Tag Archives: andrew smith

New Releases – March 2015

Fifty Yards and Holding by David-Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Victor Alvarez is in serious trouble. Now seventeen and flunking out of high school, he’s been chosen as the leader of the violent street gang he’s been a member of since he was thirteen. Riley Brewer has just broken a state record as the star of their high school baseball team. When Riley and Victor meet by chance, a connection begins to grow. When friendship turns to love, both young men realize their reputations contradict who they really are. Once their secret relationship is discovered, Victor realizes their lives are at risk. Refusing to hide in order to survive, Riley vows that only death can keep him apart from Victor.

Eye Candy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Dafina)

Book Description: Dishing on celebrity love games made Maya Morgan a media queen. But choosing her prince means working her wildest, most personal scoop yet…

She’s gone from gossip reporter to half of the entertainment industry’s newest power couple. And hot singer J. Love’s mad string of hits definitely makes him a good look for Maya—and her career. But she’s feeling something more for laid-back, mellow “civilian” Alvin. A lot more. Now J. Love is using every dirty-spin trick in the glitterati book to humiliate Alvin—and sink Maya’s brand if he can’t hold onto her—and their celebrity-couple perks. With her empire on the line and her rep at stake, Maya will draw on every reliable source and every crazy scheme she’s ever played to save what she’s earned—and prove she can have love and fame.

Deviate by Tracy Clark (Entangled Teen)

“As a member of the Scintilla, 17-year-old Cora possesses the rare ability to see people’s auras, making her both an object of desire and a target for harm. … Cora, possessing both her own powers and a fierce determination to protect those she loves, is no shrinking violet. … Passion and power are the driving forces behind this series that continues to deliver.” — Kirkus

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman (Sky Pony Press)

Book Description: The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

Painless by S. A. Harazin (Albert Whitman Teen)

Book Description: A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis–or CIPA for short. One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can’t do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can’t tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David’s legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick (Viking Juvenile)

“Lauer and Melnick team up to present a poem apiece from 100 ”younger“ poets who’ve published in media ranging from Twitter to the New Yorker. This cross section of contemporary poetry is promoted for grades nine and up, making no concessions to youth. The language and themes of a number of these selections are as adult as they come, probing suicide, mental illness, drug abuse, rape, racism, police brutality, AIDS and other cataclysmic life events, along with tamer reminiscences of home and more common rites of passage like heartbreak, sexual and recreational drug experimentation, and identity formation. … Incisive and occasionally brash.” — Kirkus

The Infinite by Lori M. Lee (Skyscape)

Book Description: The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (Putnam Juvenile)

Book Description: Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

The Agency 4: Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick)

“Intrigue, romance and the rich details of Victorian life are the focus in the fourth installment of this mystery series featuring a complex female detective. As the book opens, heroine Mary Quinn is living a life she could not have imagined in her earlier years. She is independent and beginning a detective agency with her fiance, James Easton, who would like to marry soon. Her sense of gratitude causes her to take one more case for the Agency, where she learned her trade. … Readers of the series will find this addition deeply satisfying as both a mystery and a historical romance.” — Kirkus

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan (Dutton)

“Tiny Cooper, the memorable best friend from Levithan and John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, gets his own star turn in this companion volume, which contains the script and lyrics of the autobiographical musical he wrote and staged in the original novel. … Though billed as a “musical novel,” there is no sheet music yet written for Tiny’s magnum opus. Levithan is hoping for a crowd-sourced soundtrack, encouraging amateur and professional composers to put music to his words. Broadway, are you listening?” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Crimson Gate by Whitney Miller (Flux)

Book Description: Harlow Wintergreen has been named the new Matriarch of VisionCrest, the powerful religious organization previously led by her father. There’s just one problem. The real Harlow is trapped inside a Cambodian temple, and her double, the evil Isiris, is out in the world masquerading as her.

