Summertime...and the Reading Is Easy

25 summer-themed titles for tweens and teens for reading all year 'round.
Family, friendships, romance, and personal growth are the themes of this year's seasonal reads. Display these books for tweens and teens looking for some summer-themed reading whether they are heading to the pool or beach, or anticipating leisurely hours outdoors under a shade tree.

Middle Grade

redstarBROSGOL, Vera. Be Prepared. illus. by Vera Brosgol. 256p. First Second. Apr. 2018. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781626724440; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626724457.

Gr 5-8 –Brosgol has worked on acclaimed animated films, but she was once a lonely nine-year-old aching for friendship. Here, she relates the story of her monthlong experience at Russian summer camp, where she coped with the horrors of outhouses, feral wildlife, and bug bites, as well as with mean older cabinmates and alienation from her fellow campers. The author/illustrator reprises her cartoony character art and her detailed yet subtle background work. The book eschews the plot-driven and suspenseful storytelling of Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost in lieu of a slice-of-life narrative in which problems aren’t always neatly resolved. This lends a hard realism to the memoir, in spite of the adorable art style, as young Vera earns small victories and an understanding of herself rather than soaring triumph. The text is simple and accessible, but the relaxed pacing, characters who go often unpunished for cruel behavior, and the brief inclusion of an ill-fated romance set this title apart from more gentle middle grade works. VERDICT A gorgeous, emotional memoir worthy of any graphic novel collection.–Matisse Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library

CHOLDENKO, Gennifer. Al Capone Throws Me a Curve. 240p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101938133. Gr 5-7–In this fourth book in the series, Moose faces a busy summer. While his sister Natalie is maturing and Alcatraz is in the midst of a Bureau of Prison inspection, Moose is struggling to keep Piper out of trouble and vying to be on the high school baseball team. He evolves from a pushover to an assertive young man, who, after a pivotal scene with Al Capone, tells his father the truth about events and stands up to the captain of the baseball team. Natalie grows up, too, offering keen observations about her mother and herself and demonstrating an increased ability to cope with stressful situations. The other characters are less developed, yet Choldenko creates a believable community of flawed individuals. Choldenko provides photographs and historical context for her fictional account in a detailed afterword. VERDICT A powerful story of love and family that will please fans and newcomers.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY GREENBERG, Lauren Abbey. The Battle of Junk Mountain. 224p. Perseus/Running Pr. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762462957. Gr 4–6–Twelve-year-old Shayne has just arrived on the Maine coast to spend a month with her grandmother, who everyone calls Bea. Shayne is excited to be back in Maine to catch up with her "summer sister" Poppy. She's also there to help Bea clean out her house. Complicating things is the fact that her grandmother is an avid collector. She loves yard sales and has piles and piles of stuff she has amassed over the years. In the background, though, hovers her grief over the loss of her husband, Shayne's grandfather, who died in a boating accident. When Shayne helps Bea organize her things and bring them to the flea market, Bea refuses to sell anything. Meanwhile, Poppy is busy working at her dad's store and Shayne is left feeling out of sorts and lonely. Into this mix comes Cranky, also known as Mr. Holbrook, and his grandson Linc, a devoted Civil War reenactor. They become friends and Shayne starts working on Cranky's lobster boat. The Maine setting comes through clearly with rich descriptions and details. VERDICT Themes on intergenerational relationships, grief, and evolving friendships elevate this above the standard summer vacation story. A solid purchase, especially where realistic coming-of-age middle grade is needed.—Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City

HEIDER, Mary Winn. The Mortification of Fovea Munson. 336p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484780541. POP Gr 5-8–Poor Fovea Munson. Life is hard in seventh grade when your parents own a cadaver lab and your classmates know that your parents work revolves around dead bodies. And it doesn’t help that Fovea is stuck working in the lab this summer because her camp plans fell through. When three thawed heads start talking to Fovea, though, her summer gets a whole lot more interesting. As it turns out, these heads need a hand—and Fovea may be the only one who can help them. Heider’s tale is darkly comic and wholly original. Despite the gruesome premise, this is more comedy than horror. VERDICT Highly recommended for kids who like fantasy, science fiction, and light horror. Destined to be a popular summer reading selection.–Mitchell Berman, Zion-Benton Public Library, IL

