110 Booklist September 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
tically speedy and conclusive—something
Patel, a psychiatrist, freely admits in her author’s note—most teens won’t skip a beat,
since Rani’s voice, oscillating from righteous
anger to thrilling pride, swooning crushes,
and heartbreaking insecurity, will resonate
with many, even those with little to no familiarity with Rani’s background. Vivid, bold,
and passionate. —Sarah Hunter
A Shadow Bright and Burning.
By Jessica Cluess.
Sept. 2016. 416p. Random, $17.99 (9780553535907);
lib. ed., $20.99 (9780553535914); e-book, $17.99
(9780553535921). Gr. 8–11.
Cluess’ debut is a marvelous mash-up of
Dickens, the students-with-magical-powers
genre, and alt-history. Sixteen-year-old Henrietta Howel, discovered in a rural Yorkshire
orphanage, is proclaimed as the prophesied
female sorcerer who will, with training, finally
defeat the seven Ancients. Victorian London
has been attacked by these terrifying monsters for years while sorcerers searched for the
Chosen One. Henrietta, who has the ability to
summon and harness fire, arrives in London
for training. At first, she’s delighted to be encouraged in her desire to learn. Then Henrietta
discovers a secret truth: she is not, in fact, the
girl of the prophecy. Afraid of letting down
her beloved teacher, she struggles to meet expectations, while simultaneously discovering
the thrill of sexual attraction to both her childhood friend Rook and another student. It’s a
fascinating look at a society wherein magic,
though accepted and respected, has its own
class boundaries. Cluess’ clever prose employs
Dickensian names and rolls along at a speedy
and compelling clip. Expect a demand for future series titles. —Debbie Carton
By Marina Budhos.
Sept. 2016. 272p. Random/Wendy Lamb, $17.99
(9780553534184). Gr. 6–9.
Naeem Rahman can’t stop moving. After
emigrating from Bangladesh to New York at
age 11, he, as a high-school senior, spends his
days cutting class and moving through the
streets of Queens, hoping to avoid the watchful eyes of his father, stepmother, and half
brother; his hordes of nosy neighbors; and especially the police and cameras that cover his
Muslim neighborhood. When his friend Ibrahim tricks him into shoplifting, two NYPD
officers leave Naeem with a choice. Either go
to jail or become exactly what he has always
hated—a spy, an informant, a watcher—
thereby betraying his family, friends, and
community. Budhos, author of two other
novels that focus on immigrant teens (Ask Me
No Questions, 2006, and Tell Us We’re Home,
2010), presents another effective coming-of-age novel, one that not only confronts without
reservation the notion of Islamaphobia and issues of teenage identity but also tackles the
grittier aspects of life in this post-9/11 era.
What does it mean to belong to a family? a
community? a country? —Rebecca Kuss
The Weight of Zero.
By Karen Fortunati.
Sept. 2016. 400p. Delacorte, $17.99 (9781101938898);
lib. ed., $20.99 (9781101938911); e-book, $17.99
(9781101938904). Gr. 9–12.
Catherine knows her emotional level will
zero out again and that she’ll need to kill
herself to ease the pain from her depression.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she feels a
nagging hopelessness knowing she’ll have to
live with the illness all her life, and worries
she’ll never have friends again. Things gradually begin to improve when a new doctor revises
her treatment plan and sends her to an intensive after-school therapy program. There she
bonds with Kristal, a lively African American
girl with an eating disorder. At school, a history project teams Catherine with Michael, a
kind and quiet boy who falls for her. Through
these new friendships, hope slowly blossoms
for Catherine, whose steady, raw, and smart
voice reveals her desire to be well again. Readers will experience small but meaningful
victories and epiphanies alongside Catherine
and be drawn to the characters of Kristal and
Michael. Fans of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks
of Being a Wallflower (1999) and J. J. Johnson’s
Believarexic (2015) will want to read this debut novel. —Jeanne Fredriksen
27 Magic Words.
By Sharelle Byars Moranville.
