Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, May 12, 2017

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

From My Shelf

Life After Loss

The year following my father's death, I bought book after book in search of the one that would tell me what to do. After all, I was accustomed to turning to books for everything. Surely there would be one that spoke to my experience. Ultimately, I learned that such a book did not exist. No one will traverse the exact same path as you after the death of a loved one, full stop. But there is hope and understanding, empathy and wisdom to be found, hidden here and there in the lines of this volume and that one.

Naturally, I was curious about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, just published by Knopf. Admittedly, I had not been one of the millions who'd heeded the call to Lean In. But the woman's very public loss (the sudden death of her husband while the two vacationed in Mexico) piqued my interest. Partnering with author and psychologist Adam Grant, Sandberg goes beyond grief to examine the role resiliency plays in any measure of adversity.

This is no flowery meditation on loss. Recovery requires work. Sandberg lays bare her innermost thoughts (could her children have a chance at being well-adjusted; how would her job evolve in light of her loss; what was dating, and did she even want to know?) while Grant and a host of other experts offer up practical advice on developing the resiliency necessary not only to see your way clear of unfathomable upset, but even grow and help others who find themselves in "the void," that "vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe." Science-y, insightful and straightforward, Sandberg's take is worth your time. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

Book Candy

Writers and Cats

"Famous writers and their feline friends" were showcased by Read it Forward.


The New York Public Library offered a bookish playlist of "10 songs about libraries and librarians."


The American Writers Museum, featuring nearly 11,000 square feet of galleries, will open May 16 in Chicago.


Philippe Van Haute and Herman Westerink picked their "top 10 books about psychoanalysis" for the Guardian.


Rebecca Jones's "reading snug" shed won the Grand Shed Project, which challenged five of the U.K.'s top interior and garden designers to transform sheds "into stylish garden retreats," Bookshelf noted.

Rodale Kids: 'Bringing Health, Healing and Happiness' to Children, Too

Maria Rodale

Rodale Inc., the renowned health, happiness and wellness publisher for adults, is launching an imprint for children of all ages called Rodale Kids. As Rodale chairman, president and CEO Maria Rodale says, "It's long been a dream of mine to expand our award-winning and bestselling Rodale Books publishing program to kids, who are most open to learning new things. Our best-in-class books, magazines and products have transformed the well-being of millions of consumers, and we recognize that Rodale's commitment to shaping a brighter future really starts with our youngest generation. It's time to nurture our mission--to inspire health, healing and happiness in the world--among young readers and their families, where it all begins."

Rodale Kids' first list appears this fall and will consist of 10 titles (more on them below). The imprint plans to publish 30-45 titles a year, but may revise that in line with demand (it already has 50 titles slated for 2018). The books will be fiction and nonfiction for children from infants to teens. Rodale Books VP and publisher Gail Gonzales, who is heading Rodale Kids, says, "We're hopeful that reaching kids and teaching them healthy habits, positive thinking, mindfulness and more will improve their lives (and maybe their parents' lives) so that they don't have to learn these things later in life. Our mission of inspiring health, healing, happiness and love isn't just restricted to adults anymore."

In fact, in its name and in other ways, Rodale Kids makes references to its parent. The imprint's logo, for example, has a trefoil leaf with roots that go deep that is part of the traditional Rodale logo.

Gonzales says she has found this all deeply satisfying. "I love being able to put products out into the world that really help people and change their lives for the better," she explains. "I take it very seriously--I only want to be putting out books that have a good energy."

Rodale Kids is functioning much like a startup, Gonzales says, with many staffers working on both adult and kids titles. "We did have people who had previous kids experience so that definitely helps," she adds. "A great thing about Rodale is that when someone has a new creative idea, we try it. We are agile and nimble enough to start up business initiatives pretty quickly."

Gail Gonzales

The company wants Rodale Kids to stand out in the marketplace as "the go-to imprint for people when they're looking for a credible publisher in the health and wellness space," Gonzales continues. Both fiction and nonfiction should be known "as positive, uplifting, and able to teach ideas and concepts that go back to living a happy and healthy life on a happy, healthy planet." The titles will also aim for diversity in everything from illustration styles to the characters in the stories.