KEPHART, Beth. Wild Blues. 336p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481491532. Gr 5-8–When told to choose her summer adventure, Lizzie chooses her favorite place in the world—her Uncle Davy’s mountain cabin and time with her best friend Matias. She would rather stay home with her mother, but her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatments means she really needs to be away for the summer. Everything begins as usual—cooking with her uncle, who works as a celebrity antiques dealer, and enjoying picnics and long conversations with Matias, who has a rare condition that causes a form of dwarfism. Then the unexpected happens. Two prisoners escape from a nearby facility and kidnap Matias. When Lizzie finds her friend missing and only one of his canes, she sets out to find him. Her worried uncle goes in search of Lizzie and Matias and soon, he too disappears. Told as a victim’s impact statement, Lizzie’s conversational tone to an unknown listener whose identity we discover near the end of the book relates her actions, her emotions, and her anger about what happened. Lizzie is articulate and gutsy. Kephart is at her best in this fast-paced yet introspective novel for younger tweens and teens. VERDICT While the victim impact statement format may take a few chapters for readers to get used to, the superb writing and strong plot make this one a winner.–Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas, Denton

LaFLEUR, Suzanne. Counting to Perfect. 208p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524771799. Gr 5-7–Twelve-year-old Cassie Applegate’s world revolved around her family and her swim team, until her sister Julia gave birth to a little girl, Addie, in the middle of her senior year of high school. Now her parents are so occupied with Julia and the baby, they scarcely seem to notice Cassie and rarely come to her swim meets. She also misses the closeness she shared with Julia before Addie was born. When Julia tells Cassie she and Addie are leaving, and invites her to come along, Cassie reluctantly agrees, assuming it will be a short road trip. But once on the road, Julia seems to have no particular destination in mind, and no intention of returning home. Cassie finds herself torn between the adventure and camaraderie of traveling with her big sister, and her love for her parents and friends back home. Lyrically written with compelling characters, this heartfelt  novel explores the complexity of sibling relationships. Cassie’s account of her road trip with Julia is interspersed with memories of their life together before Addie was born, and the confusing, frightening months after Julia announced she was pregnant. Although the parents’ acceptance of two teenaged girls taking an unplanned trip with an infant seems to come a bit too easily, the characters’ emotions are believable and beautifully described, and the relationship between the sisters is touching. The author also wonderfully captures Cassie’s love of swimming. VERDICT This warm and expressive contemporary novel will appeal to middle grade fans of realistic fiction.–­Ashley Larsen, Pacifica Libraries, CA
LANG, Heidi. Rules of the Ruff. 256p. Abrams/Amulet. Aug. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419731372. Gr 4-6–Twelve-year-old Jessie pesters her way into an apprenticeship with a curmudgeonly dog walker during a summer with her suburban Ohioan family. Her cousin’s mean-girl friend and an intriguing boy and his mom (who tries to co-opt clients for her own dog walking service) create additional challenges to merely mastering dog-walking skills. Written in scene-based chapters of uniform lengths and featuring a small cast with distinctive personalities and voices, Jessie’s story is a light, predictable read. Jessie loves soccer and Die Hard movies and eschews dresses and romantic comedies. Dogs abound within these pages, but mostly as objects that further the plot as opposed to animals with whom the protagonist develops close relationships. VERDICT Give this to dog lovers or readers seeking a light and breezy summer read.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

