Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, December 27, 2019

Harper: Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

From My Shelf

Doubleday Books: Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Penguin Teen: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Tundra Books: Narwhal's School of Awesomeness (a Narwhal and Jelly Book #6) by Ben Clanton

Reframing the New Year

Who needs New Year's resolutions? I'm not good at keeping them. However, I do like to reflect on the year just past and try to adjust my attitude in more positive ways--around work life, home life, organizing (thoughts as well as things) and eating/wellness.

Lindsey Pollack raised my awareness with The Remix (Harper Business, $29.99): for the first time, we have at least four generations working side-by-side. Not-yet-retired "Traditionalists" (born 1928-1945) may well be working alongside Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Millennials (born 1981-1996), plus members of Gen X (born 1965-1980) and Gen Z (born 1997-TBD). Pollack describes the traits (and birth ranges) of each in a handy chart, and explains how the acronym COPE (Create Once Publish Everywhere) encourages the spread of ideas in the preferred communication style of each. "Key takeaways" close each chapter. 

Elizabeth Emens's Life Admin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26) taught me there's a name for all the "stuff" we do outside of work. Why is it one half of a couple ends up with car repair or child care--and it doesn't matter of it's male-female, female-female, or male-male (or they-they). A task generally "sticks," unless we become conscious of it and make changes. "Refreshers," quizzes and "ideas to try" will help you break patterns and create new ones.

Maybe you'd like to have more sit-down family dinners or introduce some new recipes to friends. Nothing Fancy (Clarkson Potter, $32.50) invites you into Alison Roman's secrets: "Roasting a nice chicken for people is such a good way to say, 'I love you' "--which, she confides, she discovered scrawled on the back of her unpaid electric bill. (And then she includes the roast chicken recipe!) Mouth-watering photographs show cooking in progress... and meals served on paper plates.

Here's to can-do attitudes in 2020! --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Clavis: Spook-tacular Halloween Picture Books

Book Candy

Top Fictional Dinner Parties

"From Arthurian feasts to awkward moments with Ian McEwan and mealtime at the Macbeths," the Guardian served up the "top 10 dinner parties in fiction."


Mental Floss showcased "50 words you might not know are trademarked."


"One woman's quest to read all of Proust--out loud, in French, in subway stations" was chronicled by Mission Local.


The New York Public Library acquired a collection of rare Virginia Woolf materials.


"The uncertain future of the world's largest secondhand book market" in Kolkata, India, was explored by Atlas Obscura.

Instant Help Publications: Finding Her Voice: How Black Girls in White Spaces Can Speak Up and Live Their Truth by Faye Z Belgrave, Ivy Belgrave, and Angela Patton

Great Reads

Rediscover: Wally the Wordworm

Two years ago, during a reading at an independent bookstore, an audience member asked author Anne Fadiman why a favorite children's book by her father--writer, editor and TV/radio personality Clifton Fadiman--was out of print. The bookstore co-owner brought that book, Wally the Wordworm, to the attention of publisher David R. Godine, who published a new edition of it last fall. First appearing in 1964, Wally the Wordworm follows an insatiable bookish worm on a "logomaniacal odyssey of epic proportions" through the dictionary. Clifton Fadiman, whose illustrious career included being editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, book critic of the New Yorker, host of the radio show Information Please and the longest-serving judge for the Book-of-the-Month Club, rejected the contemporary practice of "talking down" to children with simple language. Instead, he peppered Wally the Wordworm with words like eft, escalator, ptarmigan and sesquipedalian, hoping to amuse, challenge and expand the minds of young readers. The new edition of Wally the Wordworm (David R. Godine, $17.95, 9781567926576) includes the original art by Arnold Roth and a new afterword by Anne Fadiman. --Tobias Mutter

Gallery Books: The Last Dance of the Debutante by Julia Kelly

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Clifford Thompson

photo: Kate Slininger

Clifford Thompson is an essayist and the winner of the 2013 Whiting Award for nonfiction. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2018 and elsewhere. His new book is What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man's Blues (Other Press, November 2019).

On your nightstand now:

Benjamin Moser's new biography of Susan Sontag, who had one of the most ridiculously brilliant literary minds of modern times; Toni Morrison's book of essays, The Source of Self-Regard; and M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, a book of poems by A. Van Jordan.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee. The book details the stories behind the creation of the costumed heroes I loved, who had superpowers but human fears and insecurities. Also, various collections of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strips.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Tobias Wolff, Albert Murray--and a three-way tie: Ralph Ellison, Raymond Carver, Toni Morrison.

