Waiting on Wednesday: Promposal by Rhonda Helms

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

You know what I didn’t do in high school? Well, a lot of stuff, yeah (like smile, look up from my notebook that I was constantly scribbling in, date anyone in my grade, etc). But what I’m talking about is prom. I was a conscientious objector. I found most everything about high school extremely stupid, but had a special hatred for prom. Super unique, I know. So maybe it’s because I never went to prom (and never have regretted not going, despite people repeatedly telling me “oh, you’ll regret it if you don’t go!” You know what I do regret? Ever letting anyone talk to me in high school. It’s probably why my eyes are perpetually sore–the infinite eye-rolling took its toll) that I’m somehow fated to find most YA books about prom enjoyable. This week’s WoW pick is Promposal by Rhonda Helms. 


Summary from bn.com: promposal

Prom should be one of the most memorable nights of your life. But for Camilla and Joshua, some elaborate promposals are getting in the way. Will they be able to land their dream dates in time for the dance?

Promposal (n.)—an often very public proposal, in which one person asks another person to the prom, eliciting joy or mortification.

Camilla can’t help hoping her secret crush, Benjamin, might randomly surprise her out of the blue with a promposal. But when she’s asked to prom by an irritating casual acquaintance—who’s wearing a fancy tux and standing in front of a news crew—she’s forced to say yes. However, all hope is not lost, as a timely school project gives Camilla a chance to get closer to Benjamin…and it seems like the chemistry between them is crackling. Is she reading into something that isn’t there, or will she get her dream guy just in time for prom?

Joshua has been secretly in love with his best friend Ethan since middle school. Just as he decides to bite the bullet and ask Ethan if he’d go to prom with him, even if just as friends, he gets a shocking surprise: Ethan asks Joshua for help crafting the perfect promposal—for another guy. Now Joshua has to suppress his love and try to fake enthusiasm as he watches his dreams fall apart…unless he can make Ethan see that love has been right in front of his eyes the whole time.

The road to the perfect promposal isn’t easy to navigate. But one thing’s certain—prom season is going to be memorable.


Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Publication date: 2/10/2015


Why I’m excited: Like I said, I’m a sucker for a prom story. Also, the LGBTQ element makes this an automatic read for me. Hoping to review it near its publication date for Teen Librarian Toolbox. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my winter TBR



It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. 


This week: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. My TBR list, like yours, I’m sure, is approximately one million books long (give or take a few hundred). My list is a mix of books that are currently out and books that come out later this winter. (Summaries from bn.com)


1.Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees— of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

Pub date: December 9, 2014


2. For Real by Alison Cherry

From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two sisters and one big question: how do you know who’s for real?

No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality television.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?

Pub date: December 9, 2014


3. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of grief about a boy who has lost everything, but finds new hope drawing in the shadows of a hospital. Features a thirty-two-page graphic novel.

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family.

Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.

Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside of the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But to save Rusty, Drew will have to confront Death, and life will have to get worse before it gets better. And by telling the truth about who he really is, Drew risks destroying any chance of a future.

Pub date: January 20, 2015


4. Better than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

From the acclaimed author of Maybe One Day, Melissa Kantor, comes a poignant coming-of-age story that skillfully captures the singular experience of being a teenage girl. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.

Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Pub date: February 17, 2015


5. Us by David Nicholls

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his New York Times bestseller one day to a compellingly human, deftly humorous new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells Douglas that she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best, anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and may even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?


6. The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

Meanwhile, across the enchanted forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother’s last wordsto her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” When Áine’s and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to stop the war that’s about to boil over between their two kingdoms?


7. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In a perfect world . . .

We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy—someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.

Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.


8. No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss

Abigail’s parents believed the world was going to end. And—of course—it didn’t. But they’ve lost everything anyway. And she must decide: does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.

Abigail’s parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the “end of the world.” Because now they’re living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right.

But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.