With VisionCrest at her command, Isiris moves all the pieces into position for her genocidal endgame. To stop her twin from unleashing a super-virus designed to eradicate civilization, Harlow must escape the temple and reunite with the Resistance. But in trying to save the people she loves, Harlow gets a taste of the power Isiris wields … and her battle against the horror takes on a new and dangerous dimension.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse)

“High school junior Etta juggles many identities, none of which seem to fit quite right. She’s bisexual, but shunned by her group of friends, the self-named Disco Dykes, who can’t forgive her for dating a boy. She has an eating disorder, but never weighs little enough to qualify as officially anorexic. She’s a dancer, but just tap these days, not ballet, because as a short, curvy, African American teen, she doesn’t seem to have the right look for ballet. … Moskowitz masterfully negotiates all of the issues, never letting them overwhelm the story, and shows the intersectionality of the many aspects of Etta’s identity.” — School Library Journal

King by Ellen Oh (Harperteen)

“In this final installment of the series, Kira continues her quest to collect the lost treasures, unite the seven kingdoms, fulfill the ancient prophecy, and, in so doing, defeat the evil forces invading their lands. … Overall, this is a fulfilling end to an action-packed trilogy with characters that readers will be sad to let go.” — School Library Journal

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen Books)

Book Description: Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif … if he can find her before it’s too late.

What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott (Point)

“City girl Callie Valasquez agrees to go camping only to impress her new, popular girlfriends, Lissa and Penelope. After moving from Chicago to upstate New York, she’s hoping to foster new friendships like the ones she left behind. Inviting her new boyfriend, Jeremy, doesn’t hurt either. As the group surrounds a glowing fire, Lissa relates the tale of the Skinner, a murderer who committed atrocities in the very woods they sit in and was never found. Of course, it isn’t long before things begin to go awry. … Scott weaves palpable tension and masterfully ramps it up toward a truly thrilling conclusion. Cinematically paced, it’s tough to put it down. Readers will be kept up late, shocked to discover the depth of the darkness that lies in the woods.” — Kirkus

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (Dutton Juvenile)

“Smith (Grasshopper Jungle) turns in another audacious performance, this time a wild tale of summer camps, adoptive families, mad bombers, masturbation slang, illegal biological research, and an icebound 19th-century ship. Ariel, a 14-year-old orphan caught up in a civil war in an unnamed foreign nation, has been brought to the U.S. by an executive from the mysterious Merrie-Seymour Research Group. … Fans of Smith’s raunchy, profane, and provocative work will find this funny but morally serious tale deeply appealing.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp (Little, Brown)

“Luisa ‘Lulu’ Mendez dreams of leaving her dead-end small town behind. She cannot wait to immerse herself in the University of San Diego’s biochemistry program in the fall. So she is devastated when her dad admits that he has lost her college funds in a bad investment. Lulu is determined to make her college dreams a reality, and when a confiscated distillery turns up at the junkyard where she and her best friend work, she sees it as a bit of serendipitous luck. Although Lulu is not a party girl, she is aware that the moonshine business, illegal or not, is still thriving in the rural mountains of Virginia. … Lulu narrates the story in second-person, as a confessional of sorts to Mason, and readers will race to turn the pages as it becomes apparent that Lulu’s gamble may result in the destruction of the people she cares about the most. A wholly original and most satisfying debut.” — School Library Journal

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Delacorte)

“What would it feel like to wake up normal? It’s a question most people would never have cause to ask—and the one 14-year-old Adam Spencer Ross longs to have answered. … Adam’s first-person account of his struggle to cope with the debilitating symptoms of OCD while navigating the complexities of everyday teen life is achingly authentic. Much like Adam, readers will have to remind themselves to breathe as he performs his ever worsening OCD rituals. Yet Toten does a masterful job bringing Adam to life without ever allowing him to become a one-dimensional poster boy for a teen suffering from mental illness.” — Kirkus, starred review

Game Seven by Paul Volponi (Viking Juvenile)

