Q. I loved Afterward. It was sad, but also powerful. It was hopeful. It was also, as you have said, about finding light within the darkness. This was the first book I have read by you, but after poking through your website, I look forward to reading your two other books as well. In both of those books, and in Afterward, too, your characters and their situations seem very real (sadly). How do you do this? How do you create characters you wish you knew more about and cheer for their happiness?
A. Honestly, my characters come to me almost fully formed. I’m a very character-driven author. Plot is my struggle. At the risk of sounding creepy, I love to observe human beings, and I think this helps me paint what I hope are rich and complex characters. I write unlikable characters (sometimes), but I always write characters that I personally love and care for deeply. Even when they’re doing dumb things or things I might not agree with, I’ve created their vulnerabilities and their fears and this helps me cheer them on.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for these books?
A. Most of my books are based on real life events or interests of mine. My first book, The Truth About Alice, which is about an ostracized young girl in a small Texas town, was partly inspired by a young woman I read about in Seventeen magazine in 1992. This young woman had sued her school after they didn’t respond to her concerns about bullying and threating, obscene graffiti written about her in a bathroom stall.
My second novel, Devoted, about a young woman who escapes a Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull home and experiences a crisis of faith, was based on my interest in the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame. And Afterward was based on a real life case in Missouri involving two families. I saw a press conference on CNN one morning and the story just took off from there.
Note: You can read my reviews of The Truth About Alice and Devoted here.
Q. Why are these stories important to tell? And why are they important for people to read?
A. Selfishly, I love telling stories because I enjoy creating worlds and characters. So there is sort of an egotistical aspect to being a writer! But ultimately, I hope my stories are important to tell and read because they build empathy. I truly believe when we read about the lives of other people who may be different from us, we strengthen that empathy muscle and develop compassion. This is such a Miss America answer, but I think this world would be a better place if we read more, especially if we read about people unlike us.
Q.You say Afterwards offers a message of finding light in darkness. Why is it hard for people to see the light in their own lives? Tips to help them do so?
A. Oh goodness, I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this question. The human animal is complex and life can be both beautiful and brutal in equal measure. I bet on the side of hope, perhaps only because it’s the less painful option. To find that light I suggest surrounding yourself with good people who support you, looking outward and finding a way to serve others, and taking time to recharge when necessary. One message I think is important to take from Afterward is that it is crucial to take care of one’s mental health. I hope that the novel has a positive and pro-therapy message. There’s still such a stigma surrounding mental health issues, and this pains me. I hope some folks who read Afterward start viewing therapy in a different light, especially young readers.
Q. You always hear “If it was me, I would have….” It is always easy for us to judge while sitting in our chairs eating popcorn. Why do we do this? How can we stop people from doing it and getting them to see beyond themselves and offering sympathy rather than accusations?
A. I believe this is a normal protective human reaction. If we read a story about something bad in the news, we are quick to think of all the ways we would have behaved differently because we want to convince ourselves such a thing would never happen to us. This leads to a lot of victim blaming. As a mother, I’m thinking of the story that happened this summer of a young child at Disney World who was killed by an alligator while playing near the water. So many people attacked those parents but the truth is, those parents and that little boy were the victims of a cruel twist of fate. To show their support, other parents started posting pictures of their own children playing in the exact same spot that little child was taken. Such a powerful thing to consider.
I think we need to face our fears and own them when we feel the urge to victim blame and shame. When we feel the urge to blame and shame, try to channel that into owning your fears and into compassion. It’s so much better to turn our energies outward to others and to do it with kindness, in my opinion.
Q. I thought it was interesting, however, that Ethan asked his doctor (another fabulous character) “why didn’t I leave?” Why is it important that Ethan asks that question? How hard was it to answer it, from the viewpoint of the doctor’s character?
A. Writing the scenes between Ethan and his therapist were some of the most challenging and also the scenes I’m the most proud of, I think. It’s important that Ethan ask that question because not only did he wonder about the answer, I knew the reader would be wondering, too. The question was tricky to answer, but it was made easier because I interviewed many mental health therapists and experts in PTSD and trauma bonding. I would not have been able to write this novel without their insight.