Sept. 2016. 208p. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823436576).
Kobi’s mother, an author, gave her 27 fantastic words written on Post-its, like razzmatazz
and squelch, when she was little. After her
parents disappear at sea, when Kobi is just
five, she infuses those 27 words with magical
meanings, like avanti!, which, when uttered,
conjures up an image of her parents stranded
on a desert island. Now, after spending the last
five years living with her grandmother in Paris
and being homeschooled, she and her sister,
Brook, are going back to the U.S. to live with
their uncle Wim and attend regular school.
It’s there that Kobi’s magic words start to fail
her, and she resorts to lies and exaggerations
when her new classmates ask about her family
and her past. As the truth comes out, Kobi has
to face the facts she’s been repressing for years
and find the strength to properly grieve for
her parents. This tender, heartwarming story
sensitively addresses ways children cope with
grief, while emphasizing the importance of all
types of families and the enchanting power of
language. —Donna Scanlon
By T. A. Barron. Illus. by the author.
Nov. 2016. 256p. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399168055).
In Barron’s follow-up to Atlantis in Peril
(2015), Prometheus (Promi) and his mortal
love Atlanta, from two different worlds, are
brought together again as they face the ulti-
mate challenge from evil warrior Narkazan,
who is intent on subjugating the spiritual
and mortal realms. But more than this, he
wants Promi, his family, and his allies dead.
Old friends come forward to help battle the
wicked warrior, but lives are lost and stories
ended. This conclusion to the Atlantis tril-
ogy is an uneven mix of delicately beautiful
imagery, a few grisly moments, and plodding
prose. Despite weaknesses, the story arc is sol-
id, and familiar characters return. Barron uses
his story to explain that protecting those you
love sometimes comes with hard choices and
sacrifice, but cushions these truths with cour-
age and hope for the future. Though young
readers may not catch it, there’s also a clever
side plot, nicely connected to our world, that
gives a nod to Plato, the first to write of the
myth of Atlantis. —Cindy Welch
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-seller
Barron is going on tour for this trilogy ender,
and his many fans will be lining up to get a
By Tania Unsworth.
Sept. 2016. 272p. Algonquin, $16.95 (9781616203306).
Daisy Fitzhugh was born in Brightwood
Hall and has lived in the confines of the house
and grounds her entire brief life. The huge,
rambling ancestral home is packed with food,
supplies, and shelf after shelf of shoe box-sized containers that hold items to preserve
the memory of each day. One morning, Daisy
wakes up to find that her mother is gone;
by nightfall, she hasn’t come back. Then her
mother’s cousin James Gritting arrives, and he
has a plan for Brightwood Hall that does not
include Daisy or her mother. With only her
talking rat, Tar, and the ghost of a girl explorer
(who calls herself Frank) to help, Daisy desperately tries to drive him away. The tension
builds as Gritting demonstrates that he will
go to any length to get Brightwood Hall, and
Daisy slowly realizes that what seemed like an
enchanted, safe world is really a kind of prison. Beautiful, evocative writing brings Daisy’s
world to life, and readers will empathize with
Daisy and admire her courage and resourcefulness. —Donna Scanlon
Catching a Storyfish.
By Janice N. Harrington.
Sept. 2016. 224p. Boyds Mills/Wordsong, $17.95
(9781629794297). Gr. 3–6.
This lyrical novel in verse effortlessly weaves
together multiple poetry forms to introduce
readers to Katharen, called Keet, a young
girl who loves to talk and spin stories. When
her Alabaman family moves up north, she
becomes the new kid who talks funny. Her
stories go away, Keet hardly speaks any more,
and the only time she is really happy is when
she is fishing with her beloved grandpa. As
the school year progresses, Keet develops a
friendship with quiet next-door neighbor Allegra (Allegra’s reticence is due to a broken
front tooth), and Allegra offers support when