Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

  • The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
  • by Issac Blum
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Imprint: Philomel Books
  • Release Date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593525821

Hoodie moves to a small Philly suburb with his family and members of their Orthodox Jewish community. It’s culture shock for the residents and for Hoodie, who has never had close contact with non-Jewish people. With the mayor leading the charge against her newest neighbors, Hoodie befriends her daughter, Anna-Marie, much to the horror of his family and community. As they try to maintain their rocky friendship, the tension in town boils over leading to horrifying outcomes.

Hoodie’s amusing inner and outer dialogue bring levity and laughs to a serious story. The ripped from the headlines events are understandable to readers and perfectly portray how situations can quickly become volatile in the age of social media. Hoodie and Anna-Marie are polar opposites yet they both struggle with the confines placed on them by their parents and seek to find a balance that works for them.

Hand this to readers interested in issues-oriented stories and fans of In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton and Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8, 2022

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Booklist: Pride Month Reading

June is Pride Month and ALA’s GLBT Book Month both of which celebrate the lives and experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) people. You can join the Pride movement yourself with this reading list to keep you busy for the rest of June and into the summer.

cover art collage for Booklist: Pride Month Reading

  1. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler: Vanessa Park is passionate about acting and loves being on set–even with her flirty co-star Josh Chester. Van’s happy to have her new career handler, Brianna, but unsure what to do when her friendly feelings for Bri become something else.
  2. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (2016 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage. She knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war. Elián Palnik is a new hostage who refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes and all of the rules as she struggles to save Elián and herself.
  3. Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman: Alex feels like her life is finally coming together when she stops hormone treatments and chooses to live life as a girl.
  4. Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry: Brooklyn expects to find her people and her niche at a summer apprenticeship at the Allerdale Playhouse. She and her roommate Zoe hit it off immediately. But as their friendship turns into something more, Brooklyn realizes that love isn’t nearly as simple as she thought.
  5. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults): When Alex’s spell to get rid of her magic backfires and her family disappears from their Brooklyn home, she’ll have to travel to the world of Los Lagos to get them back with help from her best friend Rishi and a strange brujo boy with his own agenda.
  6. George by Alex Gino: Charlotte wants everyone to see her for who she really is and to play Charlotte in her class play of Charlotte’s Web. But for any of that to happen she has to come up with a plan to help everyone know the real her instead of the boy they see when they look at her.
  7. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 William C. Morris Debut Award): Caught between her traditional Portuguese parents and her friend Colby who wants loyalty for things Pen isn’t sure she should support will force Pen to find her own way through.
  8. None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio: Kristen had her life figured out until her decision to have sex with her boyfriend changes everything Kristen thought she knew about herself.
  9. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults): When Rafe moves to a new all boys’ boarding school he decides to start with a clean slate where he isn’t “the gay kid.” Except keeping a secret like that isn’t easy. Especially when he might also be falling in love.
  10. Pantomime by Laura Lam: Gene runs away from nobility where being intersex could have Gene shunned forever. Hoping to escape her stifling life, Gene reinvents herself as Micah Grey–a performer quick to dazzle with his aerialist skills.
  11. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson: Can fan fiction turn to true love for two superfans of a popular TV show?
  12. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (2017 Alex Award): Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children takes in used-up miracle children who have outgrown their knack for finding hidden lands. When a new girl, Nancy, arrives it becomes clear that a darkness lurks at the home and it will be up to Nancy and her schoolmates to unravel the secrets of the Home and their own pasts.
  13. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Can best friends Miel and Sam protect Miel and the roses that grow out of her wrists from the Bonner sisters, rumored witches, who seem intent to stealing them at any cost?
  14. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian: Will doesn’t know why he hooks up with his best friend Angus. He doesn’t think he’s gay–especially not when he’s so into Brandy, a new girl at his school. But how can he love and want them both so badly?
  15. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Ramona is six feet tall. She knows she likes girls, she loves her family, and she knows her future is going to be amazing. Her growing feelings for her childhood best friend Freddie make Ramona question everything she knows and show her that life, and love, are much more fluid than she thought.
  16. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (2016 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): When it feels like every week there’s a new impending doom, sometimes the most extraordinary thing to do is live your regular not-chosen-one life. Even if your best friend is worshiped by cats.
  17. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Tash doesn’t know what to think when her obscure web series skyrockets to fame and popularity. The sudden fame can take her online flirtation to IRL but first Tash has to figure out how to explain that she’s romantic asexual. Oh and there’s the whole delivering the best web series ever to her forty thousand new subscribers.
  18. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): Amanda’s plans to keep a low profile during her senior year are tested when she meets Grant and feels understood for maybe the first time. But she isn’t sure how to get closer to Grant and her new friends with her newly public transgender identity.
  19. What We Left Behind by Robin Talley: Dream couple Toni and Gretchen fully expect to stay together as they start college. Then Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, finds belong for the first time with a group of transgender classmates while Gretchen tries to remember who she is without Toni at her side. Can love keep them together as they start to grow apart?
  20. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Interspersed with Darcy Patel’s story of trying to find herself and become a professional author is the story that brought her to New York in the first place: Lizzie’s adventures in Afterworlds. Darcy and Lizzie’s worlds blend together in this story about facing your fears and finding yourself.