Q. The idea of a kidnapping by a stranger or otherwise is terrifying for parents and non-parents alike. Was there a real-life situation that inspired this story?
A. Yes, there was a story in Missouri several years ago that inspired this story. Afterward is only very loosely based on these events, however, and I’ve made it a practice not to mention the real people involved by name in an effort to protect their privacy. Folks that follow such cases will probably know who I’m referencing.
Q. I liked how you flipped between the two main characters and at different points of their recovery. Why did you decide to write the book this way? Had you planned to write it this way from the beginning?
A. I had always planned to write the novel this way, and I’m glad I did. I can’t say exactly why I chose to write it this way – it’s just the way the story came to me. I think Ethan and Caroline hold such important pieces of the puzzle of this story, but their experiences and personalities are radically different. So it made sense to approach it in this way. I’m a terrible writer when it comes to explaining artistic choices – I’m sorry! Most of the time it’s a gut thing.
Q. Your characters, both main and secondary, are amazing. Do you have a favourite? Who was the easiest to write? The hardest?
A. Ethan came so easily to me, which I found strange as my experiences are so different from his, and I’ve never been a teenage boy. Caroline was a bit tougher. At first I think she was too much of a flat character – just a bad girl acting out. My editor had to really push me to develop her more fully and truly get to understand her motivations, dreams and fears. In terms of secondary characters, Ethan’s control freak, Type A mother was the easiest because she is essentially based on me! Dr. Greenberg was also quite easy to write. And so was his dog, Groovy! As far as favorites, it would be a tie between Ethan and Dr. Greenberg.
Q. You mentioned you had a zine called Jennifer. What was it about?
A. Oh, man, that is a blast from the past. I made a zine called Jennifer from 1998 until around 2004 or 2005. It was a zine about myself. I can’t believe I even had the time to do this. It was basically about my pop culture obsessions and my life in general. I published pieces about my travels, medical issues, and my interest in the television shows The Golden Girls and Designing Women. I once included entries from my junior high diary. It was ridiculous and so fun.
Q. Any ideas as to what your next book will be about?
A. Well, it’s zine-related! My next book comes out in the fall of 2017. It’s called Moxie and it’s about a teenage girl named Vivian Carter who is growing up in a small Texas town. Viv goes to a very sexist small town high school, and she ends up starting an underground teen feminist revolution by adopting her mom’s old Riot Grrrl ethos. For those who don’t know, Riot Grrrl was a feminist punk movement that grew out of the Pacific Northwest and the Washington D.C. area in the early ’90s. Many Riot Grrrls started bands and zines to promote their thoughts about feminism. Viv actually creates (anonymously!) a zine called Moxie that she distributes in the bathrooms at school, and soon the movement takes off and grows beyond what Viv anticipated. The most exciting thing is that the zines that Viv makes will actually be in the book as interchapters. It’s going to be so much fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited about a book as I am about this one.
Q. What is your writing process? How often do you write? Do you like to complete one project before moving on to another?
A. I work steadily on one project until it’s done and then I move on to the next. I do not get ideas easily, so I’m not an author who can jump easily from project to project and work on multiple projects at once. When I’m on deadline I write every night for about an hour or so. I still work full-time as a high school English teacher so time is precious. But a little at time works for me. I’m a night owl and have trouble writing during the day. I write at my dining room paper, usually in complete silence with the lights turned low. That makes me sound creepier than I actually am!
Q. What type of topics would you like to see covered in YA literature?
A. I would love to see more stories that center teenagers of color, teenagers with disabilities, and teenagers of different sexual orientations and expressions of gender. I would love to see more YA lit that addresses sex with candor and humor, too.
Q. Do you plan to explore other genres of writing or do you prefer to write YA?
A. For now I only see myself writing YA. I have published non-fiction in the past, but for now, I’m happy right where I am, writing about teenagers!
