In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.
Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.
While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.
As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.
Janet: I like the papercut style of the cover and (of course) all those blues. And I like some of Sarah Dessen’s books so even though this one looks a little predictable, I’m betting there will be enough twists in there to please. If only the synopsis didn’t used the word “steamy,” I’d read this for sure.
Yash: I love paper-cut illustration styles. It is so beautiful. And those blues and greens. It seems like Janet and I are having the same reactions. Pretty. Um, the summary, though, doesn’t sound particularly unique though. I’m going to pass on this one.
Nafiza: I think I’d have liked the cover more had there been only one paper-cut instead of four which distracts me in not a very good way. As for the summary, I was that girl and I don’t to revisit that period in my life for any reason whatsoever so pass for me.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school[,] finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won’t open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
Janet: Fascinating title. The cover is neat although the coloured chalk seems out of place, since this is a high school and the setting is an auditorium, not a bio lab or math class. The synopsis says just enough. Unfortunately I’ve come across articulate and negative reviews of this book. But if I hadn’t read those, based on the cover and synopsis I would want to pick this up.
Yash: Funny. I’ve heard good things about it. In any case, I kind of promised Angel from Mermaid Vision Books that we’d co-review this one when it comes out. Should be interesting. The cover is … terrifying. I mean, I think the chalk is … a stand-in? for people– in this case– students, which is just the worst. *sigh* I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for this one but I am curious.
Nafiza: Yeah, this doesn’t sound like my type of book. The cover is well… it has impact which is bolstered by the synopsis and just…frankly, as Yash said, it’s terrifying and I’ll leave it to other people.
Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship, as long as no one finds out about it.
But when Janie is date-raped by the most popular guy in school—a guy she’s had a crush on for years—she finds herself ostracized by all the people she thought were her friends. Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubt about whether or not she was “asking for it,” it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.
Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang’s astonishing second novel masterfully reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance.
Janet: I can hear Steph saying things about girls and feathers and I’m inclined to agree with her BUT I think the falling feathers, one word of the title on each, makes a disjointed effect that really works with the title and the story. I’m confused about how close a friendship can be when it only works as long as it’s a secret. And the first paragraph indicates that Janie sees her and Micah as close, as perfect opposites (“Janie says”), but doesn’t indicate any reciprocating feelings on Micah’s part. Also, I’m inclined to despise him (see second paragraph of synopsis). But I do want to know what Janie does/where she vanishes to. I guess it’s a case of first-page-make-or-break.
Yash: I don’t particularly like this cover. There’s something very … flat … about it?? I don’t know. I do like how the feathers make our eyes travel down the cover, though. That’s pretty neat. And hey, I’ve been wanting to read Amy Zhang for a while. So maybe this will be the one I pick up.
Nafiza: This wasn’t planned, the “where it ends” title thing I mean. As for this title, it seems brutal and All the Ragey and I’m still recovering from that one so…only if Yash shoves it in my hand and threatens to kill off people will I read this.
She had a plan. It went south.
Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
Janet: That cover. Did Noelle Stevenson draw it? I really like the cover except for the absolute stupidity of wearing that skirt in that climate. (Also: nice tagline.) However. I get that Harper is a dancer and there really isn’t any way to show that she is if she is attired in proper Antarctic gear. The synopsis confused me the first read-through (the rationale for Harper’s actions is where?) but on second glance appeals. If I see this in the library I’ll read a page or two.
Yash: NOELLE STEVENSON! NICE! The summary doesn’t do much for me, though. But if Janet gives it a thumbs up, I’m in.
Nafiza: I don’t have a feeling either ways for this one. But we do have a Performance Art month coming along so maybe Janet will review it and we can make up our minds then. I don’t mind the cover but I don’t particularly love it either.
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power [to] save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.
Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.
Janet: The answer to that tagline is a resounding duh. The cover isn’t bad, although I don’t like the overly confessional title. Okay. So I’m biased against romance-centric novels (unless there is humour and satire!), and relationships where one person sees the other as a “project” are doomed, and rightfully so. (Thoroughly unhealthy.) Also, anything that posits teen love as “the answer to everything” is not for me. The canvas-look of the cover background is lovely, though.
Yash: So, the cover is really pretty. As much as I hate to go to an art gallery and see paint splatters on canvases, I guess I don’t mind it as much on book covers? I like the font for the tagline too and the title isn’t bad– though, I feel like I’ve read that particular phrase a lot. The summary, again, doesn’t really intrigue me. So, pass, I think.
Nafiza: What they say.
When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally—in this piercing middle grade novel by the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Johnson Steptoe Award.
Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).
How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.
Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?
Janet: That is a very unusual (read: interesting + appealing) cover. And I’ve been meaning to read something by Jason Reynolds. But the real selling point of this is the synopsis. Yes. Male-male family relationships, a blind character *who isn’t shafted into the role of victim*, and different expressions of masculinity. I want to read this. Also, I want to see the inside of this room full of songbirds and plants.
Yash: JASON REYNOLLLLDDDDSSSSS! *ahem* Yes. I will read this. Immediately. TBH, that cover is so gorgeous and so refreshing that I probably would have picked it up without even knowing what the book is about. I just hope this gets a thumbs up from Disability in Kidlit …
Nafiza: I love love love the cover. There’s something about movement in art that just appeals to me so damned much. Anyway, this book is a middle grade novel with a wonderful cover and a diverse cast. Yes, I think so.