February 2020, Fiction

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen. December 3, 2019. HarperTeen, 429 p. ISBN: 9780062857309.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Sexual assault, Alcohol, Domestic abuse, Mention of rape

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. When Vicky, more properly known as Lady Victoria Aston, receives the unwelcome news that she must find a husband soon to secure her family’s ancestral home estate—and, thus, safety—she takes on the burden and participates in the London social season with determination. But no spirited young woman would willingly marry a milksop, a mountebank, or a cad. And sadly, Tom, the childhood friend she secretly loves, seems strangely distant since his return from the Continent. Meanwhile, who’s behind the accidents and attacks targeting Vicky? Can she unmask the villain before it’s too late? Vicky’s frequent references to Jane Austen’s novels will charm readers who love them as much as she does. The story brims with Austen-like characters, dilemmas, and turns of phrase. Vicky’s emotional turmoil will ring true for today’s readers, though her feisty responses to physical attacks are less believable in an era when young ladies lacked training in the art of self-defense. Putting such quibbles aside, contemporary fans of the Austen novels and their screen adaptations will relish this rousing, late Georgian romance.

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2019)
A Regency-era teen needs to find a husband to save the family estate—provided someone doesn’t murder her first. When 17-year-old Lady Victoria Aston’s older sister, Althea, flees her abusive husband, Viscount Dain, Victoria’s parents tell her she must marry soon: Without Vicky’s erstwhile husband as a possible heir, should her father die before Althea’s separation can be legally recognized, his estate and title would default to Dain. But someone seems intent on harming Vicky: She’s attacked by a stranger and later survives a mysterious carriage accident. Tom Sherborne, her old friend and neighbor returned from years in exile after succeeding to his father’s title, saves her both times. But Vicky’s still angry that Tom dropped their friendship when he left five years earlier. As various suitors vie for her hand, Vicky has one question: What would Jane Austen’s heroines do? Cohen’s debut is lighthearted and well researched, but a lack of focus—is it mystery? Romance?—keeps it from being a page-turner. The central conceit—that Vicky draws inspiration from Fanny Price, Elizabeth Bennet, Marianne Dashwood, etc.—only muddles the story, as it’s likely going to be lost on many YA readers who may not know who these characters are. There are mentions of India, the West Indies, and abolition, but all characters seem to be white. Not scary, not sexy, not quite enough. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual. Her website is www.JenniekeCohen.com.

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Fiction, January 2020

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. October 1, 2019. Philomel Books, 495 p. ISBN: 9780399160318.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))
Grades 9-12. It’s 1957 and aspiring photographer Daniel Matheson is visiting Spain with his Texas oil tycoon father. Daniel is eager for the opportunity to flesh out his portfolio for a photography contest—what would be more prize-­worthy than photos of daily life in notoriously secretive Spain?—but he gets repeated warnings, some quite aggressive, against looking too closely. Another thing Daniel doesn’t bank on is Ana, an arrestingly beautiful maid at the Castellana Hilton, where he’s staying with his parents. As their affection deepens, so, too, do their differences: Ana, daughter of executed anti-Fascists, lives a tightly constrained existence, and Daniel has unprecedented freedom in her country and can’t quite wrap his head around the danger he puts her in. In another meticulously researched novel, Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2015) offers a captivating glimpse into Franco’s Spain, a region awash in secrets and misinformation. As Sepetys slowly unspools hard truths about the era, such as the prevalence of babies stolen from poor, Republican families, the facts become increasingly impossible to ignore, both for the reader and for Daniel. The romance ultimately takes center stage, but the troubling events in the margins add terrifyingly high stakes to Daniel and Ana’s relationship. For all her extensive, careful research (evident in the back matter), Sepetys doesn’t overwhelm readers with facts; rather, she tells a moving story made even more powerful by its placement in a lesser-known historical moment. Captivating, deft, and illuminating historical fiction.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2019)
The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards. The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over fifty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.