Q. I enjoyed reading the 10 facts about you. Do you still teach? How long have you been teaching? How have teens changed in that time? What issues do they face now that they might not have faced when you started your career?
A. I am in my twelfth year in the classroom. I still teach full time, currently tenth -grade English. In many ways, teenagers are the same. They still face self-esteem issues, peer pressure, and epiphanies about family (including that awareness that your parents don’t know everything and may, in fact, be wrong about some things). Since I started teaching in 2005 the biggest change has been the power of social media and the Internet, especially the birth of smartphones. All of this is a force in the lives of teenagers that can be both good and bad. I feel for my kids, mostly because they can never shut out the noise without putting forth real effort and hiding their phones. When I tell them about my phone-free youth, they’re a bit envious, to be honest.
Q. How do your students influence your stories?
A. Just being around the rhythm of adolescence inspires me. And being around real teenagers reminds me that they appreciate and deserve complex stories with nuance that treat teenagers with respect. My students remind me that teenagers will run from a morality tale at top speed – as they should.
Q. What is your dream job?
A. I have both of them – writing for and teaching teenagers. I’m pretty lucky.
When eleven-year-old Dylan Anderson is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of fifteen-year-old Ethan Jorgensen, who had gone on a bike ride four years earlier and had never been seen again. Dylan’s older sister, Caroline, can’t help but wonder what happened to her brother, who has nonverbal autism and is not adjusting well to life back home. There’s only one person who knows the truth: Ethan. But Ethan isn’t sure how he can help Caroline when he is fighting traumatic memories of his own captivity. Both Caroline and Ethan need a friend, however, and their best option just might be each other.
Adrift at Sea A Vietnames Boy’s Story of Survival
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam’s military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat
Editor’s Note: What awful choices people have to make in order to ensure their family has the best life possible. Stories like these make me even more grateful to live where I do.
Pajama Press, pajamapress.ca
Phoebe―half Jamaican, half French-Canadian―hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” So she is mortified when, out on a walk with her Jamaican grandmother, she hears a classmate shout it out at her. To make things worse, Nan-Ma, who is blind, wants an explanation of the name. How can Phoebe describe the color of her skin to someone who has never seen it? “Like tea, after you’ve added the milk,” she says. And her father? “Like warm banana bread.” And Nan-Ma herself? She is like maple syrup poured over…well…
Editor’s Note: I started to read this story to my seven year old, but then stopped. I stopped because Phoebe gets called a name because of her skin colour. While my son recognizes there is, of course, people of a variety of colours in the world, he doesn’t know that people make fun of people because of that difference. I would like to keep it that way for as long as possible. But I am torn. It’s an absolutely beautiful story. Do I use it as a way to discuss how some people judge other people for looking different or do I hold the story for when it comes up, and I am certain (and sad) it will, read it then? In the meantime, I will remember Nan-Ma and the kindness and wisdom she shows.
Sleep Tight Farm, A Farm Prepares for Winter
chronicle kids, chroniclekids.com
A captivating exploration of how a family gets a farm ready for the snow of winter, Sleep Tight Farm lyrically connects each growing season to the preparations at the very end of the farm year. This beautiful and informative book paints a fascinating picture of what winter means to the farm year and to the family that shares its seasons, from spring’s new growth, summer’s heat, and fall’s bounty to winter’s well-earned rest. All year long the farm has worked to shelter us, feed us, keep us warm, and now it’s time to sleep.
Editor’s Note: What a beautiful book. I love that this book showed us what life was like in the summer, but also how much work farmers have to do to get ready for winter. What great day in a life of our farmers.
Bullied by his brother and living in the shadow of his athletic best friend, Jonah is crippled by self-loathing and insecurity. Then a mysterious stranger hands him a disposable camera with the power to transport him into someone else’s body—and someone else’s life. But with a limited number of shots and trouble mounting click by click, will this unhappy boy find a new life? Or will the secret he’s been keeping follow him wherever he goes? Richard Scrimger’s Lucky Jonah is a hilarious take on a Freaky Friday-esque switcheroo with a major identity crisis.
