Hey YA Readers!
It’s been a while since I have found myself on a reading roll but it’s happening now and has been great. I blew through The Blackwoods by Brandy Colbert – I’m definitely going to be writing about it in an upcoming newsletter – and I’m working my way now through Phoebe Wahl’s Phoebe’s Diary, which is giving me Louise Rennison vibes (with the added bonus of it feeling like the kind of mixed media book that was super popular in the late 00s/early 10s). I hope you’re finding joy in your current reads, too.
Did you know that Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive? During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required! (My piece for this month centers on the increase of book prices over the last 5 years, and previously, I wrote about the publishing power of Barbie!).
Book Lover Motel Keychain by PeachAvenueDesign
I love a good motel-style keychain, love a groovy vintage font, and love when I have the funds to go on a book-buying spree. This book lover keychain is calling my name and maybe your name, too. There are a ton of colors to choose from. $12.
September and October are a bounty of excellent new books every year, and this year is no different. Choosing just a few to highlight was challenging, but you can grab this week’s full list of new releases over here (I cheated and am talking about three, rather than my usual two, because there are so many!).
The Meadows by Stephanie Oakes
Eleanor’s acceptance into The Meadows is her ticket out of a community ravaged by climate change. Those who attend elite institutions like it are primed for great lives when they’re done.
But The Meadows is not what it seems. It is instead a reform institution, meant to erase the passions and urges of its students and groom them into a singular mindset and way of living. Eleanor is ready to believe the lessons of The Meadows, until she meets Rose.
As Eleanor and her friends embark on their post-Meadows life, though, everything she thought she knew about herself and her life unravels. Now she puts her life – and Rose’s – at stake.
This one is being called a modern take on The Handmaid’s Tale and Never Let Me Go.
Rez Ball by Byron Graves
Tre Brun is a great basketball player with dreams of making it to the NBA. He’s happy now playing for his Red Lake Reservation team, even as he struggles with the feelings he has surrounding the death of his brother Jaxon.
When Tre is invited to the varsity team and Jaxon’s friends offer to be guides in his transition, the pressure is on. He’s got to be on his game and work hard to bring his team to the state. But can he focus enough to do so? Can he live up to what his brother would want for him?
If you want Native sports story, look no further than this engaging story of an Ojibwe teen and community.
Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson
At the top of the newsletter, I mentioned my current reading spree and this is one of the first books in a long time I sat down and read cover to cover in a day.
Set over the course of a short time frame – one week – and mostly in the Pink Mountain Pizza shop, the story follows three teens who work there and their array of concerns, especially as the shop’s owner announces the place has been sold. There’s Berlin, an overachieving Native teen; Cameron, whose cousin Kiki went missing and is among the numerous Native women and girls whose stories go untold; and there’s Jessie, a rich girl who doesn’t need the job but wants to prove she is more than what her family tells her that she is. The story begins with Berlin seeing who she believes to be Kiki and involves an array of big, meaty topics, including anti-Blackness, the challenges of progress vs. that of embracing change, the realities of missing Native girls, women, and Two-Spirit people, and so much more.
All three characters are rich and engaging, and honestly…read this one with a pizza.
Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off later this week, and to celebrate all things Latine heritage, how about a pair of YA anthologies that bring together an incredible array of these cultural voices? Note that I’ve elected to use the terminology used by the creators here, and I also want to share this thoughtful piece from NPR in 2021 about the phrase “Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Our Shadows Have Claws edited by Yamile Saied Méndez and Amparo Ortiz
The lineup for this anthology is out of this world good, which doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the theme: Latin American monster stories! The collection is cross-genre and features something for every kind of reader, exploring the different shapes and stories behind monsters we know — and ones that may be new to us. Zombies! Cannibals! Ghost-Witches! Shapeshifters!
Contributors include Chantel Acevedo, Courtney Alameda, Julia Alvarez, Ann Dávila Cardinal, M. García Peña, Racquel Marie, Gabriela Martins, Yamile Saied Méndez, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Claribel A. Ortega, Amparo Ortiz, Lilliam Rivera, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Ari Tison, and Alexandra Villasante.
Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell
If you’d like a collection of engrossing reads but want to be surprised by the array of genres and themes, you’ll do well with this one. The contributor list is strong, and the stories include everything from superheroes to grief, travel to ghosts, with the unifying theme being one of questioning and dismantling myths and stereotypes of the people from the Latinx diaspora.
Contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.
One you’ll want to get on your preorder ASAP list is Relit: 16 Latinx Remixes of Classic Stories edited by Sandra Proudman, which is exactly what it sounds like – stories you know with a Latinx spin. It’ll be released next February.
As always, thanks for hanging out! I will see you later this week for your YA paperbacks and news roundups.
Until then, happy reading!
–Kelly Jensen, who launched her own Substack that you can follow.