Kiernan wants to fit in with the cool kids at school and he does just barely. That could all change when his strange cousin Bon comes to town. Bon has long, girly hair, wears old, raggedy clothes and likes to draw. He and his mom Renee have moved around a lot and the family has barely seen them. Bon gets bullied at school by Kiernan and his friends. Bon’s only friend is the other new kid Julia who seems to be attending school for the first time and has a secret past. As Bon becomes more a permanent part of Kiernan’s family he has to come to terms with his feelings and decide if he is going to do right by Bon.
This story has a lot going on. Bon is bullied, Kiernan is a bully. Renee seems to have some kind of mental health issue and there is the issue of child neglect regarding Bon. Julie has been kidnapped by her mother from her father who has custody. It is pretty heavy stuff and sometimes handled a bit heavy-handed in the book. I thought the message of the book was great. It is all about being who you are and accepting people for who they are. The only problem was that it came across very messagey and seemed to read like an after school special.
Grayson Sender is a sixth grade boy who doesn’t feel like his outside matches his inside. He has always felt like he was more of a girl than a boy. He looks in the mirror and tries to make his over-sized shirts and track pants into long dresses and skirts. He doesn’t fit in at school or have any real friends. When his favorite teacher announces tryouts for the spring play, The Myth of Persephone, Grayson is determined to tryout. He doesn’t want to tryout for any of the male roles however, he tries out for the role of Persephone. This sets off a firestorm throughout his home and school. He lives with his aunt and uncle since his parents died when he was a toddler. His uncle is supportive and wants Grayson to be who he is supposed to be. His aunt however is outraged that a teacher would cast him in a female role and is scared for Grayson’s safety. Grayson finds a home with the drama kids in the play however as they accept him for who he is. Some of the boys in his class are another story as they start teasing him and calling him Gracie. The bullying climaxes with Grayson being pushed down the stairs. He is determined to go on with the play no matter what though as that is the only time he feels like himself.
I was excited to read this book as it is on a topic I haven’t read in middle grade books before. Usually you don’t start getting into LGBT issues until teen novels. Grayson’s story is a wonderful one and one I would definitely recommend. It is handled very well and is presented at the correct level for the intended readers. I am not familiar with the journey transgender tweens/teens would take to become who they are meant to be but I found Grayson’s story to be realistic. I liked the fact that he was not just magically accepted by his peers and family but did receive negative reactions. This made the story that much more realistic. I enjoyed the interactions Grayson experienced with the other kids in the play; I always knew drama kids were inclusive and this just proved me right. I also thought the plot with the teacher was handled really well. There was bound to be consequences for his actions and they seemed appropriate. This is not a book for everyone but it is a book that should be read by everyone. It is more than a book about a transgender tween; it is a a book about being yourself and accepting people for who they are.
A heart-touching story about a curmudgeon who owns a bookstore on a small island. His wife has died (she was the people person)and the bookstore is experiencing its worst financial year ever. On his own, he’s not sure if he and the bookstore will make it. Does he even want to? Especially after his favorite, most valuable book is stolen. But then a special package arrives and his life will never be the same. Sections of the bookseller’s life are related to books or passages in books that have helped him throughout his life. Illustrates how literature can influence your everyday life and how love can change everything.
Willow Chance is a special girl; she is interested in plants and medical diagnosis; she is an undiscovered genius. Willow has just started middle school when she aces a standardized test and is accused of cheating. This sends her to Dell Duke, incompetent counselor, and allows her to meet her only friend Mai, whose brother Quang-ha sees Dell as well. These are the people around her when her world is destroyed. Her adoptive parents are killed in a car crash. Suddenly Willow is alone in the world with no family and no place to go. Mai takes charge and convinces her mother to allow Willow to stay with them, pretending she is a family friend even though they have never met. Mai’s mother Pattie is from Vietnam and operates a nail salon. The family lives in a one room garage behind the salon, which would definitely not pass a social services inspection. So Pattie convinces Dell to let them pretend to live in his apartment. She takes charge and transforms it into a home. Before you know it Willow, Mai, Pattie, Quang-ha and Dell are like a real family. Willow slowly comes out of her grief as the family comes together, but will she be able to stay with her new family or will the state take her away and destroy all she has known again?
