This novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart. Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, the book explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship and the inheritance of culture for better or worse. From a grandmother worried that her children are losing their Indian identity to a daughter wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair to a granddaughter social-activist fighting to preserve Bengali tigers, this award winning author weaves together the threads of a family growing into an American identity.
Tessa's Picks, 7th-8th grade, People of Color, Contemporary fiction, Romance, Family life, Character driven
With graduation behind her, Dimple is looking forward to Stanford and escaping her Indian mother’s obsession with finding the IIH (ideal Indian husband) for her. Even better they agree to let her attend a 6 week summer program at SFSU for aspiring web developers,her passion. Behind her back, her parents and Rishi’s have arranged for him to attend as well hoping to initiate an “arranged” marriage. Turn this book over...that is what happens. Rishi is a romantic and believes in traditional Indian values even to the point of denying his art which is his passion. Dimple is a feminist and focused on career. Despite their differences, these two fall in love. Set in foggy San Francisco, this is a sweet and feisty love story that will have you hoping for a happy ending.
Tessa"s Picks, 7th-8th grade, Character driven, People of color, Romance, Contemporary fiction
Elle's life is controlled by her wicked step-mother. One of the only bright spots is Starfield, a show her parents loved when they were alive. When it's announced that the latest teen heart-throb is cast as the lead in the new reboot, she's crushed. But when a costume contest for the show at the local comic con is announced, she sees its cash prize as her ticket to freedom. In her quest to alter her dad's costume and make it to the masquerade ball she'll find an unexpected fairy godmother and an even more surprising prince charming.
This is a great retelling of the Cinderella story. The magic pumpkin is replaced with a vegan food truck, the fairy godmother is a surly coworker, and the evil step-mother is...well...an evil step-mother. Some things don't change. I like that the story alternates between Elle's perspective and the actor playing the lead. Even better it turns out that he's more than some brainless heart-throb and is actually a huge fan of the show.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Grade Tags: contemporary fiction, fairy tales, people of color, retellings, romance
Seventeen –year old Harper Scott’s whole life has been ballet. She and her best friend Kate have held true to ”The Plan “which would place them in professional ballet companies after early graduation from high school. But the plan fails Harper; "Your love is evident," her instructor tells her. "But, darling, sometimes ballet does not love us back." Harper tries to move past disappointment and envision a new path forward which lands her in Antarctica, one of three lucky students to receive an internship. She is related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died attempting to reach the South Pole and that fact was the “luck.” Haunting her are her jealousy and anger that Kate has succeeded where she failed and doubts about her first ever romantic interest in Owen who she left in home town San Francisco. This is a story of what it means to have your whole life derailed, go to an unimaginably hostile, isolated and beautiful place and forge a whole new path for yourself. I loved this book; it broke my heart and then mended it.
Tessa's Picks, 6-8th grade, Character driven, Romance, Friendship, Contemporary fiction.
“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies, because the only way the world seems to be okay with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend. Well, I’m neither of those things.” Willowdean goes by Will to her friends and Dumplin' to her ex-beauty queen mother. She is unafraid to wear her swimsuit and if people stare, then that's their issue, not hers. But when she enters a beauty pageant with some other unlikely contenders, her mother is horrified. First kisses, broken friendships, Dolly Parton, drag queens, beauty pageants, and self-discovery. This is one year Dumplin' will never forget.
I cannot get enough of Will's bold and sassy voice and her defiant attitude. She is a character worth rooting for, even when she makes mistakes along the way. It was refreshing to read about body image issues that are prevalent in society but rarely discussed--especially in such a nuanced and honest way. Those aren't the only issues that receive such a frank treatment either. Evolving friendships, romantic relationships, grief, and mother-daughter relationships all get the same funny and insightful treatment. Plus there's Dolly Parton. What more could I ask for?
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, family life, friendship, humor, romance
Simon has a major crush, the only problem is he doesn't know who he's crushing on. After a pseudonymous post about not being openly gay in his high school, he met Blue. Blue and Simon have been messaging ever since, and Simon can't get enough of him. When another student discovers their e-mail conversations, everything is put in jeopardy. Simon is blackmailed with the threat of having not only his secrets revealed, but Blue's as well. How will he keep their secrets safe while staying true to himself? How far will the blackmail go? And most importantly, who is Blue?
All the characters are fleshed out from the kid blackmailing Simon to his embarrassing but loving parents. The play brought me back to my own high school theatre days and the ending was simply perfect.
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, LGBTQ, romance, school stories
“Not the truth, but close enough. Maybe she ought to make that her life motto” Echo is a runaway and a thief. She lives in a secret room in a library and survives on the edges of two societies: the one we know, and the society of the Avicen. The Avicen are a proud and ancient race of people who grow feathers instead of hair. Some might find this disconcerting, but they're the only family Echo has ever known. So when a threat to the Avicen emerges, Echo is determined to risk everything to help.
What's not to love: a girl who lives in a library, an alternate world full of magic and strange creatures hidden behind the one we know, a thief with a sarcastic wit but a strong moral compass. This book is firing on all cylinders.
Hardwicke Academy: the school of choice for the children of the DC elite. It's exclusive, it's secure, and it's about to be completely rocked by its newest student. Tess Kendrick is the younger sister of infamous political fixer Ivy Kendrick. Caught in a messy affair? Need to make a story disappear? If you're lucky, and you can afford it, you'll hire Ivy to take care of all your needs and keep your secrets. Tess grew up on a farm with her grandfather, about as far away from political intrigue as you can get. But her sister's reputation has preceded her and it isn't long before Tess is fixing problems for students on campus. Their parents are power players, and their problems go beyond school drama. Soon, Tess has uncovered a major scandal that even her sister might not be able to fix. With her life on the line and her world turned upside, she needs to decide where her loyalties lie and what she's willing to risk.
The plot is relentless and full of betrayals, twists, and high stakes. Tess is a very sympathetic character as she's thrust into a world she's completely unprepared for and tries to do her best. A fantastic political thriller.
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Erica's Pick 8th grade Tags: Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Fast-Paced, Romance, School Stories
Alina has always hidden her magic. She knew that her powers would set her apart. They'd take her away from her best friend, Mal, and the closest thing to family she had left. So she pretended to be normal, and she had everyone fooled. Until the day Mal got injured and only she could save him. Suddenly she's thrust into a world of magic and politics for which she was never prepared. With her country's fate in the balance, Alina needs to decide where her loyalties lie: with Mal and the other common soldiers, or with her fellow magic-wielders led by the mysterious Darkling.
Alina is a compelling protagonist and the choices she faces are complex and thrilling. The world is a fantasy one, but rooted in Russian mythology. There's many different factions at play which make for a complicated political situation as alliances are formed and broken and corruption is discovered in various guises. An excellent series from start to finish!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Erica's Picks 6th & up Tags: Adventure, Fantasy, Mytholgoy, Romance
Harper Scott doesn't have a life; she has the ballet. She doesn't go to parties, she doesn't date. Every spare minute is spent either practicing ballet or earning money for lessons and pointe shoes. But it's all okay because she has a plan: graduate high school early and audition for the SF Ballet. The moment she earns a spot in the company, all her sacrifices will be worth while. Unless, of course, it isn't. Unless she discovers that while she loves the ballet, it doesn't love her back. Unless it turns out it was all for nothing. Unless she has to go as far away as she can just to find out who she is. Which is how Harper Scott: ballet dancer ends up being Harper Scott: totally unprepared Antarctic Explorer.
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo Erica's Picks 8th & up Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Romance