Her website is www.rutasepetys.com

Teacher Resources

The Fountains of Silence on Common Sense Media

The Fountains of Silence Reading Group Questions

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December 2019, Fiction

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas. September 10, 2019. Tu Books, 348 p. ISBN: 9781620148044.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Gore, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2019)
New life is breathed into the ballad of Mulan. The Hua and Yuan families share a legacy: As caretakers of the deftly made swords Sky Blade and Heart Sea, each generation must fight to determine the next guardians of the swords. Hua Mulan has only known a life of being disguised as a boy, trained in weaponry by her father. What her father does not know is that Mulan already spars with her future duel partner. On the eve of the showdown, the Hua family receives a letter citing political unrest threatening the Yuans as a reason to withdraw from this year’s duel. When the Hua family receives a conscription notice requiring one male per household to report for duty, Mulan enlists, quickly being recruited into the princeling’s elite team for her skills. Mulan finds herself caught in a web of sabotage, battles, and strained loyalties, trying to maintain her own cover and handling the growing affection between the princeling and herself. While the resolution may seem too neat for some, Thomas (The Hollow of Fear, 2018, etc.) brings new dimensions to the iconic character, weaving emotional depth and ethnic political issues into the plot. She immerses readers in bustling city streets and freezing swaths of wilderness. Scaffolded by detailed research, the story is based on actual historic conflicts and artifacts. A refreshing new take that pays homage to a legendary character. (author’s note, linguistic and historical notes) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Publishers Weekly (October 14, 2019)
Rich cultural references, intricate political machinations, and thrilling Wuxia elements distinguish this deftly woven Mulan retelling by Thomas (The Immortal Heights), who was born and raised in China. Hua Mulan, who publicly assumes her deceased twin brother’s name, Hua Muyang, fills her days with projectile training alongside her father, caring for her seven-year-old brother, and secretly looking forward to the sporadic training sessions she has with Yuan Kai, a mysterious boy she is fated to duel with over a pair of matchless inherited swords. But mandatory conscription causes the match to be deferred, and Mulan enlists on behalf of her household. Her martial arts expertise earns her a role accompanying the royal duke’s son, a young man who seems strangely familiar. As the Rouran invasion looms, Mulan and her companions must evade danger and uncover a traitor at court while unpacking their preconceived notions about family, fear, and nomadic tribes. Skillful martial arts scenes combine with crucial discourse on power, gender, and the impact of language on history in this gripping, thoughtfully layered reinterpretation.

About the Author

Sherry Thomas is the author of nineteen novels across multiple genres, including the acclaimed Lady Sherlock mystery series, a YA fantasy trilogy that began with The Burning Sky, and more than a dozen romance novels, which have twice won her the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award. Born in China, she learned English as a second language, and now lives and writes in Austin, Texas.

Her website is sherrythomas.com.

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December 2019, Fiction

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner. October 1, 2019. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 282 p. ISBN: 9780374277789.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From the award-winning author of 10:04 and Leaving the Atocha Station, a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right

Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of ’97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting “lost boys” to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. He is one of the cool kids, ready to fight or, better, freestyle about fighting if it keeps his peers from thinking of him as weak. Adam is also one of the seniors who bring the loner Darren Eberheart–who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father’s patient–into the social scene, to disastrous effect.

Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, The Topeka School is the story of a family, its struggles and its strengths: Jane’s reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan’s marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the New Right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs; Marijuana; Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Underage drinking; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))
The messy relationship between masculinity and language drives this seeking, eloquent story by poet-novelist Lerner (10:04, 2014; Leaving Atocha Station, 2011). Adam Gordon (maybe the same Adam Gordon as in Leaving Atocha Station, maybe not) is a debate-team prodigy. The son of talk-therapy professionals, Adam loves poetry and believes in the power of words. At parties, after a few drinks, freestyle rap keeps him out of fights, unlike his damaged classmate Darren, whose violent impulses are neither sublimated into nor constrained by mere words. Seeking early stirrings of today’s sociopolitical tensions in 1990s Kansas, Lerner interrogates Adam’s personal origins, dependency upon language, and the complicity tacit in his adolescent oblivion. Chapters narrated by Adam’s psychologist parents reveal other masculine transgressions and suggest that Adam’s issues are not his alone. The ekphrastic style and autofictional tendencies echo Lerner’s earlier works, and his focus on language games and their discontents fits nicely within the 1990s setting. But the fear at the core of this tale—that language, no matter how thoroughly mastered or artfully presented, simply isn’t enough—feels new and urgent.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2019)
In which the author scrupulously investigates his upper-middle-class upbringing to confront its messy interior of violence, betrayal, and mental illness. Adam, the center and occasional narrator of Lerner’s (The Hatred of Poetry, 2016, etc.) essayistic and engrossing novel, enjoyed a privileged adolescence in the Kansas capital during the 1990s: He competed nationally in debate, had plenty of friends, and was close to his parents, two psychologists at an illustrious foundation. (Lerner is again in autofiction mode; he, too, competed in high school debate, and his parents are psychologists who’ve worked at Topeka’s Menninger Clinic.) But all is not well: Fred Phelps’ homophobic Westboro Baptist Church recurs in the narrative, a childhood concussion has left Adam with migraines, and his parents’ marriage is strained. Lerner alternates sections written from the perspectives of Adam, his mother, and his father with interludes about Darren, a mentally troubled teen who committed an act of violence at a party that Adam feels complicit in. How much? Hard to say, but the book sensitively gathers up the evidence of abuse, violation, and cruelty in Adam’s life. Though the conflicts are often modest, like Adam’s mom’s fending off Phelps-ian trolls angry at her bestselling book, Lerner convincingly argues they’re worth intense scrutiny. As a debate competitor, Adam had to confront a “spread”—an opponent’s laying out a fearsome number of arguments, each requiring rebuttals—and Lerner is doing much the same with his adolescence. How do childhood microaggressions build into a singular violent act? Were the rhetorical debates between the Phelpses and the foundation a rehearsal for contemporary Trumpian politics? Few writers are so deeply engaged as Lerner in how our interior selves are shaped by memory and consequence, and if he finds no clear conclusion to his explorations, it makes the “Darren Eberheart situation” increasingly powerful and heartbreaking as the story moves on. Autofiction at its smartest and most effective: self-interested, self-interrogating, but never self-involved.