Editor’s Note: what a cool idea – snappy a picture and taking over someone’s body, getting to experience what is good in their lives while still being you. I like Jonah. What a great character. I spent many moments chuckling out loud in a very quiet room
My demon’s name is Ed
Second Story Press, secondstorypress.ca
The real journal entries of a teen girl suffering with anorexia show the terrifying grip the disorder has on her. Her eating disorder is personified as Ed, undermining her self-esteem and her perception of the world. How can she explain that even when she tries to develop healthier eating habits, there is a demon wriggling inside her mind, determining her every step?
Editor’s Note: I have interviewed someone who was anorexic and have read a number of both fiction and non-fiction accounts of this awful disorder. Danah Khalil calling her own voice a demon seems very fitting. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was it seem to start and end so abruptly.
Once in a Town Called Moth
Tundra Books, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, and her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn’t know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the myriad unspoken codes and rules. She is befriended by a teacher. She goes to the library, the mall, parties. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father — also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own.
Editor’s Note: I love the fact that this book is set in Toronto. I like recognizing places she visits and seeing our culture on display. Each chapter switches from the present in Toronto, the main character Anneli’s past in Bolivia. I want to find out what happened to her mother – and I want her to find her – but I didn’t care enough to continue reading.
Still Life With Tornado
Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
Editor’s Note: What a unique book. I wanted to stop reading half way through, but kept going because I really wanted to know what was going on. I am glad I did. There are lot of things to think about.
Ugly, A memoir
Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumour on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness. Home for the Hoges was a bayside suburb of Brisbane. Robert’s parents, Mary and Vince, knew that his life would be difficult, but they were determined to give him a typical Australian childhood. So along with the regular, gruelling and often dangerous operations that made medical history and gradually improved Robert’s life, there were bad haircuts, visits to the local pool, school camps and dreams of summer sports. UGLY is Robert’s account of that life, from the time of his birth to the arrival of his own daughter. It is a story of how the love and support of his family helped him to overcome incredible hardships. It is also the story of an extraordinary person living an ordinary life, which is perhaps his greatest achievement of all.
Editor’s Note: Robert Hoge’s description of what he looked like as baby was pretty impressive. Also impressive is his self-deprecating humour and his ability to laugh at himself – and the situations he found himself in. I stopped reading and came back to the story of his life.
A Dangerous Game
Doubleday Canada, http://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca
Manon Wouters grew-up in the idyllic Belgian city of Damme, where she spent her afternoons cycling into beautiful Bruges to study nursing. But as Europe–and the world–erupted into a devastating war, teenaged Manon soon found herself faced with unbelievable choices. Would she hide? Or would she fight?
As Manon toils away at the local hospital, no one would guess just how crucial a role she is really playing. A trained spy, Manon gathers information to send to the British to aid in ending the war. Soon, she uncovers information about a monster plane that must be stopped at all costs. As she races to fulfill her mission, Manon must confront enemies at every turn, and face a terrifying and sobering truth: that innocents are being killed on both sides of the front.
Editor’s Note: What a great book. It was an easy read – I read it in two days. While the main characters are fiction and basis of the story is true – women spies in the First World War, in this case in Belgium. I found it fascintating and amazing. I liked that the book highlighted women and their bravery. There are also what I assume are real pictutres on some of the pages.
Unlikely Warrior: A Jewish Soldier in Hitler’s Army
Square Fish, fiercereads.com
As a young adult in wartime Vienna, Georg Rauch helped his mother hide dozens of Jews from the Gestapo behind false walls in their top-floor apartment and arrange for their safe transport out of the country. His family was among the few who worked underground to resist Nazi rule. Then came the day he was drafted into Hitler’s army and shipped out to fight on the Eastern front as part of the German infantry―in spite of his having confessed his own Jewish ancestry. Thus begins the incredible journey of a nineteen year old thrust unwillingly into an unjust war, who must use his smarts, skills, and bare-knuckled determination to stay alive in the trenches, avoid starvation and exposure during the brutal Russian winter, survive more than one Soviet labor camp, and somehow find his way back home. Unlikely Warrior is Rauch’s true account of this extraordinary adventure.