This is one of those books that will break your heart. Willow’s grief on losing her parents is real and visceral. You can feel and understand her pain as she shuts completely down. Willow is also very strange; her interests are strange; she doesn’t interact with people in what is considered a normal way; she doesn’t fit in. But she fits with this new group of people and she brings them together as a family.
After reading this book for the second time I am still torn about my feelings for it. On one hand I really love the how Willow is able to build a family after tragedy. On the other there are several things that really bothered me about the book. First is the fact that Willow is not forced to go to school for months. Her case worker, the school district, Pattie, Dell, none of them make her go to school. She tells them she isn’t ready and they drop it just like that. She is supposed to be homeschooling during this time, but no one checks on that either. Second is the fact that Dell is completely incompetent as a counselor and yet is given all the tough cases to deal with. He doesn’t even attempt to help these kids and who knows what becomes of all the others besides Willow and Quang-ha. Third is the fact that Willow is immediately suspected of cheating on the standardized test she aces even though she has tested as gifted in the past. There is no retesting or attempts to figure out if she is just truly genius. She is just labeled a cheater and sent to counseling. This seemed off to me. Fourth is the fact that Willow’s house and the parents’ estate is never mentioned. Just because someone dies doesn’t mean the bills stop. Who is taking care of that? At some point you assume the house will be sold, but surely Willow will be consulted. I just really wanted to know what happened to that house and the garden that Willow so loved. I thought it was wrong that she completely abandoned it even after she started coming out of her grief. The last thing is the ending…it is way too Disney-perfect. The entire time I was reading it I assumed Pattie would somehow get custody of Willow. There was no way the book was going to end with her losing her family again. However, at the end Pattie somehow ends up being rich; rich enough to buy an apartment building in California. Seems she was forcing her family to live in the garage so she could save up some cash. Really!!???! She always came across as a hard-working mom trying to build up her business and keep her family going. Plus she makes Dell pay for everything! The bonus of this is one is Pattie’s romance with Jairo which also seems to come out of left field. Suddenly there is a built-in wealthy family for Willow to become a part of. I still really like this book and will recommend it, but I wish the ending wouldn’t have been so perfect. Willow could have still been adopted by Pattie even if she wasn’t wealthy right?
Jessie and Evan Treski are over a year apart in age but in the same class at school. Jessie is smart and skipped a grade. They live with their mom in a big, old house that seems to always need something fixed. Mom is getting ready to go on a trip when dad suddenly shows up. Dad has been out of their lives for a while. He is a war reporter and always gone. Since the divorce he might pop in for a day every once in a while but never stays long. When their babysitter has an accident and can’t stay with them, dad decides he can handle the kids for a week while mom is gone. The only problem is dad is not real good with parenting. He is always on the phone and does a lot of things mom would not approve of.
Evan has become obsessed with magic and wants to put on a magic show. He needs a big finally however to make the show great. Dad actually helps out when he gets Evan a bunny and a magic box. Jessie volunteers to be the assistant and they prepare for the magic show in the backyard. Only problem is a hurricane is heading up the east coast right for them. Dad needs to catch a plane before the airport closes so he takes off unexpectedly leaving the kids by themselves. Mom’s flight home is cancelled because of the hurricane. The kids are left on their own to endure the hurricane and the damage it causes.