LARSON, Hope. All Summer Long. illus. by Hope Larson. 176p. Farrar. May 2018. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780374304850; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780374310714. Gr 5-8–It’s a summer of changes for 13-year-old Bina. Her best friend Austin is off to soccer camp, her oldest brother and his husband are adopting a baby, and nobody has time for Bina. An aspiring guitarist, she takes solace in music; it grounds her when she feels adrift. Over the course of long weeks filled with babysitting, mini-golf, concerts, and family, Bina experiences a full range of emotions as feelings are easily hurt, moods are topsy-turvy, and friendships are formed, broken, and reshaped in different ways. This sensitive, relatable graphic novel explores many familiar touchstones of adolescence as Bina seeks her place in the world. Constantly looking up to the older, more accomplished people in her life, Bina finds it hugely satisfying when she realizes that she, too, has something to offer. A limited palette keeps the focus on the story and character development, and Larson’s expressive drawings add to the emotional resonance of the teen’s journey to self-discovery. VERDICT Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and Shannon Hale’s Real Friends will eagerly embrace this work. A charming addition to any graphic novel collection.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

redstarMAGOON, Kekla. The Season of Styx Malone. 304p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524715953.

Gr 4-7–Summertime in small-town Indiana only heightens 10-year-old Caleb’s frustrations with feeling ordinary. When he and his older brother, Bobby Gene, meet smooth-talking 16-year-old Styx Malone, a whole new world of excitement, and its frequent companion trouble, opens up. Enthralled by cool kid Styx, Caleb and Bobby Gene are roped into an “escalator trade,” whereby the boys attempt to trade small things for increasingly more valuable items in the hopes of eventually trading up to a shiny moped. The characters are magnetic; Styx in particular unfolds into a touchingly human young man withstanding the buffets of foster care. The themes of friendship, trust, rebellion, and safety strongly flavor the book without overpowering the easy fun. VERDICT A summertime romp filled with trouble-making, camaraderie, and substance. A solid purchase, especially for collections where realism circulates well.–Erin Reilly-Sanders, University of Wisconsin-Madison

MARTIN, Laura. Float. 352p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062803764. Gr 4-6–Emerson floats. Unfortunately, he has almost no control over his floating, which makes it a Reoccurring Incidents of the Strange Kind (RISK) factor. He and other kids like him are sent to Camp Outlier where the government can keep a close eye on them. It's a motley crew in Emerson's cabin: Gary is sticky, Hank can't control his invisibility, Zeke has sporadic X-ray vision, and Anthony is a human torch. For once in his life, Emerson feels like he finally fits in. With lots of action, great dialogue, and plenty of humor, Martin's style and tone are reminiscent of Gordon Korman and Dan Gutman. VERDICT With a great premise and solid writing, this should be a popular addition to the middle grade collections.—Jane Hebert, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL

PERKINS, Lynne Rae. Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea. illus. by Lynne Rae Perkins. 240p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062499660. Gr 3-5–Alix Treffrey is spending a week at the seashore with her family, a place she and her sister Jools have never been. Each chapter covers a new day and new experiences: discovering the ocean, boogie boarding, meeting new friends, and building sand castles. The girls’ personalities emerge in the telling. Younger Alix is imaginative and adventurous, climbing to the top of the lighthouse with her dad, holding a peregrine falcon at the raptor center, while cautious, serious Jools holds back. Told in a light, breezy style with rich but accessible language and touches of humor, the conflict is mild, with minor crises quickly resolved and without much of the drama typical in novels of this length. Though a quiet tale, there is enough action and character development to create empathy and hold the reader’s interest. Appealing black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout provide visual context for the setting which is also vividly described in the text. VERDICT A great choice for young readers ready for longer fiction and for parents or teachers seeking a pleasant, multi-session read-aloud.–Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