Editor’s Note: I got about half way through the book and realized I didn’t want to read about how life was like for German soldiers; I was more interested in reading about the accounts of people Georg’s mother hid in the false walls of their apartment.
Tundra Books, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Set against the backdrop of plague-ravaged Europe, 17-year-old Natan has a safe and happy life in 14th-century Strasbourg, France. He works with his father in his rag trade, helps his mother around the house and studies the Torah at night with his young brother, Shmuli. He’s even feeling the first stirrings of love with Elena, the daughter of the master draper who is his father’s best customer. But something is rotten in the streets of Strasbourg. There is tension between the Jewish community and the rest of the citizens, and there is fear as the deadly plague sweeps through towns and cities nearby. When rumors begin to circulate that Jewish residents are contaminating the town’s well water to try to hasten the plague’s arrival in their city, Natan knows that there are dangerous days ahead. When he sees who really poisoned Strasbourg’s water, he is determined to speak the truth and save his people from the false accusations being made against them. But a moment of violence threatens to derail his plans and change his life in ways he could never have imagined.
Editor’s Note: What a fantastic book. Natan and Elena, the main characters, were fabulous and felt real. So, too, did the secondary characters, both good and bad. But the what was happening within the pages, and what actually happened in real life, that made me feel sick.
One Soldier, A Canadian Soldier’s Fight Against the Islamic State
Dillon Hillier with Russell Hillier
Dillon Hillier, a corporal with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, returned home from a tour in Afghanistan and started up a normal life. But when ISIS insurgents began attacking local populations in Iraq and elsewhere, Hillier, a long-time soldier, felt he had to join in the action, so he sold his truck, lied to his parents about where he was going and became the first Canadian to volunteer to fight ISIS in Iraq. For three months, Dillon accompanied the Kurdish army as they fought a series of battles against the Islamic State throughout northern Iraq. During his mission, Dillon saw combat, experienced life in the trenches, partnered with a former US Marine, had a bounty placed on his head and learned an important truth: that in the chaos of war, the difference between life and death is measured in inches, and some things can never be forgotten. One Soldier is about Hillier’s three months fighting with the Kurds in Iraq, on the front lines. The only reason Dillon’s tour wasn’t longer was because the government wanted him back home, safe and sound.
Editor’s Note: I am impressed by Dillon Hillier’s drive and determination to do the right thing. I don’t think I would be able to be so brave. My head swam with information. So much history in the Middle East, and the present is so confusing. I couldn’t finish it, but I know someone who will love it.
A look at the causes and global effects of the World War II Nazi campaign against Jews and other groups of people, which led to millions of deaths and the creation of a Jewish homeland.
Editor’s Note: A very quick read with lots of pictures, short pieces of information, quotes from survivors and more.
The Ship to Nowhere, On Board the Exodus
A Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers
Second Story Press, secondstorypress.ca
Rachel Landesman is eleven years old when she, her mother and sister are crammed on board the Exodus, a dilapidated vessel smuggling 4500 Jewish refugees risking their lives to reach Palestine, their biblical homeland. Despite all they had suffered during the Holocaust, Jewish refugees are still not wanted in many countries. Even a Canadian immigration officer famously said at the time “None is too many” when asked how many refugees Canada would take in. Nonetheless, Rachel and the other refugees refuse to give up hope when war ships surround them. Their fight, and the worldwide attention it brought, influenced the UN to vote for the creation of the state of Israel.
Editor’s Note: I didn’t know about Jewish people’s struggles after the war. To go through all they did during the Holocaust only to have to be treated like that again after the war baffles my brain and hurts my heart. Lots of pictures in the book with sidebars.