I haven’t read the rest of this series but I don’t think you have to in order to enjoy this book. I liked how resourceful and intelligent Jessie and Evan were. They were fine on their own in incredible circumstances. I thought the dad was a bit over the top. I’m not sure even the worst parent would leave two kids home alone with a hurricane approaching, but you never know. I liked how Evan really worked with Jessie when she got over-excited. I am assuming she is somewhere on the autism spectrum even though it was never stated. I thought it was good that it was portrayed as just a part of their everyday life. Evan knew how to calm her and get her back on track.
Treasure is heart-broken when her dad takes off and doesn’t come back. He has left before but never for this long. He has itchy feet and can’t seem to stay in one place for very long. Treasure’s mom decides she is going to go look for him. She takes Treasure and her sister Tiffany to great aunt Grace’s house. Grace is an old, cranky woman whose house is full of dust and cigarette smoke, which aggravates Treasure’s asthma. She runs a candy store where she makes Treasure and Tiffany work while they are staying with her. Treasure is sure their father is just looking for the perfect place for them to finally settle down for good. She holds onto that dream until she can no longer overlook the obvious.
I loved Treasure’s story. She is spunky and out-spoken and perfect. Great aunt Grace is a wonderful character as well. I loved how cranky she was with everyone even though she secretly has a pretty soft heart. I thought the story was pretty realistic with Treasure and Tiffany trying to fit into their new circumstances and come to terms with the new reality of their lives. Treasure has created a hard shell around herself because they move so often, so she doesn’t want to make friends or become attached. I thought the two bullying girls were handled really well. It is often the ones who look perfect on the outside that are the biggest bullies. I also liked that the other girl struggled with how mean they were being. Wonderful story that I highly recommend!
Casey Snowden loves baseball. His dad and granddad run the third best umpire school in the country (out of three). He likes nothing better than seeing the students come in, getting back together with the instructors and You Suck Ump Day. This year the ump school coincides with Casey starting middle school. Casey loves baseball but doesn’t want to play or be an ump, he wants to be a sports reporter. Now that he is in middle school he thinks he’ll get the chance to write for the school newspapers. His hopes are dashed when he is told that sixth graders don’t get to write. They have to pay their dues by selling ad space before they become reporters. Casey doesn’t want to give up his dreams and works hard to come up with the most amazing story ever to get in the paper. Things aren’t going so well at home either. Fewer students have signed up for umpire school this year, which means some of the instructors haven’t been rehired either. Casey has to plan You Suck Ump Day himself with the help of his best friend. Casey’s mom is also back in the picture. She left them for Bob the Baker and has been absent for a while. Casey is still mad at her and wants nothing to do with her, but his dad is forcing him to spend time with mom.
There is a lot going on in this book which makes it pretty heavy at times. Casey seems to go from one issue to the next: school problems, bullies, financial problems at home, mom issues, questions about whether dad is moving the school to Florida. All the issues fit into the story, but because there is so much going on it feels like nothing is ever truly developed well. Maybe with fewer issues, the ones remaining could have been truly fleshed out. I liked the uniqueness of the umpire school. I’ve never even heard of it or read anything with it as a subject. I really liked the relationship between Casey and his best friend. It added a lot of humor to the otherwise kind of heavy story.
Addison was the most promising artist of her generation. Her death, a fall from a bridge, is a crushing blow to everyone who knew her. The prologue explains that the author, Griffin, was intrigued by Addison and thus began interviewing a wide variety of friends, family, exes, teachers, family acquaintances, etc. to gain a better understanding of who Addison was and what led to her death. Did she slip and fall? Was it intentional on her behalf? Did someone want her dead? Accounts of Addison vary depending on who is being asked, though everyone seems to agree that she was a phenomenal artist with some serious mental health issues. The narrative of the book is entirely commentary from the people in Addison’s life and begins more or less at the beginning with Addison’s early elementary school years. Also included are examples of Addison’s artwork and photos of Addison throughout her life.
