#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, August 17 Edition

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
ISBN: 978-0399544682 

Amal is a bright girl with a thirst for knowledge. Living in her Pakistani village with her family, she dreams of becoming a teacher someday, but must stop her education when her mother needs extra assistance at home after the birth of another sister. Things take a dire turn when Amal mistakenly insults a member of the powerful Khan family, and as punishment is forced into indentured servitude at the Khan estate. Surviving in a hopeless situation using her intelligence and determination, Amal begins to uncovers the corruption at the hands of the Khans and must choose to what to do about it.

Amal is an amazing character and even when faced with such a horrible situation, readers will love reading her triumph in such clever and selfless ways. While the grief she feels being taken away from school and then her family is heartbreaking, Amal is the most self-determined character and constantly throughout the story overcomes one obstacle after another. The fact that Amal’s story is based off of real-life indentured servitude, corruption, and economic disparity happening in other parts of the world, makes this a story that not only tugs at the heartstrings, but is a call to action about injustice.

Fans of I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, as well a culturally diverse stories based on current events will love Amal Unbound.

–Molly Dettmann


Breakout by Kate Messner
Bloomsbury’s Children’s / Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
ISBN: 9781681195360

The residents of Wolf Creek deal with fear, suspicion, and hatred within all of them when two inmates from the local prison escape. Told in letters, texts, transcripts, and other paraphernalia, the children of the town tell the story of the escape for their town’s time capsule.

Breakout examines racism, the American prison system, and growing up. The story captures multiple points of view that will connect with many middle grade students. We have Nora, an aspiring 7th grade journalist searching for the truth, learning to dive deeper than first impressions, her best friend Lizzie, comedian and a voice of levity until her family is caught up in the investigation, and Elidee, new to the school, one of two black students in the entire school, and her brother is an inmate.  The main characters deal with family issues,, reevaluating what justice is, and the struggles of trying to become a better person while growing up. This book also comes with resources for various ages on the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives matter.

This book will work well for readers who enjoyed The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore, Posted by John David Anderson, Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank, and Ghost by Jason Reynolds.

— Mary Gensel and Molly Dettmann


Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by M. T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson
Schwartz & Wade / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
ISBN: 978-1524716196 

Six women would forever be changed by Henry the VIII’s ruthless ambition. Each of them must navigate Henry’s unpredictable nature, the political machinations of his court, and their own feelings concerning motherhood. Seven authors tell the story of each wife, interjecting Henry’s own interpretation of the events.

Henry the VIII’s six wives with their own unique set of circumstances are given the spotlight in this skillfully constructed novel. The Fatal Throne not only presents a well-rounded introduction to Henry’s wives, but it also offers an insight on how they might have felt about each other. Though a fictional account, the authors have done extensive research (back matter provided) to provide accuracy as much as possible while still employing poetic license. Each author is responsible for a different persona, providing the respective wives and Henry with their own distinctive voices.

This introduction will appeal to fans of VIII by Castor, Maid of the King’s Court by Worsley, and Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

–Lorrie Roussin