February 27, 2017

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First Things First: YA Debuts | SLJ Spotlight

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From fun romances to royal intrigue and from a harrowing tale of Hurricane Katrina to a teen’s journey from Haiti to Detroit, the following YA debut novels offer new stories and voices on the teen lit scene.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | SLJ Review

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TAYLOR, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. 544p. ebook available. Little, Brown. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316341684. POP

Gr 9 Up –Lazlo Strange is a foundling who has grown up alone and unloved, sustained only by his fantasies and stories of a city known as Weep. As an adult, Lazlo finds his way to the Great Library of Zosma and becomes a librarian, tasked with supporting scholars in their work. His fixation with Weep continues, and he searches for scraps […]

American Street by Ibi Zoboi | SLJ Review

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ZOBOI, Ibi. American Street. 336p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473042.

Gr 9 Up –After her mother is detained by immigration officials, Fabiola Toussaint has to finish her move from Port-au-Prince to Detroit alone. The tough-as-nails cousins and exhausted aunt who greet her in Michigan bear little resemblance to the warm family she had dreamed of when she was in Haiti. Left with a mother-size hole in her life, Fabiola begins the unsteady process […]

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks

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These materials will fly off the shelves, from a story about a young boy who loves his green pants to a timely YA novel centered on gun violence and Islamophobia by Barry Lyga.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi | SLJ Review

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CHOKSHI, Roshani. A Crown of Wishes. 400p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250085498.

Gr 9 Up –In this companion to The Star-Touched Queen, Chokshi returns to a vivid fantasy world steeped in Hindu mythology. After her brother’s betrayal, Princess Gauri is awaiting execution in an enemy Ujijain prison. Prince Vikram faces the unhappy destiny of becoming a puppet ruler in Ujijain. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, this pair of would-be […]

Bang by Barry Lyga | SLJ Review

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LYGA, Barry. Bang. 304p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316315500; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316315531. POP

Gr 10 Up –When Sebastian Cody was four years old, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun. A decade later, in the summer before his sophomore year in high school, he can no longer endure the guilt, everyone’s knowing and nervous stares, and the constant feeling that he doesn’t deserve to be alive. Sebastian decides to take […]

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | SLJ Review

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ALBERTALLI, Becky. The Upside of Unrequited. 352p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062348708. POP

Gr 9 Up –Growing up can mean growing apart, which is a hard revelation for twins Cassie and Molly Peskin-Suso. When Cassie, who is a lesbian, begins dating Mina, a pansexual Korean American, Molly feels a little cast aside. Molly, who has an anxiety disorder, has silently nursed 26 crushes and is working on finally risking the rejection she fears […]

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson | SLJ Review

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JACKSON, Tiffany D. Allegedly. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062422644.

Gr 9 Up –Jackson delivers a requiem about systemic issues of injustice in this debut novel that portrays the juvenile justice system, meant to rehabilitate youth who have gone astray, and the social service system, which is intended to defend those whose rights have been infringed upon. Interwoven with case study excerpts, depositions, and inmate interviews, this gripping thriller centers on 16-year-old Mary […]

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | SLJ Review

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THOMAS, Angie. The Hate U Give. 464p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062498533.

Gr 8 Up –After Starr and her childhood friend Khalil, both black, leave a party together, they are pulled over by a white police officer, who kills Khalil. The sole witness to the homicide, Starr must testify before a grand jury that will decide whether to indict the cop, and she’s terrified, especially as emotions run high. By turns frightened, discouraged, enraged, and […]

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix | SLJ Review

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NIX, Garth. Frogkisser! 384p. ebook available. Scholastic. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338052084.

Gr 8 Up –Anya, a 13-year-old princess, loves nothing more than reading in her favorite chair. But after she makes a “sister promise” to her elder sibling to turn a frog back into a prince, she finds herself on a quest for a magic lip balm that sends her far from her beloved castle library. Along the way, she learns that wizards offer help but only […]

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson | SLJ Review

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ANDERSON, Natalie C. City of Saints & Thieves. 432p. ebook available. Putnam. Jan. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399547584.