We may never really know what caused Addison’s fatal slip, but we do get a much better idea of who she was and what brought her up on that bridge. Addison comes across as the quintessential “manic-pixie-dream-girl”. Everyone seems to want to know her, but she’s frequently aloof. Her art is clearly the most important part of her life, so much so that people, even those she cares about, come in at a distant second. Those who don’t like her come across as jealous of her magnetism and talent. She was clearly not the easiest person to be friends with; being her friend involved a lot of work.
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t really get into books that have this many different narrators. It’s incredibly difficult for me to warm up to any of the peripheral characters as we only know them through their relation to Addison and not on their own terms. While I felt like I learned a lot about Addison, I never felt like I knew her as a person, which was likely the intent. This is, however, an interesting experiment in form. There were a lot of themes at play here: the cult of celebrity, the connection between mental illness and creative genius, the effects of being precocious in a city like New York… As a thought experiment, the novel works, but I didn’t really love it.
It began as a day much like any other. Tariq Johnson was walking home after a trip to the local market, something he had done dozens of times before. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a car pulls up. A white man gets out of the car and shoots Tariq. Tariq is dead by the time the EMTs arrive. The community, which is predominantly black, is thrown into an uproar. Violence is nothing new to the gang-ridden neighborhood, but this shooting is different. Tariq was only 16 years old and he was, by many accounts, unarmed. As the news picks up the story, it becomes apparent that this act of violence was about far more than just the two individuals involved. The incident quickly becomes national news and the lives of everyone connected with Tariq and his shooter are changed forever.
Tariq’s story is told from multiple perspectives, including his best friend, his family members, old friends, local gang members, the store clerk, the shooter’s friend who lives down the street, the girl who tried to give Tariq CPR…the list goes on. There’s even an Al Sharpton-type character in the mix. It becomes abundantly clear from early on that the narrative of the day’s events shifts significantly depending on who is doing the talking. The gang members want to believe that Tariq did have a gun and that he was planning on joining up with them, so his death signals an act of war to them. Tariq’s best friend wasn’t there, but can’t wrap his head around the idea of Tariq carrying a gun. The friend of the shooter swore up and down that he saw a gun in Tariq’s hand. Others are sure they didn’t see a gun; that Tariq had a Snickers bar in his hand instead. How It Went Down certainly feels timely and does much to emphasize patterns of racism, both conscious and subconscious. As with many other incidents like this (that were not captured on film), what actually happened is difficult to discern. Each narrator has a very specific point of view shaped by their perceptions not only of Tariq himself, but of the neighborhood and the stereotypes associated with young black men in living in poor areas like Tariq’s. Ultimately, there are only two people who have any real answers – the shooter and the shot- and neither one is talking. This is a great novel to teach the ways in which our preconceived notions can shape our interpretation of events, but it’s not the most literary of novels out there. It’s an important read, but only if the reader is willing and able to sort through a very large number of narrators only to find that there aren’t any “real” answers. In the end, I felt that it might have been better to develop fewer characters rather than confuse the issue further with so many individual points of view.
Althea and Oliver have been best friends ever since Althea moved in down the street from Oliver at the tender young age of six. Now in their senior year of high school, they are still inseparable, but complications are arising in their usually-easy friendship. Althea is starting to develop a romantic interest in Oliver. Oliver, while not adverse to the prospect of advancing his relationship with Althea, is busy dealing with a strange illness that causes him to fall asleep for weeks, even months, on end. Althea has been helping him through many of his episodes, but finds herself flailing in the meantime. She literally doesn’t know how to live her life without Oliver by her side. Oliver, on the other hand, is profoundly disturbed by the fact that he is missing vast chunks of his life. Even when he wakes up in the midst of a sleeping episode, he has no recollection of what has happened during his semi-conscious state. Right before one of Oliver’s episodes, he and Althea finally become physical. Then, of course, he loses consciousness and they are unable to even discuss what has just happened or what the next step will be. While Oliver is out, Althea does something that she knows she will regret, something that might ruin her relationship with Oliver forever. When Oliver eventually finds out, he is furious and attempts to cut Althea out of his life altogether. He decides to participate in a two-month sleep study in New York for those who have the same disease: Kleine Levin Syndrome, or KLS. When Althea figures out that Oliver has left town, she packs up her old Camry and heads off to New York to apologize and attempt to salvage her friendship.