SLIVENSKY, Katie. The Seismic Seven. 352p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062463180. Gr 4-7–Thirteen-year-old YouTuber and video gamer Brianna wins a chance to spend the summer working with a prominent geologist at Montana’s Yellowstone. Along with three other contest winners, she believes she’ll be studying seismic activity in the supervolcano beneath the park. After spending weeks cut off from contact with their families, drilling tunnels deep beneath the earth, the young teens discover their true mission. Geologist Dr. Samantha Grier and her park administrator sidekick are actually misanthropic maniacs out to destroy humanity in a last-ditch bid to head off climate change and allow Earth to recover from mass extinctions. Slivensky, a science educator with a background in paleoanthropology, brings attention to the natural process of regrowth after destruction, particularly in Brianna’s meditation on the destruction to the park and to Yellowstone Lake. An author’s note explains that, while the Yellowstone supervolcano is a real phenomenon, the science of triggering and stopping the eruption is wholly invented. Many readers will find key elements of the narrative preposterous, but the story includes enough whipsaw plot twists and over-the-top action to maintain engagement. VERDICT An intriguing and timely premise make this an unusual and intriguing selection, shortcomings aside. A secondary purchase for middle grade collections.–Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

redstarSMITH, Heather T. Ebb and Flow. 232p. Kids Can. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781771388382. Gr 4-6–This touching verse novel begins with Jett headed to the East Coast to stay with his grandmother for the summer. Jett had a rough year: his father went to prison, and normally kind Jett joined forces with a bully to vent some of his anger and wound up in deep trouble for stealing from an adult with intellectual disabilities. Readers learn about Jett’s recent past through flashbacks and the stories he tells Grandma Jo. The time with his “Cotton Candy Granny” is exactly what the boy needs. They collect sea glass at the beach and Jett realizes that “even after all that battering,” the glass survives. His unconditionally loving Grandma’s influence soothes Jett’s troubled soul, and he emerges forgiven by the man he betrayed and forgives himself. Although the complete healing is somewhat idealized, this is a powerful and poetic story of emotional endurance. VERDICT Full of charm and small bits of wisdom, this redemption story will find wide ­appeal among fans of middle grade realistic fiction.–Elaine Fultz, Madison Jr. Sr. High School, Middletown, OH

STEWART, Tiffany. Holly Jolly Summer. 272p. Farrar. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374305758. Gr 7 Up–The summer tourist season is bustling in the stifling hot town of Christmas, KY, as 15-year-old Darby causes a very public disaster at the annual Snow Globe unveiling. Her single father, the town's mayor, encourages her to get a job and be a regular kid, replacing her unofficial position in his office with Marianne, an attractive city-girl type sent by the governor's office to help Christmas become an even greater tourist destination. Darby goes to work at Holly Jolly Land, a local amusement park full of promise, but in need of a little tender love and care. Despite being the most junior member of the maintenance crew and her reputation, Darby gets to know the owner, Nick, a Vietnam vet, and gains a sense of belonging. Her new supervisor turns out to be Calvin, a cute boy from the not-so-distant past, who causes her crush on Roy, the class heartbreaker, to fizzle. Stewart's debut is full of holiday flavor and humor, but also predictability. The sweet young adult romance would make for a light beach read. VERDICT An additional purchase for large collections where romance is popular.—Laura Jones, Argos Community Schools, IN

High School

HADDIX, Margaret Peterson. The Summer of Broken Things. 400p. S. & S. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481417648. Gr 7 Up–Avery Armistead and Kayla Butts are an unlikely pair. Avery, a privileged snob, wishes only to spend the summer at soccer camp with her best friends. When her dad cooks up a scheme to bring her along on an extended business trip to Spain, Avery desperately pleads to stay home. Without the bonds made at soccer camp, how will she be in the “right” crowd when she starts school in September? When her dad explains further that they’re bringing along Kayla, a family friend, Avery fights even harder. Despite her protestations, the trip moves forward and she grudgingly finds herself in Spain with Kayla, a girl who is definitely not from the “right” crowd. In Spain, they learn just how intricately their fates are intertwined and are forced to truly look at themselves for the first time. In the hands of a less seasoned author, this story (told in alternating chapters by Avery and Kayla), might have felt simultaneously unlikely and cliched. In Haddix’s able hands, however, it proves a compelling coming-of-age novel. Readers will be drawn into both protagonist’s lives, rooting for Avery to learn an ounce of empathy and for Kayla to gain confidence in the same measure. Both characters develop past their initial caricatures and when the drama and action pick up closer to the book’s end, readers will find themselves quite satisfied. VERDICT A strong choice for most YA shelves.–Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ 

