Stranger

Brown, Rachel Manija, and Sherwood Smith. Stranger. New York: Viking, 2014.

A person walking toward an open gate with light streaming out of it.

Stranger is genre-crossing, told from five separate points of view, and written in collaboration by two writers, but there’s nothing rambling or uneven about it. In fact, the excellent writing and fascinating plot kept me turning pages and holding my breath.

In a post apocalyptic world, a mutation caused curious changes in the ecosystem, giving squirrels telekinetic abilities and creating crystalline trees that kill people with their shards. Some humans changed, too. In the town of Las Anclas, the sheriff has superhuman strength and the doctor can alter time to heal patients faster. Continue reading

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The You I’ve Never Known

Hopkins, Ellen. The You I’ve Never Known. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017.

Close-up of a light-skinned young woman's face, with a fuzzy grid overlay.

Ariel and her father have been on the move since her mother left when she was two years old, never staying long in one place. Now, at seventeen, they have finally settled in a town where Ariel can make friends and go to school. She’s flourishing with academics and sports and cautiously exploring first love with her best friend Monica. Continue reading

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The Telling

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Telling. New York: Harcourt, 2000.

Book cover with a group of people in a cave, backlit with a bright light.

Sutty, an (Anglo-Indian and lesbian) ethnographer representing a peaceful interstellar confederation, travels to Aka to initiate diplomatic relations. Continue reading

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This is How it Always Is

Frankel, Laurie. This is How it Always Is. New York: Flatiron Books, 2017.

Book cover with title "This is How it Always Is" and author "Laurie Frankel" in large text over a curled orange peel.

Emergency room doctor Rosie and novelist Penn live a busy, happy life with their five rambunctious sons in Wisconsin. When their youngest, Claude, puts on a dress and doesn’t want to take it off, the family takes it in stride, encouraging his imaginative play and supporting his right to be who he is. But just before Claude starts kindergarten, he announces that he wants to wear dresses and bring a purse to school. He isn’t a boy after all; he wants to be a girl when he grows up. Continue reading

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We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Greenidge, Kaitlyn. 2016. We Love You, Charlie Freeman. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.

The title text and author name in large letters across a background of green branches or vines.

This remarkable novel weaves together two narratives separated by 60 years, deftly illustrating the impact of racial bias on science and on Black families in America. Continue reading

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Two Boys Kissing

Levithan, David. 2013. Two Boys Kissing. New York: Alfred A Knopf.

Book cover, showing a closeup of two white adolescent boys kissing, with the title in blue across the image.

In this YA novel by the prolific David Levithan, we follow three couples and one individual through a few days of their lives. Peter and Neil have been dating for a year and their relationship is comfortable, though both sometimes feel unsatisfied. Avery and Ryan just met at gay prom and are experiencing their first few sweet dates. Cooper is deeply closeted and spends most of his time on gay hookup apps, lying about himself and seeking some sort of fix to his loneliness. And Harry and Craig are former boyfriends who are trying to break the Guinness World Record for longest continuous kiss. Continue reading

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The Great American Whatever

Federle, Tim. The Great American Whatever. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

Book cover, with title in theater board display style.

Sixteen-year-old Quinn lives screenwriting. Every conversation is dialog; every movement is stage direction. He has been writing movies for years and his ambition is to win a screenplay contest to jumpstart his professional career. His sister directs the films he writes and together, they are an amazing team…Until she dies in a car accident and Quinn no longer knows what to do with his life or even how to take showers and leave the house. Continue reading

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