Book you've faked reading:

George Eliot's Middlemarch--I never did make it all the way through that thing. But reportedly I've got that in common with the critic Edmund Wilson, so I don't feel quite so bad.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Omni-Americans by Albert Murray (1970). This was the book that helped me understand the central role that blacks have played in defining America and the cultural interrelatedness of all Americans.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Still Life with Woodpecker, a novel by Tom Robbins. I ran across it in a bookstore when I was in high school; its cover was made to look like a pack of Camel cigarettes, my mother's brand. I was intrigued, and I became a devotee of Robbins's wild tales for a time.

Book you hid from your parents:

I honestly can't remember one. My parents were cool. Or I was boring.

Book that changed your life:

I'll limit it to three. The aforementioned The Omni-Americans; that old standby The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, whose narrator seemed to me an older version of Charlie Brown from Peanuts; and James Baldwin's woefully underrated novel Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone--I had never before read a story that showed such intimacy between blacks and whites.

Favorite line from a book:

"When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun." -- opening sentence of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Five books you'll never part with:

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin; We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live--Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion; Raymond Carver's Collected Stories; The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison (whole lotta collectin' goin' on); and The Omni-Americans.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

A writer you consider to be underrated:

Thomas Rayfiel, the author of nine quirky, innovative novels. I think his book In Pinelight is one of the great novels of the last few years.

Book Review


An Irish Country Family

by Patrick Taylor

Readers of Patrick Taylor's long-running Irish Country saga (A Dublin Student Doctor) have been entertained by the daily dramas of life in 1960s Ulster. An Irish Country Family, the 14th entry in the series, finds Dr. Barry Laverty and his wife, Sue, struggling to start a family as Barry continues to work in Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly's medical practice in the village of Ballybucklebo. Meanwhile, a local vote on the use of a certain property is causing strong feelings among the villagers, while religious and political unrest throughout Ireland is making everyone equally nervous. As always, the community comes together to support its own, with plenty of gentle humor along the way.

Taylor intersperses his main narrative, set in 1969, with extended flashbacks set six years earlier, when Barry was a medical student learning to deal with the grueling realities of life on the hospital floor and the struggles of his patients. He falls in love with a student nurse, Virginia; develops a friendship with a patient, a man fighting gangrene; and takes part in the annual student play at the hospital. In the later narrative, Barry and Fingal share their medical duties with several other young doctors, while Barry and Sue face possible infertility and Fingal (as always) has his finger in multiple local pies. Taylor's gentle, engaging narrative is peopled with familiar characters, but newcomers to Ballybucklebo will catch up quickly and enjoy the charm and warmth of the tightly knit community. Taylor's Ireland is always a pleasure to visit. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Patrick Taylor returns to the charming Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Barry Laverty balances the demands of being a husband and a doctor.

Forge, $26.99, hardcover, 368p., 9780765396853

From Sea to Stormy Sea: Seventeen Stories Inspired by Great American Paintings

by Lawrence Block

Crime writer Lawrence Block would have made a great schoolteacher: he gives amazing homework assignments.

For From Sea to Stormy Sea: Seventeen Stories Inspired by Great American Paintings, he selected 30 of his favorite paintings by American artists and invited 17 writers to pick one to use as a springboard for a short story; the chosen artworks are reproduced in full color before each tale. (Block took a similar approach with his previous anthologies In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper and Alive in Shape and Color: Seventeen Paintings by Great Artists and the Stories They Inspired.) While most of From Sea to Stormy Sea's contributors would list "crime writer" as their day job, the resulting collection isn't strictly a crime anthology: there's some dystopian fare and a couple of rom-com-ish pieces. Still, many stories do hinge on a feat of delicious duplicity.

In Brendan DuBois's "Adrift off the Diamond Shoals," as a hurricane brews, a man awaits a con artist at a pub named for Winslow Homer's Diamond Shoal. In Jan Burke's "Superficial Injuries," Andy Warhol's Thirteen Most Wanted Men may shed light on the identity of a woman's father. In "Girl with an Ax," John Sandford imagines that the woman featured in Thomas Hart Benton's Hollywood lives into her 90s and changes the fate of her down-on-her-luck young neighbor. Even if not every piece in From Sea to Stormy Sea is a masterpiece, it's overall a remarkable gallery show. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: For this imagination-firing anthology, Lawrence Block asked writers to use a celebrated American painting as a launchpad for a short story.