KANN, Claire. Let's Talk About Love. 288p. Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. Jan. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250136121. Gr 9 Up–Alice’s first year at college did not go the way she planned. First, her parents kept pressuring her to declare prelaw as her major, then her best friends changed plans at the last minute and got an apartment off campus for themselves. By the end of the year, she’s still undeclared, and her roommate-turned-girlfriend turned ex-girlfriend has reenforced Alice’s fears that no one will stay with her once they find out she’s asexual. When she shows up to work one day to meet the beautiful and sweet Takumi, Alice is blown away by her feelings toward him but terrified of being hurt again. This story, originally published online, is undoubtedly, but not heavy-handedly, focused on Alice’s sexual identity. While side story lines add some depth to Alice and offer up a diverse cast of supporting characters, they are mostly underdeveloped or tangential. Alice’s relationship with her best friends Feenie and Ryan, who are a couple, alternates between charming and troublesome. They, along with a few others in Alice’s life, are often unfairly or aggressively demanding of her, but the book rarely addresses it as more than overzealous love. Despite that, Alice and her struggle to grow while maintaining her identity are heartfelt and real. Alice is black, biromantic, and asexual, and her relationship with Takumi is genuine and fun. VERDICT A light, enjoyable asexual romance with outstanding representation. Recommended for any teen collection.–Amy Diegelman, formerly at Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA
NELSON, Blake. Phoebe Will Destroy You. 256p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jun. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481488167. Gr 9 Up–Another insightful revelation of a teenage boy living a not-so-wonderful life. Nick is 17, smart, funny, cute, and mostly carefree. It is the summer before his senior year of high school. He has everything going for him, except for his alcoholic mother who has turned everyone’s life upside-down and is home from a three-month stint at a resort-style rehab. Nick goes to live in the nearby town of Seaside with his aunt, uncle, and cousins for the summer to get away from his home situation and come to grips with the life he has now. Nelson writes with emotion and understanding. The characters are real and poignant. From the title, teens will anticipate that Phoebe is bad news, but they will feel for Nick when he falls in love and has his heart ripped from his chest. Nelson writes about the high school boy with honesty: feeling love for the first time and describing the intensity of the joy and the ache with authenticity. Sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, and language are part of the story, which makes it even more appealing for its target audience. VERDICT A first buy for all libraries serving teens.–­Christina Paolozzi, Bonaire Elementary School, GA

SAGE, Erica. Jacked Up. 272p. Sky Pony Pr. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510730052. Gr 9 Up–Jack Kerouac has been dead for almost 40 years, but that doesn’t stop him from haunting Nick, who just lost his older sister, Diana, to suicide. Diana loved Kerouac and often channeled his philosophy of loving the “mad ones.” As if these things weren’t bad enough, Nick’s parents have decided to send him to “Jesus Camp” at the behest of Nick’s other sister, Charlotte. Nick is not excited or even happy about this decision but he doesn’t feel like he has a choice, given the tragedy his family has just gone through. The campers are encouraged to write down confessions or prayers and put them into the official PC Box, and even Nick participates—by writing down his secret about Diana’s death. When the PC Box goes missing, everyone at camp is in a panic, especially Nick, who makes it his mission to find where the box went. This story of tragedy and relationships reads quickly, and Nick is a sympathetic narrator. The teen is often resistant to the camp’s lessons, which are gentle but not subtle. Some of the male campers use crass language and objectify their female cohorts. The author has created a small but well-crafted cast of characters. Each of them have real-life issues that will resonate with young adults. VERDICT A good selection for most YA collections.–Sara Jurek, Children’s English Library, Stuttgart, Germany