Continue reading Booklist: Pride Month Reading

Booklist: Books for Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Jenny Han’s heroine Lara Jean Song endeared herself to readers in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P. S. I Still Love You. In 2017 readers will get to read the highly anticipated last chapter in Lara Jean’s story Always and Forever, Lara Jean. This booklist will help fill the Lara Jean shaped hole in your heart during the wait until its April 2017 release.

Lara Jean Read-a-likes collage with cover art for To All the Boys I've Loved Before, PS I Still Love You, Always and Forever Lara Jean

(And, if you’re anything like me and consider yourself Lara Jean’s number one fan, you might want to check out these fan buttons I made to declare your allegiance online.)

If You Want a Book With Sensational Sisters:


  1. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway: Sisters April, May, and June rediscover their childhood powers after their parents’ divorce. April sees the future, May disappears, and June reads minds. The powers help them cope with a tumultuous year but could they also have a bigger purpose?
  2. The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman: When Katie’s family moves from New York City to rural Fir Lake, she expects to face all of the changes with her older sister, Michaela. But the harder Katie clings to her memories of the city, the more Michaela adapts to life in Fir Lake, leaving Katie to wonder what happens when your best friend starts to look like someone you don’t know.
  3. Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu: Missing her sister as she immerses herself in college life, Montana dives head first into a friendship with Karissa, an intoxicating girl from her acting class. Throwing herself into new relationships and trying to remake herself, Montana isn’t sure if she is losing herself or finding herself for the first time.
  4. The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson: Sisters Brooks, May, and Palmer don’t know how to cope with their father’s sudden death. Brooks starts drinking, Palmer focuses on softball and middle sister May is left to hold their family together. As the girls drift apart they each gravitate to their father’s 1967 Pontiac Firebird. The Golden Firebird might be a horrible reminder of everything they have lost, but it might also be the key to finally moving on.
  5. Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan: Josie can always translate the things around her into her own native language of Josie. But living a life in translation is exhausting–especially with her sister marrying an insufferable man. Love is found in many languages. With so many things around her changing, Josie is about to get a crash course in the true meaning of the word. 

Continue reading Booklist: Books for Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Throwback Thursday: Tenderness by Robert Cormier


It’s easy to focus on exciting new releases in YA fiction, but there are titles that stand the test of time and are still relevant to today’s readers. Throwback Thursdays highlights those novels with enduring themes and appeal.

It may seem like just yesterday when you read about the disturbing main character in Cormier’s Tenderness, but the current reader who is 16 years old was not even born when this book was published.  Television and books today are populated with crime shows, serial killers, and loads of suspense, but these books have always had an audience.

Lori is looking for tenderness.  Not the kind she receives from her mother’s boyfriends, but true tenderness where someone will notice and care for her.  She hopes to find that tenderness in Eric.  Eric is also looking for tenderness.  This tenderness seems to always be out of reach, except for that fraction of a moment before death.  The death he brings to others.  Eric is finally leaving jail at the age of 18 for killing his parents.  He claims it was self-defense, but Detective Proctor knows better.  He believes that Eric has also killed at least two other girls, but can’t prove it. This novel will keep you filled with anticipation as Lori and Eric’s lives intersect and as Detective Proctor is determined to make sure that Eric will never kill again.

#TBT Tenderness by Robert Cormier, published in 1997  

Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Tenderness by Robert Cormier

Hub Bloggers Love: Young Adult Fiction Without Romance

While many people might wish to continue celebrating Valentine’s Day with romantic reads, there are plenty of readers who prefer their fiction fairly romance-free.  If librarian listservs and Twitter conversations are anything to go by, “books with little to no romance” are a common but surprisingly challenging readers’ advisory request in libraries across the country and all year round.  Again, the Hub bloggers are here to help!