Pub date: February 24, 2015


9. Love & Profanity: A Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life edited by Nick Healy

Here are forty short, brilliant, and unforgettable true stories from writers famous and on-the-rise. Here is the intensity of daily life. Here are transformative moments arising from the mundane. Here are strange and surprising tales that tap into universal truths. Here are teenagers in full splendor and horror. Here they are, bursting with love and profanity. Featured Authors Include: Kwame Alexander, Steve Brezenoff, Joe Bruchac, Da Chen, Geoff Herbach, Pete Hautman, Alison McGhee, Carrie Mesrobian, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, Heather Sellers, and Will Weaver. (Info from NetGalley)

Pub date: March 2, 2015


10. Ambassador by William Alexander

Gabe Fuentes is in for the ride of his life when he becomes Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy in this otherworldly adventure from the National Book Award–winning author of Goblin Secrets.

Gabe Fuentes is reading under the covers one summer night when he is interrupted by a creature who looks like a purple sock puppet. The sock puppet introduces himself as the Envoy and asks if Gabe wants to be Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy. What sane eleven-year-old could refuse?

Some ingenious tinkering with the washing machine sends Gabe’s “entangled” self out to the center of the galaxy. There he finds that Earth is in the path of a destructive alien force—and Gabe himself is the target of an assassination plot. Exactly who wants him out of the way? And why?

Back home, Gabe discovers that his undocumented parents are in danger of being deported. Can Gabe survive long enough to solve two sets of “alien” problems? He runs for his life, through Minneapolis and outer space, in this fast-paced adventure from a National Book Award–winning author.

Top-Ten-Clues-Youre-Clueless-Liz-Czukasfor realfive stages of andrewBetter than PErfetusnichollswitch's boyyespleasenoparking at the end timeslove and profanityambassador


Roundup of book-related links

*This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I summarized some of the key findings in GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey looking at the experiences of LGBT students in schools.


*At Stacked, “Fabulously Diverse YA Book Covers We Should See More Often.” 


*At The Butter, “Words That Should Actually be Banned.” Check out the comments for great suggestions.


*At Bookshelves of Doom, “Booklist: Seven YA Books Featuring Graffiti Artists.” 


*At Gay YA, an interview with author Ami Polonsky. 


*At Diversity in YA, “Gay Without the Gay Angst: Ten Books About Lesbian/Bi/Queer Girls.” 


*Miss the Google hangout that Teen Librarian Toolbox hosted with authors Carrie Mesrobian, Christa Desir, and A.S. King? It’s okay–you can check it out here! 


*Last night SLJ revealed their best book picks for 2014 with a Twitter party. Check out their full list. SO MANY GOOD BOOKS!

This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox


This week over at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I’ve summarized some of the key findings in GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, which looks at the experiences of LGBT students in schools.

From my post:
168 page report (which is available as a PDF and as an hour-long webinar) looks at discrimination, harassment, assault, biased language, school resources and support, and more, and examines how these factors affect educational performance, safety, and mental health of LGBT teens. The report is filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBT students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported.  Being knowledgeable of their potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction. As GLSEN reports, “The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” This report should be required reading for anyone who works with teenagers. 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Hey, you guys! You’re never going to believe this! I chose ANOTHER book about grief! Pain! Grief! Dead families! Could someone please recommend a crapload of NOT depressing books to me soon? Because if you go back and look at my past many WoW picks, they are NOT cheerful. But whatever. I like what I like (even if seeing my list of books I intend to read sort of makes me wonder what my problem is). My pick this week is The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson, with illustrations by Christine Larsen. 


Summary from bn.com: fivestages

A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of grief about a boy who has lost everything, but finds new hope drawing in the shadows of a hospital. Features a thirty-two-page graphic novel.

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family.

Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.

Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside of the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But to save Rusty, Drew will have to confront Death, and life will have to get worse before it gets better. And by telling the truth about who he really is, Drew risks destroying any chance of a future.


Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: January 20, 2015


Why I’m excited: I’m hearing good things. It sounds super interesting and intense. Also, I love books that incorporate some kind of illustrations/graphic novel element to them. Plus, it’s an LGBTQ book, so OF COURSE I’m going to read it. I’ll be reviewing it at some point in January for Teen Librarian Toolbox. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten sequels I can’t wait to get



It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. 


This week: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get. 


1. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Summary from Goodreads:

Tim Mason is trying to get it right. Always the ready-for-a-good-time guy, he’s working to put his past behind him, staying in the apartment over his best friend’s parents’ garage, and picking up the pieces of his life. It wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice, the ambitious, too-savvy sister of that same best friend. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice. So when the unexpected consequences of his wild days come back to shock him, Tim finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be—that he never could’ve predicted . . . but maybe should have.