Pegasus, $26.95, hardcover, 272p., 9781643130828

Mystery & Thriller

The Pursuit of William Abbey

by Claire North

Readers first meet a calculating William Abbey in a World War I army hospital, under the care of an unassuming nurse. Thirty-three years earlier, William watched the lynching of a Zulu boy in Natal but did nothing to stop it. When the boy died, his mother looked at William and cursed him, making him a truth-speaker: he is pursued always by the boy's shadow, and the closer it gets, the more he perceives and is compelled to speak the truth that he sees in the hearts of others. If the shadow catches him, the person he loves the most will die.

In The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August) combines a sprawling epic of colonial wrongdoing with a tense espionage thriller. Naturally, the British Empire has uses for a truth-speaker, and because William must keep out of the shadow's reach, governmental support that can get him onto a fast train whenever he may need it is invaluable. In his travels, William meets other truth-speakers, with whom he forms bonds that go beyond the governments and causes which they serve.

In rich, compelling prose, North weaves together the threads of imperial control, ideological conviction, love and the thrill of power. Readers will remain eager to the end for answers regarding what brought William to that hospital, and what the nurse to whom he tells his story will do when the time comes for him to execute his plan. The Pursuit of William Abbey is a lyrical and sometimes surreal approach to espionage and its thrills. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

Discover: In an espionage epic spanning three decades from the late 19th century to World War I, a man is literally pursued by the shadow of his guilt.

Orbit, $16.99, paperback, 464p., 9780316316842

Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders

by Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen is critically acclaimed for her Lady Montfort historical mysteries, set during World War I (Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award for Best First Novel). She turns her attention to World War II with Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders, the first in a projected series. History buffs will delight in this deep-dive into a charming English village in 1942 that has been torn apart more by murders of young women than by the war at its doorstep.

Poppy Redfern, the village air raid warden, is an aspiring author. Similar to the deep internal monologue of Jacqueline Winspear's beloved Maisie Dobbs, Poppy's thoughts become an internal dialogue with the main character of her novel as she investigates the strangling of local women who have been dating American servicemen. As Poppy's fiction becomes increasingly reflective of her present, the two stories begin to run parallel. This quick read sets up the relationships in Little Buffenden, and the Redfern family's role in the village, as their land has been turned into the American air force airfield. It also races to an exciting conclusion, for both Poppy's development as a writer and for the killer--who may make Poppy the next victim. With her steady companion, a Corgi named Bess (dog fans will rejoice that Bess emerges mostly unscathed from the heart-pounding climax) at her side, Poppy faces the reality that life in fiction and in fact is becoming increasingly complicated during these tumultuous times. --BrocheAroe Fabian, owner, River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, Wis.

Discover: History and mystery collide in this thrilling start to acclaimed historical mystery writer Tessa Arlen's series set during World War II.

Berkley, $16, paperback, 320p., 9781984805805


My Fake Rake

by Eva Leigh

Eva Leigh (Dare to Love a Duke) is known for historical romance novels that employ multiple tropes and lots of shenanigans, and My Fake Rake is no different. Leigh opens the first book in her Union of the Rakes series with a set-up straight from the 1985 teen comedy The Breakfast Club. Five young men are sent to the equivalent of early 1800s detention at Eton College and, though they are wildly different from one another, they forge a lifelong bond of friendship.

My Fake Rake follows the nerdy boy of the group, Sebastian, and his equally nerdy friend, Lady Grace. When Grace's ailing father asks her to marry, she sets out to convince the naturalist of her dreams that she isn't just a colleague, she's a marriage prospect. How better to attract one man's attention than with the attention of another, slightly scandalous, man?

Except that Sebastian isn't scandalous at all. He's the bookish son of an industrialist, a social group just beginning to be accepted at aristocratic gatherings. This means, however, that he's unknown in high society and therefore the perfect makeover candidate. While denying their longstanding mutual attraction, Sebastian and Grace enlist the help of another member of the Union of Rakes to turn Sebastian into a rake who will then pretend to be entranced by Grace. But what happens when all the pretending turns into something genuine?

With characters to cheer for and a plot that is funny and awkward, My Fake Rake is delightful escapist fiction with a big heart. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Discover: Readers who enjoy nerdy jokes, mutual pining and a makeover story with a twist will fall for My Fake Rake.