We Will Not Be Silent, The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler
Clarion Books, http://www.hmhco.com
In his signature eloquent prose, backed up by thorough research, Russell Freedman tells the story of Austrian-born Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They belonged to Hitler Youth as young children, but began to doubt the Nazi regime. As older students, the Scholls and a few friends formed the White Rose, a campaign of active resistance to Hitler and the Nazis. Risking imprisonment or even execution, the White Rose members distributed leaflets urging Germans to defy the Nazi government.
Editor’s Note: I am impressed by the bravery of Hans, Sophie and their friends, for standing up when many others looked away. Fabulous information and lots of pictures in this book.
Other War books
The Left-Handed Fate
Henry Holt & Co.
Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine they believe can stop the endless war raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. During the search, however, their ship, the famous privateer the Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans, who have just declared war on England, too. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) is put under the command of new midshipman Oliver Dexter . . . who’s only just turned twelve. But Lucy and Max aren’t the only ones trying to assemble the engine; the French are after it, as well as the crew of a mysterious vessel that seems able to appear out of thin air. When Oliver discovers what his prisoners are really up to―and how dangerous the device could be if it falls into the wrong hands―he is faced with a choice: Help Lucy and Max even if it makes him a traitor to his own country? Or follow orders and risk endangering countless lives, including those of the enemies who have somehow become his friends?
Other Young Adult
Black Dove, White Raven
Doubleday Canada, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird brought down the plane their mothers were piloting. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes–among his own people in Ethiopia. Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their love for their country and each other be their downfall . . . or their salvation?
These are My Words, The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens, Northern Ontario, 1966
Violet Pesheens is struggling to adjust to her new life at Residential School. She misses her Grandma; she has run-ins with Cree girls; at her “white” school, everyone just stares; and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name—she is now just a number. But worst of all, she has a fear. A fear of forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishnabe language; the names of those she knew before; and her traditional customs. A fear of forgetting who she was. Her notebook is the one place she can record all of her worries, and heartbreaks, and memories. And maybe, just maybe there will be hope at the end of the tunnel. Drawing from her own experiences at Residential School, Ruby Slipperjack creates a brave, yet heartbreaking heroine in Violet, and lets young readers glimpse into an all-too important chapter in our nation’s history.
Other young adult
Signs of You
Penguin Random House, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her survival has depended on the quirky little family formed from a grief support group at school. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one. The four have stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand. When Riley sees her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering from some sort of posttraumatic stress episode—until Jay and Kate report similar visions. Noah is the only one who hasn’t shared their experience. He withdraws from the others, skeptical and distant, and then suddenly disappears.
The Art of Picking up Girls (and other dangerous things
Still reeling from a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, Graham Fox is less than thrilled to have to move to a new city and switch schools for senior year. But his decision to keep his head down and just get through the year is quickly challenged by Ethan Frost, former basketball player and trouble maker, whose talent at getting girls to go out with him is unmatched. In fact, he seems to have it down to an infallible science. Almost. Graham soon finds himself playing the role of wingman, as Ethan plunges them into a whirlwind of all-ages clubs, diners, support groups — anywhere there’s a chance to meet girls. Distracted from his own pain, Graham finds himself absorbing the “lessons” from Ethan, turning meeting girls into a game. That is, until he meets someone who challenges everything Ethan has taught him.
You In Five Acts
Una La Marche
At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out. Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along
Other new releases
Star Wars Jedi Academy A New Class
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
While Victor means well, his excess energy leads him to spend a lot of time in detention with the little, green sage, Yoda. Yoda wants to channel Victor’s talents, so he makes the young Padawan join the drama club. Victor is not pleased. “Learn to control your anger, you must! Successfully manage their emotions, a good Jedi can. Box step and jazz hands … hee hee … young Padawan will!”
Victor will have to make new friends, get on his sister’s good side, learn to use the force, and hope the year’s drama club performance (“Wookiee Side Story”? “Annie Get Your Lightsaber”?) goes off without a hitch!