Stevens, Courtney C. Dress Codes for Small Towns.

NY: HarperCollins, 2017.

The author brings a much different style to her work than you will find in most young adult novels, and it works really well. The setting is the tiny community of Otter Holt in Marshall County, out in western Kentucky, a couple hours from Nashville. The narrator is Billie McCaffrey, a seventeen-year-old high school junior, the only child of Brother Scott, pastor of Community Church, and a frequent trial to her parents.


Bennett, Jenn. Serious Moonlight.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2019.

The only other one of Bennett’s books I’ve read is Alex, Approximately (which I really liked), and this one is very different, but also very good. The protagonist is Birdie Lindberg, now  eighteen but very inexperienced about the world, having been raised on little Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound by very strict grandparents.


Published in: on 10 November 2019 at 5:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts.

NY: Putnam, 2004.

I hate to admit that I had never heard of this author until she was recommended to me by a friend, even though I discovered it was a Newberry Honors book and a bestseller as well. And it’s really quite good. The narrator is twelve-year-old Matthew “Moose” Flanagan (he’s already nearly six feet tall), one of the two dozen or so kids who are full-time residents of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.


Published in: on 6 November 2019 at 5:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Hicks, Faith Erin. Comics Will Break Your Heart.

NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2019.

Hicks is herself a well-regarded graphic novelist, so her first text-only young adult novel, about the youngest generation of two families caught up in the history of the comic book industry, is a perfect fit. Sixteen-year-old Miriam Kendrick, who has lived all her life in the small, fading, seaside industrial town of Sandford, Nova Scotia.


Published in: on 25 October 2019 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kirby, Jessi. Moonglass.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

It’s not easy writing a novel, and anyone who has done it tends to be generous in judging someone else’s debut work. That really isn’t necessary in this case, though, because Kirby does a generally first-class job of telling her story. At sixteen and about to be a high school junior, Anna Ryan has spent her entire Southern California life within the sound of the surf.


Published in: on 18 October 2019 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kenneally, Miranda. Stealing Parker.

Napierville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2012.

This is one of the early entries in this author’s “Hundred Oaks High School” YA series, all of which are set in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. It’s typical small-town Tennessee, with way too many fundamentalist churches, which is an important part of the plot this time.


Kenneally, Miranda. Coming Up for Air.

Napierville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2017.

This is a not-bad YA novel on the themes of friendship, sexual growth, and dedication to a goal, and in certain ways, it’s more realistic than most.. Maggie King is a high school senior in Franklin, Tennessee, now a satellite community of Nashville, and she’s been an avid swimmer since she was a toddler.


Dessen, Sarah. The Rest of the Story.

NY: HarperCollins, 2019.

Sarah Dessen is one of a handful of authors whose new books I immediately put on hold at the library as soon as I hear they have a new one coming out. I don’t even bother with reviews because I know from experience that anything this writer produces will be very much worth my time to read. And this is possibly her best yet.


Published in: on 21 September 2019 at 1:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Hendrickson, S. D. The Mason List.

Tulsa, OK: The Author, 2015.

Until she was six and her mother contracted cancer, Alexandra Tanner’s life in Dallas was perfect. By the time she was eight, her mother was dying, her father had gotten sacked from his job (too much time spent at the hospital with his wife), they were forced to give up their house.


Published in: on 2 September 2019 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mason, Lizzy. The Art of Losing.

NY: Soho Press, 2019.

This is the author’s first novel, and it definitely reads like it. She has a point to make — a mission, really, apparently based on personal experiences — and she makes it, good and hard. The theme, which she states explicitly right up-front, is the dangers of teenage addiction, especially to alcohol. Which (as a father of three) I have to agree with. And I’ve never understood why getting falling-down drunk and throwing up on your shoes, and then processing a hangover, is supposed to be so much fun.


Published in: on 27 August 2019 at 4:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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