September 1, 2016 Booklist 109 www.booklistonline.com
will choose to believe in the unbelievable.
By E. M. Kokie.
Sept. 2016. 448p. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763669621).
Bex, 16, is a talented marksman, dedicated survivalist, and closeted lesbian. She’s
convinced that her special skills will save
her family in the chaos that will follow the
government’s upheaval, and is delighted
when her family is invited to join Clearview,
a survivalist group in rural Michigan. Then
she meets Lucy, a confident and fascinating
lesbian visiting relatives, and has her first
romantic relationship. Lucy, though, is appalled at Bex’s beliefs and affiliations with a
group that speaks against homosexuals. Bex’s
brother Mark is soon arrested and accused
of treason, and Bex, too, lands in prison.
Kokie’s legal background lends verisimilitude and fascinating insight into prison life
and legal strategy, while swift pacing pulls
the reader deep into multiple plot twists.
However, it’s Bex’s passionate, uninformed,
awkward naïveté that drives the novel.
Kokie’s sympathetic and believably flawed
heroine’s first-person, present-tense narrative
offers an intriguing portrait of a philosophy
not often explored in teen fiction. Bex’s complex relationship with Lucy is particularly
well depicted, but even secondary characters
are impressively handled. —Debbie Carton
Rani Patel in Full Effect.
By Sonia Patel.
Oct. 2016. 224p. Cinco Puntos, $16.95
(9781941026496); paper, $11.95 (9781941026502);
e-book, $11.95 (9781941026519). Gr. 9–12.
As the only Indian girl in her entire Hawaiian town, 16-year-old Rani often feels like
an outsider. She finds some comfort and empowerment in rap and slam
poetry, and when she learns
about an underground hip-hop crew in her town, it
seems like she’s finally found
the perfect respite from her
home life, which is marred
by her parents’ intensely
traditional marriage, her
father’s brazen infidelity, and—worst of all—
the lingering trauma of the sexual abuse her
father inflicted on Rani for years. That’s a lot
for her to handle, but when Mark, the older
man who runs the hip-hop crew, starts taking
a special interest in her, it seems like he’s the
perfect solution to her problems, despite her
friends’ warnings. Debut author Patel offers
a unique perspective in Rani, whose punchy
first-person narrative—peppered with early-
90s hip-hop references; Hawaiian, Hawaiian
Pidgin, and Gujarati phrases; and her own
slick rhymes packed with an empowering
feminist message—commendably and strikingly stands out in the YA landscape. While
Rani’s recovery from her trauma is unrealis-
By Randi Pink.
Sept. 2016. 288p. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99
(9781250070210). Gr. 8–11.
“Please Lord, anything but black.” With
that, Jesus Christ Himself grants Toya her
fondest wish, to be a white girl free of the expectations of being black in the South. There
are, however, a few catches.
Toya’s family continues to
see her as her old self, while
at school she must adopt the
new identity of Katarina,
exchange student from exotic Kansas City, Kansas (or
is it Missouri?). Katarina,
with her glamour-girl looks,
is quickly accepted by the popular kids but
learns that being white comes with its own
set of expectations. More important, Toya/
Katarina is able to more fully observe the culture she gave up, allowing her to appreciate its
warmth, comfort, and beauty. Using the trappings of a fairy tale, Pink pulls readers in with
Toya’s charming naïveté and a highly eccentric
version of Montgomery, Alabama (Jesus is a
character, and he drives a stolen 1990 Saab
and listens to Mariah Carey). Underneath,
though, hides a grittier tale of race and gender
dynamics in the contemporary South. Pink is
careful to never allow the story itself to fall
into agenda-pushing. Instead, she lets Toya
explore the gray areas teens negotiate as their
identities shift and as their belief systems are
challenged. This debut ought to inspire readers to have conversations among themselves
about family, empathy, community, and respect for others. —Reinhardt Suarez
The Odds of Lightning.
By Jocelyn Davies.
Sept. 2016. 376p. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $17.99
(9781481440530). Gr. 9–12.
Three years after their middle-school
friendship unraveled, a catastrophic storm
pulses through New York City, and Tiny,
Lu, Will, and Nathaniel are forced together
again upon a roof where lightning strikes
them, “the kind of lightning that cracks with
a vengeance . . . the kind that brings with it
a courageous, unpredictable magic.” As they
race through the city afterward, their innermost fears and worries seem to turn into
realities. Tiny swears she’s beginning to disappear; Lu’s literally numb to everything, not
just wishing she was; Will’s physical features
are as unstable as his feelings; and Nathaniel has become who he’s always thought he
wanted to be: as perfect as his brother. As
the storm continues to brew, the quartet begin to understand themselves and the events
that have brought them together again.
The universal theme of this fantasy-tinged
coming-of-age tale is conveyed through
third-person chapters that alternate focus
among the characters, flashbacks that unravel the event that tore them apart, and a
touch of mystery and magic. Most readers
how it all began…
READ ONE. READ THEM ALL.
YOU CHOOSE THE ORDER.
The Seven Prequels Boxed Set
9781459811706 • $59.95 PB