Althea and Oliver’s story is completely unique. It’s easy to go into this book thinking that you know where it will end up, but this story never seems to go quite where you think it will. It’s not exactly a romance or a love story, but there’s a ton of heart. Althea isn’t always the most likeable of characters, but she’s absolutely relatable and her growth as a person is one of the highlights of this fantastic novel. Oliver’s development comes in fits and spurts, as could be expected for someone who literally loses months of his life at a time. The impact that Oliver’s illness has on Althea is almost as heartbreaking as its effect on Oliver, though I would hesitate to say that the novel is about Oliver’s KLS. In fact, it takes over half of the book to even get Oliver to the sleep study. In the meantime, Althea is learning to live her life on her own terms and not as Oliver’s counterpart. In New York, she makes friends of her own for the first time in her life and begins to realize that it might be possible for her to exist outside of Oliver’s shadow. Oliver begins to learn how to move forward in spite of an exceedingly uncertain future. Moracho takes some major risks with both of these characters, but they come out all the more realistic for it. Nothing is sugar-coated here. Althea and Oliver’s relationship is consuming, messy and complicated, much like real-life. Their story is simultaneously a train-wreck and a heartfelt bildungsroman. It’s not for every reader, but for the right readers, it’s utterly perfect.
Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a school counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.
Description from Goodreads.com
Charlie Gaines is a HUGE football fan. He loves everything about the game even if he doesn’t think he plays that well. He is best friends with Anna who is the granddaughter of Joe Warren, the owner of their beloved L.A. Bulldogs. Even though the Bulldogs aren’t doing very well, Charlie and Anna still cheer for them every game day. Charlie is also a fantasy football master. His picks for his fantasy teams always win. Anna convinces him to start a podcast where he can share all his football knowledge. She also convinces him to tell Joe what he thinks about the Bulldogs. This leads to the Bulldogs signing two of the players Charlie suggests. Suddenly Charlie is thrust into the spotlight and made out to be a football boy wonder.
Usually I don’t enjoy sports books very much, but this one really captured my attention. Sure I had no idea what was going on when Lupica was describing football plays, but I really didn’t care. It was the human part of this story that was so enjoyable. Charlie is a truly likeable character with his strengths and his weaknesses. Charlie doesn’t have a father so his growing friendship with Joe was really touching. I also liked Anna a lot. She was a strong female in a male dominated sport. She knew just as much as Charlie about football and wasn’t afraid to let him know it. This is a very strong story about following your heart, sticking with your gut and being a good friend. I think sports fans and non-sports fans alike can find something to like here.
Tucker thought life would be so much better after he created comic hero h2o’s new sidekick in a contest. But things at school are the same as ever. He is still bullied by super-jock Wesley and his minions. The art club is losing members and its one and only bulletin board. Tucker has to somehow make the Art Club popular so it won’t get cancelled. He convinces the principal to let them have a pep rally. The pep rally is awesome until the sports teams highjack it. Next, Tucker starts distributing comic panels of his Beanboy superhero fighting for the arts. To his surprise, the students start really responding to Beanboy, but that doesn’t help the Art Club. Then Tucker gets the bright idea to enter the school dodge ball contest. He just has to convince his fellow art clubbers to do it and get them good enough to win against the jocks. He gets help from surprising places and learns more about himself and his friends.
I have not read the first Beanboy book, but that didn’t stop me from really enjoying this one. I will admit that I didn’t really have high expectations for this one. I thought it would be along the lines of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Middle School books, but it was much better than that. Tucker’s story was inspiring and highly enjoyable. I found myself cheering for the art club kids and hoping that would triumph in the end. This is definitely a story about the little guy coming out on top, triumphing over the popular bully. I enjoyed it and I hope kids will as well.