Returning to the world of the beloved and critically-acclaimed My Life Next Door comes a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more. (Publication 2015)


2. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Summary from Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing. (Publication April 21, 2015)


3. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. Summary from Goodreads:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series. (Publication date January 27, 2015)


4. Winter by Marissa Meyer. Teeny summary from Goodreads:

This book will feature Cinder and Snow White and will take place on the moon. (Publication date November 24, 2015)


5. Rhiannon by David Levithan. Very little info from Goodreads:

Nancy Hinkel at Knopf has acquired David Levithan’s Rhiannon, the companion to Every Day, his recent novel about A, the character who changes bodies on a daily basis. The new book is told from the perspective of A’s love interest, Rhiannon. Publication is set for spring 2015; Bill Clegg at WME brokered the deal for North American rights.(Publication date 2015)


6. We Can Work it Out by Elizabeth Eulberg. Summary from Goodreads:

When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.

But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create. (Publication date January 27, 2015)


7. Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci. Summary from Goodreads:

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it’s discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula’s worst enemy. (Publication date February 24, 2015)


8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. Summary from Goodreads:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer? (Publication date April 14, 2015)


9. Instinct by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Summary from Goodreads:

Zombies, demons, vampires, shapeshifters— another day in the life of Nick Gautier– and those are just his friends. But now that he’s accepted the demon that lives inside him, he must learn to control it and temper the very emotions that threaten the lives of everyone he cares for. Something that’s hard to do while trying to stay off the menus of those who want his head on a platter. And no one wants him more than the dark gods who created his race. Now that they know where he is, they will stop at nothing to reclaim him. And without knowing it, Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted. The one person who will hand him over to his enemies to get back the life they lost.

Nick has finally accepted his fate, now he must learn to defy his destiny, and the dark, deadly forces that will stop at nothing to destroy everyone he loves so that they can again return to the world of man and own it. (Publication date March 31, 2015)


10. King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman. Summary from Goodreads:

From Frank Portman comes the long-awaited sequel to the beloved cult classic King Dork, of which John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, said, “Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork will rock your world.”
Aside from the stitches and the head wound, Tom Henderson is the same old King Dork. He’s still trying to work out who to blame for the new scar on his forehead, the memory loss, and his father’s mysterious death. But illicit female hospital visitations, The Catcher in the Rye, and the Hillmont High sex-pocalypse have made him a new man.
What doesn’t make you stronger can kill you, though, and tenth grade, act two, promises to be a killer. Tom’s down one bloodstained army coat, one Little Big Tom, and two secret semi-imaginary girlfriends. Now his most deeply held beliefs about alphabetical-order friendship, recycling, school spirit, girls, rock and roll, the stitching on jeans, the Catcher Code, and the structure of the universe are about to explode in his face. If only a female robot’s notes could solve the world’s problems, he’d have a chance. But how likely is that?
King Dork Approximately–it feels like the first time. Like the very first time. (Publication date December 9, 2014)

Book review: Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett


Words-and-Their-Meanings-5About the book
Title: Words and Their Meanings

Author: Kate Bassett

Age level: YA

Genre: Realistic

Subjects: Death, Grief, Writing, Families, Depression, Romance, Friendship, Secrets, Art

Publisher: Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

Publication date: 9/8/2014

Format read in: Paperback

Source of book: Picked it up at the Twin Cities Book Festival last month

Pages: 384

Why review this book?: Initially I was just going to read this “for fun,” that is, read it without the intent of taking notes and writing about it anywhere. But it took about 3 pages for me to realize this book was outstanding and that I needed to spread the word.


Summary (from Goodreads):

Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning


The details

I was absolutely blown away by this book. Here are some places I cried while reading it: my kitchen table, my bedroom, my car, and the pharmacy. Anna’s uncle Joe died last year, at age 19. Joe was more like a brother to Anna (who is 17), as his parents died when he was a toddler and Anna’s family (her father is Joe’s brother) raised him. Early on Anna tells the reader that “Joe is a dead person because of me.” We see that Anna carries some secret and heavy guilt about Joe’s death, but we don’t understand why for a very long time. Now that her one year mourning period is up (one year seeming like enough time to shut down and not deal, according to her parents and her therapists), Anna is supposed to try to get back to normal. It’s either that or be shipped off to Hell–no really, Hell, Michigan–to a boarding school for “the afflicted, suicidal, and otherwise broken tween and teenage souls.” Anna doesn’t do a very convincing job of trying to be “okay.” Obsessed with Patti Smith, mostly she just writes quotes on her arms and practices her coffin yoga. She’s stopped writing, her former passion. Her little sister, Bea, isn’t doing much better—she’s taken to hiding all of the time, often in places that are really not great ideas (the washer, the oven).

