The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves; narrated by Christian Barillas
Release date: 02-11-20
When caught on video being punched by a kid in the locker room, David’s embarrassment goes viral. Feeling that the only way to save face is to beef up, he starts following a famous action star’s fitness program, with promises of incredible muscle gains in the three months of summer. He plans to go back to school as a new man. Discovering that the kinds of gains he is looking for are only possible with chemical help, he turns to steroids with the help of the owner of his gym. Further disillusioned when he finds out that the ill gotten gains will be lost if he stops taking the drugs, he starts spiraling down a road of steroid abuse.
David’s story is a hard one, but he is such a lovable character even when making bad choices. The story is real and considers a not often talked about problem of teen boy’s body issues. The #ownvoices account is dark and sad at times, but hopeful in the end as David is able to turn away from the drugs.
Similar to other stories of drug addiction in teens like Heroine by Mindy McGinnus and books about cyberbullying, and toxic masculinity, The New David Espinoza is a hard look at a very true reality not often explored in YA literature.
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone; narrated by Dion Graham
Release Date: January 7, 2020
When William “Scoob” Lamar’s G’ma shows up in her brand-new Winnebago, wanting to go on a road trip with him, he jumps at the chance. He got in big trouble at school, his strict father cancelled their spring break trip and Scoob is majorly grounded. Turns out, this road trip is one that his white G’ma tried to take with his black G’pop back in the 1960s but had to cut short because of the rampant segregation and racism of that era. G’ma starts acting unlike her normal cheery, kind, self and Scoob takes it upon himself to figure out what is wrong and in the process learns more about his family’s secrets and what it was like to be a person of color in America than he ever thought he would.
Stone writes a thought-provoking, character-driven story that deals with important issues in a way that younger readers will understand and relate. Readers will enjoy the quirky grandma. Graham’s voice is rich and emotive, moving seamlessly between Scoob’s naive and hopeful voice and G’ma’s older one. There are many moods and emotions in this work, and Graham succeeds at all of them.
This title is perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Sharon Draper and Angie Thomas. For other titles that deal with racism and racial identity, check out From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds, and Internment by Samira Ahmed. For fans of the show Mixed-ish, this title also explores the same themes of belonging and growing up mixed race.