Rodale has increased its adult business in indie bookstores, improving its relationships and communications with booksellers, and will continue doing so this year. "We can always do better in this area," Gonzales says, "and the kids books will let us expand that relationship even further." She notes that Rodale Kids has "some fun things planned" around its taekwondo graphic novels for indies that include swag bags and interactive kits.

Rodale is also increasing its support of the library market. It exhibited at the ALA Midwinter conference for the first time, and has exciting plans for BookExpo and ALA in June. "The librarians are so welcoming and supportive," Gonzales says. "We want to be that right back to them."

Rodale Kids Brands: ATA, Story Pirates, Meddy Teddy, Bloomers

A significant part of Rodale Kids' publishing programs involves working with established brands that share Rodale's emphasis on health, healing and happiness. The four major partners are:

ATA International
ATA International (formerly known as the American Taekwondo Association) is the premier North American organization dedicated to the martial arts discipline of taekwondo and is the founding organization of other international affiliates, including the World Traditional Taekwondo Union and the Songahm Taekwondo Federation. In the United States and worldwide, the organizations have more than 1,500 independently owned and operated schools and clubs and more than a million students registered since ATA International's founding in 1969.

Rodale Kids and ATA International are launching the first book in the Team Taekwondo graphic novel series this fall, Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt (more on this title below), whose life skill lesson focuses on self-esteem. The second and third books in the series, which will appear in spring 2018 and fall 2018 will address respect and honesty, respectively.

Story Pirates
Story Pirates is a media and education organization founded in 2004 to celebrate the words, ideas and stories of young people. It has a popular podcast; had a show for five years called Story Pirates Radio on SiriusXM; performs in schools, festivals and performing arts centers; and has been featured and praised by a range of actors, comedians and personalities, including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Conan O'Brien. A Story Pirates live show is an exciting combination of entertainment and education in which world-class comedians, actors and musicians take kids’ wildest ideas and bring them to life on stage.

The first Rodale Kids book done with the Story Pirates is Story Pirates Present: Stuck in the Stone Age by Geof Rodkey, which will appear in March 2018. Rodkey is the author of the bestselling The Tapper Twins Go to War and its sequels as well as the adventure-comedy trilogy The Chronicles of the Egg. He also is an Emmy Award-nominated screenwriter for movies--including Daddy Day Care, RV, The Shaggy Dog and Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas--TV, video games and magazines.

The middle grade novel's premise is based on a Story Pirates contest winning entry from Tennessee sixth-grader Vince Boberski, who imagined some modern scientists being transported to prehistoric times where they'd have to use their wits to deal with cave men, saber-toothed tigers and other hazards of the era. The main two scientists at the center of Stuck in the Stone Age have problems: one isn't very good at science and the other isn't very good with people.

Meddy Teddy
Meddy Teddy is a yoga-practicing stuffed animal who was created by Thom Jordan while on a meditation retreat to help teach children (and adults) about meditation and mindfulness. Meddy Teddy can demonstrate yoga poses and is a role model and yoga buddy for children. Meddy Teddy is also a social media star, with almost 30,000 Instagram followers and comes wearing a pair of zen white yoga pants.

Rodale Kids will release two Meddy Teddy books early next year. Meddy Teddy by Apple Jordan (January 16, 2018) allows kids to experience Meddy Teddy in picture book form, following him and his forest friends as they use yoga in their everyday adventures. The Meddy Teddy board book appears in spring 2018.

Founded by Cynthia Wylie, Bloomers! aims to connect children with nature and promote healthy eating using a variety of approaches. Its Bloomers! Schoolyard is a gardening program and curriculum for schools with educator videos, schoolyard products and classroom resources. Bloomers! Backyard includes a homeschool curriculum, outdoor games and activities, a garden guidebook and instructions. Bloomers! Island is an educational online world with hands-on lessons that includes gardening applications and a community garden blog.

Rodale Kids will begin its publishing program with Bloomers! with Bloomers Island, a hardcover title that will appear in January 2018. Then the first two Bloomers! series trade paperback picture books will appear in April 2018. After that, two Bloomers! books will appear in spring and winter each year. The series will follow a featured character of Bloomers Island on a gardening adventure to instill habits of healthy eating in children--and inspire them to actually grow plants.

