Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner
Macmillan / Feiwel Friends
Publication Date: June 25, 2018
After starting out as a class assignment, but turning into an unsent e-mail journal, Brynn Harper begins emailing Rachel Maddow as she works through her feelings while dealing with the death of her brother and a heated school election.
While this book deals with many heavy issues in Brynn’s life, including the death of her brother a year before, her girlfriend recently breaking up with her, and an abusive stepfather, her foul mouth and blunt look on life made this a funny, but poignant read. The format for the story, told entirely through emails, with most of them from Brynn to Rachel Maddow, but a few from secondary characters are sprinkled in, make this a quick, but still impactful read. The inclusion of student elections tie in Maddow’s political following and made for a very interesting backdrop for a story about a girl finding out where she fits in the world where she feels she doesn’t belong, and that anyone can make a difference.
Fans of Romana Blue by Julie Murphy, Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli as well as fans of political commentary from pundits like Rachel Maddow and John Oliver will enjoy the Brynn’s unique voice and compelling story.
Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Hachette
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Yvonne found solace in music after her mom walked out on her and her distant father. With graduation now on the horizon, she grapples with her future after being forced to change her musical plans. When her love interest, Warren, chooses work over her, she turns to a mysterious stranger who lures her in with his unique musical abilities, and understanding of what she is going through. She struggles to find herself as she navigates love, baking, and her own sexuality.
On the verge of adulthood, Yvonne worries she will never live up to the standards that she has created for herself, while living in the shadow of her father’s success with his restaurant. When her love for violin falters, she starts to question the path she has chosen. Her story is incredibly relatable to teens that are soon to graduate high school and are questioning what they want to do with their lives. The author combats slut shaming while depicting safe and consensual sex positive scenes that are much needed in YA lit today. Colbert delivers powerful themes in small moments between characters, including commentary about black erasure in the media, contraceptives, and having more than one sexual partner at a time. Secondary characters are intricately tied to the story and strategically placed in every scene.
Fans of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo will find that same raw discussion surrounding sexuality and being a teen girl today. Those who loved The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon will be drawn to the open discussion of navigating intersectionality, love, and carving a path of your own.
Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
Flatiron / Macmillan
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
After her mother abandoned her when she was four, Frankie Vega’s brash, lovable aunt took her in and raised her. Now, a half-brother suddenly presents himself, and just as Frankie begins to get to know him, he disappears. Frankie is the only one who seems worried about his whereabouts so, with the support of her best friend Cara and a new bad-boy acquaintance, Nate, she takes it upon herself to find out what has happened to him.
Set against a backdrop of a small town in Australia, Frankie is a powerful novel that begs the reader to ask questions about our society, class and gender. Frankie herself is a strong female character whose wit and passion will keep the reader rooting for her despite her sometimes questionable decisions.
With enough intrigue to keep readers guessing, this contemplative novel and the clever dialog between its cast of characters will satisfy fans of John Green’s Paper Towns and Jacqueline Woodson’s After Tupac and D Foster.
–Celeste Rhoads and Cate Merlin