“Sixteen-year-old Julio Ramirez Jr. dreams of being a junior Nacional and playing for Cuba against the best young players around the world. Baseball is ‘practically a religion’ in Cuba, and Julio’s father was like a Cuban god, an all-star pitcher for the Cuban National Team. Now, having defected, he’s a star for the Miami Marlins. But instead of pride, Julio feels resentment toward his father for abandoning his family to a life of poverty while he, the great El Fuego, lives the high life in Miami with his multimillion-dollar contract. … An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty.” — Kirkus

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion)

“In her latest World War II-era novel, Wein returns to themes of aviation and the enduring bonds of platonic love and friendship. Best friends Rhoda, a white Quaker, and African American Delia were ”barnstorming“ pilots, a team who performed in air shows across the United States as White Raven and Black Dove, their children, Emilia and Teo, in tow. When Delia is killed in a plane crash, Rhoda commits to fulfilling Delia’s dream for Teo—to live in a land where he wouldn’t be judged by the color of his skin—and moves them all to Ethiopia, where Teo’s father was born. … Wein continues to present multidimensional characters within her effortless prose.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Yo Miss: A Graphic Look At High Schoool by Lisa Wilde (Microcosm Publishing)

Book Description: Yo, Miss – A Graphic Look at High School takes the reader inside Wildcat Academy, a second chance high school in New York City where all the students are considered at-risk. Through strong and revealing black and white images, the book tells the story of eight students who are trying to get that ticket to the middle class – a high school diploma. Whether they succeed or not has as much to do with what happens outside the classroom as in, and the value of perseverance is matched by the power of a second chance. It is a story that shows these teens in all their beauty, intelligence, suffering, humor, and humanity (and also when they are really pains in the behind.) A view from the trenches of public education, Yo, Miss challenges preconceptions about who these kids are, and what is needed to help them graduate.

Playing a Part by Daria Wilke (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Book Description: The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.

In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting “gay propaganda,” threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released PLAYING A PART, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers.

In PLAYING A PART, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha’s class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he’s not “masculine” enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving: He’s leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia.

How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee (Arthur A. Levine Books)

“The downward spiral of popular high-school senior Higgs Boson Bing, named after the elusive “God particle,” begins when a classmate asks him a hypothetical question about his willingness to donate a kidney to his girlfriend, Roo. Higgs’s hesitant answer does not bode well for his relationship with Roo, resulting in their breakup and a full-blown hate campaign against him. … Alternately heart-wrenching and hilarious (“The Asian Jewish English American thing was a real stumper when it came to filling out my college applications,” Higgs reflects), Yee’s (Absolutely Maybe) portrait of a flawed superstar introduces a cast of vibrant, memorable characters and an eloquent message about following one’s desires.” — Publishers Weekly

Out of the Dragon’s Mouth by Joyce Burns Zeiss (Flux)

Book Description: After the fall of South Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Mai, a young Vietnamese girl of Chinese descent, is torn from a life of privilege and forced to flee across the South China Sea in the hold of a fishing trawler. Mai finds tenuous safety in a refugee camp on an island off the coast of Malaysia, where a greedy relative called Small Auntie offers her a place to stay—but her hospitality isn’t free. With her father’s words “You must survive” echoing in her ears, Mai endures the hardships of the camp, which are tempered only by her dreams of being sponsored by her uncle for entry into America.

But when an accident forces Mai to leave the safety of Small Auntie’s family, she meets Kien, a half-American boy who might be the only person who can keep her alive until she’s sent to the United States.

Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Out of the Dragon’s Mouth is a poignant look into life ripped apart by the ravages of war.

