NYMBC's blog

This book had me curious when it swept the ALA awards with 3 wins and this book definitely deserves all of them and more. Aristotle (or Ari) and Dante don't obviously have much in common except their Mexican heritage, but somehow manage to become good friends. Ari is an angry teen coping with the ghost of his older brother and his father's time in the Vietnam War while Dante is openly expressive and has an easy family relationship. That friendship is cemented when Ari saves Dante from a hit and run getting
injured in the process. When a friend risks his or her life to save yours, how does that friendship change? And when Dante comes out as gay, how does that affect the friendship?  Saenz writes a lovely exploration of friendship and love - love of one's self, love between a parent and child and love between friends. His prose is lyrical and portrays a depth of emotion that transcends the page. This easily is one of my favorite reads of this year and it's not even halfway to the end of the year yet!

If you like A.S. King's Ask the Passengers, I would definitely recommend you give this a try!

- Reviewed by Connie of Books Inc. Opera Plaza

It's easy to dismiss this book because on the surface the structure and execution are quite frankly whimsical: a gay high school student never needs to come out to his friends because he lives in the sort of town where his homosexuality was diagnosed to little fanfare in elementary school. In fact, the LGBTQ experience here is more the rule and everyone else the exception. But like with most Young Adult novels, "Boy Meets Boy" can't be dismissed just because it seems naïve at first glance. In fact, the world portrayed here isn't the world as it "should be" per se -- David Levithan is only stating a plain truth: that we all want to love, and be in love, and neither act is the domain of a singular orientation.

Reviewed by Joe of Books Inc. Opera Plaza

Ah, traveling. You are always absolutely at the right age for it. But let's face it -- sometimes, you go traveling and you're not entirely sure if you're "good" at it. Enter sheltered Jewish-American, introverted good girl Allyson, traveling Europe with a group of other high school seniors. It should be an excellent time for an 18-year-old girl about to embark upon her college years when she gets back home. But Allyson isn't actually having fun. She's doing her best to make everything "worth it", but it's difficult when it feels like she's on this trip to keep her parents happy.

Everything changes when she goes to an underground performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in London, where she meets the handsome Willem, and sparks fly. Taking a huge leap of faith, Allyson becomes "Lulu" and does things she'd never do as Allyson -- including going off to Paris with Willem for one day. In what becomes the most perfect day of her life, everything works out for best...except for the part where she wakes up the next morning and Willem is gone, leaving her alone in Paris. She spends the next year feeling listless, and her once-excellent grades take the hit. Eventually, she finds that to mend the hole in her heart, she must return to Paris to break free of the shackles of her scripted life. She goes back looking for Willem, but in the end, as cheesy as it is, she finds herself. A surprisingly excellent bildungsroman showing a different type of growth that many of the quiet young adults could be afraid of, this is something I'd recommend to those traveling or studying abroad and are unsure if they're doing the right thing. (John Green himself recommended this, so if you don't believe me, believe him!)
 
To be followed by Just One Year, detailing Willem's events after he and Allyson are separated. And I am so excited that I want to cry.

--Reviewed by Robbin of Compass Books in SFO Terminal 2.

A stranger comes to a remote island to try and discover the truth about a mysterious flower that may be keeping the world's rich young. Instead, he finds himself regressing through the history of the island; stories and people somehow cropping up time and time again. With shades of Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, to Oscar Wilde's more melancholy fairy stories, to Nordic sagas, this book is beautifully sparce. A great quick read! Ages 14+
--reviewed by Steven of Books Inc. Palo Alto

Vera Dietz lost her best friend Charlie-- so why is he appearing to her at all the wrong times? What ensues is a beautiful tale of loss and redemption. While there are touches of romance, and plenty of school drama to go around, the real gem of this narrative was held for me in the burgeoning relationship between Vera and her emotionally distant, yet caring father.

I loved ASK THE PASSENGERS by King, and so I had to read more of her work. And I'm so glad I did. King has nailed the magical realism genre in way that is so authentically teen that it hurts my mind. In a good way. Told with King's signature sense of humor, depth, intelligence and honesty, this novel has affirmed my goal of reading EVERY BOOK A.S. King has ever written. And I hope you do, too. (ages 13+)

--Reviewed by Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director

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