PASSIONATE ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Category: YA Contemporary (Page 1 of 6)

Book Review: How Not To Fall In Love

 

How Not To Fall In Love

– Jacqueline Firkins –

Clarion Books

Published 21 December 2021

♥♥♥♥

 

How Not To Fall In Love is a cute, sexy and slightly exasperating (just kiss him already!! or maybe don’t kiss him!!! arghhh!!!) YA romance novel.

Harper knows all about love. Or at least how phoney it is. She has seen enough bridezillas in her mother’s wedding shop to know love is fake. And let’s not even talk about her last relationship. It’s better of avoiding. When her best friend, heartbroken after another failed relationship, asks for her help on how not to fall in love, Harper makes him a deal. She’ll start dating and prove she can keep her emotions out of it, if she can teach him how to protect his own heart. But as Harper finds herself falling for her new not-her-boyfriend and Theo finds himself inundated with interested girls, Harper discovers love isn’t as easy to figure out as she thought. Especially when the only guy she finds herself thinking about might just be that boy next door after all.

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Book Review: Everything Within and In Between

 

Everything Within and In Between

– Nikki Barthelmess –

HarperTeen

Published 5 October 2021

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Everything Within and In Between is a novel about finding your identity and challenging racism. While the concept is great and there are some powerful moments, but I found the pacing to be slightly off and the character growth unsatisfying.

Ri Fernandez is white passing. It’s how her grandparents raised her, determined to fulfil their American Dream after emigrating from Mexico. But when she discovers that her grandmother has been lying about her mother and has been keeping them separated, Ri decides it’s time to take control of her story. She joins Spanish class, determined to learn her mother’s language and becomes aware of how she has separated herself from the Mexican community and other Latinx kids at school. Her change of heart causes conflict between Ri and her best friend Brittany, as well as rising tension between Ri and her grandmother. As Ri tests the boundaries of her world she tries to discover who she really is.

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Book Review: You Can Go Your Own Way

 

You Can Go Your Own Way

– Eric Smith –

Inkyard Press

Published 2 November 2021

♥♥♥/♥

 

You Can Go Your Own Way is a cute YA romance, sure to be enjoyed by readers who love a simple storyline and ex-best-friends to enemies to lovers storyline.

In my head I have named this book the Pinball Book. Sorry, but it’s kind of stuck. Adam helps his mother run the family pinball arcade. It was his father’s passion and since his father’s death, Adam has done everything he can to keep that dream alive. Even alienating his once best friend. But he can’t help it if Whitney – or at least her dad – is the enemy. Whitney’s father wants to buy the arcade and add it to his growing eSports cafe locations. Whitney and Adam each run the social media accounts for their family businesses and online it is war. When a snowstorm throws the two together again, they rekindle their friendship and possibly something more.

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Book Review: Anything But Fine

 

Anything But Fine

– Tobias Madden –

Penguin Random House Australia

Published 31 August 2021

♥♥♥♥

Ballet is everything for Luca. It’s his future, his time, all his effort and his friendships. So when he falls down the stairs at his ballet studio and breaks his leg, it changes everything. When the doctors say he will never dance again, Luca isn’t sure what that means for his future. Who is he without ballet. When he loses his scholarship and has to move school and he shuts out his friends, the only bright side is seeing Jordan at OT. Jordan is the school captain and rowing champion at Luca’s new school. Luca thinks there might be something between them but Jordan is apparently straight. And has a girlfriend.

Anything But Fine is authentically Australia, from the Ballarat setting, to the slang and high school culture. #LoveOzYA

One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was Luca’s friendship with Amina. Amina is nerdy, talks a lot and isn’t who Luca thought he would be spending time with. She’s also as different from his old friends as possible. Amina is Indonesian-Australian and Muslim. She is absolutely fantastic and just what Luca needs. Luca also learns to be a better friend to Amina and more deserving of her. He makes some pretty lousy mistakes in this book, both towards Amina and his old friends, as well as to his dad and other adults who have been there for him. But Luca isn’t afraid to own up to these mistakes and learn from them.

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Book Review: Sidelined

 

Sidelined

– Kara Bietz –

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Published 21 September 2021

♥♥♥♥

Football, friendship, romance? What’s not to love.

Julian Jackson and Elijah Vance. Once childhood best friends. Now…. Three years after Elijah and his family left town, he has returned. Julian isn’t sure what to think. Does Elijah know it was Julian who called the police and told them Elijah broke the Coach’s window and was going to steal the money? Is Elijah the same boy he remembers? And does he remember that moment before he left? Elijah knows Julian isn’t happy to see him again – he makes that pretty clear. But is there any chance of fixing what was once between them and becoming friends again or something more?

This book is so American and so Texan it’s not funny (though it is delightful). It’s a setting that just jumps from the pages and gives the perfect backdrop to this football-loving romance.

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Book Review: Maybe We’re Electric

 

Maybe We’re Electric

– Val Emmich –

Poppy

Published 21 September 2021

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Secrets. The secrets we keep to protect ourselves and the secrets we keep for our family. Maybe We’re Electric is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about finding the balance between speaking out and staying silent.

Covering just one night (plus a bit at the end) Maybe We’re Electric brings Tegan and Mac together. They never would have crossed paths – thinking each other in a different world at their school. But Tegan and Mac have far more in common than they think. When a storm hits, they find themselves together in the Thomas Edison museum. Both are running from their family and themselves. Both know they need to speak up about the secrets they are keeping. Both know the fallout from doing so will have far reaching consequences. Over the course of one night they connect and share more than they expected. But can their blossoming relationship survive the night?