New Releases – September 2014

The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi

“Three characters take turns narrating foreign correspondent Abawi’s debut, about a cross-cultural love affair that tears at a small Afghan community. … A suspenseful, enlightening, and hopeful love story.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Zac & Mia by A. J. Betts (HMH Books for Young Readers)

“Seventeen-year-old Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant when a loud new patient moves into the room next door. While Zac thinks he knows all there is to know about cancer…Mia’s arrival proves that he does not know everything. The two develop a friendship and learn to see beyond their own sickness and circumstances. … Zac & Mia holds its own as a smart, well-crafted story about the importance of friendship and feeling understood.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Dreaming in Indian edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Annick Press)

Book Description: A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.

Truly universal in its themes, Dreaming In Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes and challenge readers to rethink their own place in the world. Divided into four sections, ‘Roots,’ ‘Battles,’ ‘Medicines,’ and ‘Dreamcatchers,’ this book offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media.

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

Book Description: Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a long line of risk-takers and is an avid thrill-seeker in her own right, until she takes a terrible fall and shatters her leg. Her life used to be about bike racing and rock climbing; now it’s about staying home, except for attending physical and group therapy sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center her mom has chosen. Dyna’s boyfriend saw her accident and supports her newfound desire for safety, but a young Iraq war veteran she meets at rehab challenges her to think about what she’s really avoiding in her old life and to take chances again—even with her heart.

The Boy I Love by Nina de Gramont (Atheneum)

“Wren’s infatuation with handsome charmer Tim takes on an unexpected emotional depth after Tim reveals that he is gay. Their friendship blossoms as she becomes a fiercely loyal defender of his secret, while he offers her emotional support during her family’s financial struggles. … Thoughtful parallels between discrimination based on race and sexual orientation are also skillfully interwoven.While not romantic, Wren and Tim’s relationship becomes another powerful iteration of the book’s message that ”[l]ove is love,“ and all loves deserve respect.” — Kirkus

Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries (HarperCollins)

Book Description: Kaya, who is adopted and multiracial, has just been released from a Youth Detention Centre and is carrying a painful secret: she was sexually abused by a neighbor for years. Kaya keeps away, repeatedly disappearing into a life of sex work and addiction. Meanwhile, her sister, Beth, uses food and a rediscovered love of magic tricks to escape her own troubles. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way towards a moment of illumination and healing.

This powerful YA novel is rooted in the tragic life of the author’s sister, Sarah-a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton and the subject of Maggie de Vries’s Governor General’s Literary Award-nominated memoir for adults, Missing Sarah. Sarah’s experiences as an abused child and teen runaway inspired the character Kaya, and she appears in the story when Kaya meets her on the streets. Set in 1998, Vancouver’s missing women form a subtle backdrop for the story.

Hunt for Jade Dragon (Michael Vey 4) by Richard Paul Evans (Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink)

Book Description: Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s—and Ostin’s.

But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children.

The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time!

Silvern by Christina Farley (Skyscape)

Book Description: Jae Hwa Lee is ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Until the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. She escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. But Kud is a stronger and more devious god than Jae ever imagined. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace (Flux)

“A surprisingly sweet take on two girls falling in love and struggling with their feelings, their families, and their baggage, but not with any homophobia. … ‘Wholesome’ is a strange word to describe a YA book that deals with tricky class issues, sexual orientation, mean-girl bullying, and love triangles, but this story earns that description.” — School Library Journal

Everything Changes by Samantha Hale (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Seventeen-year-old Raven Walker has never had a boyfriend. She’s never really been interested in boys. But she was always too afraid to examine what that might mean. Until she meets Morgan O’Shea and finds herself inexplicably drawn to her.

As their friendship develops, Raven is forced to face the possibility that her interest in Morgan might actually be attraction and that she might be gay.

Acknowledging the possibility opens Raven’s world to the excitement of her first romance, but it also leaves her struggling to come to terms with her sexuality and the impact it will have on her relationships with her family and friends.

Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Simon & Schuster)

“Han and Vivian complete their revenge-fueled trilogy with twists, turns, and intrigue, along with plenty of action to keep the plot rocketing along. Teens who have read the first two installments will be clamoring for this conclusion.” — School Library Journal

Dark Tide by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: For Ricky Hackworth, a summer job to save money before he leaves for college is a necessity. When he lands a job as a lifeguard at the Mermaid Inn in Latona, Alabama, on the beautiful Gulf Coast, it’s like a dream come true. But once he moves into the Inn, he starts hearing stories about the lifeguard from the previous summer and how he vanished without a trace right in the middle of the summer. Before long, Ricky realizes the Inn and the town are hiding some dark secrets…secrets someone is willing to kill to protect, and Ricky has to find out the truth before he, too, vanishes without a trace.

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Little, Brown)

Book Description: Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane—a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Book Description: When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pullout off the highway, so maybe someone snatched him. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it may be true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy, Evidence of Things Not Seen by award-winning author Lindsey Lane explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Egmont USA)

“Lippert-Martin’s debut finds life in the oft-seen trope of lost memory—and even a somewhat plausible mechanism for bringing about the amnesia. Plausibility isn’t always the name of the game (the government rarely uses world-class architects for medical torture labs), but this is a very entertaining game for thriller fans. Sarah Ramos, 16, is undergoing focused memory-elimination treatments when her surgery is interrupted by a power outage, followed by an invasion of explosives-wielding commandos who are looking for her.” — Publishers Weekly

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Book Description: Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack (Entangled Teen)

Book Description: Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear. Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer. What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer + Bray)

Book Description: Bree Deringer, Olivia Hayes, Kitty Wei, and Margot Mejia have nothing in common. At least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

But when their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them.

As the unlikely group searches for the killer, they also uncover secrets and lies that rock their tenuous friendship to the core. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in … and everyone has something to lose.

On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers (Crown Books for Young Readers)

“Myers issues a rebellious call to action that chronicles how seven diverse teenagers respond to injustice in a globalized not-so-distant future. In 2035, giant multinationals control the world’s major resources, engineering positive economic growth by exploiting worldwide social inequity. Change-embracing Dominican computer whiz and Bronx native Dahlia Grillo, the narrator, is one of seven teens who resist. … Readers are left to question what actions are possible, what actions are needed and what actions are right in a world where inaction is an impossibility.A clarion call from a beloved, much-missed master.” — Kirkus, starred review

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Dial)

“Twins Noah and Jude are inseparable until misunderstandings, jealousies, and a major loss rip them apart. Both are talented artists, and creating art plays a major role in their narratives. Both also struggle with their sexuality—Noah is gay, which both thrills and terrifies him, while Jude is recovering from a terrible first sexual experience at age 14, one of two important reasons she has sworn off dating. … Nelson’s novel brims with emotion (grief, longing, and love in particular) as Noah, Jude, and the broken individuals in their lives find ways to heal.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy Book 3) by Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House Books for Young Readers)

Book Description: Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

Searching for Grace by Juliann Rich (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Camp is over and Jonathan Cooper returns home—to life with his mother whose silence is worse than anything she could say, to his varsity soccer teammates at East Bay Christian Academy, to the growing rumors about what he did with a boy last summer at Bible camp.

All the important lines blur. Between truth and lies. Between friends and enemies. Between reality and illusion.

Just when Jonathan feels the most alone, help arrives from the unlikeliest of sources: Frances “Sketch” Mallory, the weird girl from his art class, and her equally eccentric friend, Mason. For a short while, thanks to Sketch and Mason, life is almost survivable. Then Ian McGuire comes to town on the night of the homecoming dance and tensions explode. Fists fly, blood flows, and Jonathan—powerless to stop it—does the only thing he believes might save them all: he prays for God’s grace.

