At this very moment, thousands of librarians from all over the country are in Orlando, Florida for the Annual Conference of the American Library Association, attending panels and workshops and speeches and roundtable discussions, meeting authors and connecting with other librarians. But not every librarian can make it to every library conference, so if you’re reading this, you are very likely—just like me!—one of the few, the sad, the #alaleftbehind.
To cheer ourselves up, let’s take our own trip to Florida:
Full of Beans, by Jennifer L. Holm
Life in Key West during the Great Depression, told in vignettes about Beans Curry, young entrepreneur and marble shark. I’ve seen raves across the board about this one, and every review has promised that it’s both wonderfully funny as well as full of heart. Full of Beans is a prequel to Turtle in Paradise, and as Beans isn’t out until August, that allows plenty of time for a Turtle re-read! Can’t wait, times two!
Untwine, by Edwidge Danticat
Sixteen-year-old twins Giselle and Isabelle are as close as sisters can be, even as the rest of their family seems to be falling apart. But then a car accident leaves one of them dead, and the survivor needs to grieve, to work through memories of their shared past—some happy, some not—and to figure out how to move forward, alone. Set in Miami.
Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart
A boy with bipolar disorder becomes friends with a trans girl: friendship and love and puberty and contending with not fitting in. I’ve seen this one get some criticism for Lily’s characterization—apparently she comes off to some readers as unbelievably perfect and flawless. But I’ve also seen people OVER-THE-MOON GUSHING about it, so we’ll see!
Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo
Raymie Clarke’s plan: learn how to twirl a baton, win the Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 title, and get her picture in the paper. When her father sees it, he’ll be so proud that he’ll ditch the dental hygienist that he ran off with and come home. The ‘70s, a local beauty pageant, and baton twirling? Hand it over! I am sitting down with this one IMMEDIATELY upon finishing this column.
Joyride, by Anna Banks
Carly Vega and her older brother, Julio, are trying to save enough money to bring the rest of their family to the States from Mexico. Arden Moss is the son of the local sheriff, a flat-out racist man who ran his last campaign on an anti-immigration platform. A chance encounter leads to an opposites-attract love connection. None of that sounds particularly out of the ordinary, story-wise, but this line from the Kirkus review has me REALLY curious: “A mind-blowing revelation creates a plot-changer worthy of an action film.”
The Devil You Know, by Trish Doller
This is the only book on the list that I’ve already read, and I enjoyed it so much—and for so many reasons—that I’m really looking forward to re-reading it, and soon. In it, a girl goes on a road trip with a classmate and a couple of guys that they just met… and once she’s out in the middle of nowhere with them, she realizes that one (or both) of those guys might not be as trustworthy as he appears to be. Lots of tension, lots of mystery, lots of atmospheric descriptions of rural Florida!
Recommendations always welcome—the more books, the longer the imaginary journey!
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.