Six stars. It seems like everyone is talking about The Family Romanov*. Let’s set aside those stars though, because a discussion of what it means when a book earns full marks, ahem, stars, should be […]

National Book Award Finalists

National Book Award Finalists

And we have finalists! With yesterday’s announcement of the National Book Award Finalists in the Young People’s Literature category it’s really starting to feel like awards season. Last month, Karyn wrote about the longlist, observing that social conscience seemed to be a common thread among the nominees. Now that we’re down to five titles, her […]

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Susan Kuklin Candlewick Press, February 2014 Reviewed from ARC Does literary quality mean that a writer has to have a strong authorial presence? I bring this up because Beyond Magenta is a wonderful nonfiction book. It’s easily one of the strongest contenders for this year’s YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction—but […]

Noggin

noggin

Noggin, John Corey Whaley Atheneum Books for Young Readers, April 2014 Reviewed from ARC I need to be up front about something. I loved Where Things Come Back. I know it wasn’t a favorite ’round these parts, but I was impressed with the nuance and ambition in its debut author’s writing. John Corey Whaley’s Printz-winning novel […]

The Undertaking of Lily Chen

The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Danica Novgorodoff First Second, March 2014 Reviewed from final copy I almost didn’t write this review. Not for a lack of quality in Danica Novgorodoff’s graphic novel–it has quality bursting out of the pages. No, I almost abandoned this one because of that pesky eligibility question. It’s an issue I […]

The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson Viking, January 2014 Reviewed from final copy Addiction, depression, PTSD; these weighty problems are the main focus of Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory, recently longlisted for the National Book Award. There’s definitely some great writing here that is worth talking about; Anderson’s ability to sustain an […]

Little Blue Lies

Little Blue Lies

Little Blue Lies, Chris Lynch Simon & Schuster, March 2014 Reviewed from ARC Printz Honor Book author Chris Lynch’s latest novel is a brief, quirky tale of two teens who aren’t meant to be together. No, they’re not star-crossed lovers, rather Oliver and Junie’s relationship is too glib and shallow to ever have been the […]

Everything Leads to You

Everything Leads to You

Everything Leads to You, Nina LaCour Dutton Books, May 2014 Reviewed from Final Copy Everything Leads to You has all the elements you would want in a YA summer book: love, glamour, and mystery all in the warm, sunny climate of Southern California. And that’s just the trailer. Nina LaCour’s latest novel is also a […]

It’s such an honor

It’s such an honor

Heading into the honor vote, we knew a few things: Eleanor & Park and Winger were in strong positions to do well based on where they finished behind Boxers & Saints. Although E&P ended up 26 points behind Boxers & Saints (and Winger was 36 points behind), there was only a 24 point margin between E&P, Winger, The Summer […]

Fangirl — Finally!

Why isn’t Fangirl getting more Printz buzz? It’s earned five stars and has appeared on a couple best of 2013 lists. Is the subject too niche? Are readers putting all their support behind Eleanor & Park? Whitney Winn of Youth Services Corner did a useful roundup of Mock Printz lists. While E&P appeared on all nineteen […]

Sex & Violence

Sex & Violence, Carrie Mesrobian Carolrhoda LAB, October 2013 Reviewed from ARC Time for a true confession: of the five 2014 Morris Award nominated titles, I’ve read only one. All of the books had been on my to-read list before becoming Morris finalists, but we all know what happens with to-read lists and then you’ve […]

Roundup: In a worst case scenario

We’re about two weeks away from the YMA’s so it’s the perfect time to highlight some books that are flying under the awards radar. Both of the titles I’m looking at today have excellent character writing and deal with themes of violence and what people do in extreme circumstances. Neither book quite has what it […]

Picture Me Gone

girl's face, with red, yellow, and blue blocks of color

Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff Putnam Juvenile, October 2013 Reviewed from ARC Picture Me Gone. It’s earned five stars. It’s on three 2013 best lists*, and it was a National Book Award finalist. What am I missing? I’ve read it twice now and my reaction is still just, “meh.” There are no glaringly obvious flaws, […]