I wish I had had this book as a kid! Not only is it a great story about a reconstructed family and the impact that it can have on an anxiety-prone young 12-year-old, but I also loved how Rebecca Stead did not shy away from addressing mental health issues, homophobia, divorce, and therapy.
This story is wholesome, while also being honest and refreshing. A wonderful read that I cannot
Efrén Divided is a very timely book in which Efrén, an American-born teenage boy, is suddenly thrown into adulthood after his undocumented mother is deported back to Mexico. As his father, who is also undocumented, works overtime to make the money he needs to get his wife back, Efrén becomes the primary caretaker of his two younger siblings while trying to maintain a facade of normalcy in front of his best friend and teachers at school. As his struggle to live this double life intensifies, Efrén also realizes that he is the only one who can truly save his mother and bring her back home.
This is such a powerful and important story with a protagonist who you cannot help but admire for his courage and strength. This is a wonderful middle-grade book that is sure to inspire thought and discussion.
William, a.k.a Scoobe, drops everything when his G-ma asks him to come on a cross-country trip with her. But very soon, Scoobe realizes that this trip is a lot more than just a fun adventure. As the pair drive farther and farther South, Scoobe begins to learn more about his G-ma and G-Pop's story, and that what he thought he knew about his family history might not be the whole truth.
Part family road trip, part look into our social history, and part coming-of-age, Clean Getaway seamlessly weaves these things into a story that evokes thought, but is also fun.
By the time you finish reading the first sentence of this book, you will have been transported into the complicated world of Genesis Anderson, a 13-year-old black girl whose alcoholic father cannot hold a job, whose family gets evicted from their home on a regular basis, and who has an
ongoing list of things that she does not like about herself, most notably, the darkness of her skin. Society, including her own family, has made her believe that if her skin were lighter, like her mother's, her life would be perfect.
Genesis is ready to go to any extreme to make that happen.
This was an honest and, at times, difficult story to read, but I could not put it down. Genesis is a beautiful and complex middle grader who has not been dealt an easy card. This book is eye-opening for those who have never experienced colorism, and gives a voice to those who live with it every day. Genesis Anderson is a character that everyone should meet.
Cookie and Broccoli are best friends and complete opposites. Cookie is very loud and outgoing, Broccoli is shy and nervous. They meet in the hallway on their first day of school and not only discover that they are able to learn from each other's differences, but they also learn that they have more in common than they thought.
This sweet early reader graphic novel is full of charm and wit, but most importantly it portrays an essential life lesson: you should always be yourself and embrace those around you for who they are too.
This is a story about friendship, overcoming your fears, the power of sports as an outlet, all in the context of bullying. Paul, Big and Small become an unlikely trio when they are grouped together for a school project. Paul has spent his life trying to hide in order to avoid being picked on by the bullies at school. He is paired with Lily Small, who is anything but small, and who Paul has been terrified of since their childhood, and Big, the always happy new kid from Polynesia. As they work together on their project, they discover that they have a lot more in common than they thought. This includes rock climbing, which has always helped Paul clear his mind after school. As Paul comes into his own over the course of the book, he realizes that even the most unexpected people can be victim of bullying, and this motivates him even more to overcome his own fears.
This is the first book that I have read that has truly delved into the truth and the sometimes heartbreaking ramifications of bullying. It has parts that are sweet and funny and others that are shocking and sad. It is a book whose story and characters are not easily forgotten.
Winnie Friedman is a 10th grader who knows that she is funny. What she wants is for everyone else to know it too. She has grown up telling jokes with her father, a former stand-up comedian, and she aspires to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, her first opportunity to show her talent did not go well, and now she is too embarrassed to ever try again. That is until the funniest and cutest boy in her grade laughs at one of her jokes and invites her to join the school Improv Troupe. Winnie knows that improv and stand-up are very different, but she ultimately decides to give it a try. As Winnie finds herself navigating her friendships, her first boyfriend, and the this new form of comedy, her dad reveals that he has ALS and it is progressing quickly. All of a sudden Winnie’s life begins to crumble, as she tries to figure out how to deal with her father’s disease, and still keep making people laugh. In the process she learns a lot about herself, her parents, her friends, and what it takes to succeed in comedy and it is only through these that she is able to grow and learn how to keep on laughing, even when she is crying. It seems risky to write a book about comedy and improv, but this story is anything but cheesy.
