Book Mail: Time travel, a hockey romance, the power in being difficult, and more!
You know, it was months and months ago, probably even more than a year ago, that I was first like, “Book mail is about the only good thing going these days, because pandemic.” And guess what? Here we are, almost two entire years into this mess, and I still feel the same way. As a person with an anxiety disorder, my anxiety motor has been spinning so fast for so long that I’m not sure I will know what to do if it ever begins to slow down. So I find comfort in small delights and bits of normalcy. Books showing up here provide both. Thank you, publishers!
My cart of books to attempt to read is overflowing and no matter how many books I send out the door (to my kid’s high school, to my elementary school, through giveaways), just as many reappear soon after. Good problems to have, I know.
Here’s a look at what has arrived here lately. Get out your TBR lists, your order lists, your library card, and be ready to dive into lots of new and interesting books!
All descriptions from the publishers.
Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes (ISBN-13: 9781547607105 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-17)
From lauded writer David Valdes, a sharp and funny YA novel that’s Back to the Future with a twist, as a gay teen travels back to his parents’ era to save a closeted classmate’s life.
All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).
When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.
In a story that’s fresh, intersectional, and wickedly funny, David Valdes introduces a big-mouthed, big-hearted queer character that readers won’t soon forget.
Food-Related Stories by Gaby Melian, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223499 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/18/2022 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)
“Gaby Melian tells so many stories through her relationship with food—about love, about loss, about hard work, and about finding her passion. The pages are dripping with delicious smells and tastes, and will give you a new way to look at both cooking and what it means to have a plan.” —Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief, America’s Test Kitchen Kids
In this moving, personal account, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her journey with food and how creating a relationship with food — however simple or complicated — is a form of activism in its own right.
Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. This is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.
“Food rescued me so many other times — not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food — from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.
Icebreaker by A. L. Graziadei (ISBN-13: 9781250777119 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 01/18/2022, Ages 14-18)
A. L. Graziadei’s Icebreaker is an irresistible YA debut about two hockey players fighting to be the best—and the romance that catches them by surprise along the way.
Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league’s top draft spot.
The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey’s infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he’s willing to risk for it.
This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path.
The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah (ISBN-13: 9781728442884 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 03/01/2022, Ages 12+)
Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina have always shared their lives.
But after a raid on their village in 1892, the twins are torn apart. Taken in different directions, far from their home in rural West Africa, each sister finds freedom and a new start. Hassana settles in in the city of Accra, where she throws herself into working for political and social change. Husseina travels to Salvador, Brazil, where she becomes immersed in faith, worshipping spirits that bridge the motherland and the new world. Separated by an ocean, they forge new families, ward off dangers, and begin to truly know themselves.
As the twins pursue their separate paths, they remain connected through their shared dreams. But will they ever manage to find each other again?
The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil, Takami Nieda (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781641292290 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 13-17)
Now in translation for the first time, the award-winning debut that broke literary ground in Japan explores diaspora, prejudice, and the complexities of a teen girl’s experience growing up as a Zainichi Korean, reminiscent of Min Jin Lee’s classic Pachinko and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.
Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset; she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between. She can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl among Stephanie’s scraps of paper and storybook drawings that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?
Ginny sets off on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior. Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—and one searching for a place to belong.
Gold Mountain by Betty G. Yee (ISBN-13: 9781728415826 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 12+)
Working on the Transcontinental Railroad promises a fortune—for those who survive.
Growing up in 1860s China, Tam Ling Fan has lived a life of comfort. Her father is wealthy enough to provide for his family but unconventional enough to spare Ling Fan from the debilitating foot-binding required of most well-off girls. But Ling Fan’s life is upended when her brother dies of influenza and their father is imprisoned under false accusations. Hoping to earn the money that will secure her father’s release, Ling Fan disguises herself as a boy and takes her brother’s contract to work for the Central Pacific Railroad Company in America.
Life on “the Gold Mountain” is grueling and dangerous. To build the railroad that will connect the west coast to the east, Ling Fan and other Chinese laborers lay track and blast tunnels through the treacherous peaks of the Sierra Nevada, facing cave-ins, avalanches, and blizzards—along with hostility from white Americans.
When someone threatens to expose Ling Fan’s secret, she must take an even greater risk to save what’s left of her family . . . and to escape the Gold Mountain alive.
How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Claim Your Power, Ditch the Haters, and Feel Good Doing It by Halley Bondy, Mary C. Fernandez, Sharon Lynn Pruitt-Young, Zara Hanawalt (ISBN-13: 9781541586758 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 14+)
In the past, being a “difficult bitch” was bad. Girls weren’t supposed to call people out for their BS, stand up for themselves, or do their own thing. This book embraces the insult with irreverent humor, encouraging readers to be themselves no matter what, including an exploration of the ways this phrase can be interpreted differently among people of different backgrounds.
Being a powerhouse is a choice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a code of ethics. It takes work, a thick skin, and perseverance. In this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of being a Difficult Bitch, from school to friends to body to life.
Attention Hijacked: Using Mindfulness to Reclaim Your Brain from Tech by Erica B. Marcus (ISBN-13: 9781728417196 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 13+)
Technology surrounds us every day: a phone alarm wakes us up, an electronic calendar tracks assignment deadlines, GPS directs us to the new dentist’s office, social media keeps us connected to friends and family, and streaming platforms make sure we’re never without something new to binge-watch. Our devices and apps can make life much more convenient and entertaining.
But for years, scientists have warned that too much screen time may have negative effects on our health. With portable devices and remote learning, it is even more difficult to put down electronics. Being intentional about how and when to unplug can help teens and young adults to protect their physical and mental wellbeing in a world where screens and technology are increasingly becoming necessities rather than just conveniences.
Attention Hijacked offers a roadmap for those deciding how they want to deal with technology, exploring the ways technology affects the individual, dispelling common misinformation, and using this knowledge to make personalized decisions. Page Plus links in the book lead to mindfulness and meditation audio clips. Using mindfulness techniques, this book gives readers the power to take charge of their technology use.
The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor (ISBN-13: 9781338753738 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 8-12)
A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.
Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.
The Honeys by Ryan La Sala (ISBN-13: 9781338745313 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 08/02/2022, Ages 14-18)
From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.
Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.
Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.
What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.
But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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