Susan is new to Canada and lives with her mother in Ontario. She's not used to the cultural freedoms in this new country, she's used to live in Saudi Arabia. Susan is reserved, wary of boys and determined not to get her driving license. Susan is very bright and her parents have high expectations of her. They want her to be a doctor although in secret she wants to be an artist.
Her father is still in Saudi Arabia, making excuses as to why he can't join them in Canada. As her fear about her parents' relationship grows, Susan decides to bury herself in her studies.
Then she meets Malcolm, a brooding, somewhat troubled teen. Malcolm's mother died of cancer, previous to this he found out his father was having an affair. This drove Malcolm to drink and use drugs on a regular basis. The abuse he experienced at the hands of his father didn't help. Now, though, he's trying to get on the straight and narrow. Fresh off of a hard breakup, Malcolm isn't sure what he wants anymore.
When he meets Susan, Malcolm knows he's found someone truly unique. Their friendship grows and soon becomes something bigger. Malcolm breaks through Susan's protective barriers and gets her to act out in ways she's never experienced before, skipping school for one.
As they begin to feel deeper feelings, people from Malcolm's past begin to haunt him and disrupt their relationship.
Told from Susan and Malcolm's perspective, The Beauty of the Moment is a very nuanced look at teen life. The characters posses a moral duality that is present in everyone but hyper realised in teens in my opinion. Susan's overbearing parents aren't one dimensional, they waver, they try to see things from Susan's perspective and they sometimes admit when they are wrong, just like a lot of parents.
Malcolm's relationship with his sister is heart warming and one that I really enjoyed reading about. His father is a silently brooding character that is the focus of Malcolm's rage. This dynamic really packs a punch and makes for intense reading.
The Beauty of the Moment is a brilliant sophomore novel from Tanaz Bhathena. Fans of John Green, Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and Jennifer Niven will love this story.
Paris is on the cusp of a Revolution, but all Camille cares about is putting food on the table so her and her sister Sophie don't starve to death.
Her parents deceased, Camille must try to survive famine, disease and her brother's drunken squandering of the little money they own.
However, Camille has a secret. She can turn worthless metal into coins, for a short period at least. This magic skill buys her and Sophie some time while she figures out a plan.
After delving into much darker magic, magic that her mother warned her about, Camille is able to disguise herself as nobility and enter the famed halls of Versailles, where she partakes in expensive and dangerous card games where the rewards are great.
It doesn't take long for Camille to discover that she might not be the only one at Versailles with a dark secret. Throw in the fact that she's fallen hopelessly in love with a daring young balloonist, Camille doesn't know if she can keep up her double life much longer. As the stakes become higher and the suspicions out of control, Camille finds herself in great danger, it doesn't help that Paris has turned completely upside down with violent anger at those who enter Versailles.
Enchantée is a great novel containing magic realism and historical facts about Paris, Versailles and the French Revolution. Camille's brother is a great villain, as are the other characters at Versailles although I don't want to spoil this as it's not clear who the real villain is right away.
I felt like the novel moved a long at an excellent pace and was really interesting from start to finish. I was genuinely concerned for Camille and Sophie and the sections of the novel where they were starving were really effective.
I don't think anyone who loves YA will want to miss Enchantée at all when it's released in 2019!
When Winnie finds out that Raj, her boyfriend of three years has dumped her for another girl, she never expected to find out via Facebook. To make matters worse, her and Raj were meant to be together as per her family's Hindu's priest's predictions.
Somehow, things get even worse for Winnie when she finds out that Raj has been made chair of the student film festival when film has always been Winnie's passion, not Raj's.
Winnie is a Bollywood film fanatic, and sees her life reflected in those glossy, flamboyant films and is having a hard time decipher this new turn of events.
Working within the festival, she meets Dev, a boy she's always known but never really spoken to that often. It turns out that Dev loves film just as much as she does and they soon form a close bond. However, she still feels like Raj should be the guy because for her it's been written in the stars. She starts to feel something towards Dev but can't seem to put her finger on what is holding her back other than her priest's predictions. With help from her family and friends, Winnie navigates the minefield that is love and high school.
