Post-It Reviews: Books exploring friendship, being trans, life in Mumbai, body image, and more
Somehow, summer is already winding down. I’d like to say that I made a major dent in my TBR pile (actually, cart, see below), but for every book I read, another book appeared here. I like post-it-style reviews because it allows me to quickly share about books I enjoyed. With it being back to school for so many of us, I’ll remind you that Post-it Note Reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.
All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description. Reading those is your best bet—carpal tunnel has made my handwriting mostly a disaster.
Thirst by Varsha Bajaj (ISBN-13: 9780593354391 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 8-12)
The riveting story of a heroic girl who fights for her belief that water should be for everyone.
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?
(POST-IT SAYS: For many, this will be an eye-opening look at how scarce and precious a basic necessity can be. Water (and the water thieves) are just one part of this layered look at life in Mumbai. A quick and powerful read.)
The Road to After by Rebekah Lowell (ISBN-13: 9780593109618 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/10/2022, Ages 10-12)
This poignant debut novel in verse is a portrait of healing, as a young girl rediscovers life and the soothing power of nature after being freed from her abusive father.
For most of her life, Lacey has been a prisoner without even realizing it. Her dad rarely let her, her little sister, or her mama out of his sight. But their situation changes suddenly and dramatically the day her grandparents arrive to help them leave. It’s the beginning of a different kind of life for Lacey, and at first she has a hard time letting go of her dad’s rules. Gradually though, his hold on her lessens, and her days become filled with choices she’s never had before. Now Lacey can take pleasure in sketching the world as she sees it in her nature journal. And as she spends more time outside making things grow and creating good memories with family and friends, she feels her world opening up and blossoming into something new and exciting.
(POST-IT SAYS: Oof. A powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful read about domestic abuse, trauma, escape, healing, and freedom. Full of emotion, support, and so much love, this is not an easy read, but it is an important one.)
Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas (ISBN-13: 9780593326183 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/31/2022, Ages 12-17)
Two Black queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by bestselling author of Here for It, R. Eric Thomas.
With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that—it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week.
To keep from completely losing it—and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his dad—Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things—big and small—they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.
(POST-IT SAYS: A little heavier than I was expecting, but the real moments of joy, love, friendship, and honesty were a delight to witness. An exciting day of adventure full of real feelings and great characters.)
Be Real, Macy Weaver by Lakita Wilson (ISBN-13: 9780593465721 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/12/2022, Ages 8-12)
A humorous, heartfelt, and fashion-filled contemporary novel about Macy Weaver, a young girl struggling with how to be her true self and make a best friend. Perfect for fans of From the Desk of Zoe Washington and Stand Up, Yumi Chung.
Eleven-year-old Macy Weaver knows relationships are complicated. Fresh off her latest friendship breakup, she’s spent most of her summer break on her own. So when Macy’s mother decides to go back to college three states away, Macy jumps on the chance to move—anything for a fresh start.
But Macy’s new home isn’t exactly what she expected. Her mother’s never around and her dad’s always working. Lonelier than ever, Macy sets her sights on finding a new best friend. When she meets Brynn, who’s smart and kind and already seems to have her whole life figured out—down to her future as a high fashion model—Macy knows she’s it. The only problem is that Brynn already has a BFF and, as everyone knows, you can only have one.
Resorting to old habits, Macy turns one small lie into a whole new life—full of fantastic fashion and haute couture—but it isn’t long before everything really falls apart. Ultimately, Macy must determine how to make things right and be true to herself—rather than chasing after the person she thinks she’s supposed to be.
(POST-IT SAYS: Oh, Macy. She flounders so much and lies and cant’ just let a friendship unfold naturally. But she eventually really figures herself out and learns to be less insecure. Loved this book. Hand to readers who like “friend drama” stories.)
Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547609093 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/27/2022 Series: A Ryan Hart Story #3, Ages 7-10)
Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.
Ryan Hart is caught in the middle. She has an older brother and a new baby sister, and she’s in a friendship tug-of-war with two friends who both want to be her best best friend. How can Ryan think about being kind to a classmate who is relentless with his teasing? Or be her signature sunny self when her brother, Ray, pulls the ultimate prank?
But even when it seems like nothing is going her way, Ryan still looks for a way to see the bright side of things, refusing to let anything steal her joy, and finding ways to share it with everyone she meets.
(POST-IT SAYS: I just adore Ryan Hart. She has an infection spirit, a great family, and is so full of joy, even when navigating unexpected or frustrating moments. If you’ve somehow missed this series, you need to read all 3—so good!)
Unretouchable by Sofia Szamosi (ISBN-13: 9781728462929 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/13/2022, Ages 12+)
Olive is spending the summer before art school at a coveted internship, helping one of the fashion industry’s elite digital-imaging specialists. After a glamourous New York photoshoot, she learns that taking pictures is only the first step. She discovers the “violent verbs” (cut, crop, slice, lasso) of image retouching software and the secrets behind “virtual models.”
Soon Olive is fixating on her own appearance and pondering the ethics of her work behind the scenes. As college gets closer, she’ll try to get out of her own head, attempt to quit the Internet, and finally embrace image-making on her own terms. Unretouchable is a window into the little-known, hugely influential world of fashion photography and a tribute to self-acceptance.
(POST-IT SAYS: An intense and uncomfortable exploration of body image, social media, and constructed realities. Ultimately freeing and uplifting, with Olive focusing on body positivity, Olive’s thoughts and experiences feel honest and vulnerable.)
Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure: A Graphic Novel by Lewis Hancox (ISBN-13: 9781338824445 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 14-18)
A groundbreaking memoir about being a trans teen, in the vein of FUN HOME and FLAMER… and at the same time entirely its own.
Lewis has a few things to say to his younger teen self. He knows she hates her body. He knows she’s confused about who to snog. He knows she’s really a he and will ultimately realize this… but she’s going to go through a whole lot of mess (some of it funny, some of it not funny at all) to get to that point. Lewis is trying to tell her this… but she’s refusing to listen.
In WELCOME TO ST. HELL, author-illustrator Lewis Hancox takes readers on the hilarious, heartbreaking, and healing path he took to make it past trauma, confusion, hurt, and dubious fashion choices in order to become the man he was meant to be. It’s a remarkable, groundbreaking graphic memoir from an unmistakably bold new voice in comics.
(POST-IT SAYS: Great memoir of Hancox’s journey through attractions and identities. Funny, honest, and filled with supportive and affirming friends and family, this shows a real evolution of identity and acceptance. CW for eating and exercise disorders. An insightful and uplifting read.)
The Clackity by Lora Senf (ISBN-13: 9781665902670 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/28/2022, Ages 10-12)
Reminiscent of Doll Bones, this deliciously eerie middle grade novel tells the story of a girl who must enter a world of ghosts, witches, and monsters to play a game with deadly consequences and rescue her aunt.
Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.
There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie must embark on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls.
(POST-IT SAYS: Fantastically creepy! An exceedingly disturbing creature, mysterious houses, and a great main character who is determined and not nearly as alone on her quest as she seems to be. Scary, suspenseful, and delightfully weird.)
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network