This week we gathered together showcase some of our favorite young adult fiction where romance is either absent or plays a minor role in the story.  Through the combined efforts of the Hub blogging team, we’ve collected a varied list of primarily recent titles that should provide books with appeal for a wide range of readers.  Hopefully, you will spot something to please your readers on a quest for literature with a more platonic focus.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston (2015 Morris Award Finalist; 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his female bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat. Siobhan and Owen’s strong bond is based on their friendship and common goal, but there’s no romance involved.   – Sharon R.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Kaz, a member of the Dregs gang, has scored a big heist but he needs help.  He enlists five others to help him break into the unbreakable Ice Court to steal some precious cargo.   – Dawn A.

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge 

Ever since she fell into a nearby pond, Triss has been horribly aware that something is wrong.  She’s suddenly developed an insatiable appetite, her little sister seems afraid of her and inanimate objects like dolls not only speak–they scream.  To discover what’s happened to her and her family, Triss must journey into strange and bizarre worlds within, beyond, and beneath her world.      – Kelly D.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1997 Best Books for Young Adults; 2003 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults; 1997 Newbery Honor)

Gen is the best thief in the world and can do whatever he wants to do. At least that is what he claims before he is caught and imprisoned by the King of Sounis. The king’s main advisor soon hatches a plan to harness Gen’s skills in order to steal a holy relic and conquer Sounis’ enemies. An adventure full of unusual characters, storytelling, and mythology.   – Miriam W.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

In a different world, the library of Alexandria survived. The library governs the people, selecting knowledge to filter to the people. Jess’s father works as a book smuggler. He decides that Jess’s value lies in his future – at the library as a spy. He forces Jess to take the entrance exam. Jess passes the exam and heads off for basic training.   – Jennifer R.

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

Lozen grew up in a divided world—there were the Ones, whose genetic and technological augmentation set them apart, and the mere humans who served them.  Then the Cloud came. Digital technology stopped working and much of the world is a wasteland, peppered with monsters—the Ones’ genetically engineered pets gone wild.  Now, Lozen hunts down these creatures, serving the remaining Ones in exchange for her family’s safety.  But Lozen is more than a monster exterminator—she’s destined to be a hero.  – Kelly D. Continue reading Hub Bloggers Love: Young Adult Fiction Without Romance

Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

There are no shortages of books for young adults that tackle mental illness; The Hub has focused on books for Mental Health Awareness Month and also written about the trend of suicide and depression in Young Adult literature in just the last year. But today for Reality Scoop, we’re focusing on characters in YA novels who develop coping mechanisms for dealing with depression and anxiety throughout the course of the story.

YALSA realistic fiction column

Fiction According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), about 20% of teens suffer from mental health issues and nearly 30% have depression before adulthood.  The impact on teens is more than just statistics, it’s the feelings and the emotions that they deal with that hurt the most.  Mental health problems just make things so much harder for teens.  It makes their home life, school and socializing much more difficult than it should be.   Continue reading Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

Reality Scoop: Holiday Stress Relief

The holiday season is upon us and it can be a very stressful time for many teens and their families.  Some families may have financial problems and the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping can heighten teens stress to an uncomfortable level.  Or they may have divorced parents and have split holiday plans. Worrying about where they will spend the holidays can actually put quite a strain on teens.12-28-09 ornaments148.jpg

It’s important to understand the amount of stress that teens are under during the holidays.  The majority of their usual stress centers around social issues like peer pressure, bullying and homework, and then there’s the money issues that arise when parents and caregivers don’t have enough to get through the holidays.  A recent survey done by the American Psychological Association showed that as many as 45% of teens reported that thy were under a lot of stress during the holidays.  Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of the parents did not even notice that their teens felt stressed.  Sadly, their stress does affect the quality of their lives as it was noted that 42% of teens complained of headaches, 49% mentioned difficulty sleeping, and 39% expressed that they have issues with eating properly. Continue reading Reality Scoop: Holiday Stress Relief

Reality Scoop: Domestic Violence in YA Fiction

I love realistic fiction!

It’s true, my taste in reading YA literature seems to bounce around a lot from fantasy to horror to science fiction, but somehow I always end up back with realistic fiction. I think that realistic fiction is a very important genre for teens to have access to. Many of the topics that are covered in these books are serious and affect teens their daily lives. I have worked with teens in a community where poverty is high and the stress is even higher and have seen how reading realistic fiction can make a difference in their lives.