SCARROW, Kristine. The 11th Hour. 192p. Dundurn. Mar. 2018. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781459740372. Gr 9 Up–High schooler Annika loves Dylan. He is the best thing that has ever happened to her, so she can’t understand why her parents have forbidden her to see him or why her best friend doesn’t trust him. She loves him so much, in fact, that she is willing to quit some of her favorite activities like cheerleading and dance. She loves him so much that she runs away with him to start their life together at a remote cabin in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Annika to see what others may have already seen in Dylan. When his behavior becomes disturbing, Annika knows she needs help, but is it too late? This is a quick-paced pick that could easily be read in one sitting. The author portrays Dylan as a teenager who is in despair and needs help. Readers will hang on to page after page in this drama-filled narrative to see what happens next. The experience will be like trying to turn away from a car wreck—they may not want to look but they won’t be able to help it. VERDICT A good addition to any high school library.–Betsy Davison, Cortland Jr. Sr. High School, NY

SEVIGNY, Alisha. Summer Constellations. 264p. KCP Loft. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781771389297. Gr 9 Up–Julia’s summer has begun with two unexpected events: her mom wants to sell their family campground to a wealthy developer, and her crush, Dan shows up at the campground with a new girlfriend. When Julia retreats to the lake to agonize over her bad luck, she meets Nick playing guitar on the dock. Nick is handsome and takes her mind off Dan until she discovers that Nick is the developer’s son. Julia has to decide if she can trust Nick to help her save her family campground, while Nick works to separate himself from his family’s business, Meanwhile, they are both trying to guard their hearts. This is a fast-paced, humorous and romantic story, with realistic dialogue and a cast of interesting and relatable characters. The relationship dynamics between Nick and Julia are immensely readable, but teens will also be driven to keep reading to discover what happens to Julia and her family’s campground. VERDICT Recommended for collections serving teens, especially where romance is in demand.–Tabitha Nordby, Red River College, Man.

SPALDING, Amy. The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Berger in Los Angeles). 224p. Sky Pony. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510727663. Gr 7 Up–Abby Ives, 15, is trying to get her career started in fashion by obtaining an internship at a local boutique for plus-size shoppers. She has become an Internet sensation with her blog on plus-size and affordable fashion, but has a dark past with her mother who works in the health food industry and is always trying to force Abby to lose weight by fat shaming. The teen discovers that she has to share the seasonal internship with Jordi Perez, who seems like a typical artsy girl; she is serious, wears all black, and loves photography. Jordi has been labeled a criminal for a photo shoot gone wrong and has been arrested for arson. Both teens work toward getting the job that the internship promises, but their growing feelings for each other complicate things. While Abby is trying to discover herself and her newfound relationship and find balance in her complicated life, she is on an adventure with her male friend Jax to find the best burger in L.A. for his father’s food rating app. It takes quite a few chapters to shift through the scrambled writing style in the beginning of the story, yet despite the slow pace and inane dialogue, the characters’ backstories will resonate with teens and invite them to see how Jordi, Abby, and Jax end up. VERDICT Though the premise is a little played out, this work is sweet and delightful.—Danielle Jacobs, Las Vegas Clark County Library District