Avon, $7.99, mass market paperbound, 384p., 9780062932402

Biography & Memoir

First, They Erased Our Name: A Rohingya Speaks

by Habiburahman, Sophie Ansel, trans. by Andrea Reece

The enormity of the Rohingya refugee crisis--more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled their homes for Bangladesh--has led to some international awareness of the terrible persecution directed against the majority-Muslim ethnic minority in Burma (also known as Myanmar). First, They Erased Our Name provides a rare and valuable first-hand account from a Rohingya refugee, "an outlaw in my own country, an outlaw in the world." Habiburahman's story makes it clear that persecution of the Rohingya started long before their plight became internationally known.

The title refers to a law passed in 1982 by the dictator U Ne Win, which tied Burmese citizenship to membership in one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups. The Rohingya were not included in the recognized groups, effectively rendering them stateless when the author was only three years old. Habiburahman chronicles the challenges of growing up in the face of relentless prejudice. The taunts and insults directed at him from his peers hint at the growing threat posed by mob violence as well as the risk of arrest and brutal treatment from soldiers or the police. His family survives through a mix of resilience and canniness--Habiburahman's father is careful always to have money on hand to pay bribes and arbitrary "taxes" on Rohingya.

Despite Habiburahman's efforts to get an education, circumstances eventually force him to flee Burma and set out on a harrowing refugee odyssey that ends in Australia. Habiburahman's story takes place before the heights of the campaign against the Rohingya, and shows how racial animus escalated and merged with government policy to create the present crisis. --Hank Stephenson, manuscript reader, the Sun magazine

Discover: A harrowing first-hand account of the decades of prejudice, intimidation and violence that shaped the life of a Rohingya growing up in Burma.

Scribe US, $19, paperback, 256p., 9781947534858

A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston

by Robyn Crawford

Seven years after the death of Whitney Houston (at the age of 48), her best friend and executive assistant Robyn Crawford addresses the rumors about their relationship. "We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other," she writes in her loving, candid and eye-opening memoir. The two met in 1980, when Crawford was 19 and Houston was turning 17. "We never talked labels, like lesbian or gay," she writes. "We just lived our lives, and I hoped it could go on that way forever." Their sexual relationship ended in 1985 when Houston signed with a major recording label. However, they continued living together until Houston married singer Bobby Brown in 1992. Although Houston started cocaine at age 14, Crawford noticed Houston's drug consumption increase when Brown entered her life.

Crawford resigned from her creative director position on Whitney's team in 2000, frustrated by extra layers of interlopers and enablers (mostly family members) who isolated Houston from friends and fed her drug habits. Crawford is no fan of Brown ("Everything he put his hands on ended up in ruins") or Houston's homophobic mother, Cissy, who ignored her daughter's drug use. Once Crawford left, Houston was surrounded by greedy relatives mismanaging her money. This forced her into exhausting world tours, which encouraged her addictions and started wrecking her body and voice.

Likely no one was closer to Houston for three decades than Crawford. It's hard to imagine a more heartbreaking, compassionate or definitive biography of Whitney Houston than A Song for You. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Whitney Houston's long-time assistant and lover breaks her silence with this compassionate and surprising memoir of their 30 years together.

Dutton, $28, hardcover, 336p., 9781524742843

Love Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop

by Thomas Travisano

Thomas Travisano, the preeminent Elizabeth Bishop scholar and founding president of the Elizabeth Bishop Society, offers in Love Unknown a definitive biography of the renowned 20th-century poet. The book draws on an incredible bounty of archival sources, including correspondence among fellow writers, letters to her psychoanalyst and reviews of her work as it was published. Bishop had a lonely, nomadic childhood, defined by the loss of both her parents, before her formative young adulthood at Vassar and an explosive career that continued to bloom after her death. As he tells her story, Travisano also incorporates the legacy of criticism and biography that had followed Bishop's life, allowing Love Unknown to be both a summary of Bishop's experiences and an investigation of how such experiences have been framed in the decades since.