Tucked away in a small town on the southern coast of England, Petra and her family’s quiet life manning a lighthouse is suddenly shaken with the start of World War II. Secrets and rumors of treason start to surround her German-born mother, but Petra refuses to believe that they are true. As the members of her family get more involved in the war, Petra is forced to take care of herself and the beloved lighthouse while trying to uncover the truth and get her family back together.
Family, mythology, treason, mystery, and even young love come together seamlessly in this book that was hard to put down. If you are a fan of historical fiction such as The War That Saved My Life, this is a book you will enjoy.
This is the touching story about Nova, an autistic and non-verbal 12-year old girl in 1987. Nova has just been placed into a new foster family, a helpful one for a change, but for the first time she is without her older sister Bridget. Bridget always stood up for Nova and had always promised that they would watch the launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle together. As Nova counts down the days until the launch, she is hopeful that she will see her sister soon, even as she starts to create her own life in this new home without Bridget. Through her own letters, we are given a glimpse into Nova’s mind full of space facts, sadness over how people treat her, and questions about the future.
The launch of the Challenger not only provides a time frame to the story, but also helps build suspense. Will Bridget keep her promise? How will Nova react to the Challenger’s ultimate fate? These questions and so much more are answered in this hopeful story that pulls at your heartstrings. Nova is a wonderful character that you want to protect. Thanks to Libro.fm, I can highly recommend the audio version of this book which does a great job bringing Nova’s internal thoughts and story to life.
Ava is so excited. It is finally Saturday! Not only does she get to spend the whole day with her mom, but they also have tickets for a special one-night puppet show! Together they set out for a full day of fun, but as the day goes on, nothing seems to be going quite right. Ava is getting more and more frustrated, but her mom keeps reassuring her that the day is not ruined and reminds her that they still have the puppet show in the evening. But when it is finally time to go to the show, Ava’s mom realizes that she forgot the tickets at home! How will Ava and her mom manage to salvage their special day?
Every parent and child can relate to the frustration and sadness of anticipating something special and not having it go as planned. But if we remember that the important thing is spending time together, then nothing is ever ruined. Author Oge Mora who also wrote and beautifully illustrated , Thank You, Omu! has written another wonderful story about the importance of family and how special it is.
Kitty's mom has superpowers and every night she goes out dressed in her black catsuit to save those in need. Kitty would love to do the same thing one day, but first she must overcome her fear of the shadows that lie outside in the dark.
But one night, after her mom has already left, a black and white cat named Figaro taps at her window. He needs help and there is no time to lose. With no one else to turn to, Kitty must forget about her fears and follow Figaro into the night.
This is the first book in a series that is great for early readers who like adventure, super heroes, and of course, cats. If you have read and enjoyed the Princess in Black series or Mia Mayhem, this is a good pick for you.
After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Queenie Jenkins, a 26-year old Jamaican British woman, begins to make questionable choices that effect her friendships, her job and her self-worth. After finally hitting rock bottom, Queenie, with the help of her friends, family and therapy, decides to change her way of life.
Easily comparable to Bridget Jones, Queenie examines more complex issues such as mental illness, racism, and relationships in a raw and honest way. Queenie, as a character, is certainly flawed, but she is also a strong woman and it is her journey finding that strength that makes her relatable and real.
As an audiobook, there is no question that Shvorne Marks’ voice was meant to be Queenie Jenkins’. She was also able to make the other characters’ voices distinct and unique which gave depth to the listening experience.
What would you do if you were face-to-face with the Big Bad Wolf? You would probably scream and run for your life, right? Well, the Big Bad Wolf is tired of that and he is on a mission to change his and his friends’, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake and Mr. Piranha’s reputations as the “Bad Guys.” From now on he wants them to be known as the “Good Guys,” but in order to do that he must convince them that they must perform good deeds. First up: freeing 200 dogs from the Maximum Security City Dog Pound.
Written with hilarity and wit that will have even adults laughing, this is a great introduction to chapter books for beginner readers.
30 allegorical stories, each about a different unnamed woman who, at the heart of every story, reveals experiences women struggle with every day. Issues such as guilt, aging, discrimination, and motherhood are brought to light in the most literal way. While some of the stories were more abstract and it wasn't until the end that I could figure out what they were alluding to, I really enjoyed the cleverness of each tale. This is a book that can be read all at once or a few stories at a time. Thanks to Libro.fm, I listened to the audio book version which I also recommend.
