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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Heroine
by Mindy McGinnis

Book list Senior Mickey Catalan is a talented softball catcher with a bright collegiate future ahead. She's a little socially awkward, but she's beginning to navigate romantic relationships while relying on the easy camaraderie with her teammates and her best friend, star pitcher Carolina. Then Mickey and Carolina are both injured in a car accident, and Mickey's broken hip seriously jeopardizes her athletic future. Determined to play again, Mickey falls into the trap of opiate addiction in a rapid and wholly believable descent. McGinnis begins with a shocking scenario: Mickey wakes to find her fellow-addict friends dead after shooting bad drugs. The rest of the story unfolds in flashback. There's nothing subtle here from the double entendre title that sets the tone on but McGinnis creates fully dimensional characters. Even the drug dealers have complex and interesting back stories. There's also no romanticized happy ending, just the realistic portrayal of how easy it is to develop an opiate addiction and the very real consequences of addiction. A timely and important message for teens everywhere.--Debbie Carton Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-All it takes is one prescription to kick-start a student athlete's frightening descent into opioid addiction. After surgery following a car accident, Ohio softball phenom Mickey Catalan is prescribed OxyContin for pain. When she starts to run out of the Oxy she relies on to get through her physical therapy, she gets pills from a dealer, through whom she meets other young addicts. Mickey rationalizes what she's doing and sees herself as a good girl who's not like others who use drugs (like new friend Josie, who uses because she's "bored"). Mickey loves how the pills make her feel, how they take her out of herself and relieve the pressures in her life. Soon she's stealing, lying, and moving on to heroin. Her divorced parents, including her recovering addict stepmother, suspect something is going on, but Mickey is skilled at hiding her addiction. A trigger warning rightfully cautions graphic depictions of drug use. In brutally raw detail, readers see Mickey and friends snort powders, shoot up, and go through withdrawal. Intense pacing propels the gripping story toward the inevitable conclusion already revealed in the prologue. An author's note and resources for addiction recovery are appended. This powerful, harrowing, and compassionate story humanizes addiction and will challenge readers to rethink what they may believe about addicts. VERDICT From the horrific first line to the hopeful yet devastating conclusion, McGinnis knocks it out of the park. A first purchase for all libraries serving teens.-Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book McGinnis's frank and frightening novel helps redefine the narrative of opioid addiction. Mickey is a star softball player, but when injuries from a car crash threaten to derail her season, she needs help to power through the pain. Her need for opioids escalates until she's using heroin. Frank depictions of drug use and an all-too-plausible trajectory combine for an intense and vital read. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus A compassionate, compelling, and terrifying story about a high school softball player's addiction to opioids.A promising life can be upended in a minute. One moment star catcher Mickey Catalan, who is assumed white, is living an ordinary life, talking about boys and anticipating a winning season with her best friend, pitcher Carolina Galarza. The next moment her car is upside down in a field, and their promising softball careers are in danger. Mickey's divorced parents and Carolina's tightknit Puerto Rican family are rooting for them to recover before the start of the season. After enduring surgeries, they are each given opioid painkillers, yet only Mickey spirals into addiction. From the novel's opening line, the reader awaits the tragic outcome. What matters are the detailsthe lying, the stealing, the fear about college scholarships, the pain confronted in the weight room, and the desperate desire to winbecause they force the reader to empathize with Mickey's escalating need. Realistic depictions of heroin abuse abound, and the author includes a trigger warning. The writing is visceral, and following Mickey as she rationalizes about her addiction is educative and frightening. Even more frightening are the descriptive passages that reveal how pleasant the drugs make her feel. By the end, readers understand how heroin can infiltrate even the most promising lives.A cautionary tale that exposes the danger of prescription medications by humanizing one victim of America's current epidemic. (author's note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Kirkus A young girl admires her older sister's "first-day hijab" in this team effort by hijabi Olympian Muhammad (Proud, 2018) and YA novelist Ali (Love From A to Z, 2019).Mama takes Asiyah and Faizah to the hijab shop so that Asiyah can pick out her "first-day hijab." Mama likes pink, but Asiyah picks out "the brightest blue." Faizah has a new backpack and light-up shoes for the first day of school, but when Asiyah walks out in her blue hijab, "It's the most beautiful first day of school ever. / I'm walking with a princess." Once they arrive at school, the reactions of other children alternate with spreads depicting Faizah's thoughts about Asiyah's hijab, which are paired with Mama's words. A girl whispers, asking Faizah about the hijab. But "Asiyah's hijab isn't a whisper"; according to Mama, "It means being strong." These spreads show Aly's close-up illustrations of a smiling Asiyah, with her blue hijab extending into an image of "the sky on a sunny day" or "the ocean waving to the sky." Faizah triumphs over the misunderstandings and bullying she witnesses, her pride in her sister still intact. This sensitive representation of family relationships that provide a loving coat of armor against the world's difficulties is memorable and inspiring. Bullies are depicted as faceless shadows, emphasizing the importance of discounting what they say. Faizah's family is black; the other schoolchildren are multiracial.Triumphant and true. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 4—Faizah is excited for her first day of school but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya. Asiya is starting sixth grade with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school in her new light-up shoes and backpack, she admires her sister who looks like a princess in her blue head scarf. At school, some students celebrate with her, some are ambivalent, and some faceless, nameless characters taunt her. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother's advice to not carry hurtful words as "they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them." The illustration and the colors are just as powerful as words conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one's culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong and keep one's faith. This is an empowering book for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her. The touching and celebratory illustrations complement the quiet strength of Asiya as she steps into a beautiful and celebrated coming-of-age rite. VERDICT This excellent story about identity, visibility, and confidence, touches on rites of passage, bonds between sisters, and bullying and is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality.—Noureen Qadir-Jafar, Syosset Library, NY

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list The first day of school is also the first day of hijab for little Faizah's sixth-grade sister, Asiya, who selects a beautiful shade of blue to wear. Faizah sees her sister as a princess, but not everyone shares her perspective. What's that on your sister's head? asks a classmate. At recess, someone shouts, I'm going to pull that tablecloth off your head! These moments teach Faizah to represent her culture with confidence: her whispered answers grow louder; she and her sister walk away from the bully. Muhammad and Ali's poetic prose has a reminiscent quality, with short sentences setting a thoughtful rhythm ( Mama holds out the pink. Mama loves pink. But Asiya shakes her head. I know why. Behind the counter is the brightest blue ) that allows the flourishes to shine ( The color of the ocean, if you squint your eyes and pretend there's no line between the water and the sky ). Aly's ink-wash-and-pencil illustrations settle and soar along with the language, swapping seamlessly between the concrete setting and metaphoric reflections on Asiya's hijab, the scarf's blue tail flowing out into curls of ocean or sky. This story, as both window and mirror, inevitably educates, but more important, it encourages pride in and respect for hijab through a tale of two sisters, their bond strengthened by faith.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly It’s the first day of school, and Faizah’s older sister Asiya, a sixth grader, has started wearing hijab in a brilliant, proud shade of blue. It’s “like the sky on a sunny day... special and regular” and reminds Faizah of “the ocean waving to the sky... always there, strong and friendly.” When a playground bully, portrayed by Aly (the Unicorn Rescue Society series) as a smudgy silhouette, taunts Asiya (“I’m going to pull that tablecloth off your head!”), Faizah fumes, glaring at the child and looking for “whispers, laughs, and shouts.” But when she sees how Asiya and her diverse friends, who share an easygoing confidence, dismiss the bully and get on with their fun, her sense of what’s “regular” is both restored and expanded. Hijabi U.S. Olympian Muhammad and YA author Ali (Love from A to Z) have created a lovely blend of emotional lyricism and closely observed everyday life. And Aly’s digitally enhanced ink and pencil scenes alternate between dreamy meditations of strength and empowerment, and snapshots of two sisters who are very much in the world—and mean the world to each other. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agents: Greg Ferguson, Full Fathom Five (for Muhammad) and John Cusick, Folio Jr. (for Ali). Illustrator’s agent: Robbin Brosterman, the Bright Agency. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog To Rescue The Republic
by Bret Baier with Catherine Whitney

Publishers Weekly Fox News anchor Baier (Three Days at the Brink) paints a flattering portrait of Ulysses S. Grant in this breezy revisionist history. Drawing analogies to today’s partisan discord, Baier focuses on “Grant’s resolve and heroism in times of unparalleled turmoil,” including his command of the Union Army during the Civil War; his two-term presidency (1868–1876), which encompassed the most hard-fought years of Reconstruction; and his controversial brokering of a “grand bargain” in the contested 1876 election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden. Baier claims that “we are so accustomed to dwelling on the failures of Reconstruction that we often overlook its successes,” including the 15th Amendment, which Grant helped push through in 1870, the election of the first Black U.S. senators, and the passage of the Enforcement Act, which Grant argued was necessary to curb racist violence in the South. Baier also refutes critics who fault Grant for supporting the withdrawal of federal troops from the South by claiming that Democrats and Republicans “were ready to give the Southern states a chance to do the right thing on their own,” and that “it’s unclear what more could have been done... short of permanent military occupation.” Though many readers will disagree with that assessment, Baier succeeds in humanizing Grant and clarifying the complex factors behind his decision-making. This is an accessible and nuanced introduction to an oft-misunderstood figure American history. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus The latest book of pop history from the chief political anchor for Fox News. The Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which Baier witnessed in his capacity as a political reporter and anchor, gave new meaning to the turmoil surrounding the 1876 presidential election. In this conventional biography of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) designed for general readers who have not studied the era, the election occupies only 50 pages near the end. A mediocre West Point cadet, Grant achieved little glory in the Mexican-American War, resigned his commission, and struggled to earn a living. The beginning of the Civil War found him clerking in a leather goods shop and farming. The only West Point graduate in the area, he was chosen to lead local units; after six months of intense activity against minor Confederate posts and lobbying by his congressman, a friend of Lincoln, Grant became a general. He turned out to be the most aggressive and imaginative Union commander. A national idol after Appomattox in 1865, he easily won presidential elections in 1868 and 1872. Recent historians have upgraded his performance in office, but Baier holds the traditional view that Grant was an honorable man but a poor politician surrounded by scoundrels. Scandals occurred regularly, and his final months in office were preoccupied by the mess following the 1876 election, which saw a closely contested battle that the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, barely won. As in his previous books on FDR, Eisenhower, and Reagan, Baier relies heavily on other biographies, including Ron Chernow’s superior Grant (2017), and Grant’s own memoirs, a straightforward and plainspoken history. Throughout, the author can’t resist the use of invented dialogue and conjectures of historical figures’ inner thoughts, but he gets the facts right. Better Grant biographies are not in short supply; readers should seek them out instead of this one. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

Publishers Weekly Audiobook fans will certainly not be disappointed by versatile actor Turpin's performance of Whitehead's powerful historical novel, which tells the story of Cora, a teenage slave girl who lives on a cotton plantation in 1850s Georgia. After several public whippings by the plantation's new owner, she decides to flee north on the Underground Railroad. Turpin manages to shift between the ages, races, and accents of the large cast of characters with remarkable ease. Her turn as Cora mesmerizes with its display of conflicting emotions and attachments. Yet she is equally gifted in her depiction of white slave catcher Ridgeway, Cora's longtime nemesis, whose cruelty is made all the more chilling given his curious eccentricities. Turpin takes great pains to handle the nuances of dialect without resorting to caricature. A Doubleday hardcover. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Each thing had a value.... In America the quirk was that people were things." So observes Ajarry, taken from Africa as a girl in the mid-18th century to be sold and resold and sold again. She finally arrives at the vicious Georgia plantation where she dies at the book's outset. After a lifetime in brutal, humiliating transit, Ajarry was determined to stay put in Georgia, and so is her granddaughter, Cora. That changes when Cora is raped and beaten by the plantation's owner, and she resolves to escape. In powerful, precise prose, at once spellbinding and ferocious, the book follows Cora's incredible journey north, step by step. In Whitehead's rendering, the Underground Railroad of the early 19th century is a literal subterranean tunnel with tracks, trains, and conductors, ferrying runaways into darkness and, occasionally, into light. Interspersed throughout the central narrative of Cora's flight are short chapters expanding on some of the lives of those she encounters. These include brief portraits of the slave catcher who hunts her, a doctor who examines her in South Carolina, and her mother, whose escape from the plantation when Cora was a girl has both haunted and galvanized her. Throughout the book, Cora faces unthinkable horrors, and her survival depends entirely on her resilience. The story is literature at its finest and history at its most barbaric. Would that this novel were required reading for every American citizen. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus What if the metaphorical Underground Railroad had been an actualunderground railroad, complete with steam locomotive pulling a "dilapidated box car" along a subterranean nexus of steel tracks? For roughly its first 60 pages, this novel behaves like a prelude to a slave narrative which is, at once, more jolting and sepulchral than the classic firsthand accounts of William Wells Brown and Solomon Northup. Its protagonist, Cora, is among several African-American men and women enslaved on a Georgia plantation and facing a spectrum of savage indignities to their bodies and souls. A way out materializes in the form of an educated slave named Caesar, who tells her about an underground railroad that can deliver her and others northward to freedom. So far, so familiar. But Whitehead, whose eclectic body of work encompasses novels (Zone One, 2011, etc.) playing fast and loose with "real life," both past and present, fires his most daring change-up yet by giving the underground railroad physical form. This train conveys Cora, Caesar, and other escapees first to a South Carolina also historically unrecognizable with its skyscrapers and its seemingly, if microscopically, more liberal attitude toward black people. Compared with Georgia, though, the place seems so much easier that Cora and Caesar are tempted to remain, until more sinister plans for the ex-slaves' destiny