Book Review


I Found You

by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell (The Girls in the Garden, The Third Wife) is a brilliant storyteller, creating suspenseful yet believable novels time and again. I Found You is no exception--filled with intriguing characters connected in startling ways. In the present day, Alice Lake, a lonely single mother, finds a man with amnesia on a beach in northern England. Meanwhile, Lily Monrose is a Ukrainian bride who has been in London for three weeks when her new husband goes missing. She turns to the police, but learns that "Carl Monrose" is a false identity, and her husband never actually existed.

Alternating chapters set 23 years earlier tell of Gray and Kirsty, a brother and sister contentedly vacationing at the seaside with their parents until a dark and unpredictable stranger inserts himself into their lives. As the secrets and unknowns build, even the best armchair sleuths will be met with surprises.

As Alice's interest in the amnesiac--whom her daughter has dubbed "Frank"--and Lily's desperation grow, Jewell ratchets up the tension in Gray and Kirsty's lives as well. The dueling time periods make I Found You all the more intense; she is deviously reticent to reveal the siblings' impact on the present. Quickly paced yet delicately nuanced, this novel is sure to appeal to fans of Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: One woman finds a mysterious stranger and one woman loses her husband, sending them both on journeys of discovery.

Atria, $26, hardcover, 352p., 9781501154591


by Doree Shafrir

What happens if you take a piece of Silicon Valley and drop it near Manhattan's Madison Square Park? In BuzzFeed culture writer Doree Shafrir's first novel, Startup, you get the same laid-back techie incubator open offices with nerf guns, iced coffee kegerators and lunchtime yoga classes--but you also get huddled sidewalk-smoking employees and 4 a.m. Uber rides to shotgun flats in Greenpoint. Hers is a funny, grittier New York version of kids in their 30s wearing fat do-not-disturb earphones while coding, Slacking, Tweeting and Instagramming to hustle a new app company from nowhere into that rarified billion-dollar unicornland.

Mack McAllister is the wunderkind founder/CEO of TakeOff, whose corporate motto is "Do good work, and the work will help the good." He's approaching a second round of a $500-million venture capital valuation when he inadvertently texts Isabel, the company v-p, a dick pic outside of their usual ephemeral Snapchat sexting. Katya, a young edgy journalist, sees it at a networking bar party when Isabel carelessly leaves her phone while on a bathroom break. With a screengrab of the pic, Katya has a story that could take her from trolling endless tweet and retweet gossip and "into that scrum... with the quote or angle that no one else has found yet."

As Shafrir's story unfolds, it moves easily from the sendup of techie emoji, acronyms, and marketing and business palaver into the more tangled politics of startups. She doesn't miss a lick and she's clearly having a good time. But Startup is more than entertainment--it pushes lots of the right buttons. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Funny, hip and clever, Shafrir's Startup slices through the world of tech startups and the kids running them.

Little, Brown, $26, hardcover, 304p., 9780316360388

The Color of Our Sky

by Amita Trasi

In her debut novel, Amita Trasi addresses poverty, human trafficking and the power of true friendship through a story of searching and self-discovery.

In early 1990s Mumbai, two little girls from very different worlds are thrown together and form a deep bond. Quiet Mukta, a low-caste girl born to a destiny of temple prostitution, is rescued from her fate at age 10 by an upper-middle class foster family with an eight-year-old daughter, Tara. Although Tara's parents treat Mukta like a favored servant, their daughter treats her like a sister and helps her learn to read. But one night in 1993, a man kidnaps Mukta from the room where she and Tara lie sleeping.

Eventually, Tara and her family immigrate to the United States, where Tara's father commits suicide in 2004. She learns afterward that he believed Mukta was alive. Despite the enormity of the task, she returns to Mumbai in search of her foster sister, aided by a former street boy from her past who now runs a nonprofit. In alternating flashback chapters, Mukta reveals the truth of her disappearance to the reader in heartrending detail.

While Tara's narrative sometimes feels like an afterthought to Mukta's more compelling and dramatic history, Trasi breathes astounding complexity into both main characters, avoiding a simple victim/rescuer relationship. Themes of remorse, social taboos and family weave together into a surprising and affecting climax. The Color of Our Sky portrays India as a complicated society where tradition sometimes wars with human rights. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: An Indian American immigrant returns to Mumbai to search for the childhood best friend who was kidnapped in front of her a decade earlier.