Told in a series of essays, Mary Laurap Philpott’s memoir recounts feeling lost and stuck in her “perfect” life after having accomplished all the things, she believed, would make her a well-rounded and happy adult. As she questions everything from her marriage to her parenting, her job to her art, we join her on her journey of identity crisis and re-adjustment. Told with wit, humor, thoughtfulness, and truth, Philpott welcomes us into her life, and makes you feel like you are sitting down with a good friend.
This is the story of a couple and their love story that spans nearly half a century. It is also the story of their four adult daughters, each with their own set of struggles, secrets and complicated interpersonal relationships. Each yearns to have the same perfect love story as their parents, but have mostly fallen short. With the surprising arrival of one teenage boy, many old and new secrets are brought to light and everyone is forced to rethink who they are and their role within the family unit.
Claire Lombardo has written a wonderful portrait of the Sorenson family. Each character is written with complexity and honesty thus creating a relatable family with relatable issues that you want to see succeed. This was a fantastic book.
If you are in a reading slump and need a page turner with an unexpected twist, this is the book for you.
Alicia Berenson is accused of killing her husband, but she has not spoken a word since the murder. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who is determined to get her to talk again while also dealing with personal problems of his own. Everyone seems guilty in some way, but the truth is truly unexpected. Alex Michaelides keeps you guessing until the very end in his suspenseful debut novel.
Written as fiction but based on facts, this book is the story of Maud Baum, the wife of L. Frank Baum. the author of The Wizard of Oz. The book begins in Hollywood in the late 1930s as the movie is being made. L. Frank Baum died twenty years earlier and Maud asserts herself onto the set as a consultant, determined to make sure that the movie stays true to her husband's words. In the process, she meets Judy Garland for whom she immediately takes on a protective role as she discovers the disconcerting behind the scenes expectations of this young actress. The story alternates between the 1930s and the late 1800s when Maud is a young girl growing up surrounded by her mother, Mathilda Gage’s feminism. As we further learn about her life as a college student, a young newlywed, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and as a woman juggling all of it at once, you see certain aspects of the Wizard of Oz slowly take shape. It is not surprising that L. Frank Baum dedicated The Wizard of Oz to his wife.This is great book and a fantastic portrayal of someone who played such an important role in an iconic piece of our culture. Whether you have read the book or seen the movie (or both!), this novel will make you want to curl up and enjoy it all over again.
This is a unique story that plays with time, reality, history and love in a way that I have never experienced before. Ben meets Kate at a party one night and they fall in love. Kate confides in Ben that she has had the same continuous dream since childhood where becomes Amelia and is transported into Elizabethan England. As she and Ben’s relationship grows, her dream becomes more and more real and begins to take over her life. She begins to notice that her actions in the past seem to change her present. She starts to believe that she has these dreams because she is meant to change history in some way. As Kate's dream becomes more and more encompassing, Ben and her friends become more and more concerned for her. Ben is torn between staying with the woman he loves or detaching himself to save his well-being and future. Beautifully written, Sandra Newman creates twists and turns that are unpredictable, and she does an incredible job taking the reader on this time and reality-bending journey.
Kids and parents alike will be laughing at this relatable bedtime story. Rodrick is always procrastinating before going to bed (he even goes so far as to ask for a pony!), but when his parents give him Sleepy, a “goodnight buddy” meant to help him fall asleep, Rodrick is given a little taste of his own medicine.
As a daughter and a parent of young children, this book brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. It is a beautifully illustrated story of a mother and her son, whom she nicknames Lamb, through the passage of time. From Lamb's birth to his adulthood, you see how their relationship changes at different milestones in his life, yet no matter where they are in their lives, whether together or apart, they always have each other's loving hands to come home to. This may be a picture book but it could also be a great gift for any parent.
How do you tell the world you aren't who they think you are? George was born in a boy's body and doesn't know how to tell her family and best friend, that she is a girl. When George's 4th grade teacher tells her class that they will be putting on a production of Charlotte's Web, George is determined to get the part of Charlotte because she thinks it is a first step in revealing her true identity to the world and finally having an opportunity to be herself in public. Despite the odds stacked against her, with the help of her best friend Kelly, to whom George finally tells the truth, there is a chance that George's wish still might come true.
This book is a well-written glimpse into the difficult life of someone wanting to be their true self when the rest of the world sees them differently. From page 1 you can't help but root for George and her happiness. (Ages 8-12)