Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Chicago teenager Birdie Randolph studies hard and follows her parents’ rules, at least until she meets Booker. Knowing her parents would not approve of his previous run-in with law enforcement, Birdie is soon sneaking out of the house and lying to her parents in order to see him. With a secret boyfriend, and the arrival of a mysterious aunt bearing devastating family secrets, Birdie’s summer promises to be revolutionary.
This is a sweet coming-of-age story featuring a diverse cast of characters, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. Sixteen-year-old Birdie is a compelling and well-developed protagonist, with an engaging group of friends and family members. Her rebellions will seem familiar to many teens, including pushing back against parental authority & experimenting with sex and alcohol. Colbert steadily builds tension throughout the book as readers wait for Birdie to get caught with her boyfriend. The arrival of Birdie’s aunt Carleen also brings with it plenty of family tension, and discussions about the nature of addiction and its consequences. There’s a dramatic ending, where multiple secrets are revealed, and Birdie discovers how to advocate for herself and her future.
Readers who enjoy stories of teenagers struggling against parental expectations, such as I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (2017), or American Panda by Gloria Chao (2018) will appreciate Birdie’s tale.
–Kathleen J. Barker
Roam by C.H. Armstrong
Central Avenue Publishing
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Abby’s family has nothing left for them in Omaha. They pick up and move to Rochester, leaving behind the bad situation, but is being homeless in a new town any better? Abby manages to hide the fact that she is living with her family in a van as she builds new friendships and starts dating the star of the football team, but not having a home is difficult to say the least, and if she is discovered, will her new friends abandon her?
This book grabs a reader right away with Abby’s family starting over in a new town, where they have nowhere to live, but is still better than where they were. Abby’s new friendships and the sweet love story build as parts of her past are revealed. Filled with typical YA romance tropes, but set in an uncompromising look at the real problem of homelessnes, make this a compelling read for reluctant readers.
Readers of YA romance will love the teen angst romance in this book. Those who liked Sleeping in My Jeans by Connie King Leonard will find another exploration of the realities of transitional homelessness in Roam.
— Cathy Outten currently reading When the Ground is Hard