reveal themselves. So it's back on the train and on to several more stops: in North Carolina, where they've not only abolished slavery, but are intent on abolishing black people, too; through a barren, more forbidding Tennessee; on to a (seemingly) more hospitable Indiana, and restlessly onward. With each stop, a slave catcher named Ridgeway, dispensing long-winded rationales for his wicked calling, doggedly pursues Cora and her diminishing company of refugees. And with every change of venue, Cora discovers anew that "freedom was a thing that shifted as you looked at it, the way a forest is dense with trees up close but from outside, the empty meadow, you see its true limits." Imagine a runaway slave novel written with Joseph Heller's deadpan voice leasing both Frederick Douglass' grim realities and H.P. Lovecraft's rococo fantasiesand that's when you begin to understand how startlingly original this book is. Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Pulitzer Prize finalist Whitehead (John Henry Days) here telescopes several centuries' worth of slavery and oppression as he puts escaped slaves Cora and Caesar on what is literally an underground railroad, using such brief magical realist touches to enhance our understanding of the African American experience. Cora, an outsider among her fellow slaves since her mother's escape from a brutal Georgia plantation, is asked by new slave Caesar to join his own escape effort. He knows a white abolitionist shopkeeper named Fletcher with connections to the Underground Railroad, and as they flee to Fletcher's house, Cora saves them from capture with an act of violence that puts them in graver danger. "Who built it?" asks Caesar wonderingly of the endless tunnel meant to carry them to freedom. "Who builds anything in this country?" replies the stationmaster, clarifying how much of America rests on work by black hands. The train delivers Cora and Caesar to a seemingly benevolent South Carolina, where they linger until learning of programs that recall the controlled -sterilization and Tuskegee experiments of later years. Then it's onward, as Whitehead continues ratcheting up both imagery and tension. VERDICT A highly recommended work that raises the bar for fiction addressing slavery. [See Prepub Alert, 3/7/16.]-Barbara Hoffert, -Library Journal Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Over the course of his previous five novels, Whitehead (Zone One, 2011) has conducted an imaginative, droll, and eviscerating inquiry into the blurred divide between American mythology and American history, especially the camouflaged truth about racism. In this magnetizing and wrenching saga, Whitehead tells the story of smart and resilient Cora, a young third-generation slave on a Georgia cotton plantation where she has been brutally attacked by whites and blacks. Certain that the horror will only get worse, she flees with a young man who knows how to reach the Underground Railroad. Everything Whitehead describes is vividly, often joltinglyrealistic, even the novel's most fantastic element, his vision of this secret transport network as an actual railroad running through tunnels dug beneath the blood-soaked fields of the South, a jolting and resounding embodiment of heroic efforts and colossal risks. Yet for all that sacrifice and ingenuity, freedom proves miserably elusive. A South Carolina town appears to be welcoming until Cora discovers that it is all a facade, concealing quasi-medical genocidal schemes. With a notoriously relentless slave catcher following close behind, Cora endures another terrifying underground journey, arriving in North Carolina, where the corpses of tortured black people hang on the trees along a road whites call the Freedom Trail. Each stop Cora makes along the Underground Railroad reveals another shocking and malignant symptom of a country riven by catastrophic conflicts, a poisonous moral crisis, and diabolical violence. Each galvanizing scene blazes with terror and indictment as Whitehead tracks the consequences of the old American imperative to seize, enslave, and profit. Stolen bodies working stolen land. It was an engine that did not stop, its hungry boiler fed with blood. With each compelling character, some based on historical figures, most born of empathic invention, Whitehead takes measure of the personal traumas and mass psychosis that burn still within our national consciousness. Hard-driving, laser-sharp, artistically superlative, and deeply compassionate, Whitehead's unforgettable odyssey adds a clarion new facet to the literature of racial tyranny and liberation.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Cora, a slave on a plantation in Georgia, seeks her freedom on a demimythical version of the underground railroad. The railroad is portrayed quite literally, and -Cora's journey encapsulates the struggle for emancipation and civil rights and against Jim Crow and segregation, all of which is symbolized by the societies of the various states in which her train stops. As she travels, Cora's identity evolves from outcast to object to secret sin to prisoner and, finally, to a member of a community. She is pursued by slave catcher Ridgeway as one by one her allies and friends are taken from her in violence and blood. Whitehead's characters bridge the symbolism the story demands and the realism of complicated people. Narrator Bahni Turpin is able to differentiate among the many characters and lends a flowing cadence to the dark and savage tale. -Verdict A powerful story both of a woman and of a people. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction, historical fiction, American history, and African American literature. ["A highly recommended work that raises the bar for fiction addressing slavery": LJ 7/16 starred review of the Knopf hc.]-Tristan M. Boyd, Austin, TX Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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