Travisano fuses historical context, literary analysis and investigations of social influence to create both an exhaustive view of Bishop's life and a surprisingly intimate one. While the book chronologically reconstructs Bishop's life and development in documentary fashion, its tone and use of sources facilitate the process of defining someone else's life with tenderness. Wherever possible, Travisano refers back to Bishop's own words through her poetry, focusing in particular on "One Art" at the book's conclusion to tie together the disparate threads of Bishop's social, personal and literary lives. Ultimately, while Travisano does pull in other theorists, critics and biographers, he allows the facts to stand on their own, trusting that such a life will speak for itself, as "Elizabeth Bishop's life is a great story." --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Elizabeth Bishop expert Thomas Travisano provides a tender portrait of the poet's life alongside the critical and biographical attempts thus far to encapsulate her career.

Viking, $32, hardcover, 432p., 9780525428817


Medieval Bodies: Life and Death in the Middle Ages

by Jack Hartnell

The medieval era, or the Middle Ages--the period between 300 and 1500--has been maligned as a "world of generalised misery and ignorance," where people lived "in piteous squalor only to make war in the fretful darkness." From the dawn of the Enlightenment to Game of Thrones, the medieval era has been portrayed as a primitive time when people knew precious little about the world, especially how their own bodies worked. But that's not true--not entirely.

In Medieval Bodies, art historian Jack Hartnell looks at the role the body played during a largely misunderstood era. People of the time believed that the relationship between the four classical elements (fire, water, air and earth) and the body's humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile) kept the body in balance, and treatments such as bloodletting and trepanning (drilling a hole into the skull) were early procedures to cure the sick. Despite these misguided medical procedures, others, such as plastic surgery and skin grafts--which we consider marvels of modern medicine--were popular for survivors of both syphilis and the battlefield. While the physical workings of the heart were little understood, metaphysical views of the mysterious organ as "a symbol for expressing the very lowest lows and highest highs of religious and romantic life" persist to this day.

Through revealing works of art, Hartnell illustrates how physical knowledge and spiritual beliefs influenced medieval thinking about the body. And with witty poems about flatulence and naughty games like hot cockles, the Middle Ages were not all doom and gloom. Hartnell's tour of the medieval body shows that the era was much more complex than we give it credit for. --Frank Brasile, librarian

Discover: This rousing and clever guide to the medieval body demystifies an overlooked chapter in world history.

Norton, $29.95, hardcover, 352p., 9781324002161

Business & Economics

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

by Adam Minter

What happens to the abundance of clothes, toys, books and appliances donated to Goodwill and other charitable organizations? While people may believe that their unwanted stuff will find new homes in the community, the reality is that drop-off is often the first stop in a global and mostly hidden multibillion-dollar industry.

"In 2015, Americans tossed out 24.1 billion pounds of furniture and furnishings," writes Adam Minter (Junkyard Planet). Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale dives into this marketplace of excess by exploring some of the socio-economic reasons for its existence: the KonMari decluttering craze, minimalist living trends and adult children with little interest in their parents' "brown furniture," as observed by professionals specializing in "home cleanouts" after a death or downsizing.

Manufacturers also play a critical role, with questionable product expiration dates, marketing gimmicks and lifespan claims. The phenomenon of "fast fashion"--trendy clothing produced rapidly and sold cheaply--has grown; younger generations reportedly wear an item only between one and six times before it is tossed away.

Armed with an investigative journalism background as a Bloomberg reporter, Minter interviews and observes dozens of buyers, sorters, cutters and shippers while tracking the journey of the approximately four million tons of used clothes exported around the world each year. Secondhand details an intricate and diverse network of operations spanning the United States, Canada, West Africa, India, Asia and many other points along the way. In an accessible and engaging style, this book unravels the complexities of a vast yet mostly hidden and often secretive enterprise of used clothes and goods. --Melissa Firman, writer at

Discover: A thorough, insightful and investigative global journey into the complex yet fascinating secondhand industry of unwanted goods.

Bloomsbury, $28, hardcover, 320p., 9781635570106

Children's & Young Adult

The Queen of Nothing

by Holly Black

Holly Black is an undisputed master craftsperson of all things Faerie. In Queen of Nothing, the conclusion to her spectacular the Folk of the Air trilogy (Cruel Prince; The Wicked King), Prince Cardan faces the prophecy given to him at birth: he will cause "the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne."