My So Called Bollywood Life is a fast paced dramedy that taught me a lot about Bollywood and Indian culture in general. I really like Winnie and her friends, they felt genuine, as did her relationship with Dev and her frustrations with Raj. This will be a huge hit with the students in the high school Library that I manage, I'm excited to promote it to them!
Kasia is a house-bound teen. Suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), she can't go down the stairs without feeling completely wiped out let alone go to school, meet friends and lead an average teenage life.
She spends her days in her room, listening to podcasts and audio books, doing homework and watching the world from her window.
Across the street and number 48, she swears she sees a figure in the window of a young girl. This seems strange to Kasia because she never sees her leave the house. Then one evening a car pulls up on her street, a man exits the vehicle and drags a screaming girl into it before stepping on the pedal and driving off.
Kasia is shocked and phones the police. Across the street, she sees the shadow of the girl in the window, watching everything unfold.
The police have nothing to go on. No one else has reported a missing person and there's no other witnesses. Kasia knows there is another witness but the police tell her that a young girl doesn't live across the street.
Is Kasia losing her mind? Has she been cooped up in her room for too long?
Kasia makes a new friend when a boy named Nav and his mum move in on the street to make amends with Nav's grandmother. Nav is sympathetic to Kasia and her medical condition, when many teens her age are not. Together, Nav and Kasia try to piece together the mystery of the shadowy girl in the window next door and the abduction that Kasia swore she saw. I won't spoil the novel any further, you'll have to read it!
Peny Joelson's writing is fast paced and concise which is what I love in a YA novel. It's also informative without delving into the info-dump that many authors fall victim to. I learned a lot about ME reading this book and I never once felt like i was being dictated to. I've only met one person in my life with ME and only briefly so I was interested in learning more. The frustration that Kasia feels when people in her school don't really believe her that she suffers from a real medical condition and is just trying to get out of school is tough and I can't imagine how that feels.
Girl in the Window covers some tough issues but I wouldn't hesitate to give this to a twelve year old student at Glenthorne. I really loved it, fans of mystery thrillers and even books like Everything, Everything will be wanting to read more from Penny!
Mo needs to escape. Her mum's new boyfriend, Lloyd, is an abusive brute who has a dark past, the boy she likes, Sam, has his heart set on a new girl and life in Crongton in general can be outright dangerous.
When Lloyd goes too far and reveals a horrible secret her mum has been harbouring, Mo vows revenge.
As she gets more and more involved in the criminal element of Crongton's toughest residents, she begins to wonder how she got so deep, and if she can ever get out.
Straight Outta Crongton is a unique novel in that Wheatle has created his own rhythm and in some cases words that his characters use to describe their situations. It reminded me a lot of A Clockwork Orange in that respect. I never once felt like the language was shoe-horned in, it flows as natural as the concrete pillars in the tower blocks that line Crongton.
I really loved Mo, she's a complex character that does some deeply wrong things yet I never once stopped rooting for her throughout the entire novel. She never once stops fighting for her right to be happy and to be respected by everyone around her. She demands that her mother provide a safe place for both of them and when that doesn't happen she storms out. Mo is a fighter and I really enjoyed following her through this journey.
I would highly recommend this and the other books in Wheatles' South Crongton series, check them out!
The Californian summer is about to descend upon Reiko and her circle of popular friends. Reiko, however, is holding onto a secret. She still speaks to her sister Mika, who died five years ago in a tragic accident. Reiko not only speaks to her, she sees her, feels her and relies on her for advice.
When she meets Seth, a troubled yet alluring boy in her school, she feels like she's met a kindred spirit. As the summer drifts on, Reiko and Seth's relationship starts to disintegrate and both teens must decide on what they want out of life. As university application deadlines approach, friendships are strained and Reiko's grip on what is real and what isn't wanes, she wonders if she's coming to a breaking point.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a dreamy, smart novel about loss, love, friendship and consent. The characters all have flaws, some of them major ones but that doesn't stop you from rooting for them throughout. Webber knows how to write about the teen relationships and she knows how to tug at your heartstrings.
