By the catalog: Albert Whitman, Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.
Books I'm looking forward to:
Jasmine Skies, by Sita Brahmachari
Sequel to the absolutely lovely Mira in the Present Tense. In this one, Mira visits India for the first time, delves into a family secret, and breaks a heart.
Biggie, by Derek E. Sullivan
This is a story that involves sports, body image, and weight, which immediately puts me on my guard, but A) it's had decent reviews and B) maybe it WON'T go the tired Losing Weight Solves All The Problems route?
Disappear Home, by Laura Hurwitz
Historical about a girl who runs away from a bad-news hippie commune.
Down from the Mountain, by Elizabeth Fixmer
And, in re: that last title and this one: I have noticed A LOT of upcoming/recent books that deal with the End of Times and/or very small religious sects (that could possibly be described as cults). Vivian Apple, No Parking, Starbird Murphy. Does five books in less than six months constitute a mini-trend?
Painless, by S.A. Harizan
Story about a boy with congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA), which I don't think I've seen dealt with in YA before.
Books I've already read:
Stronger Than You Know, by Jolene Perry:
This is not a story in which the trauma survivor is Healed By Love. The romance is secondary to Joy learning to trust another person, and also a way of showing that despite her past experience, sexual contact can be a consensual, happy thing. (If anyone is unbelievably perfect in this book, it’s her love interest, but he’s so sweet that I let it go.)
Twelve Minutes to Midnight, by Christopher Edge:
Edge doesn't condescend to his audience: he doesn't over-explain plot points, and he never actually spills the beans about the specific events the prisoners are writing about. Deciphering those texts isn't necessary to enjoy the story, but they'll make a nice Easter Egg for any readers with a basic knowledge of twentieth-century history.
Mira in the Present Tense, by Sita Brahmachari:
In addition to all of the book's other virtues—seriously, it's so, so good—there's also a really nice thread about how her PARENTS react to and deal with Mira's maturation. On the one hand, they want to protect her from the horrors in the world, but on the other, they realize that she's growing up, and that learning about and understanding these hard things (as much as understanding is possible, anyway) is a part of that process.
Mafia Girl, by Deborah Blumenthal:
The love story—between Gia and a cop—is problematic on two major levels, neither of which is addressed. #1: She's underage and he's got to be in his early twenties at LEAST. #2: Her pursuit of him is extremely uncool, especially given that he asks her to stop. Animal magnetism doesn't justify stalking, and her choice to ignore his discomfort was just... yuck. If you're having difficulty seeing the yick factor, just reverse the gender roles. See? Yick.
This is How I Find Her, by Sara Polsky:
I really loved it, full stop. It's a sensitive, empathetic look at how bipolar disorder can affect a family; about the realities of living with depression; about how sometimes people cause more damage by trying to protect one another than by just being honest. It's about how a lack of communication and a difficulty in asking for help can make a hard situation that much harder; about misunderstandings, isolation, and about that moment of catharsis that comes when feelings that have been hidden for far too long are finally verbalized.
Promise Me Something, by Sara Kocek:
I could go on about all of the details that make Reyna's perspective so believable and well-rounded—her tendency to filter everything she sees through her own past, which leads her to make some big (and erroneous) assumptions about other people. Put simply, Kocek risks the 'unlikable' label in order to be honest. (Not that there's anything wrong with 'unlikable' characters: I, for one, tend to enjoy them! Except stupid Joffrey. But that's different.)