10 Things I Can See from Here.
By Carrie Mac.
Feb. 2017. 320p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780399556258);
lib. ed., $20.99 (9780399556265); e-book, $17.99
(9780399556272). Gr. 9–12.
This new novel from Mac (The Beckoners, 2004) opens on a bus taking Maeve to
Vancouver, where she will be staying with
her dad for six months. Saddled with severe
anxiety, she panics when they are delayed
at the border so that a passenger’s papers
can be checked, and she grows increasingly
afraid that this man might be a terrorist
and something might happen to her. Despite the rather stereotypical depiction of
foreign people at borders, the fast-paced
narration does a good job of capturing the
urgency someone with severe anxiety might
feel. Her anxiety is heightened by her dad’s
alcohol addiction, her pregnant stepmom’s
insistence on a home birth, and her breakup with her girlfriend. Young adult readers
will sympathize with Maeve’s need to find a
way to manage her anxiety amidst all these
stressors and still find joy in her new home
life. This is a good companion book for
other anxiety-riddled stories, such as The
Shattering (2011), by Karen Healey, and
Finding Audrey (2015), by Sophie Kinsella.
—Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez
Beautiful Broken Girls.
By Kim Savage.
Feb. 2017. 336p. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374300593).
Just outside of Boston, in a patriarchal
Italian American community, sisters Mira
and Francesca Cillo are dead, their bodies entwined and retrieved from a toxic
quarry lake. Days after the suicide, Ben
Lattanzi—whom Mira had allowed to touch
seven parts of her body—receives a letter
from Mira, starting him on the hunt for
notes at each of the locations where they
had touched. Each note cryptically reveals
more about why the sisters chose to end
their lives, exposing complex reasons that
involve a self-proclaimed religious stigma, a
risky crush, and a devastating lie. Unlike
After the Woods (2016), Savage’s second novel
is more character-driven than plot-driven.
These figures are compellingly damaged,
and the suspense is ever present. Savage’s
skillful writing makes the characters’ pain
deep and tangible, offering readers the full
impact of the deaths on the town. The novel
is cleverly divided into chapters of the seven
body parts, propelling the search for the
next clue. Prepare to be shocked, and have
plenty of tissues handy. Perfect for readers
of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007).
Blood of Wonderland.
By Colleen Oakes.
Jan. 2017. 352p. Harper Teen, $17.99 (9780062409768).
Dinah, rightful heir to the throne of Wonderland, has been framed for murder and
exiled, but it’s her sinister half sister, Vittiore,
who has long had eyes on the title of regent and
is actually the one behind the murder of the
Mad Hatter. All Dinah can do is try to survive
in the Twisted Wood with limited supplies,
hoping her dear friend Wardley will come to
her rescue. What she finds hidden in the darkness, however, makes her question her father
and her history all the more. Run-ins with the
warrior Yunkei and Spade soldiers from the
palace put her life in more danger than she
could ever expect, and Dinah must learn to
be brave and manage on her own. More a true
adventure story than anything else, this sturdy
sequel to Queen of Hearts (2016) sets up nicely for the third book in this planned trilogy.
Oakes, no stranger to multibook series, knows
just the right notes to hit to hook readers and
make them beg for more. —Stacey Comfort
By Sara Crowe.
Feb. 2017. 256p. Philomel, $16.99 (9780399176517).
Ash has been training for months for his village’s annual Stag Chase, the modern iteration
of an ancient ritual to usher in a prosperous
season. This year, Ash will be the revered Stag
Boy, leading a pack of Hound Boys on a chase
around the mountains. He should be elated,
but he’s struggling with both the return of his
PTSD-afflicted father and his ex–best friend
Mark’s eerie descent into a violent, weird obsession with both the pagan roots of the Stag
Chase and a mythical being, Bone Jack, who
monitors the gateway between life and death.
Crowe cultivates an unsettling atmosphere
with ghostly apparitions, threats of violence,
and descriptions of grotesqueries, such as a
rotting stag head and a cape of crow carcass-es. Amid the looming danger, Crowe leaves
plenty of room for meaningful conversations
about family, loyalty, and mental illness, particularly pertaining to Ash’s father. Though
this might seem like just another ghost story,
there’s subtle depth here, too, and teen fans of
both horror and literary fiction will find lots
to like. —Sarah Hunter
Crazy Messy Beautiful.
By Carrie Arcos.
Feb. 2017. 320p. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399175534).
Names have power, and for Neruda Diaz, the
name of “the Poet,” Pablo Neruda, has shaped
his conception of the world. Neruda longs to
have a whirlwind romance as described in the
Poet’s works, but he must balance his ideas
of romantic love with the reality of his father
cheating on his mother, being forced to work
with his nemesis on a mural, and his grow-
ing feelings for edgy goth girl Callie. As that
relationship grows, the schism between his
desire for love and his doubt in it grows wid-
er. It is in learning more about who the Poet
truly was that Neruda comes to understand
that love is crazy, messy, and beautiful—like
all of life. The book shines most in Neruda’s
interplay with Callie, who hides her artistic
side behind her hard edges, and Ezra, a repen-
tant ex-convict friend, whose regret provides
guidance for Neruda’s challenges. Arcos has
written a classic story of a budding artist find-
ing out the reality behind the artifice, and does
so while keeping a wonderful sense of humor.
By Ni-Ni Simone.
Dec. 2016. 288p. Dafina, paper, $9.95 (9780758287762).
In her latest, Simone tackles the topic of
second-generation families wounded by the
1980s drug epidemic in the African American community. Yvette Lavonne Simmons is
a 16-year-old mother living in Da Bricks, a
tough housing project in New Jersey. Yvette
has no stable family, a dismal homelife,
and no guidance from her absentee drug-addict parents. After a street fight ends in
a second-degree murder charge, her case
worker, Janette, sends Yvette and her child
to a professional parent home in Norfolk,
Virginia. It is here that she is given the opportunity to start over under the guidance of the
stern and loving Aunt Glo. Other characters,
such as housemate Tasha and romantic suitor
Brooklyn, also help Yvette through her self-awakening. Simone cleverly uses the music
and culture of the era as a colorful backdrop
for Yvette’s story. High-school teachers, librarians, and social workers can effectively bring
this book to the attention of troubled teens.
A must-read for teen street-literature fans.
Denton Little’s Still Not Dead.
By Lance Rubin.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780553497007);
lib. ed., $20.99 (9780553497014); e-book, $17.99
(9780553497021). Gr. 9–12.
Denton Little escaped government agents
and, more important, his own deathdate
at the end of Rubin’s debut (Denton Little’s
Deathdate, 2015). In this follow-up, Denton
is in for even more surprises: his mother is still
alive; the weird, purple splotch that appeared
all over his body on the day he was supposed
to die is the result of a lab-produced virus;
and, since he’s a vector for the infection, he
could potentially destroy deathdates once and
for all. Now Denton’s unwittingly involved in
an illegal mission he’s not sure he agrees with
and trying desperately to save his best friend
Paolo from his impending deathdate. Though
the plot drags at times, there are bright spots,
such as Denton’s heartwarming friendship