Morrow, $16.99, paperback, 416p., 9780062474070

The Night She Won Miss America

by Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan (Searching for Grace Kelly) possesses a deft and winning skill at re-creating the dreamy romanticism and archaic sexual politics of America in 1949. He also crafts compelling and empathetic characters who capture the imagination and concern of readers. Callahan gives a contemporary edge to a nostalgic era, much like the way Todd Haynes's films Carol and Far from Heaven saluted and updated Douglas Sirk's great 1950s melodramas. Callahan essentially takes those wonderful Rona Jaffe page-turners about 1950s "working girls" and retrofits them with modern insights and sensibilities, without winking asides but rather loving attention to period detail.

To please her mother, 19-year-old Betty Jane Welch enters the Miss Delaware contest and wins. This propels her to Atlantic City and the 1950 Miss America pageant, where she meets and immediately falls in love with her pageant-assigned escort, Griffin McAllister. Betty is slow to realize that her dream man is more of a nightmare--psychotic with violent voices in his head. After she wins the pageant, Betty starts feeling hemmed in by its restrictive rules and, fearing she will lose the first man she's loved, she agrees to sneak away with him to New York City. When the newly crowned Miss America is reported missing and perhaps kidnapped, the police and press join the chase, and soon Griffin's paranoid delusions have flesh-and-blood pursuers--which leads to murder.

Callahan's fast-paced psychological thriller is exciting and entertaining. And the vintage Miss America pageant setting is as fascinating as the characters. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Michael Callahan adds a contemporary edge and sensibility to a nostalgic era with his fast-paced psychological thriller about a Miss America on the run.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, hardcover, 336p., 9780544809970

Biography & Memoir

All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island

by Liza Jessie Peterson

Liza Jesse Peterson is a poet, actress and ex-model, a bohemian from Philadelphia, with an inspirational style and hard-nosed classroom control skills. All Day is her first book, about her year teaching a class of teenage boys full-time at Rikers Island after a few years as a visiting artist at the prison.

"I have quite a spirited group of drama kings, court jesters, flyboy gangsters, tricksters, and wannabe pimps all in my charge, all up in my face, to educate. Corralling this motley crew of bad-news bears to do any lesson is like running boot camp for hyperactive gremlins." Wild as the students are, she also sees them as confused children jailed as adults, with every reason to despair. Some work hard, some don't. She tries to give them fresh visions for their lives before they are released or sent to an adult prison. She is honest about her fears and mistakes, but her cultural understanding and experiences with teaching and performance serve her well. While preaching the gospel of education, she maintains order with her verbal fluency and rewards of music and magazines. An open letter from Obama in Vibe inspires an assignment to write back to him, and she includes several of the teens' letters here. Her work is ongoing, and she hopes to make a living from her art someday, but she makes a strong case for supporting creative sympathetic teachers for the most difficult students. "A little attention and compassion go a long way with a kid who's been ignored throughout his years at school and probably even at home. All kids want to be seen, heard, and encouraged, even the most thuggish of thug." --Sara Catterall

Discover: An artist who has worked with incarcerated youth for 18 years delivers an encouraging memoir of teaching teenage boys at Rikers Island.

Center Street, $27, hardcover, 256p., 9781455570911

Business & Economics

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

by Jonathan Taplin

"Data is the new oil," argues Jonathan Taplin in Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. In this incisive work, Taplin makes the case that Internet monopolies have reshaped the online marketplace, via data mining and advertising, to enormous, unconstitutional profit. And as the title--a motto attributed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg--implies, this is happening quickly and devastatingly.

Taplin posits that for Google and Facebook, "the difference between the supreme artistry of a Martin Scorsese short film and an amateur cat video lies only in the number of views that can be sold to advertisers." Quality no longer matters. Cat videos aside, Taplin quotes Zuckerberg again regarding his desire to spread free Internet to an untapped Third World market: "Who could be against it?"

Many, it turns out. The ramifications of modern colonialism in the name of "progress" and illegal online distribution have precedent. Taplin draws on his own experience in the entertainment industry, wherein he worked as a tour manager for artists like Bob Dylan and the Band, and as a producer for Scorsese. He employs a measured, persuasive tone, and makes a compelling case for re-envisioning the Internet and reinstating value in creating meaningful art. He considers solutions such as a universal basic income, artist co-ops and greater emphasis on community in order to salvage creative cultural output and assess its value.

