“This promise of change: One girl’s story in the fight for school equality” by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

Rated 5 stars ***** 2019. “Special 2019 ALA Annual Edition.” 310 p. (Includes an “Introduction,” “Epilogue,” “Writing this book,” “Scrapbook,” “Timeline of school desegregation and civil rights landmarks,” “Quotation sources,” “Selected Bibliography,” and “Further reading.”)

This book was published January 8, 2019, but a special edition was given to attendees at the June 2019 American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Washington, D.C.

This promise of changeJo Ann Allen and her friends attended a Negro high school 20 miles away from their town of Clinton, Tennessee because they weren’t allowed to attend the all-White school where they lived. Though the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools were to be integrated, the law of the land was not applicable in Clinton. Their restaurants, theaters and buses were segregated, and rules that applied only to Blacks continued to be applied.

In 1956, when a judge decreed the town had to integrate the high school, Jo Ann and 11 of her friends became the first Black students to attend the school. They were known as The Clinton 12. Their first few days integrating the school seemed to pass quietly until outside agitators, local protestors, and the KKK arrived. Soon controversy and attacks on the students and Black residents began, as did demands to keep the school segregated.

Racial insensitivities of the time are chronicled in this extensively researched book and very moving book as Jo Ann tells her story in verse. Readers learn about the few White supporters they had in their quest for integration, as well as the support given to them by their church as well as their families and friends. The extensive back matter lends support to Jo Ann’s story, teaching readers more about their struggle, and the struggle of many Blacks to integrate schools across the South. There is also an important reminder that many schools in the United States remain segregated today, 65 years after the Supreme Court decision of 1954.

Highly recommended for ages 18 and older.

“The rest of the story” by Sarah Dessen

Rated 5 stars ***** 2019. Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins). 440 p.

The rest of the storyEmma Saylor’s mother overdosed when she was just a little girl. Now seventeen, she’s spending three weeks with her mother’s side of the family until her father returns from his honeymoon. Though she hasn’t seen them since she was four, her grandmother, aunt, and assorted cousins love her unconditionally. They’d known her as Saylor – the name only her mom called her, giving her the chance to decide if she wanted to be known as Emma or Saylor.

Living in a motel on a lake with teens who all have jobs felt strange, but she pitches in to help while learning stories about her mom that begin to give her a sense of the person she’d never really known. Emma was cautious, and organized things to stay calm, however, she decides to become Saylor at the lake. There she’s someone who comes alive with the help of her new family and the very handsome Roo, whose memories of her mother intertwines with that of his father in his family photo album.

Just as Saylor begins to feel as if she’s part of lake life, her father returns and insists she leave and become Emma again. How can she make him realize she’s also Saylor, and that she’s changed? Learning her mother’s story helped her see herself in a new way, something Roo and her lake family made happen.

I loved this book so much!! Sarah Dessen always writes great stories, and she did not disappoint me. Reading about Emma Saylor and her family made me feel as if I was out on the lake with them, suffering through their troubles and cheering on their successes. Readers are invested, which is a sign of a great writer.

Highly recommended for ages 15 and older.

“Shadowlands” Kate Brian

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published January 8, 2013. Shadowlands #1. Hyperion (Disney Book Group). 326 pp.

ShadowlandsWhen I read the blurb on this ARC at ALA’s recent conference in Seattle and saw it was the first in a planned trilogy, my first thought was not to read it as I hate waiting for the next book in a series to be written. However, I recognized the author’s name from the “Private” series, having read a few of those books, plus the blurb sounded interesting so I decided to go for it. I was glad I did.

Rory’s cross country running and love for all things Science kept her sane after her mom died of cancer. Her relationship with her sister Darcy and her father was strained, especially when Darcy accused her of stealing her boyfriend Christopher who Rory secretly liked. He actually liked her back, but everything changed when Rory was attacked by her Math teacher Steven Nell, who turned out to be a serial killer. Unlike the 14 other girls he’d killed, Rory managed to escape. With the threat of his retaliation hanging over her, the FBI sent the family to a safe location under the Witness Protection Program.

With a new identity, Rory planned to put her former life behind her and learn to live life to its fullest in the sleepy beach town of Juniper’s Landing. Despite her intentions to forget about what had happened, she still felt as if she was being watched and kept having flashbacks of what happened with Mr. Nell. She also noticed the teens on the island kept acting very strangely towards her, almost as if they knew her. When a good friend disappeared, Rory felt the clues seemed to point towards the fact that Steven Nell was really on the island but no one believed her. It seemed as if Rory would be next on his list.

As I read, I had a few “Huh? What just happened? What the heck is going on?” moments, but loved how Brian gave glimpses into Steven Nell’s seriously twisted killer thoughts, as well as how she used the daily Island fog to create mystery and fear in Rory. She dropped a lot of clues hinting something was going to happen, but nothing prepared me for the cliffhanger ending. When I read it, I screamed “you’re kidding me!” It took all my willpower not to fling the book across the room.

Readers aged 13 and older will love this new series, and will be just as anxious as I am to find out what happens in “Shadowlands Part 2.”