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury (Wendy Lamb Books)

“Zenji Watanabe is Nisei, an American with Japanese parents, living in Honolulu on the eve of World War II. … This title is a welcome new angle in historical fiction on the Japanese-American experience during the war, and it is based on a true story.” — School Library Journal

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (Simon & Schuster)

“Sixteen-year-old Finn Easton has his share of struggles. A bizarre childhood accident killed his mother and left him epileptic. Further, he has spent much of his life living down public assumptions, as his father penned a controversial, well-known science-fiction novel that featured a protagonist also named Finn. However, none of this stops him and his larger-than-life best friend, Cade Hernandez, from participating in wildly funny misdeeds. … All of this and so many more exquisite details make this a breathtaking read.” — Kirkus, starred review

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (HarperTeen)

“Jessamin Olea earns her way into a boarding school in Albion where she is considered second class by the other students and referred to as ”Island Rat“ because she is from the island of Melie. She spends most of her time studying and alone until she meets Finn, a young lord who belongs to the nobility of Albion. … This well-written historical fantasy has romance, suspense, a fairy-tale feel, and a great ending that will leave readers cheering.” — School Library Journal

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse)

“Eighteen-year-old Darcy drops her college plans and moves to New York to revise her soon-to-bepublished novel and start the second one. Meanwhile, in chapters that alternate with Darcy’s NYC adventures, her fictional protagonist, Lizzie, survives a near-death experience to find she has become a psychopomp, responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife. Westerfeld masterfully creates two divergent reading experiences (YA romance and fantasy horror) with two distinct yet believable voices. … this is a busy book, with content drawn from Gujarati culture and Indian religion—this book includes romantic entanglements, a charming lesbian love story, terrorism and justice, and insider references to the YA publishing and literature scene.” — Booklist, starred review

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (HarperTeen)

“Caddie is starting over: she’s earned a spot at the performing arts high school for her junior year, and reconnects with an old friend in doing so. … This novel offers a good look at Obesseive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders, though it stops short of exploring treatment and recovery.” — School Library Journal

New Releases – February 2014

Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

“The positivity that runs throughout the book, even in stories that end on gruesome or eerie notes, is the best part: the sense of ‘coming out’ in many of these pieces is also a sort of coming to life, or a coming into the self. The undercurrent of acceptance despite the odds is pleasant and heart-warming. These are stories about kids finding out what it means to be themselves, and how to be with other people. That’s good stuff…” — Tor.com

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson (Knopf)

“A teenage girl from an unnamed Middle Eastern country attempts to come to terms with her dictator father’s bloody legacy in this absorbing character-driven novel authored by a former CIA official. … Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.” — Kirkus, starred review

Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (Akashic Books)

“A thought-provoking exploration of identity, gender, and sexuality. … An excellent read for any teens questioning their sense of self or gender.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe (Hyperion)

Book description: When Kaelyn and her friends reached Toronto with a vaccine for the virus that has ravaged the population, they thought their journey was over-but hope has eluded them once again. Now there is a dangerous group of survivors intent on tracking them down and stealing the cure no matter the costs.

Forced onto the road again, Kaelyn redoubles her efforts to find a safe haven. But when the rest of her group starts to fall apart, the chances for her success grow slim. Kaelyn’s resolve is strong, but is she willing to surrender everything in order to stay alive?

Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings (Candlewick)

“Henry ‘had never seen anyone as ugly as himself’; his odd appearance and clubfoot make him a target for bullies, and his stutter and difficulties with reading lead him to keep his emotions bottled up. … a poetic and powerful novel.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick)

“A solid historical foundation, strong characterizations, and lyrical descriptions highlight Hegamin’s rich novel about slavery and black/white relations before the Civil War. … Engrossing and educational.” — Publishers Weekly

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (Viking)

“Learning that her parents plan to place her unpredictably violent autistic brother in a group home, accomplished trumpet player and responsible older sister Daisy Meehan experiments with bad behavior in her junior year in high school, trying to figure out how she feels about it. … An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues.” — Kirkus

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (Candlewick)