Who could be against that? Again, the answer is likely many (especially the companies cited), but Taplin's topic is as important as his arguments are enlightening. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: Jonathan Taplin investigates the impact of Internet monopolies on the production and valuation of creative content in the digital age.

Little, Brown, $29, hardcover, 320p., 9780316275774


Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels

by Laura Everett

For most people, having their car break down on the highway during a stormy night would be a crisis. The mishap, however, inspired Laura Everett, a minister in the United Church of Christ, to abandon nearly all driving in favor of bicycling. With encouragement from "cycling sherpas" in her congregation and social circle, Everett began navigating Boston's labyrinthine streets as an all-weather cyclist, which quickly became an enjoyable challenge and essential component to her spiritual life.

"Runners, swimmers and rowers sometimes speak of this--the repetitive motion that allows one's mind to clear.... And so my time on the bicycle became reflective. My internal conversation became chatty, even. As I came to know Boston's roads better and better, my mind would drift and mull over my prayers: the triple-decker house with the foreclosed sign, the roadside shrine to a child killed by a stray gunshot, the despair that seemed to cling to every building on some blocks, the defiant signs of life on others."

Marrying practicality with philosophy, Holy Spokes provides detailed historical overviews of the sport, descriptions of bicycle construction (Everett has become skilled at building bikes), the mechanics of riding and the sport's physicality. With chapter titles representing various bicycle parts and their symbolic qualities to life ("Saddle ǀ Endurance," "Lights ǀ Visibility," "Brakes ǀ Limitations"), Holy Spokes is structured as a series of interconnected essays, blending Everett's appreciation for urban design along with mindfulness writings by a 17th-century monk named Brother Lawrence (a non-cyclist, to Everett's knowledge).

Although occasional repetition causes some narrative wobbles, Everett's insights gleaned from viewing Boston by bike can be appreciated by dedicated cyclists and non-athletes alike who seek a broader spiritual perspective to life. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

Discover: Cycling serves as the impetus for a Boston minister's deepened spirituality and connections to her city.

Eerdmans, $22.99, hardcover, 201p., 9780802873736


Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet

by Michael Bloomberg, Carl Pope

In Climate of Hope, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg joins forces with former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope to illustrate how climate change is a series of manageable problems that can be addressed not by the federal government but instead by local administrations, businesses and individual citizens. Their theme throughout emphasizes that "each part of the problem of climate change has a solution that can make our society healthier and stronger." Instead of focusing on politics or long-term consequences, they identify the most immediate threats and how the best solutions not only save the environment, but are economically beneficial as well.

Following George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, Pope stood at the helm of the Sierra Club as the organization worked tirelessly to block the creation of new coal-fired plants in the United States; about the same time, Bloomberg was leading the charge for PlaNYC, an initiative, among other goals, to help the city of New York combat climate change. Using these significant vantage points, Bloomberg and Pope alternate chapters sharing pertinent science and data, as well as their experiences with the various parts of the climate change problem. They address renewable energy resources, housing, food and transportation. Their divergent insights offer a three-dimensional examination of the crisis as well as accessible solutions, innovative suggestions and a plethora of benefits. Most importantly, their positive, forward-looking attitude is inspiring and attainable. Bloomberg and Pope's collaborative work epitomizes the unity needed to solve climate change, and they set an example to follow. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: A businessman and an activist find common ground on the need to combat climate change.

St. Martin's Press, $26.99, hardcover, 272p., 9781250142078

Parenting & Family

The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood

by Sarah Turner

Following in the hilarious footsteps of Jean Kerr, Erma Bombeck and Jill Conner Browne, Sarah Turner is this generation's scathingly funny and wickedly frank parenting prophet. In 2013, Turner (a freelance writer from Exeter, England) started a blog that struck a chord with millions of readers who were relieved to discover they weren't the only parents cutting corners and feeling guilty about not treasuring every moment of raising kids. The Unmumsy Mum is a sassy, sidesplitting and loving parenting manual for those who live in the real world, not in the world found online. "Social media is a selective snapshot and is never the full story," writes Turner. "It's not the most helpful place to look when you are having a sh*tty day."