Tegan is a compelling – if unreliable – narrator. As she slowly opens up to Mac, we readers also slowly begin to understand the true depth of what she is running from.

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Book Review: If Not Us

 

If Not Us

– Mark Smith –

Text Publishing

Published 28 September 2021

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If Not Us is a standalone novel from the author of the Winter series. Mark Smith creates in If Not Us a story of growing up, falling in love and finding your voice to speak up and be heard. With themes of climate change action, grief, and first love, If Not Us is a relatable novel for teens with an authentic male narrator.

Hesse lives to surf. He works in a surf shop and spends his free time in the waves. His goal is to one day surf the reef called Razors, where his father disappeared at sea and died. When Hesse gets involved in his mother’s environmental group campaign to close a local coal mine and power station, Hesse is thrown into the spotlight. It means taking a stand and his voice becoming the key to the campaign. It also means standing against his friends, whose parents might lose their jobs if the mine is shut down. In the midst of it all, Hesse meets Fenna, an exchange student who is dealing with her own anxiety and decisions about whether to stay in Australia or return home. As the campaign heats up and Hesse’s feelings for Fenna deepen, Hesse has to decide what is most important to him.

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Book Review: Social Queue

Social Queue book cover - light purple background, title and with girl standing above other people

 

Social Queue

– Kay Kerr –

Text Publishing

Published 28 September 2021

♥♥♥♥♥

 

Once again, Kay Kerr delivers a powerful and thoroughly enjoyable contemporary novel about growing up and finding one’s place in the world. Drawing upon her own experiences again, Kerr crafts such a realistic portrayal of social anxiety and trying to navigate everyday interactions, from romance and friendship to family and work life.

Zoe Kelly has survived high school (just) and is starting a new part of her life. No more dealing with bullies, no more autistic masking. An internship at an online media company allows her the freedom to express herself through the written word – something she’s really good at. But when an article about her foray into the dating world goes viral, the responses are a surprise. Apparently, Zoe had a number of admirers in high school and she just never saw the signs. Determined to discover how she missed them and document the process, Zoe meets up with her admirers, starting with her best friend’s brother and working through to a more recent encounter at uni.

Social Queue was honestly just such a delight to read. Some books are just so easy to love. So easy to enjoy. So easy to pick up after a long day at work and just let the world slip away. Social Queue was that for me, but it was also meaningful, insightful, funny, delicious, romantic and hit me right in the “I see you” feels.

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Book Review: Drawn That Way

 

Drawn That Way

Elissa Sussman

Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Published 28 September 2021

♥♥♥♥♥

 

As a fan of animated movies, Drawn That Way was a wonderful and fun insight into the magical and flawed world of animation. This is a delightful YA realistic novel that sucked me into the story and was just such a pleasure to read. You know how some books just make you smile? That’s this book. But along with the fun, flirtations, friendship and kissing, there are some powerful messages about challenging the racist, sexist systems, girl power and standing up for what you know is right.

Hayley Saffitz knows her future lies in the world of animation. The chance to spend the summer at an exclusive internship program with her idol and Oscar winning animator Bryan Beckett is everything she ever dreamed of and the chance to prove to everyone just how serious she is about animation. But when Hayley is overlooked for one of the director positions and Bryan’s son is given one of the direct positions without even presenting a finished pitch, Hayley realises the world of animation is biased. Determined to prove to herself – and the sexist men- that she deserves her chance, Hayley teams up with the other girls in the program to create their own short.

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Book Review: Like Other Girls

Like Other Girls – Britta Lundin – Disney-Hyperion – Published 3 August 2021

♥♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

After getting kicked off the basketball team for a fight that was absolutely totally not her fault (okay maybe a little her fault), Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn-and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town-and within her family-that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls-one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis-the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.

My thoughts

What does it mean to be a girl? For Mara, growing up in a small, traditional town, being a girl means she has strict guidelines for how a girl looks and behaves and it’s everything Mara is not and hates. Like Other Girls is a novel about accepting yourself, accepting others and learning that there is no one right way to be a girl or to stand up for that right to be a girl in your own way.

This is not a book where the girl joins the football team and is accepted by the team. Just the opposite happens in Like Other Girls. When Mara joins the football team her relationship with her brother (the team captain) which was already unsteady, deteriorates even more. She has a massive fight with her best friend Quinn who initially encouraged her to join the team but who is now one of her greatest opponents. And her mother is no longer speaking to her or attending football games. That’s not to mention all the other responses from the other guys on the team, the coach or the other teams. When four other girls join the football team, Mara is determined that she won’t be cast as similar to them. She deserves to be there while they do not. But the reaction from the team and the sheer determination from the girls starts to prove to Mara that being a girl doesn’t have just one definition.

Alongside the story of rights, sexual harassment and equality, this is also a sexual orientation discovery story. Mara knows she is gay and has a plan for how she is going to come out – when she’s in college and far away from her conservative town. She could never be like Carly who is openly out and champions for LGBT+ rights. When Mara meets Jupiter and Jupiter hires her to do some work on her farm, Mara sees someone who is comfortable in their skin and clothes and who they are, someone in an LGBT+ relationship and Mara envies every bit of that comfort.
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