“In a sorely needed resource for teens and, frankly, many adults, author/photographer Kuklin shares first-person narratives from six transgender teens, drawn from interviews she conducted and shaped with input from her subjects. … its chief value isn’t just in the stories it reveals but in the way Kuklin captures these teenagers not as idealized exemplars of what it “means” to be transgender but as full, complex, and imperfect human beings.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon (Booktrope Editions)

Book Description: Fifteen-year-old Jack Bishop has mad skills with cars and engines, but knows he’ll never get a driver’s license because of his epilepsy. Agreeing to participate in an experimental clinical trial to find new treatments for his disease, he finds himself in a completely different body—that of a girl his age, Jacqueline, who defies the expectations of her era. Since his seizures usually give him spazzed out visions, Jack presumes this is a hallucination. Feeling fearless, he steals a horse, expecting that at any moment he’ll wake back up in the clinical trial lab. When that doesn’t happen, Jacqueline falls unexpectedly in love, even as the town in the past becomes swallowed in a fight for its survival. Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs, and must find a way to save everyone around him as well as himself. And all the while, he is losing time, even if he is getting out of algebra class.

Storm by Donna Jo Napoli (Paula Wiseman Books)

“Napoli (Skin) draws from the story of Noah’s Ark in this account of a Canaanite girl, Sebah, with a big problem: rain, which sweeps away her family, home, and the ground beneath her feet. … Napoli’s focus on Sebah’s immediate circumstances allows her to grow organically as a character, bringing a satisfying realism to this familiar story.” — Publishers Weekly

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier (Strange Chemistry)

Book Description:  Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge—the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases—like for Natividad’s father and older brother—Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)

“Schrefer switches focus from bonobos to chimpanzees in this engrossing, meticulously researched, and gripping tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, a thematic follow-up to 2012’s Endangered. … Schrefer’s passion for the material and empathy for the characters shows on every page, and his non-human subjects are every bit as complex and fascinating as narrator Luc.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Happy Endings Are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone (Lizzie Skurnick Books — re-release)

Book Description: Sandra Scoppettone’s 1978 lesbian young adult romance was a novel ahead of its time. The story follows the relationship between high school seniors Jaret and Peggy. At a time when girls were only allowed to date boys, Jaret and Peggy know they had to keep their love a secret. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and before long they have to contend with the confusion and outright hatred of those closest to them. But nothing compares to the danger ahead, and the tragedy that will not just test their faith in their relationship, but their belief in themselves.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)

“Austin is in love with two people—his girlfriend, Shann, and his best friend Robby; neither of them is okay with it but, as Austin frequently repeats, ‘I was so confused.’ … Filled with gonzo black humor, Smith’s outrageous tale makes serious points about scientific research done in the name of patriotism and profit, the intersections between the personal and the global, the weight of history on the present, and the often out-of-control sexuality of 16-year-old boys.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick)

“Campy humor is paired with themes of social justice in this fast-paced, clever second volume in the Feral series. … [T]he dynamics among characters are fascinating and are well-served by the first-person narration alternating between Yoshi and Kayla. A neat, smart middle novel that clearly sets the stage for an epic showdown between those who champion the rights of shifters and those blind to their humanity.” — Kirkus

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent (Simon and Schuster)

“The prize for saving the world is having to do it all over again in this companion to the steampunk romance The Unnaturalists (2012). … lush, with a nice touch of Victorian post-humanism for an original twist.” — Kirkus

Boxing Day

by Andrew Smith

Today, I would like to write about boxes.

There are all kinds of boxes. I can kind of chart my life’s journey by the boxes I’ve had to check off that map my progression through marital status, owning vs. renting, number of children, income levels, and so on.

I recently did an interview with a magazine, and I was asked the following question:

Are publishers selling or promoting books with LGBTQ characters in the right way?

I must be a frustrating subject to interview. Often, my answers are grumpy or begin with the three words interviewers tend to hate. Those three words are, “I don’t know.”