Turner is screamingly funny, whether she's sniffing diapers to identify her baby, fighting for alone time ("If sleep were a drug, I would be the first to lock myself in the bathroom and snort it."), charting the five psychological stages of night-feeding (Hope, Denial, the Standoff, Rage and Guilt) or marveling at the impact on her body after giving birth ("I'm left with something that loosely resembles the original, if you get my drift."). She is also a constantly reassuring sage: "Somebody's children have to be the worst behaved in the park. They just do. The law of averages suggests that, sometimes, those kids will belong to you."

Turner's raunchy, loving and wise The Unmumsy Mum will have parents laughing with recognition and sighing with relief that they're no longer alone. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Popular blogger Sarah Turner delivers a screamingly funny and practical parenting manual.

TarcherPerigee, $16, paperback, 304p., 9780143130048


Dreadful Wind & Rain

by Diane Gilliam

In the tradition of Milton and Donne, Diane Gilliam's Dreadful Wind & Rain is an inspired collection of loosely connected poems derived from the Book of Genesis story of Leah and Rachel, and from a 300-year-old folk song of sororicide. Pushcart Prize-winner Gilliam's work is plainspoken and haunting, with an everywoman's voice of wanting and wondering. The narrator of the prose poem "Lots of Ships," for instance, learns with her "pens and pencils rowing for some kind of shore."

Gilliam pins her perspective in the first poem "Girls," describing a young woman's thoughts while peering out a window: "Whatever it is she is wanting, it is not/ too much to ask."

In "Tender" the wanting is to be out of a difficult marriage:

"Loving him is too much
cereal and milk
when what she wants

are platters of fried eggs and ham,
biscuits and gravy, fried apples
in big steaming bowls."

In the overtly biblical "Psalm of Leah," the protagonist laments her hard farming life: "the twisted grimace of husbandry,/ the face beaten like a plowshare/ into the shape of what happens to it."

Like the ragged abraded squares of an old quilt in "Oh, Honey" ("the wear and tear of what happens in bed"), the poems in Dreadful Wind & Rain tell an unforgettable story deep in tradition but singularly modern. This one belongs on the not-to-be-missed list. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Gilliam's poems loosely based on biblical and folk tales are innovative narrative verse at its breathtaking finest.

Red Hen Press, $17.95, paperback, 96p., 9781597097499

Children's & Young Adult


by Riley Redgate

Jordan Sun must once again share the news with her mother when she's passed over for a role in the Kensington-Blaine school musical. Jordan is desperate to justify her enrollment in the prestigious East Coast performing arts boarding school clear across the country from her struggling parents. So when she asks her instructor for advice on how to improve, she's crestfallen to learn her Alto 2 voice isn't conducive to the female roles.

Discouraged and depressed, Jordan reads a school-wide e-mail announcing tryouts for the Sharpshooters, Kensington's elite, male, a cappella octet. Thinking she has nothing to lose and longing for the chance to be a part of something successful, Jordan reminds herself, "Risk [isn't] scary. Insignificance [is] terrifying." So she puts her theater training to work, dressing up as Julian Zhang to audition. To her great surprise, Julian receives a callback.

As Jordan juggles both identities, she feels herself changing. Hiding her secret weighs heavier each day, but she likes the self-confidence and freedom she experiences as a boy. She's even able to explore her sexual orientation, an element of herself she accepted based on expectations, not her personal feelings. Even more, she basks in the feeling of family among the Sharpshooters. But the more entrenched she becomes, the harder it is to maintain her deception.

Riley Redgate's (Seven Ways We Lie) second novel superbly probes identity, privilege and community in a humorous plot of high school growing pains. Like her visual arts students at Kensington, Redgate crafts her characters with delicate lines and strong shadows within a phase of life that is anything but gentle. Noteworthy is a five-star performance, deserving of a standing ovation. Encore! --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: When a female high school junior at a performing arts school disguises herself as a boy to audition for an all-male a cappella group, she winds up with a noteworthy education.

