A solid but unexceptional coming-of-age story for reluctant teen readers.

THE SAME BEAT

From the West 44 YA Verse series

In this novel in verse, a teen girl finds herself at journalism camp in the city.

The summer before senior year, Teegan is devastated when she discovers her best friend, Maria, is going on a road trip to look at colleges without her. Used to following in Maria’s shadow, shy Teegan realizes she needs to pursue her own dreams, and her parents plan for her to spend two months at journalism camp in New York City. At camp, she’s partnered up with Marcy: They’ll be assigned a new beat each week to cover, writing stories that culminate in a newspaper final project at the end of the summer. Teegan is wowed by bold recent high school graduate Marcy, who introduces herself as bisexual and explains that she plans to go backpacking through Europe when camp is over instead of to college. As the summer passes, Teegan comes out of her shell and realizes she’s attracted to Marcy—but what will happen to their relationship when the summer’s over? Even though the sparse verse stays close to Teegan’s emotional first-person perspective, the character growth and romance feel sudden since, unfortunately, the adventures in New York City happen mostly off the page. The sweet discovery of sexuality redeems this otherwise ordinary story. Despite the diverse urban setting, characters default to White.

A solid but unexceptional coming-of-age story for reluctant teen readers. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9785-9562-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.

YOU'D BE HOME NOW

A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women.

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HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY

What happens when both the place you come from and the place you are feel distant and unaccepting?

These are the questions Nima sets out to answer. A 14-year-old, working-class, Muslim, immigrant kid raised by a single mother in suburban America—that’s Nima. They left their unnamed homeland (contextual clues point to Sudan) in pursuit of a better life, one that didn’t seem to find them. But Nima’s mind often wanders back to her roots, to the Arabic songs she listens to on cassette and old photographs of her parents—things she longs to be a part of. At school, Nima is bullied for her accented English, her obvious poverty, and her mother’s hijab. Haitham, the neighbor boy who’s more like a sibling, goes to the same school and is Nima’s only friend. But one day Haitham is beaten up in a hate crime, winding up in the hospital hooked up to machines. The abyss between Nima and her mother begins to grow as Nima learns more about her father’s absence. Elhillo’s novel, which contains light fantastical elements, tells the story of a Muslim girl traversing post–9/11 America with the baggage of a past she does not yet fully understand. The vivid imagery creates a profound sensory experience, evoking intense emotions in a story that will resonate with readers from many backgrounds.

Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17705-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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