ALA Award Winners

What an exciting day!! I am reporting to you “live” from Seattle with the winners. There are tons of awards given out, so I’m just going to report on the ones represented by the books I review = YALSA’s Printz award (best teen book), the Pura Belpré Award (best book written by a Latino for a Latino audience) and the Coretta Scott King Award (best book written for African Americans by an African American. You can see the entire list on the American Library Association’s webpage.

The Michael L. Printz winner was “In Darkness” by Nick Lake.

The Printz Honor winners were: “Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz, “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett, and “The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna.

The Pura Belpré  winner was: “Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz (do you see a trend here? This book went on to also win the Stonewall Book Award.) It’s on my “to read” list.

The Pura Belpré Honor winner was: “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” by Sonia Manzano. (I had predicted back in August that this would win an award, it was THAT good!)

The Coretta Scott King Author Award was “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who changed America” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

The Coretta Scott King Honor winners were: “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson, and “No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

Time to go get these books at your Public Library!

The ALA Media Awards aka “The Librarian Oscars”

As promised, I’m reporting LIVE from the ALA Media Awards here in dark, chilly & drizzly Seattle Washington. It’s 7:35 am (PST). Flew in for ALA’s Midwinter Conference Friday night, and leave later today. However, no visit to Midwinter is complete without a stop at The ALA Media Awards, aka The Librarian Oscars. If you’d like to follow and see it for yourself, ALA has a live webcast you can view.

After the Awards, I’ll post the winners here by category. This is so exciting! Enjoy!

“Beautiful Decay” Sylvia Lewis

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published April 2, 2013, Running Press Teens. 303 pp.

Beautiful DecayHere I am in chilly and rainy Seattle for the ALA’s (American Library Association’s) 2013 Midwinter Meeting. Yesterday was my first chance to go to the Exhibit Hall and get a bunch of ARC’s. So far, I’ve mailed 3 boxes of them home to myself.

“Beautiful Decay” was the first ARC in the bunch that I kept to read, and it was a-ma-zing! Ellie has an unusual gift. Everything she touches turns to mold, a beautiful, colorful type complete with mushrooms. Because of this, she spends her life hiding from people and wearing gloves, fearful of causing sickness and death. Her own mother is terrified of her, constantly washing the house with bleach and avoiding her, while her father is never home. Having a normal high school life is impossible, especially with being called nicknames like “Typhoid Mary,” and having her classmates and teachers avoid her at all costs. Her only friend is Mackenzie, a person she met online.

When Nate, a new student, comes to school he seems to immediately have a connection with Ellie. He’s not afraid of being hurt by her mold-producing touch, and seems to actually like her. Ellie is confused, but her confusion knows no bounds when Nate admits to being a Necromancer. He can raise the dead, and even has a zombie mother as proof. Ellie is curious about her power, especially when she finds out there are more people like her out in the world. Unfortunately, a group of Necromancers aren’t happy Nate won’t use his powers for their pleasure and have been hunting him down. A battle between good and evil is brewing. Nate, Ellie and Mackenzie some find themselves smack in the middle of the action.

I had just started reading “Beautiful Decay” last night, but found it so compelling I couldn’t put it down. Readers, ages 14 and up will be just as spellbound. Its ending was a bit open ended, so I won’t be surprised if Lewis has a sequel planned.

“Every Day” David Levithan

ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) to be released August 28, 2012. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House). 336 pp.

This is my first ARC review (picked up at the recent ALA conference) for this blog, and boy was it a good one! David Levithan has written other books for teens like Boy meets Boy,” and collaborated with other authors on Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” and “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.”  However, I think “Every Day” is one of his finest.

I purposely didn’t read the summary on the back cover because I wanted to be surprised and, within the first few pages, I was hooked. A 16 year old boy, who goes by the name of “A,” has never known what it’s like to live as himself. For some unknown reason, he has the ability to switch bodies randomly and does so on a daily basis. This has been going on since he was a young boy and, over the years, A has only been able to figure out that the bodies he inhabits are never older than 16, can be male or female, and can never be inhabited twice.

As I read I thought of the many times teens (myself included) have wondered what it would be like to live in someone else’s life. The caveat is we get to switch back to our own lives if that life seems a bit too much for us. Fortunately for A that works for him too except, if he actually liked that life, he will never get to live it again.

A’s managed to live 16 years of his life existing on a day to day basis, with no emotional pullings towards any of his bodies, until he meets Rhiannon. Suddenly the thought of never seeing her again, and of never being able to have a future with her, is more than A can handle. The life he’d become used to has now become a burden. Despite the unusual circumstances in which he finds himself every day, A is determined to do something to get closer to Rhiannon.

A’s body swaps seem to be made up of bits and pieces from the lives of every teen Levithan has ever met. In “Every Day,” he has placed these lives into a story that seamlessly draws their bodies, personalities, and loves into opportunities for readers to find themselves. A’s thoughts, as well as his caring and acceptance for each life and love, whether male/male, male/female, female/female in which he finds himself, allows readers to think about their own preconceived notions of how they may be viewing others from the outside as A shows us their inside thoughts.

High school readers will empathize tremendously with A, and his every days. RUN to buy it when it’s released in August.