As summer burns on, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the debut novels coming out this month, and don’t forget that any debut novels you read and love can be nominated for the William C Morris Award, sponsored by YALSA.
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris (Delacorte, 9780385739680) is a twist on zombie lore. When science geek Kate Grable takes a job as an assistant to her high school football team, she wasn’t prepared to uncover the secret her coach is hiding: he’s drugging them. But this drug doesn’t bulk them up — it makes them zombies. In this hilarious romp in the undead, Kate discovers that she may be the only one unable to unzombie-fy the football team and she may be able to uncover why coach thought this could be a good idea for his players. There is a little sweet romance in this clean story.
Speaking of funny paranormal debuts, Karsten Knight’s Wildefire (Simon and Schuster, 9781442421177) features quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor aimed at the genre. Ash, the main character, has had a hard time fitting in. She’s the only Polynesian girl at her school and her sister has earned a bit of a reputation as a wild and violent girl. But when her sister’s violence gets out of control, Ash transfers to a remote private school across the country, wherein she discovers she has more than a few special powers. Not only that, but it may be fate that led her to choose this school to attend, as she learns that she isn’t the normal girl she thought she was: she’s part of a group of gods and goddesses at this school. Knight’s story combines mythology with paranormal elements, and it is sure to please your fans of paranormal stories (and even those who like to mock those sorts of stories). It’s a little violent, so proceed with caution.
Medeia Sharif offers up her Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. (Flux, 9780738723231) this month, as well. Almira’s an American Muslim, and she struggles to understand the rules and rituals that her strictly religious parents practice. During Ramadan, she can’t eat from sunrise to sunset, and maybe worse, she isn’t allowed to date. She’s fallen hard for Peter, an artist and fellow classmate, though he’s caught the attention of her best friend Lisa and one of the other Muslim girls in her class (who, she notes, doesn’t follow the principles of modesty she does). Sharif’s book is a look at a girl coming to terms growing up as both Muslim and American.
Holyhill, Minnesota doesn’t exactly sound like the place that someone who isn’t rich, Christian, and straight would belong — and that is exactly the place where Laura Goode’s Sister Mischief (Candlewick, 9780763646407) takes place. Even though Esme Rockett is a Jewish lesbian hip hop lyricist and doesn’t fit the mold of her small town, she’s not rocked the boat too much yet. She and her band have pretty much flown under the radar. That is, they did until Esme starts having feelings for Rowie, one of her band mates. Suddenly, things don’t look so easy for her or for the band.
Put on your sunscreen, pull out your hammock, and dive into one of these July debuts before this summer ends. And don’t forget — you have the power to nominate those debuts you find Morris Award-worthy simply by going here.