Gr 7-10 –Tina has been developing her plan for revenge against her mother’s killer for five years, and it’s finally time to set it in motion. But things don’t go quite as planned when she breaks into Roland Greyhill’s palatial estate in the hills above bustling Sangui City, Kenya. Greyhill’s son, Michael, who was Tina’s best friend when her mother worked […]

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | SLJ Review

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SÁENZ, Benjamin Alire. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. 464p. ebook available. Clarion. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544586505. POP

Gr 9 Up –It is the first day of senior year, and Sal feels as if his life is exactly as it should be. He has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican American extended family. Sal’s best friend, Samantha, is almost like his sister. She really gets him, and more […]

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf | SLJ Review

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WOLF, Allan. Who Killed Christopher Goodman? 288p. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763656133.

Gr 9 Up –Christopher Goodman wears ridiculous bell bottoms, and the way he shakes hands with people is a little strange. He’s also a genuinely nice guy, which is why everyone in Goldsburg, VA, is shocked when Chris is murdered during 1979’s Deadwood Days, a Western street festival that draws tourists to the town every summer. While on a cross-country run, classmates Doc Chestnut and […]

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg | SLJ Review

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KONIGSBERG, Bill. Honestly Ben. 336p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545858267.

Gr 9 Up –Ben Carver works hard trying to please his friends, his teammates, his teachers, and, most important, his father. Barely keeping up with his classwork, extracurricular activities, and friendships, Ben wonders if he does all of these things for himself or just to placate those around him. He grapples with staying true to himself, even if he isn’t sure who […]

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson | SLJ Review

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WATSON, Renée. Piecing Me Together. 272p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681191058.

Gr 7 Up –High school junior Jade is an “at-risk” student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, […]

A List of Cages by Robin Roe | SLJ Review

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ROE, Robin. A List of Cages. 320p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484763803.

Gr 9 Up –Julian—shy, quiet, and nervous—has just entered high school, and it’s a nightmare. Kids pick on him for the children’s books that he keeps in his backpack; teachers berate him for not speaking up in class and for handing in near-illegible assignments because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. He hides away in the school theater at lunchtime just to get away from […]

The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig | SLJ Review

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HEILIG, Heidi. The Ship Beyond Time. 464p. (The Girl from Everywhere: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/ Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062380784.

Gr 8 Up –This artfully constructed sequel to The Girl from Everywhere does not disappoint, with even more romance and adventure than in the first installment. Based on a devastating prediction, ship captain Nix takes her crew on a time-traveling journey to a mythological kingdom. They are pursuing a method of manipulating time, and with all […]

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria | SLJ Review

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SORIA, Destiny. Iron Cast. 384p. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419721922.

Gr 9 Up –Owing to a blood condition, hemopaths have the ability to perform a variety of illusions through poetry, painting, or music. In an alternate Boston, as Prohibition is on the verge of making alcohol illegal in 1919, hemopathy shows are also officially against the law. Corinne Wells and Ada Navarra have called Johnny Dervish’s club, the Cast Iron, home for years, blending their respective magical […]

The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt | SLJ Review

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MARQUARDT, Marie. The Radius of Us. 304p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jan. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250096890.

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Gretchen Asher’s life has not been the same since she was mugged in a parking lot one night. The traumatic incident propelled her into a state of panic, and she is unable to go to school, socialize, or interact deeply with her boyfriend, Adam. Months later, while babysitting her niece and nephew in a neighborhood park, Gretchen spots a […]

A Star Is Born | SLJ Spotlight

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The stage life isn’t all glamour, as the teens in these diverse titles discover. Whether they’re performing for a few spectators at a high school auditorium or for thousands of screaming fans at a stadium-size arena, these young singers and actors learn to balance everyday concerns about family, friends, and romance with the high-stakes drama of life in the spotlight.