Hot Pink in the City. By Medeia Sharif.
2017. 187p. Medeia Sharif, paper, $9.99
(9781521345566). Gr. 7–10.
It’s the 1980s, and Asma Bashir is
ready to be more than a quiet goody-
goody. She knows that on the inside,
she’s as cool as Madonna, and she can’t
wait to prove it this summer in New
York City. Of course, she’s also staying
with her strict, traditional uncle and
auntie, her vile cousin Omar, and her
older cousin Nasreen, who yearns to go
to college beyond the influence of her strict Persian parents.
A disaster on the first day of Asma’s visit opens Asma and
Nasreen to Omar’s blackmail and catapults the cousins into accidental and escalating adventures as they navigate old customs
and new possibilities: surreptitiously trying out for TV competitions, avoiding leering old men at the Middle Eastern market,
sneaking wine at a cool young uncle’s apartment, and—maybe,
possibly, hopefully!—meeting a cute summer crush or receiving a sign from Allah that will allow Nasreen to go to college.
Sharif, who also publishes through traditional avenues, is a
prolific author of YA fiction. In this newest novel, she creates
a fun, optimistic, sympathetic protagonist who lives between
Farsi and English, Madonna and Umm Kulthum.
Willow Born. By Shanna Reed Miles.
2017. 280p. Rochelle and Reed, paper,
$16.99 (9780998638027). Gr. 9–12.
Collette died 50 years ago. Then,
unexpectedly, she’s back in her body,
floundering in the middle of a lake and
being rescued by a gorgeous boy who
seems to know more than he’s saying. In
fact, everyone in this supernatural South
Carolina community seems to harbor se-
crets. Or maybe they don’t know whether
to trust Collette? Or maybe they’re
simply confused? After all, angels have begun reappearing, and
most people are convinced that it’s the End of Days. There’s also
a more immediate problem: 13 black girls have disappeared in
a chain of apparent murders that the police either can’t or won’t
investigate. The disappearances bear a striking resemblance to
murders that began with Collette and her mother’s deaths half a
decade ago. Somehow, Collette must learn her powers, discover
the reason for her resurrection, and make it through high school.
Part mystery, part supernatural thriller, Miles’ novel weaves a
story of friendship, faith, and sisterhood in a world of angels,
demons, Greek gods, and powerful witches descended from a
Nigerian slave whose terrible sacrifice protects her children.
The Blazing Star. By Imani Josey. 2016.
304p. Wise Ink Creative, paper, $14.93
(9781945769160). Gr. 9–12.
Portia White’s twin sister is a genius.
She also loves twinning: matching
clothes, matching hair, matching friends
and parties, and, with her brains, ensur-
ing that whatever Ivy League school
accepts her will also accept her average
twin sister. But Portia wants to get out
of her sister’s shadow. During a school
trip, her wish seems to be answered: a
scarab necklace with a mysterious inscription dumps Portia
in ancient Egypt. There she’s taken in by the priestesses of Isis
and begins forming a new life serving Ma’at, the great balance
of all life. To Portia’s horror, however, she realizes that her sis-
ter and a mysterious freshman have been swept into this new
time as well. Portia’s loyalty to her sister and her new friends,
along with her desire to uninhibitedly be herself, becomes in-
tertwined with palace politics, her sister’s need to return home,
and the discovery that Ma’at has its own purposes for bringing
them to Egypt. Josey’s story occasionally struggles with pac-
ing, yet the overall effect is a well-researched, vivid portrait of
a young woman discovering herself and her true loyalties in a
magical ancient Egypt.
The Deadbringer. By E. M. Markoff.
2016. 298p. Tomes and Coffee, paper,
$13.82 (9780997195101). Gr. 9–12.
Fifteen-year-old Kira has power over
the dead. Born at the height of a great,
Inquisition-like Purging, Kira believes
that he is the only remaining Dead-
bringer. Because his powers horrify most
of the population, his uncle raises him
in secrecy and anonymity. When Kira
uses these powers to solve a murder,
however, he comes to the attention of
local authorities and soon becomes the focal point of a political
power struggle between the Bastion of the north and the reli-
gious Ascendancy of the south. Kira flees, and his escape draws
him across a marvelously realized world with a complex history
and various races of people. The narration alternates between
him and his pursuers: sympathetic, compelling Ascension elites
and two mysterious Deadbringers. Along the way, Kira strives
to discover the truth of who he is: the extent of his powers,
the mystery of his parentage, and what actions he must take
to survive. In this debut, Markoff serves up a fantastic action-
adventure, tinged with Mexican folklore, that will appeal to
fans of A Game of Thrones.
Diverse YA Fiction from Micro-Presses
BY ZARA RIX
While mainstream publishers are taking steps toward diversity, a large number of talented, diverse authors turn to micro-presses: publishing entities smaller than traditional small presses, and including self-publishing. Here is the latest
of our periodic roundups, this one including titles from 2016 and 2017.