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Review of The Memory of Things

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner High School    St. Martin’s Griffin    275 pp. 9/16    978-1-250-09552-7    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-250-09553-4    $9.99 It’s the morning of September 11, 2001, in Manhattan, and the first tower has just fallen. Sixteen-year-old Brooklynite Kyle, fleeing toward home, stumbles upon a teenage girl wearing a pair of costume wings […]

Family ties

Maya Angelou wrote, “Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” For many teens, adolescence includes contending with changing sibling relationships. Four new novels explore the joys and challenges of these shifting dynamics. Suzette and Lionel, the protagonists of Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion, are close teen step-siblings in a happy, blended, […]

Five questions for Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins‘s latest novel You Bring the Distant Near (Farrar, 12–16 years) is a sprawling family epic that follows three generations of women in the Das family — matriarch Ranee; her daughters Tara and Sonia; and each of their daughters, Anna and Chantal. The story begins in 1965 and ends in 2006; as the family […]

Review of Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali Middle School, High School    Salaam/Simon    328 pp. 6/17    978-1-4814-9924-8    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-9926-2    $10.99 Sophomore Janna Yusuf, a hijab-wearing Flannery O’Connor devotee, knows that the world is full of “saints,” “monsters,” and “misfits.” She considers herself the last, not quite sure where she belongs within her post-divorce family […]

Review of This Impossible Light

This Impossible Light by Lily Myers Middle School, High School    Philomel    343 pp. 6/17    978-0-399-17372-1    $17.99 Fifteen-year-old Ivy Lewis is a straight-A student who takes comfort in the familiar predictability of her sophomore year. Her father has moved out, her mother is slipping further into depression, her brother has left for college, and her best […]

Review of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth; illus. by Ekua Holmes Intermediate, Middle School, High School    Candlewick    50 pp. 3/17    978-0-7636-8094-7    $16.99 The title of this innovative poetry collection comes from Lucille Clifton, who wrote, “Poems come out of wonder, not out of […]

Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times. In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the […]

Review of The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr High School    Philomel    296 pp. 5/17    978-0-399-54701-0    $17.99 Ever since, as she’s been told, Flora had a brain tumor removed when she was eleven, she’s been unable to make new memories. She can remember things for only a few hours and must negotiate her life by […]

Review of Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves [Queen’s Thief] by Megan Whalen Turner Middle School, High School    Greenwillow    339 pp.    g 5/17    978-0-06-256824-3    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-256825-0    $18.89 e-book ed.  978-0-06-256827-4    $9.99 Turner’s eagerly awaited fifth Queen’s Thief novel (beginning with The Thief, rev. 11/96) displays in full her many fortes: ingenious […]

Using picture books to teach adolescents about genre

I teach a course every spring about methods in teaching writing, and one topic we learn about is teaching genre. Adolescents need a fairly broad understanding of a variety of genres, both reading and writing them, though often English classrooms focus heavily on reading novels and writing analytical essays. So every year, I make the […]