We have teens that frequent the Library on a daily basis that are going to devour this novel, I can't wait to get it into their hands. Highly recommend it for ages 14 and up!
Xiomara Batista has to be tough. She'd rather use her fists than her words when it comes to defending herself and her twin brother, Xavier.
Under the strict rule of her fiercely Catholic mother, Xiomara writes furiously in her prized leather notebook, panting the pages with the words of her heart and soul.
When she begins to develop feelings for Aman, the danger of being with a boy she knows her mother would disapprove of is stressful yet tempting for a girl desperate to connect with someone and have her voice heard. Then Xioamara is asked to join a slam poetry event and a whirlwind of events occur, propelling her into a new phase of her life.
This is a phenomenal novel, Xiomara is a brilliant and strong lead character that defends her family and rebels against them like any teen would. Set in Harlem, the novel has a beautiful rhythm that would sit perfectly next to Sarah Crossan, Kwame Alexander and Jason Reynolds. I'm going to really enjoy getting the students in our high school turned on to this amazing novel, don't miss it!
I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Brynn Haper only has one consistent thing in her life: Television presenter Rachel Maddow. Other than that, she's dealing with a recent breakup, an abusive stepfather and a preppy jerk destroying the democratic political process in her high school.
As a homework assignment, she writes a few emails to Rachel Maddow and is thrilled when she receives a response.
As a way to catalogue her struggles, fears and determination, Brynn writes dozens of unsent emails to Rachel Maddow, all describing a life in turmoil and pain but full of hope and grit and spirit.
When Brynn's ex and the aforementioned preppy jerk get involved in a game of high school rigged elections, Brynn takes matters into her own hands to not only expose them for what they are but to get politically involved herself.
Dear Rachel Maddow is one of the sharpest YA novels out there today. Hilarious, infuriating and lightning quick, Kisner captures the excruciating pain that the high school experience can be and that there's still plenty of hope to be found in the youth of today. I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
After Moss Jeffries' father was murdered by the Oakland police department and the crime went unpunished, he suffers anxiety and severe panic attacks.
Six years later, in high school, Moss and his friends discover that an armed policeman roams their halls and subjects them to random locker checks. When metal detectors are installed, Moss and a few of his friends decide to organise a peaceful protest in order to let the faculty know their concerns.
The protest goes horribly wrong and Moss and his new boyfriend Javier find themselves in a hellish situation with no apparent way out. In the aftermath, Moss must confront his fears and stand up for himself and those around him, putting everything he knows at risk.
This novel could very well read like a dystopian thriller to those who don't live in the shadow of a corrupt and
totalitarian system. It's a truly frightening novel with memorable characters and storyline that keeps you hooked from page one. The relationship between Moss and his mother is touching, Moss and Javier are excellent together and playoff each other nicely. As does Moss and his other friends, one of whom has a more privileged background, making her a source of occasional irritation for Moss as he navigates a world of racism and hate.
I can imagine that fans of The Hate U Give will be devouring this powerful story, can't wait to bring it to them at school!
I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Nick and Kenny are brothers, and they're also best friends. Their mum isn't around and their dad is doing his best to make up for being a pretty sloppy father.
When the boys find an injured rook, Kenny is determined to nurse it back to health. Meanwhile, Nick has bigger problems to worry about.
He's being bullied by a boy at school and to make matters worse, Nick's in love with the bully's sister.
Desperate to find some courage to ask her out on a date or even speak to her in the hall, Nick decides to stand up to her brother once and for all. This is a decision that will change Nick's life drastically.
Rook is a fast-paced and powerful read about family, willpower and standing up for yourself. I am really excited to find some students in the Library who tell me they "hate reading" because this is one that will change their minds. Don't miss it! I recommend it for ages 14 and up!