Friday, March 30, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unseen, both in her family and at school. Ever since she's grown curves, she has had to be fierce. One Christmas, her twin gets her a bound notebook as a gift, thinking that she needs to find somewhere to put her words.

So, Xiomara begins to write poetry, almost without thinking, and is invited to join the slam team (something her mother will never let her do--will she?).

This book, which is told almost entirely in free-verse is a really clear portrait of a girl trying to find her place in the world. It's a fast read, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Sonya Sones, and Jason Reynolds.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Picks of the Week: Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda | The Upside of Unrequited

The Love, Simon movie came out last week and I finally got around to seeing it! It was an impossibly charming, silly, and heartfelt movie and I loved getting to see it--and it reminded me that I haven't had the chance to showcase Becky Albertali's books yet on this blog.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the book that Love, Simon is based off of: Simon, an ordinary teen, has a secret: he's gay. He finds another gay teen from his town on a message board, and via email, they fall in love. It's almost too simple of a story, except that Simon stays logged into his email at school, and gets blackmailed by another teen who wants to date his friend Abby. Simon is a really charming book, and one that feels very timely: for the most part, everyone in the book is pretty loving and accepting, but Simon still struggles with being honest with himself and the people in his life. It's a fast, fluffy read, but an excellent one (there's a reason why it was a Morris Award Winner!).

The Upside of Unrequited takes place in the same overarching universe: Molly, the protagonist, is cousins with Simon's friend Abby, and Abby (and Simon!) are mentioned in the book.

Molly knows all about unrequited love. She's been in love hundreds of times, but no matter how much her twin sister Cassie tries to push her, she can't push herself to be brave enough to do something about it: after all, who would want to date a fat girl?

Then, Cassie falls in love with a new girl, who comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll finally get her first kiss: and her twin back. There's only one problem: Molly's coworker Reed. He's a Tolkien superfan with Ren Faire season passes who Molly couldn't possibly fall for...could she?

This book is so cute! When I read it for the first time, I kept squeaking at how adorable it is. Anyone who's ever felt insecure about their body or scared about dating for the first time will recognize a kindred spirit in Molly, and her relationship with her family and friends is wonderful. I actually liked this book even MORE than Simon.

Coming soon: Leah on the Offbeat, a companion book to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Look for it in May!

Friday, March 16, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Imagine living in a world where beauty is created by someone else, where everyone's default is being ugly. Imagine being one of the only people in the world with the power to make anyone beautiful, with the cost of never being able to fall in love or live past your forties.

This is the world Camellia's been born into, and for her it is not enough to simply be a Belle; she must be the Favorite--the Belle assigned to the palace. However, the palace has its own dangers: a princess who has been in a coma for years, her younger sister who wants power and physical changes that will test Camellia's strength, and a secret plot that will change everything.

Dhonielle Clayton creates a remarkable world, perfect for fans of the Uglies series or The Selection. This book starts off a little slow, but it lays the groundwork really well for a sequel--and I, for one, am excited to see what will happen next!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Giant Days

Giant Days is a comic series created and written by John Allison, with illustrations by Max Sarkin. Giant Days takes place in England, and starts with the story of three university freshmen sharing a dorm.

It's funny and weird and a good mix of charming/silly and sometimes horrifying. We have quite a few volumes of it. Check one out today!

Friday, March 2, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Malagash by Joey Comeau

Recently, Malagash won an Alex Award, which is an award for the best Adult Books for Teens. It is a useful category (YA is not all-encompassing, and there are books that are amazing for teenagers in the "adult" canon as well as ones that are not--a guide is helpful).

 If you do not know Joey Comeau's work, which is likely or at the least plausible, he was one of the two creators of the webcomic A Softer World--the comic is now over, but people still use the format for fan art for other things. He also wrote some of the Bravest Warrior comics, and many other things, all of which could be considered notable but not many of which could necessarily be considered "well-known." I was glad to see Malagash get noticed.

Anyway, Malagash, the place, is a town on the north shore of Nova Scotia, several miles north of where we are in Marshfield. It is the place that Sunday's parents are from, and they've returned there now because her father is dying of cancer and wants to die where he grew up. Her family is devastated, but Sunday has a plan. She starts recording everything her father says, so that she can write a computer virus that will say his words and think his thoughts, and live secretly on the hard drives of millions of people all over the world. It is not as good as a father, sure, but in this virus he can live forever.

It is a weird, small book about family and what gets remembered and how to process grief and how to hack computers. Our library copy just came in!