Anna is still a mess, but when she finds a note from Joe to a mystery girl who is not his girlfriend, she and her best friend Nat attempt to uncover who the note was meant for as a way to keep Anna distracted and busy. Another distraction, one she’s not sure she’s ready to handle, is Mateo, whom Anna meets at her (brief and ill-fated) waitressing job. Mateo is extremely patient with her many hangups and her need to push him away. He’s a chef and an artist with secrets of his own.


All of these secrets–Joe’s love interest, Mateo’s plans, the true depth of Anna’s depression–all start to unravel after Anna’s grandpa ends up in the hospital. Secrets Anna could never have predicted (or maybe chose not to see) start to surface, throwing Anna into a spiral of despair. Anna continues to blame herself for everyone’s problems and sorrows, even in spite of plenty reassurance that things are not her fault. By the end, everything is out in the open, Anna is pushed to the breaking point, and I was sobbing my eyes out.


This amazingly beautiful and deeply moving book examines what grief can mean to so many people, the various ways it affects people, and the ways we choose to deal or not deal with it. An excellent pick for anyone who enjoys contemporary YA. 



Author’s website

Author’s Twitter

Roundup of book-related links

* At TLT we’re doing #YAAtoZ all month, celebrating the authors we love. Join us by doing your own posts or tweeting your favorite authors to us (@TLT16 and @CiteSomething). This week I wrote about E. Lockhart and David Levithan.


*At TLT this week I wrote about Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, an excellent middle grade book about a transgender girl.


*At Diversity in YA, Isabel Quintero has a guest post, “Making My Self Visible.”  You know I’m absolutely in love with her book Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, right? And so is Kelly Jensen at Stacked. And you can be, too! GO READ IT!


*Carrie Mesrobian is talking about sex (what? really? shocking!) in “On Young Men and Virginity.” 


*At Wrapped up in Books, “If You Like Pretty Little Liars.” Great suggestions.


*At Book Riot, “Scratch and Sniff Books for Grown-Ups.”  I didn’t know these existed and now I desperately need to experience one of these books. After all, any good child of the 80s well remembers the joy/weird smells of scratch and sniff stickers!


*At Diversity in YA, “We Don’t Need Another Straight, White, Able-bodied Hero,” by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith.


This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox: Gracefully Grayson


This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I wrote about Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, an excellent middle grade book about a transgender girl.

From my review:

Reading this book wasn’t easy. Grayson is very alone for much of the time. The people who are horrible to her are awful. We spend a lot of time getting to see Grayson’s thoughts and dreams, which are so far from the reality she currently is in. But by the end, after the weeks spent with new friends in the play, the story begins to feel more hopeful. It’s clear that Grayson’s path won’t be an easy one. Nothing magically becomes great for her before the story wraps up. There is still a lot of uncertainty and sadness in her life. Though the ending is a bit abrupt, it looks like Grayson will be taking further steps to begin to show her true self to the world. (Full review here)

Waiting on Wednesday: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


It would appear I intend to read a bunch of books in the near future about death and grief. As I write this, it’s one month almost exactly until the second anniversary of my dad’s death. So maybe because that’s on my mind, those are the books I’m drawn to. I dunno if that’s good or bad or just… is. At any rate, soon I’m going to have to start building a list of much lighter novels as an antidote to what will surely end up being despair-reading overload. I don’t doubt that Gayle Forman’s I Was Here will leave me in tears, but it’ll be worth it, because it’s GAYLE FORMAN.


Summary from bn.com: i was here

Cody and Meg were inseparable.

Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.


Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Publication date: January 27, 2015


Why I’m excited: As I said above, it’s GAYLE FORMAN. She’s one of those authors whose new books equal an immediate read.