It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.
Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy–Louis Charles, the lost king of France.
How do you keep existing when your heart is so splintered, so completely torn to shreds, your pulse is fading?
You’re broken. How do you move forward when every breath is nothing more than a constant ache? Living becomes an insidious reminder that you threw away the single largest part of yourself. Your soul. No amount of distraction can pull you from the torture of losing your life.
Now that Emily Cooper has walked away from her first love, she finds herself running toward her only love. Unraveling fast, but clinging to hope, Emily risks all she has left on the man that has consumed her every thought and dream since the day they met. Will Gavin take her back? And if so, will their reunion be a collision of two hearts destined to complete one another and rekindle a love that knew no boundaries? Or will scars from their past rip open, tearing slowly at what each of them was meant to be? Can fate, the ultimate game changer, mend the shattered road it laid out from the start?
Only time will tell…
THERE’S A NEW ROCK STAR IN TOWN AND HIS NAME IS JACK LAIR…
Leila Marino’s biggest dream is to become a rock star. A lucky opportunity has her auditioning with an up & coming rock band named Devil’s Lair. The band hires Leila as their back-up singer, signing her up for months in the studio and touring on the road with the sexy bunch.
Jack is the quintessential rock star…gorgeous…sexy…a walking orgasm. Jack Lair is the lead singer of Devil’s Lair and his dreams are becoming reality as his band climbs the ladder of success. He’s living the perfect life, and enjoying every minute of it. With a steady stream of sexual conquests that satisfies his raging libido, he thinks he has all he needs in life…until Leila enters it.
Jack is not prepared for the sudden pull he feels towards Leila, and struggles daily to deny his attraction is anything more. Leila finds falling for her new boss is constant torment. Both convince themselves friendship is their only option.
An intimate moment causes their willpower to collapse, and their erotic love affair to begin. Finding love was a bonus that neither Jack nor Leila anticipated. As they begin their tour together professionally and personally, life couldn’t be any better for the couple. Until a mistake from Jack’s past threatens their new relationship, and their perfect future together. (from goodreads.com)
Jack was a rock star on the way to fame. Leila was following her dream and joining his band as a back-up singer. An insane attraction sparked between them that they couldn’t deny. Attraction quickly led to so much more. They ignored all the warnings and fell in love.
When the couple embark on their tour, they couldn’t be more excited to travel the country hand in hand on the way to stardom. The road ahead is filled with miles and miles of possibilities. Along with their band, Devil’s Lair, they feel nothing could stop them.
An angry ex-band-mate, a pregnant ex-girlfriend, and never-ending Internet gossip all attempt to wreak havoc on their developing relationship. New love does not mix well with stress, pressure and guilt. Together they face each and every challenge, stubbornly fighting for what they have. Will their determination be enough? (from goodreads.com)
From #1 “New York Times” bestselling author Abbi Glines comes a brand-new Rosemary Beach novel about Tripp Newark and his hidden romantic past with Bethy Lowry.
In the eyes of the wealthy playboys who frequent Kerrington Country Club in Rosemary Beach, Tripp Newark is a hero. Under pressure from his parents to become a lawyer and lead a conservative, upper-class life, Tripp disappeared from town five years ago to travel the world, forfeiting the opportunity to inherit millions. Yet few know what he was really running from…
Bethy Lowry was unraveling long before her boyfriend drowned in a riptide trying to save her after she’d had one too many drinks–again. A trailer park kid working as a cart girl among the wealthy patrons of Kerrington Country Club, Bethy has always been impressionable. But five years ago, before she earned her reputation as a hard-drinking, easy girl, she had spent a single summer with Tripp Newark that changed her life forever… (from goodreads.com)
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.
Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.
They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.