VINESSE, Cecilia. The Summer of Us. 320p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316391139. Gr 9 Up–Five friends on a European vacation uncover secrets about one another, including long-hidden love and lies. As time approaches for Aubrey and her friends to say goodbye to London and leave for college in other countries, Aubrey has planned an unchaperoned Grand Tour for them all. Only Jonah, her boyfriend, will accompany her to New York City in the coming year, and she hopes to spend a little more time with him in the European cities she’s always dreamed of visiting. But traveling in close quarters creates opportunities for secret crushes to reveal themselves. A stolen kiss with Gabe ignites trouble for Aubrey. Meanwhile, her best friend Rae has problems keeping her crush on artsy Clara hidden from the group. As the trip flies by, fears of the unknown surface for the friends, and they wonder if their future plans are certain at all. Readers who enjoy art history are in for treat with this book. The story’s setting takes on the part of a sixth character and gives worn tropes a fresh new spin. Older teens will relate to Rae and Aubrey as they are likely making some of the same life choices. The emotions play out perfectly with the backdrop of romantic monuments, gritty bars, and elegant cafes. Unfortunately, Vinesse takes her time keeping her characters apart almost to the point of tedium, but it’s satisfying when each plotline finally reaches its resolution. ­VERDICT Recommended for realistic fiction ­collections.–Sandi Jones, Wynne High School, Wynne, AR
VIVIAN, Siobhan. Stay Sweet. 368p. S. & S. Apr. 2018. Tr. $17.99. 9781481452328. Gr 7 Up–For the past four summers, Amelia has worked at the all-women owned and operated local ice cream stand, whose history began in 1944 when Molly Meade started making ice cream as a way to cheer up her heartbroken friends whose loves were away at war. Looking forward to her last summer as "Head Girl" of the stand with her best friend Cate, her plans are dashed when Molly dies in the beginning of the summer. With the potential of the stand closing, Molly's grandnephew steps in to run the business with Amelia's help. Running into some trouble with the stand and her best friend throughout the summer helps Amelia find herself and teaches her to go after what she wants. The even pacing, adept characterization, and relatable protagonists make this a delightful choice. With a strong message about female empowerment and hard work, this YA book will be a great read for spring break or summer vacation. VERDICT For fans of Jenny Han looking for a light but touching summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.—Morgan O'Reilly, Riverdale Country School, NY
WEST, Kasie. Listen to Your Heart. 336p. Scholastic/Point. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338210057. Gr 7 Up–Love is in the air and on the airwaves in this sweet romance. Still stinging from a breakup with her ex-boyfriend, introvert Kate Bailey must leave a summer job at her beloved lake where her parents manage a marina and return to school. There, she reluctantly takes a podcasting class with her best friend Alana, despite Kate's fears that she won't enjoy it. No one is more surprised than Kate when she inadvertently lands a role as cohost of the school's podcast, doling out advice to anonymous callers. However, she soon realizes that helping others isn't as awful as she'd feared, and she quickly collects fans of her snarky humor and tasteful advice. But when Alana's good-looking crush, Diego, calls asking for love advice, Kate is suddenly confused and words of wisdom fail her. Kate and Diego have adorable chemistry. West delivers banter with plenty of sparks as Kate steps up to the mic. The character's emotional growth will resonate with readers as she discovers courage and new confidence. There are no real surprises in the plot, but this novel still manages to be satisfying. VERDICT Give this to those who enjoy books with light romance and friendship, and to fans of Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Dessen.—Sandi Jones, Wynne High School, Wynne, AR

WILLIAMS, Nicole. Almost Impossible. 272p. Crown. Jun. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780553498813. Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Jade has spent her life traveling the globe with her mom and her famous band, but this summer all she wants is a chance at a normal, suburban, teenage life. This yearning for normalcy is what brings her to sunny California to stay with her overprotective aunt and her family for the summer. Jade’s years on the road have taught her everything from how to take down stage sets to navigating a new city completely on her own, and they have also taught her to be fiercely independent and resourceful. Jade was content to spend her summer solo, reading the classics and writing under a shady tree in a quiet park. Her plans are turned upside down when she lands a job at the town pool and meets the charming and annoyingly handsome head lifeguard, Quentin, who has other summer plans for her. The author of Trusting You & Other Lies is back with another charming summer romance. Jade is a free spirit—fiercely independent and content being an outsider. Quentin is responsible; he helps out with his family, and he is the object of every girl’s eye. Williams explores the depth and fragility of Jade and Quentin’s budding teen relationship and leaves readers wanting more. ­VERDICT A fun and relatable summer read for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.–Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library

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