Here We Are

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Title: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw and Speak About Feminism

Editor: Kelly Jensen

Summary: “There’s no right way and no wrong way. There are no dead ends. The journey is always changing, always shifting, and influenced by our own experiences and perspectives.” This diverse collection of superbly-written essays, sharply-drawn comics, fun lists and engrossing interviews is a fantastic compendium of contemporary thought on the history, evolution, and current state of feminism for every reader. Organized into topics including body image, gender, sexuality, pop culture, relationships, confidence, and independence, these pieces will introduce you to the concept of intersectionality (the idea that social categorizations are overlapping and interdependent) and encourage you to find your own definition of what it means to be a feminist.Because it’s a collection, you can read just on topics that interest you, pick the pieces by writers you love, or take on the whole thing and discover new voices who will challenge you to see the world in a new way.

Heartfelt stories from beloved writers and artists including Laurie Halse Anderson, Mindy Kaling, Malinda Lo, Liz Prince, Laverne Cox and Daniel Jose Older, as well as pieces from some extraordinary ‘ordinary’ women who have made a difference through their lives and work make this a terrific collection for anyone interested learning more about the many ways one can approach the challenges of what it means to be a woman.  Sure to start some amazing conversations, Here We Are is a great book to read and talk about during Women’s History Month, and that should be shared amongst family and friends.

Who will like this book?: Anyone interested in learning about what it means to be a feminist today. Readers who are sure they are not feminist: You might be surprised to learn that maybe…you are!

If you like this, read this: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Bossypants by Tina Fey. For mature readers: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

Black Panther

Cover image for Black Panther 1.

Title: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1

Author/Artists: Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze

Summary: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Upon returning to Wakanda, King T’Challa faces a challenge that he had never anticipated: An uprising of the people. He is not sure if he has the ability to quell the unrest shaking the technologically advanced African nation, and neither are his team of advisors, who are still reeling from the death of T’Challa’s sister Shuri, assassinated while holding the throne on his behalf. With threats both intellectual and supernatural emerging from all corners, including by some disillusioned members of the Dora Milaje, his elite corps of female guards, can T’Challa redeem himself and bring his nation back to a place of peace, prosperity and understanding?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a fantastic writer known mostly for his non-fiction and essays so it is  thrilling to see him dive into the comic book form. This collection is not a reboot or a reintroduction with an origin story, but it is still a great place for new readers to jump into the Wakandan saga before the release of the Black Panther movie in 2018, as it includes a re-release of the first-ever appearance of T’Challa from 1966.

Who will like this book: Marvel fans, of course. Anyone intrigued by Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Captain America: Civil War.

If you like this, try this: The Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. The Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction. The March collection by Rep. John Lewis.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Boxers & Saints

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Title: Boxers & Saints

Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang

Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.

It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will  be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.

Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.

If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

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Title: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Author: Isabel Quintero

Summary: During her senior year of high school, Gabi Hernandez keeps a diary about the things that are on her mind: friends, her appearance, guys, family, college and the future. Each piece of her life has its own complications and contradictions: Her best friends are dealing with coming out and an unplanned pregnancy. Her dad is in and out of her life due to his meth addiction. And does a Mexican-American girl from a poor neighborhood really have any chance of getting in to college, let alone her top choice school? Gabi finds herself making serious decisions about her life and the person she wants to be, as well as discovering her talents as a writer and artist over the course of an awful, wonderful, unforgettable year.

Don’t let the strange-looking cover fool you  – this is an incredible book and worthy 2017 High School Nutmeg nominee, as well as a Printz Honor winner, for a reason. If the story sounds melodramatic, that’s because it is – but only a bit more so than the life of any teen girl  growing up today. What makes this book extraordinary is its clear-eyed portrayal of the ups and downs that make up an ordinary life. You will be so glad to have spent time observing the world through Gabi’s eyes and will miss her frank, unsentimental voice in your head once the story is done. This is a book that teens and parents should consider reading together – adults could learn quite a bit about what life feels like for young people today.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like realistic, contemporary fiction. People who like multicultural stories. People who like reading books in diary format.

