56 Booklist December 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
keep her “secret” safe. When Kit’s high-profile
lawyer mother pleads with students to come
forward with information, since she suspects
there may have been foul play involved, Clem
teams up with Jake, a classmate who also feels
responsibility in Kit’s death. As they work
together, they begin to learn that everyone
seems to be keeping secrets. Can they sort the
truth from the lies and find out what really
happened the night Kit died? One weakness
with the plot is an almost didactic message
about the need to unplug from electronics.
Yes, Clem not being allowed to use her cell
phone allows her to escape the wrath of Ellie,
but occasionally the message becomes repetitive and a bit heavy-handed. Still, Loughead’s
mystery is a short and fast-paced one, and the
accessible language makes it particularly well
suited to reluctant readers. —Lindsey Tomsu
By Chris Miles.
Feb. 2017. 272p. Simon & Schuster, $16.99
(9781481479721). Gr. 6–9.
Eighth-grader Jack Sprigley is a late
bloomer—a very late bloomer. Indeed, it
seems his longed-for growth spurt will never
come. What’s to be done? One wince-worthy
answer is surely the first appearance of a merkin (fake pubic hair) in a novel for youth. This
well-intentioned gift from Jack’s addled friend
Philo has an embarrassing habit of turning
up at the most inopportune times. But it is
among the least of our hero’s problems. He’s
sure, for starters, that his three best friends
have dumped him, “because that was what
happened when you didn’t measure up.” Then
it hits him: all he has to do is fake puberty!
This leads to many a comic contretemps including Jack’s reappearance on a reality TV
show; run-ins with his bête noire, the bullying Oliver Sampson; and dating an older
woman, a high-school junior. Though plucky
Jack is a likable and empathetic character,
this zany Australian import has more smiles
than laughs. Still, it will appeal to the many
boys who, like Jack, are puberty challenged.
That Burning Summer.
By Lydia Syson.
Jan. 2017. 336p. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $17.99
(9781510711723). Gr. 7–10.
Peggy is terrified when she discovers a
stranger in the henhouse one night. A fallen
Nazi airman? Turns out he speaks a little English and is a Polish pilot flying for the RAF.
But might he be a spy or double agent? Just
as frightened, Henryk is also shell-shocked
and knows he is incapable of flying again.
As the two begin to trust each other, Peggy
enacts a risky plan to conceal Henryk, ever
beset by fear of discovery. What follows is a
nuanced portrait of the “unpatriotic” side of
war, set in this coastal English farming vil-
lage in 1940. Peggy’s father is a “conchie,”
or conscientious objector, and the family’s
reputation suffers as a result. Henryk cannot
abide dropping bombs on civilian popula-
tions and feels traumatic guilt over leaving
behind his family in Nazi-controlled Poland.
The emerging romance between the two
can feel a bit forced, but Syson’s gorgeous
writing evokes the wartime fear and uncer-
tainty in small communities and delivers a
satisfying blend of mystery and suspense.
By Chris Wooding.
Feb. 2017. 336p. Scholastic, $18.99 (9780545944946);
e-book, $18.99 (9781338042788). Gr. 7–10.
Life in postapocalyptic Coppermouth is an
endless stretch of killer dust and boredom,
so when best friends and driving teammates
Cassica and Shiara are offered the chance to
compete in the Widowmaker, the final leg of
the Maximum Racing competition, Cassica
can’t wait. When their new manager is kidnapped because of gambling debts, and his
ransom hinges on the girls winning the race,
there’s no turning back. For their own part,
winning the Widowmaker will get Cassica
and Shiara to Olympus, a posh precataclysm
neighborhood in the clouds. Everyone knows
there is corruption in racing, and the two
teen girls may lose their lives as they discover
just how bad it is. This dystopian thrill ride is
mostly heart-stopping racing episodes, with
enough connective narrative to create two
memorable main characters and evoke scenes
from Mad Max. Wooding’s (Silver, 2014)
female leads push this high-octane story’s
appeal beyond the confines of a racing saga,
and the language and situations will spark
the interest of reluctant readers. Afterwards,
send them to Danica Patrick’s Crossing the
Line (2006). —Cindy Welch
We Are Okay.
By Nina LaCour.
Feb. 2017. 240p. Dutton, $17.99 (9780525425892).
It’s the winter break during Marin’s first
year at college, and she is facing the holidays
thousands of miles from her San Francisco
home. Since her grandfather died the previous summer, Marin feels
set adrift. Not only has she
lost Gramps, her sole caretaker, but he’d been keeping
secrets, and when she discovers the truth, it shatters
everything she believed was
true about her life. Engulfed
in pain and feeling alone,
she shuns her best friend Mabel’s numerous
calls and texts. But Mabel flies cross-country,
determined to help her friend deal with her
grief. Marin is afraid that Mabel regrets the
physical intimacy that had grown between
the two girls while she was still in California
and braces herself for more heartache, but
Mabel surprises her in more ways than one.
With the most delicate and loving strokes in
Marin’s first-person narrative, LaCour paints
a captivating depiction of loss, bewilder-
ment, and emotional paralysis. Images of the
icy winter surrounding Marin in New York
contrast sharply with her achingly vibrant
memories of San Francisco. Raw and beauti-
ful, this portrait of a girl searching for both
herself and a sense of home will resonate with
readers of LGBTQIA romances, particularly
those with bisexual themes, and the poignant
and affecting exploration of grief and betrayal
will enchant fans of character-driven fiction.
You Don’t Know My Name.
By Kristen Orlando.
Jan. 2017. 320p. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads, $16.99
(9781250084118). Gr. 9–12.
Reagan Elizabeth Hillis can speak eight languages, wield an M4 carbine, and even knows
“ 10 different ways to break someone’s neck.”
The daughter of two big-name operatives for
the Black Angels, a highly classified governmental agency, Reagan began her backbreaking
training regimen at an early age. Now, as an
almost high-school grad, it’s expected she’ll
soon follow in her parents’ footsteps. Though
she’s accustomed to juggling everything from
aliases and A’s to recurring relocations and
fleeting friendships, a deepening connection
with “RGF” (really good friend) Luke and the
resurgence of a ruthless crime kingpin have
Reagan frantically reassessing her future. Debut author Orlando strikes a fast-paced, flirty,
and mostly believable balance between timely
teenage conflicts (crippling anxiety, fruitless
study sessions, humiliating house parties)
and pure peril. While the premise itself is
largely conventional, Orlando’s choice to resist resolving Reagan’s looming crises and to
prolong romantic development is refreshing.
This one’s a page-turner, and the unexpectedly catastrophic conclusion—and lingering
promise of sweet revenge—suggests Orlando,
much like Reagan, is just getting started.
The Adventures of Henry Whiskers.
By Gigi Priebe. Illus. by Daniel Duncan.
Jan. 2017. 144p. Aladdin, $16.99 (9781481465755);
paper, $5.99 (9781481465748). Gr. 2–4.
Little does the Queen of England know
that all 149 members of the Whiskers
family live in Windsor Castle. Henry Whisker’s family is responsible for the elaborate
dollhouse with its working cars, plumbing, electricity, and readable books. Plucky
Henry and his ever-hungry cousin Jeremy
must clean the dollhouse for the Annual
Mouse Masquerade, held during the Queen’s
birthday celebration. When the dollhouse is
suddenly closed and Henry’s littlest sister,
Isabel, goes missing, Henry and Jeremy must
brave a gang of nasty rats, oblivious humans,
and a vicious cat to rescue Isabel and save
the day. The first in a series, miniature-world
aficionados will gravitate toward the compelling setting and fascinating details of this
old-fashioned adventure. While it’s slow to