Because I don’t really know how to answer that question about promoting books with LGBTQ characters, unless to say that the wrong way to promote books with LGBTQ characters is to call them LGBTQ books—to put those books in a box.

To me, that’s nonsense.

As Austin, the narrator in Grasshopper Jungle, says, “All good books are about everything.” Books that wrap themselves around a solitary identifiable feature are flat and boring. This is, after all, a great big jar we live in, and everything is ultimately connected.

In the past ten years or so of my writing career, I have been frustrated by all the boxes people hold up to categorize the canon of Young Adult literature. Here are the worst ones, the boxes I’d like to set fire to:

  • Boy books/ Girl books
  • Age level (This book is for grades 10 and up! Squee!)
  • Male author/ Female author
  • LGBTQ books/ Straight (“normal” kid) books

I know, I know… Boxes make things easy for people. They are soothing. Boxing makes peoples’ minds not so electrified with wonder and perplexity. But boxes make things difficult for people, too.

I get a lot of stuff delivered to my house in boxes. Boxes are hard to throw away for a couple of reasons: First, I always think to myself, hey, this box could be very convenient for putting stuff in at some point in the future, and second, because boxes are, well… boxy, and they don’t easily fit inside garbage cans. They hog up lots of space.

One thing I got recently—and I still have no idea who the heck sent it to me—was a box of homeopathic supplements, which, if you took them every day, are supposed to boost your awareness and make you focus more clearly. My wife begged me not to take those homeopathic brain-boosters. She said if I focused more clearly and increased my awareness that I would probably begin to see individual molecules in things.

She worries a lot.

Austin Szerba, the narrator of Grasshopper Jungle, is a 16-year-old boy who is hyperaware (maybe he took some of those homeopathic brain-boosters) of the roles society assigns to boys and girls. He becomes confused to the point of being tormented as he gradually realizes he does not fit perfectly into the constraints of society’s “boy box.”

The “boy box” is full of shit.

So I was fascinated by this character, and working to really develop this kid, Austin, who has been so heavily programmed by outside influences (his school, community, and church) which demand his conformity to all those heavy expectations that come along with the “boy box.” But Austin can’t do it, so he suffers, and sometimes questions and maybe even hates himself.

We do that to our kids an awful lot, don’t we?

Part of Austin’s difficulty comes from the fact that he is madly in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but he also truly loves his best friend, Robby, who also happens to be gay. Here, the boys have a chat one night in the parking lot of an Iowa strip mall:

“Do you think I’m queer, Rob?” I asked.

“I don’t care if you’re queer,” Robby said. “Queer is just a word. Like orange. I know who you are. There’s no one word for that.”

I believed him.

“I know I’m not orange,” I said.

“Kind of oatmealy,” Robby said.

So Austin decides to talk to his father about his confused feelings. It’s a very awkward scene that makes me uncomfortable every time I revisit it.

The difficult thing about the scene between father and son is that Austin’s father, who obviously is a member of the Church of the Box, knows full well what Austin is trying to say, but Austin’s nervousness causes him to fumble with the specifics. And here is a father presented with his one and only chance to talk to his teenage son about sexuality, love, and just being okay with who you are. But he takes advantage of Austin’s fumbling and manages (to dad’s tremendous relief) to change the subject to chemistry class.

And, once again, the box can’t be destroyed.

I have often been asked what I’d like to be the “take-away” for readers of Grasshopper Jungle. I usually say those three words that interviewers hate. I don’t know. Because there’s an awful lot in there for any reader to get from Grasshopper Jungle. As a dad to two teenagers, though, I’d be happy if that one painfully awkward scene between Austin and his father resonates with some of the men out there (especially ones with teenage sons) and makes them more afraid of doing what Austin’s dad does than actually having that conversation about boxes with their boys.


Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger and The Marbury Lens. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle (Feb. 11, 2014) is his seventh novel, followed by 100 Sideways Miles, his eighth, coming in September 2014. He lives in Southern California.