If you like this, try this: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. Yaqui Delgado…by Meg Medina. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Symptoms of Being Human

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Title: Symptoms of Being Human

Author: Jeff Garvin

Summary: Riley Cavanaugh is starting a new school, in part because of the bullying they endured in private school, and in part because with their dad running for re-election, it just looks better, politics-wise, for Riley to be in a public school. No more uniforms – now Riley gets to choose their own outfits each day. This isn’t as easy as it sounds: Some mornings, Riley feels feminine, and some mornings, masculine and sometimes somewhere in between. Trying to navigate life outside the accepted binary of male vs. female is enough of a struggle when your internal dial always seems to be shifting from one gender to another, but things are even more complicated as a politician’s kid who is expected to participate in the image of the perfect family. Coming out as gender-fluid –  something not many people are prepared to understand or support – is terrifying. Convinced that they will always be an outcast, Riley doesn’t have high hopes for this new situation, but following the advice of their therapist, they create an anonymous blog about life as a gender-fluid teen that soon goes viral. In connecting to other gender-fluid and queer people, Riley begins to find a sense of belonging as they navigate the social scene at school, making friends and enemies in equal measure. But as the reputation-conscious Cavanaugh family gears up for the political season, Riley begins to sense that someone at their school has figured out the truth behind the blog, which threatens to derail not only Riley’s progress, but the outcome of their dad’s election.

This brilliant and necessary story delves into the life of a ordinary teen who happens to be non-binary. It is a book for mature readers: There is an intense scene of violence and its aftermath that is jarring but ultimately necessary, as sadly it is an all-too-common reality in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. What makes reading about Riley an extraordinary experience is the clarity and sensitivity of debut-author Garvin’s writing style. Riley is honest, complex and longing to be accepted, like most people. This is a book and a main character you won’t forget.

Who will like this book?: Anyone interested in learning about gender fluidity. Mature readers of coming-out stories. This is an important book for anyone who considers themselves a LGBTQ+ ally to take a look at.

If you like this, try this: Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger. I am J by Cris Beam. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Dare to Disappoint

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Title: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

Author/Illustrator: Özge Samancı

Summary: Özge grew up in a small village on the Mediterranean sea in Turkey, a proud and ancient nation with a tumultuous recent history. While she treasured her dreams of becoming an actress, or an adventurer, or even an underwater explorer like her idol Jacques Cousteau, she also knew that she had an obligation to her family and to herself to study as hard as she could and enter a profession that would allow her to support herself in a time when such opportunities were rare, especially for girls. So at a young age, Özge sets her dreams aside in order to devote herself to one goal: Getting in to the best college possible so she can study the most challenging subjects so she can get a great job to guarantee her future. Will she succeed? Is it worth it? What will she find out about herself along the way?

This bright and charming graphic memoir was written and designed by Samancı, who is now a professor living in Chicago. While it offers a detailed and lighthearted look at growing up in Turkey, what makes it truly fascinating is its terrific depiction of living through the stress of expectations, be they of your family or your society in general, and how it is truly universal, whether you live in the United States today or grew up halfway around the world 30 years ago. Heartfelt and unexpectedly sensitive, this book is well worth your time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of books set in other countries. Memoir readers. Anyone who likes beautiful illustrations – these pages are full of creative and clever visuals.

If you like this, try this: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. For more on Turkey, try Blue Voyage by Diana Renn.

The Wrath and the Dawn

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Title: The Wrath and the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Summary: Khalid, the dangerous and mysterious young Caliph of Khorasan, has an unsettling habit: He marries a new young girl from his city of Rey each night, only to have them killed each following dawn, strangled by a silken cord. One of the most recent victims of his bewildering cruelty was Shiva, the dearest friend of Shahrzad, daughter of a former vizier. Planning to exact revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid’s next bride. While she is able to survive the first night of her marriage due to her skill as a charming storyteller, her place in the palace as Calipha is not secure and she is in constant danger from everyone around her. Meanwhile, outside the city, Shahrzad’s childhood friend and first love Tariq plots to free Shahrzad and the kingdom of Khorasan from the tyrannical rule of the hated Khalid. Of course, there is more to the Caliph than meets the eye. As an improbable connection begins to form between the married strangers, a tale of curses, true love and political intrigue begins to swirl that is as mesmerizing as one of Shahrzad’s nighttime tales.

This dynamic, un-put-downable page-turner is an outstanding debut by author Ahdieh. It is a fascinating retelling of The Arabian Nights and a great interpretation of its narrator, Scheherazade. There is romance, intrigue, adventure and even a dash of the supernatural to satisfy most readers, even those who are not interested in the revived trend of updated and fractured fairy tales. With the second book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger, due in 2016, you’ll want to get your hands on this title as soon as possible.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like intrigue and love-triangle romance with a dash of the supernatural. Fans of historical fiction based in non-European settings.

If you like this, try this: The forthcoming A Thousand Nights by Emily Kate Johnson. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. The original Arabian Nights tales, found in many translations. For mature readers, another fairy-tale retelling along these themes, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian