TJ Powar Has Something to Prove
– Jesmeen Kaur Deo –
Viking Books for Young Readers
Published 7 June 2022
Brilliant, just brilliant. This book has the perfect mix of super cute romance, powerful societal issues commentary, friendship, family and self identity discovery that makes it the sort of YA realistic fiction I just adore. Add a touch of sport and I was all in on this fantastic story.
No Filter and Other Lies
– Crystal Maldonado –
Published 8 February 2022
Social media is such a massive part of our young readers’ lives and yet its reach and impact is so often left out of YA fiction. No Filter and Other Lies addresses the addiction of social media, it’s dangers and its benefits head on. It also addresses the inherent racism and sizeism of social media and the challenges teens face in navigating this online world.
Kat is a photographer, friend, granddaughter and dog lover. She’s also pretty good at lying. For years, she’s been lying to everyone but her best friends about where she lives. Most people think she lives with her parents, as evidenced by the perfect family photos her mother shares on Facebook. But Kat actually lives with her grandparents. So, when the opportunity arises to share her work as a photographer on Instagram to a much wider audience, Kat takes it. It’s only a small lie and what’s that in the scheme of her life? Yes, she has to borrow her friend’s (perfectly gorgeous, white, thin) face after she expressly said she didn’t want to go back on social media. But, Kat will also use the account to share about the dogs at the shelter she works at, so there will be some good come from the whole thing. But when Kat starts to fall for a girl she chats with online, things get complicated. Especially when that girl thinks Kat is a 21-year-old college girl called Max.
There’s Something About Sweetie – Sandhya Menon – Simon Pulse – Published 14 May 2019
Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
There’s Something About Sweetie is very true to its name – totally and utterly sweet in every way. Seriously. Unicorns and rainbows have nothing on the sweetness that is the story of Sweetie and Ashish. A story about first loves, first serious break-ups, family expectations, body positivity and embracing who you truly are.
Sweetie is an athlete, singer (she just doesn’t sing in front of anyone other than her best friends) and dutiful daughter. She just wishes her mother could support her in accepting and loving her and her body the way that it is. Fat. Ashish knows how to play the dating game. He’s good at it. Or was. Until his girlfriend dumped him for someone else. Now he’s lost all game – on and off the basketball court – and is even seriously considering having his parents set him up with a girl. But when Sweetie’s mother refuses to let Sweetie date Ashish because of the size of her body, Sweetie and Ashish start dating secretly, and they find themselves surprised at the way they connect.
Mammoth – Jill Baguchinsky – Turner Publishing – Published 6 November 2018
The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.
It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.
Until it isn’t.
When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.
What do you get when you cross fashion with palaeontology? Mammoth is a fun YA contemporary. This summer might be all about Ice Age creatures but it also heats up with a bit of romance and a touch of big discoveries, betrayals and cover ups. In the vein of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, Mammoth carries tones of self-acceptance and finding the confidence to embrace your inner (and outer) awesome.
When Natalie lands a summer internship at an Ice Age dig site she knows she is ready to embrace the awesome. Posting about her days at the dig on her fashion-come-palaeo blog, things get interesting when Natalie’s idol turns up. Then there are the two cute boys and the fact that her sense of style, which doubles as an armour against the bullies and trolls of the world, isn’t always practical for field work. Natalie is determined to prove to everyone that she deserves to be there, even if it means taking big risks, risks that could jeopardise her internship.
Puddin’ – Julie Murphy – Dumplin’ #2 – Balzer+Bray – Published 8 May 2018
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Puddin’ is a delightful, uplifting, and empowering novel about friendship, fitting in and standing out – for all the right reasons.
Millie has no intention of returning to Fat Camp this summer. She just hasn’t told her mother yet. Millie dreams of becoming a journalist, even if it means she must stand up to the people who would attempt to dissuade her. Callie has the perfect life -boyfriend and co-captaincy of the dance team. But when a dance-team revenge prank gets out of hand, Callie ends up taking the fall – alone. Thrown together, Millie and Callie seemingly have nothing in common. But if anyone can break through Callie’s rough exterior, it is Millie. What starts as forced slowly becomes a strong friendship and the girls realise they might have more in common than they first thought.
Puddin’ is (I’m a little ashamed to admit) the first book I have read by Julie Murphy. Many of her other novels, especially Dumplin’, have been on my to-read list for ages, but for some reason I have never got around to reading them. That will change in the immediate future. While Puddin’ is a companion novel to Dumplin’ I was able to read, enjoy, and understand everything in Puddin’ without any trouble as it is a complete story in its own right and a standalone title. There were a few references that left me very intrigued, though, so I am really looking forward to finally reading Dumplin’. And seriously, how awesome is Willowdean?