I also think it’s important to be able to recommend realistic fiction books to teens so they can experience real life situations that are fictional as sort of an experimental look-see so to speak. I know for me, when I read realistic fiction it makes me feel like I am going through the experiences with the characters. When teens read realistic fiction they might go through the highs and lows, the good and the bad, while sampling small glimpses of the deeper and darker experiences that tend to stay with us throughout most of our lives. This is a safer way of experiencing without really having to bear the drama or angst themselves. It’s like trying something on, but then putting it back on the shelf when you are done. Likewise, teens who have had troubling experience can see that they are not alone, and teens who haven’t dealt with these issues can develop empathy for those who have.

reality scoop

Many topics come to my mind regarding realistic fiction, so each month I will recommend a list of books that explore the common themes that reflect life changing events for teens. Realistic fiction can also melt over into mysteries, thrillers, adventures, yet they always stay rooted in reality.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness (DVAM), this month’s focus will be on various ranges of violent behavior that can occur between teens and their family members or partners. Abusive behavior can happen in all types of families and is present in all cultures and economic classes. Continue reading Reality Scoop: Domestic Violence in YA Fiction

Middle School Pride : LGBTQ+ Tweens in Literature for Youth

rainbow heart ballons guillaume paumier
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpaumier/

Middle school (usually 5th through 8th grade) is an incredible time.  Kids begin to see themselves as part of a larger world, their minds and bodies go into development overdrive, and their relationships with everyone can shift dramatically.  Middle schoolers are heavily invested in figuring out their identities; they push for increased independence from adults while often desperately seeking a sense of belonging among their peers.  These experiences can be especially confusing, painful, or frightening for kids who feel different–such as kids whose gender identities or sexual orientations stand out in our still very binary and heteronormative culture.

This spring, Buzzfeed published an article titled “Coming Out As Gay in Elementary School,” which interviewed a few children and their families on their experiences coming out as gay, genderless, and queer at ages ranging from 7 to 13 years old.  The article also cites research and interviews with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project.  In a 2009 practice brief, Dr. Ryan notes that their research shows that “both gay and straight children have their first ‘crush’ or attraction to another person at age 10” and on average, adolescents in their studies identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual at age 13.4 (2).  In the same report, she reiterates that children develop and express gender identity at ages 2-3 (2).

As a librarian,  I want to be able to provide all of my students with stories that both reflect their lives, experiences, and identities and expand their understanding of our diverse world.  Since these studies and testimonies clearly illustrate the relevance of LBGTQ+ stories to middle school students, I wondered: how many middle school age characters who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum show up in middle grade and young adult fiction?

Happily, we are beginning to see more and more novels featuring 10-14 year old LGBTQ+ characters. However, I struggled to find representations of girls who like girls or transgender boys, which was disheartening.  We’ve got some great titles currently available and several exciting titles set to be published this year. But I’d love to see even more, especially featuring lesbian/bisexual/queer girls and transgender boys!

dramaDrama – Raina Telgemeier (2013 Stonewall Honor Book, 2013 Rainbow List, 2013 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

While her painfully bad singing rules out a future as an actor, theatre fanatic Callie has found her place backstage as a set designer. When talented twins Justin and Jesse join the middle school musical, the drama on and off stage reaches new heights. Callie’s thrilled to have a fun new friend in openly gay Justin and she hopes that quiet Jesse might be the boy to help her get over her crush on her old friend Greg.

so hard to saySo Hard To Say – Alex Sanchez

Thirteen year old Xio is confident, bubbly, and ready for first kisses and romance.  When shy Frederick starts at school, Xio is happy to lend him a pen and invite him to join her lunch table.  The two quickly become close friends but as Xio’s attempts to transform their relationship into romance escalate, Frederick finds himself increasingly attracted to handsome soccer player Victor.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim FederleBetter Nate Than Ever (2014 Rainbow List, 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 Stonewall Honor Book) and Five, Six, Seven, Nate- Tim Federle (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 Lamda Literary Awardfive six seven nate

When thirteen year old Nate hears about open auditions for the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of E.T. : The Musical, he will stop at nothing to get to New York City and claim his rightful space in the spotlight.  Along the way, Nate faces merciless competition, perilous public transportation, and growing questions about his sexuality and identity.  Nate’s adventures continue in the sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!   Continue reading Middle School Pride : LGBTQ+ Tweens in Literature for Youth

Booklist: Extreme Weather in YA Lit

You know the saying, “April showers bring may flowers!” As we experience some changing weather this month, let’s take a look at some teen novels that center on extreme weather to drive their plots.



Torn Awayhowtobuildahousehurricane song coverempty

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers)

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt (2009 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi (2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Continue reading Booklist: Extreme Weather in YA Lit