Albertalli, Becky. The Upside of Unrequited.

NY: HarperCollins, 2017.

I’m a retired big-city public librarian, and I started reading YA books back in the ’60s, simply as part of my job. (I sort of skipped that whole genre, what there was of it, when I actually was a young adult.) I’ve followed the evolution of the field, the shifts in topics and assumptions about the changing world teenagers inhabit, because every decade of young readers over the past half-century has been rather different from the previous decade. Changes have accelerated substantially since I was that age. And this book simply couldn’t have been written, much less published, as little as thirty years ago.

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Smith, Jennifer E. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between.

NY: Little, Brown, 2015.

A century ago, when going to college was the exception and not the rule, even for the middle class, it wasn’t that unusual for high school sweethearts to marry and raise a family. (All my grandparents did it.) These days, though, high school romances almost never survive the couple going off to separate schools, with a whole new world filled with new people, waiting for each of them to explore. More mature high school seniors know this, and break-ups shortly after graduation are common.

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Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona.

NY: Harper, 2015.

EXPLOSIONS! SCIENCE! SHARKS! NERDS! SYMBOLISM! Yep, that’s the kind of graphic novel this is. It won a bunch of awards, not only from other artists but from its (mostly) teenage readers, as well. Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin is the Official Hero here and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the Bad Guy, but neither of them is really terrible — even though the former hacked off the latter’s arm back when they were students together. Now, Ambrosius works for the Institution while Blackheart tries to keep the kingdom’s growing police state from impinging on its subjects any further.

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Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. Swing It, Sunny.

NY: Scholastic, 2017.

This is a sequel to this sister/brother team’s Sunny Side Up (2015), and it’s pretty good. It’s set in the closing months of 1976 and Sunny, now starting middle school, misses her older brother, Dale, who has been sent away to a military boarding school for his own (and everyone else’s) good. The story is episodic, going from the start of school to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s — all the landmarks in an adolescent’s calendar

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Jemisin, N. K. The Awakened Kingdom.

NY: Orbit Books, 2014.

If you enjoyed Jemisin’s “Inheritance” trilogy as much as I did, then you will certainly want to read this shorter sequel. She calls it a novella, but at 250 pages, I regard it as a novel.

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Published in: on 29 April 2018 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Brown, Chester. Paying for It.

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2011.

Chester, who lives and works in Toronto, has been a working cartoonist for quite a long time and his books tend to serious subjects and transparent honesty. The subtitle here is “A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John,” and that’s exactly what it is. When he broke up with his third long-term girlfriend (though they kept living together), he decided enough was enough: No more traditional relationships. It wasn’t worth it.

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Stratford, Sarah-Jane. Radio Girls.

NY: New American Library, 2016.

It’s the fall of 1926 and young Maisie Musgrave, born in Toronto and raised in New York by whomever her actress mother was able to dump her on, has returned to her adopted home of London. Moreover, after several years as one of the barely-working poor, she has just been hired as a secretary at the four-year-old BBC up on Savoy Hill. Mostly, she’s the typing assistant to the executive assistant to the Director General, John Reith, who hates being forced to hire so many women.

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Sloan, Robin. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012.

This marvelous book is the nerdiest, geekiest thing I’ve read in ages. It reminds me strongly of Neal Stephenson’s masterpiece, Cryptonomicon — not in subject matter but in its attitudes and in its apparent desire to cram in every subject from computerized cryptography, library ladders, and the early history of printing to the visual analysis of sweaterized breasts, scale model cities, and anthropomorphic knitting needles. Actually, I’ll bet Neal has read this book. And I’ll bet he loved it.

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Published in: on 21 March 2018 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gauld, Tom. Mooncop.

NY: Drawn & Quarterly, 2016.

Gauld is a new author/artist for me, but I definitely like his style. He’s been published in various newspapers for awhile now, and this appears to be his third graphic novel. Every community needs law enforcement and in the lunar colony, it’s provided by a nameless young man with a glass helmet and an anti-grav patrol car (which doesn’t always work).

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Published in: on 14 March 2018 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Zarr, Sara & Tara Altebrando. Roomies.

NY: Little, Brown, 2013.

Lauren Cole of New Jersey has just graduated from high school and is headed for UC-Berkeley in a couple of months. She’s an only child, living with her neurotic mother, her father having left them years before when he discovered he was gay. She can’t wait to escape to the West Coast. Elizabeth Logan of San Francisco is also headed for Cal, which is only twenty-five miles away for her, but it’s still an escape. She’s one of six kids, the other five all being very young, so that she’s more or less an assistant parent. She loves her family but she can’t wait to get away, too.

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Published in: on 28 February 2018 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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