New Release Spotlight: August 4, 2020 (YA Titles)

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Whew! A big week for all three lists! This is the YA list. Not to be missed this week: The Black Kids, Lobizona, and More Than Just a Pretty Face. The Middle Grade and Picture Book Spotlights are linked at the bottom of this list.

ABOUT THE SPOTLIGHT

The New Release Spotlight began in May 2016 as a way to help librarians keep up with the many new children’s and YA books that are released each week. Every Tuesday, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers.

The titles on this week’s list are #872-#880 on The Ginormous book list.

*Lobizona by Romina Garber

Some people ARE illegal. Lobizonas do NOT exist. Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past―a mysterious “Z” emblem―which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal…it’s her entire existence.

Booklist and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, supernatural, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: Miami, Florida, undocumented immigrants, ICE, grandparents, witches, Argentine folklore, werewolves, Argentina

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Los Angeles, 1992. Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family facade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Rodney King riots, racism, Los Angeles, California, violence, police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter, African Americans, privilege

The Good for Nothings by Danielle Banas

Cora Saros is trying her best to join the family business of theft and intergalactic smuggling. Unfortunately, she’s a total disaster. After landing herself in prison following an attempted heist gone wrong, she strikes a bargain with the prison warden: He’ll expunge her record if she brings back a long-lost treasure rumored to grant immortality.

Cora is skeptical, but with no other way out, she assembles a crew from her cellmates–a disgraced warrior from an alien planet; a cocky pirate who claims to have the largest ship in the galaxy; and a glitch-prone robot with a penchant for baking–and take off after the fabled prize. But the ragtag group soon discovers that not only is the too-good-to-be-true treasure very real, but they’re also not the only ones on the hunt for it. And it’s definitely a prize worth killing for.

Give this one to fans of Starflight (Landers)

  • Genre(s): science fiction, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: organized crime, family criminals, heists, treasure hunt, prison, pirates, space opera

I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner

Maisie is about to turn sixteen and her grandmother and brother Davy are only sometime allies in a very tumultuous household, with an abusive mother and a cheating father. Maisie struggles with friendship, her growing sexuality, and with her future–she wants to be an artist but her mother isn’t supportive.

Most of all, Maisie is struggling to discover herself–who she is and what she wants. In a home that tells her she is worth nothing, Maisie uses her creativity to draw a brighter future for herself, one where she is fully realized. As heartbreaking as it is inspiring, Cellophane Girl is unafraid to show the messy parts of growing up, while reveling in the passion of young friendship, first love, sexuality, and art.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, free verse
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: family problems, abuse, siblings, brothers and sisters, artists

It Came From the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only…there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town―it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon’s obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

  • Genre(s): humor, science fiction, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: hoaxes, aliens, science experiments, truth, Lansburg, Pennsylvania, UFOs, brothers, multiple formats

Some Kind of Animal by Maria Romasco-Moore

Jo lives in the same Appalachian town where her mother disappeared fifteen years ago. Everyone knows what happened to Jo’s mom. She was wild, and bad things happen to girls like that.

Now people are starting to talk about Jo. She’s barely passing her classes and falls asleep at her desk every day. She’s following in her mom’s footsteps.

Jo does have a secret. It’s not what people think, though. Not a boy or a drug habit. Jo has a twin sister.

Jo’s sister is not like most people. She lives in the woods–catches rabbits with her bare hands and eats them raw. Night after night, Jo slips out of her bedroom window and meets her sister in the trees. And together they run, fearlessly.

The thing is, no one’s ever seen Jo’s sister. So when her twin attacks a boy from town, everyone assumes that it was Jo. Which means Jo has to decide–does she tell the world about her sister, or does she run?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): mystery, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: missing parents, Appalachia, twins, sisters, mistaken identity, family secrets, feral children, Ohio, societal judgment

 

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: chefs, generational gap, immigrant families, arranged marriage, prep school, Pakistani Americans, Islam

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Debut author! In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems. Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it. But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

Note to librarians: SLJ recommends mature teen readers due to “strong language, drug use, and full sex scenes.”

  • Genre(s): mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Long Island, New York, murder, best friends, social hierarchy, popularity, false accusations, confessions, rape, sexting, sexual harassment

How to Live on the Edge by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

Eighteen-year-old Cayenne barely remembers her mother, who died of breast cancer when Cayenne was four. The women in her family have a history of dying young. Cayenne figures she’ll meet the same fate, so she might as well enjoy life now, engaging in death-defying risks like dodging trains and jumping off cliffs with her boyfriend.

When Cayenne receives a series of video messages her mother made for her before dying, she isn’t sure she wants them. Her aunt Tee has been her true mother figure. But then Aunt Tee tests positive for a BRCA gene mutation―the one that doomed Cayenne’s mom―and decides to get a mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing cancer. As Cayenne helps her aunt prepare for the surgery, she finds herself drawn to her mother’s messages, with their musings on life, love, and perseverance. For the first time, Cayenne starts to question what it truly means to live life to the fullest, even when death might be written into her DNA.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: taking risks, daredevils, deceased mother, aunts, BRCA gene mutation, possibility of dying young, breast cancer, genetics, coming of age, medical issues

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):

MORE SPOTLIGHTS FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 4, 2020:

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