As High King of Elfhame, Cardan has married his mortal seneschal--and nemesis--Jude Duarte as part of an elaborate scheme to exile her to the mortal world. Now, Jude restlessly frets over how to get back to Faerieland to reclaim her rightful place as High Queen (without being caught and executed, that is). An opportunity arises when her deceitful twin sister, Taryn, faces an inquest over her husband's death. Taryn begs Jude to impersonate her and convince the High King she is not guilty of the murder she did, in fact, commit. But Cardan, "even more horrifically beautiful" than Jude remembers, knows her immediately. Before they can unravel the current state of their contentious relationship, Jude is kidnapped by former Grand General Madoc, her estranged stepfather. Madoc seeks to dethrone the High King--and therefore Jude as High Queen--which means Jude must decipher Madoc's plans before he figures out who she really is. When a powerful curse is unleashed on the land, Jude must decide just how far she's willing to go in her never-ending pursuit of power.

Black's delectable descriptions of characters and her nonstop pacing will ensure that readers devour The Queen of Nothing as quickly as possible. Masterfully combining court intrigue, romantic drama and the magic of a most dangerous Faerieland, this series-closer is a stand-out ending to a riveting series. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Discover: Sneaking back into Faerieland, Jude finds herself in the center of a plot to overthrow the High King in the finale to Holly Black's YA series Folk of the Air.

Little, Brown, $19.99, hardcover, 320p., ages 14-up, 9780316310420

Color Outside the Lines: Stories About Love

by Sangu Mandanna, editor

Color Outside the Lines: Stories About Love is, as described in a note by editor Sangu Mandanna (A Spark of White Fire; The Lost Girl), "a collection of stories about young, fierce, brilliantly hopeful characters of all colors." Through these multicultural voices of strength in multiple genres, this anthology loudly declares that boundaries don't exist in love. Moreover, its interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships prove that love isn't blind to race, class or religion, but instead sees them as facets of a beautifully complex identity.

The 16 stories in this compilation show that color and status look different on everyone: the "outside doesn't match the inside" for a Palestinian adoptee raised by a white family; Hlee identifies with Hmong folktales and her community shaman but is also "completely American"; and Lourdes wears being "not Mexican enough" like a badge. Alike in their individuality, the teens rise through torrents of bigotry. An Indian boy is called a terrorist, a black superhero endures her white girlfriend's racist dad, a girl is told she'd be a "total babe" if she weren't Mexican, and a master poisoner's daughter is believed "dangerous to even touch." Their bravery shines in how widely they all open their hearts to people different from them. In doing so--in confessing love that may be unrequited or in sneaking around family who won't understand--these characters also muster the strength to express their beliefs, sometimes in camaraderie with their diverse partners and always in stalwart defense of their identities. The protagonists of Color Outside the Lines have learned that "lies turn into truth when faced with silence"; these gloriously steadfast teens refuse to be voiceless, and their astounding ambition commands us to listen. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Discover: A brilliantly compiled YA anthology about teens "of all colors" in multicultural and LGBTQ+ relationships, standing up for their beliefs, for each other and for themselves.

Soho Teen, $18.99, hardcover, 312p., ages 13-up, 9781641290463

A Talent for Trouble

by Natasha Farrant

British author Natasha Farrant's much lauded 2018 Children of Castle Rock arrives in the States with a new name, A Talent for Trouble, and a whole lot of adventure.

Eleven-year-old Alice is about to attend boarding school on a remote Scottish island. Alice, who loves writing about daring feats and fantastic exploits, has read extensively about boarding schools and is worried: "Even the sunnier ones involved violent sports or people getting murdered." Jesse, an athlete who loves orienteering, is not scared there will be violence--all three of his older brothers attended Stormy Loch and graduated unmaimed. But Jesse resents the restrictions his brothers' legacies place on him. His school experience is further soured by Fergus, a super-smart kid with a rebellious streak and a mean sense of humor. Acting out, though, is Fergus's way of trying to get his divorced parents' attention. After a disastrous first day, the three are forced to work together. Unsurprisingly, a close, loving friendship develops; surprisingly, the trio becoming a unit is the first step along a dangerous path.

Farrant's (After Iris) chatty, omniscient narrator brings readers close enough to the protagonists to understand their motivations and empathize with their struggles while leaving enough distance to build suspense and maintain mystery. The children's friendship is organic and dynamic, with each one learning and growing personally as their relationships develop. A Talent for Trouble, features children who are both reckless and brave as they forge their own paths in an adults' world. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Three children become the best of friends during trying circumstances in Natasha Farrant's middle-grade A Talent for Trouble.

Clarion, $16.99, hardcover, 272p., ages 8-12, 9781328580788

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