Bertie, Alex. Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 978-0316529037. 304p. Contains: glossary of terms, list of resources. Grades 8+.
This book is really good and would be helpful to middle and high school kids who would want to know more about transsexuality. While I don’t think it will be popular outside of the LGBTQ crowd, it’s got a lot of hints on how to deal with everything from bullies to hormone treatments and surgery. It helped me realize, as a trans, that we can make it out alive and healthy, even though the going is rough sometimes. Every high school library should have this book!
Price, Planaria and Helen Reichmann West. Claiming my Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780374305291. 250p. Gr. 8-12.
We are all familiar with biographies of Jews who went into hiding during the Holocaust, but this book is a bit different: it tells the story of a young Polish Jew who “became” Catholic to escape persecution. It also brings to light the difficulties she faced as a displaced Polish Jew after the war. It’s interesting, and the photos in the middle of the book help make it more real.
Pham, Tiffany. Girl Mogul: Dream it. Do It. Change the World. Macmillan Publishing Group, 2019. $19.99. ISBN 9781250298966. 219p. Gr 9-12.
I am interested in starting my own business, so snapped this book up to read, right away. While I found it to be a fun read, I didn’t find it all that relatable or useful. It’s about a girl who works hard and becomes a media mogul, but it’s hardly a rags-to-riches story, as she has a supportive family, goes to Yale and Harvard, and is gorgeous. She gives some useful tips on how to present confidently and enlist support for goals, but it seems like she’s writing for Glamour, not for real girls. She also plugs her onmogul.com website where others can view her (expensive) online courses. I wish she would’ve talked more about her career in coding and how she navigated a largely male-dominated field, and less about skin care and beauty.
Lee, Fonda. Cross Fire. (Exo series, book 2). Scholastic Press, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781338139099. 376p. Gr. 9+.
I am glad I read the first one in this series (Exo) because I would’ve been lost if I hadn’t, there are just too many terms and settings that wouldn’t have made sense to me. It’s just complicated enough to be interesting, but it doesn’t get bogged down in detail and moves fast. The book centers on Earth soldier Donovan, who has an exocell implant that makes him smarter and stronger than other humans. There are a lot of ethical conundrums here, mostly centered on genetic manipulation, propaganda, immigration and enslavement. There’s also a little love story going, just enough to spice things up and make the characters more “human.”
Mafi, Tahereh. Defy Me. (Shatter Me series, book 5). HarperCollins, 2019. ISBN 978-0062676399. 368p. Gr. 9-12.
I didn’t understand this book at all, I think you have to read all the other ones in the series, it’s too confusing. I tried to check out the first one but it’s really popular and there’s a waiting line for it, so I guess it’s good. I just wish authors would do a little to explain things, but this one was just too complicated and told from too many different viewpoints and flashbacks.
Grainger, A.J. The Sisterhood. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019. $18.99. ISBN 978-1481429061. 304p. Gr. 9-10.
I liked this book. Even though it focuses on the supernatural, the characters deal with topics teens deal with often: abuse, abandonment, loss, and dysfunction. The ironic twists in the story make it more interesting and almost funny, though at times the plot moves too slowly and the writing is awkward.
Wilson, Kip. White Rose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781328594433. 368p. Gr. 9+.
This historic novel, written entirely in free verse, tells a story of a young girl who actively protests the rise of Nazism, through the activities of the White Rose, a group she and her brother founded. The book is easy and fast to read and it really gives you a sense of how brave these students were. It’s important that other students understand this period of time and how we need to be aware of the rise of fascism; I think this is a book that should be in every library.
Bardugo, Leigh. King of Scars. (Nikolai Duology, book 1). Imprint, 2019. $19.99. ISBN 9781250142283. 527p. Gr. 9-12.
I hadn’t read any of Bardugo’s earlier books, so I didn’t know what the Grishaverse was all about and it’s pretty complicated. Despite that, I muddled through reading this and enjoyed it. I think it has a solid story line and is fast paced enough that the length of the book wouldn’t put kids off. It reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones. I do plan on going back and reading the rest of her books now!
Lochner, Caitlin. A Soldier and a Liar. Swoon Reads, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781250168252. 352p. Gr. 9+.
This book has got everything: superheroes, science fiction, complicated characters, a little romance, and great dialog. Even though the superheroes are amazing, they are so human and their character traits make them very relatable. There is a lot of violence in the book, but not too much for high school students to handle. There are also themes in the book (equality, freedom) that make this story more than just another dystopian fantasy.
Carter, T.E. All We Could Have Been. Feiwel and Friends, 2019. ISBN 9781250172969. 291p. Gr. 9 – 12.
Carter’s book talks about how we all judge each other, sometimes without knowing anything about what others may be going through. The main character in this book is suffering from a very traumatic event and dealing with PTSD and severe depression. She is judged unfairly by her shallow-minded classmates and has a hard time making any real friends. No one is perfect in this book, and there’s no happy ending, though the main character does overcome a lot and finds someone who truly cares. I think this book might be really helpful to students who are going through trauma.
November 2019 reviews by Newport High students and Liz Fox, Newport High School Library staff.