Amulet/Abrams, $17.95, hardcover, 400p., ages 13-up, 9781419723735

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die

by Randall Platt

When Nazis conquer Poland in the fall of 1939, 16-year-old Abra Goldstein--known on the streets as the "Arab of Warsaw" ever since she forsook her "filthy-rich Jewish parents"--is determined to survive in any way possible. Tall, with blue eyes and chopped-off blonde hair, she masquerades as an Aryan boy, running with a gang of petty thieves. The occupation provides unlimited opportunities for her small-time black market business selling cigarettes and whatever else anyone wants, "from a Polish tart to Chopin's heart." Meanwhile, she keeps a discreet eye on her beloved younger sister, Ruthie, still living with their parents in the "posh" Jewish quarter. In her father's disgust at his older daughter's unseemly behavior--getting kicked out of her fancy school, stealing, joining a street gang--he has placed a gravestone in the cemetery with the inscription: "Abra Goldstein/ Gone and Forgotten." But Arab thinks of herself as "the girl who wouldn't die" and spends the early war years proving this truth again and again, even when she is asked to take part in a dangerous act of resistance.

In fluid, almost contemporary dialogue and action, Randall Platt (The Likes of Me) never flinches from the violent, heartbreaking realities of Nazi-occupied Europe. The Girl Who Wouldn't Die is about the measures Jews, gay people and allies took to survive in a savage time--Arab wearing cynicism like armor, for instance. "Trust me," she tells a fellow street kid, "evil trumps good every time." It's possible, though, that even seemingly cold-blooded Arab has a heart bigger than the entire Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. Riveting. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A Jewish girl disguised as an Aryan boy wrenches readers through Nazi-occupied Warsaw in this brutal, beautiful YA novel.

Sky Pony/Skyhorse, $16.99, hardcover, 368p., ages 14-up, 9781510708099

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story

by Baldev Lamba, Marie Lamba, illus. by Sonia Sánchez

"Green green/ fresh and clean./ Brown brown,/ dig the ground." With a little digging, raking, planting and watering, a garden can grow just about anywhere--even in a cramped lot between city buildings. Green Green is husband-and-wife team Marie Lamba (What I Meant) and landscape architect Baldev Lamba's ode to a greener world, gorgeously illustrated by Barcelonian Sonia Sánchez (Here I Am).

The picture book opens with children frolicking in verdant meadows, butterflies and bees like confetti flung among them. With each passing page, though, the concrete and steel of a city encroaches, shrinking the "green green" to tiny spaces "in between." The city is growing and the children are in danger of losing their green play spaces altogether... until they see the potential in a vacant lot: "Squirrel gray,/ pigeon blue,/ weeds and wildflowers,/ litter, too." They ask the adults, "Brown brown,/ dig the ground?" and soon neighbors join together to create a beautiful community garden that pushes back against the gloomy gray of the city.

Sánchez's illustrations are full of sweet-faced multi-ethnic families in cozy cardigans and mixed-patterned outfits. There's always something new to catch among the pages: a watering can on a fire escape, an old refrigerator in the yard, gardening gloves hanging out of one mom's pocket. The final spread provides ideas to "Make Your World More Green Green" and explains how we can help bees and butterflies. With its simple text and lush artwork, Green Green serves as pure inspiration. Readers of all ages will want to run for their spades and seed packets as soon as the last page is read. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: In this exquisitely illustrated picture book, buildings and litter overwhelm urban green spaces until children take action, getting adults involved in creating a community garden.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 2-5, 9780374327972


Author Buzz

Every Time We Say Goodbye

by Natalie Jenner

Dear Reader,

EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE was the hardest book I will ever write, and the most rewarding. I packed everything I could into this book: love and conflict, faith and religion, censorship and resistance, art and moviemaking, fashion and food, cameos by favorite actresses and characters from my earlier books, and above all Rome, my favorite city in the world. I hope that my novel gives you the entertainment and inspiration that nourished me throughout its writing.

Email with the subject line "Every Time Was Say Goodbye Sweeps" for a chance to win one of five copies.

Gratefully yours,
Natalie Jenner

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner

St. Martin's Press

Pub Date: 
May 14, 2024


List Price: 
$29.00 Hardcover

Happily Ever Maybe
(A Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella)

by Carrie Ann Ryan

Dear Reader,

What happens in a bodyguard romance when both characters are a bodyguard?

All the heat and action!

I love writing workplace romances because things get tricky. And when a one night stand ends up burning up the pages, things get... explosive.

Gus and Jennifer are fiery, kick-butt characters that made me so happy to write.

I hope you love them!

Carrie Ann Ryan

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Happily Ever Maybe (A Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella) by Carrie Ann Ryan

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
February 13, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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