About the Author

Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry (The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path), three novels (Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:04, and The Topeka School) and a work of criticism (The Hatred of Poetry). His collaborations with artists include Blossom (with Thomas Demand), The Polish Rider (with Anna Ostoya), and The Snows of Venice (with Alexander Kluge). Lerner has been a Fulbright Scholar, a finalist for the National Book Award, a Howard Foundation Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and he is currently a MacArthur Fellow. In 2011 he won the “Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie”, making him the first American to receive this honor. Lerner teaches at Brooklyn College, where he was named a Distinguished Professor of English in 2016.

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Fiction, November 2019

Becoming Beatriz by Tami Charles

Becoming Beatriz by Tami Charles. September 17, 2019. Charlesbridge Teen, 260 p. ISBN: 9781580897785.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days–that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her gang leader brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her gang needs running, when her mami can’t brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is- will the gang let her go?

Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz’s story is a timeless one of a teenager’s navigation of romance, gang culture, and her own family’s difficult past. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal culture, Homophobic slur, Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Violence, Domestic abuse, Marijuana dealing

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))
Grades 7-10. Beatriz, first introduced in Charles’ Like Vanessa (2018), wanted to dance and become famous for it, until the day of her fifteenth birthday, when a rival gang drove by her family’s bodega and murdered her brother, Junito. He’d been the head of the Diablos, and Beatriz a blossoming Diabla, though she still harbored her dreams of meeting Debbie Allen and making her Fame dreams come true. After her brother was taken from her, though, she stopped dancing. It takes her a year of floating along with the Diablos and trying to do what she thinks Junito would have wanted before she goes back to dreaming and, ultimately, becoming whom she was meant to be. Though the situations and story line are heavy, and the average modern reader might not easily relate to a gang in the ’80s, Beatriz’s often funny, descriptive first-person narrative is a welcoming avenue into her story. Readers with diverse backgrounds will feel at home with Beatriz’s identities as Latina, Black, and American, and everyone will be cheering her on, right up until the satisfying, heartwarming end.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2019)
In a city where “cocaine is king,” can a teenage gang leader dare to dream of another life? Newark, New Jersey. 1984. Beatriz Mendez and her older brother, Junito, lead the powerful Latin Diablos gang. Everything changes on Beatriz’s 15th birthday when a Haitian gang leaves Junito for dead and Beatriz badly injured. A Like Vanessa (2018) spinoff, this page-turner opens dramatically with a visceral fight scene that introduces a fierce protagonist. Beatriz is a Spanglish-speaking Puerto Rican badass with “a blade tucked inside [her] cheek…to use on anybody who tries to step.” In the aftermath of Junito’s death, Beatriz struggles to maintain her standing as a Diabla, raise her grades (mostly D’s and F’s), and support her grief-stricken zombie of a mother. Though “dancing ain’t gonna pay the bills,” she allows her childhood dream of becoming a dancer to glimmer through her tough exterior each week when watching her favorite TV show, Fame. Told in the first person, this narrative is full of passion and humor, with flashbacks rooted in Beatriz’s beloved salsa music. Realistic newsprint clips effectively add context. A friendship/romance with a new boy contributes depth while avoiding predictability. As Beatriz transcends her trauma and self-doubt—“No such thing as a gangbanger turned famous dancer”—readers experience a necessary portrayal of a young Afro-Latina woman who makes her own path, one that isn’t straightforward, told in an extremely realistic voice. Inspiring and fresh. (historical notes) (Fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books. While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing. Tami is the author of the middle grade novel Like Vanessa (2018) and the picture book Freedom Soup (2019).

Her website is www.tamiwrites.com.

Teacher Resources

Becoming Beatriz Reading Guide with Discussion Questions

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Becoming Beatriz on Amazon

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Becoming Beatriz on Goodreads

Becoming Beatriz on LibraryThing

Becoming Beatriz Publisher Page

Fiction, November 2019

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee. August 13, 2019. G.P. Putman’s Sons, 374 p. ISBN: 9781524740955.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Racism, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. It’s 1890 in Atlanta, and Jo Kuan has a secret: she’s the anonymous author of the popular, yet polarizing, new agony aunt column “Dear Miss Sweetie.” After spending her life living in a secret basement room (a relic of the Underground Railroad) beneath the press offices of The Focus, a newspaper run by the Bell family, she’s picked up a masterful vocabulary to match her sharp wit, and the combination proves intoxicating to Atlanta’s young ladies. But if anyone found out that a Chinese American teenager was behind the column, she’d be run out of town or worse. Lee (Outrun the Moon, 2016) has concocted another thrilling historical novel, blending stellar plotting and a dynamic cast of characters with well-researched details and sharp commentary on America’s history of racism and prejudice. She pulls no punches when it comes to Jo’s experiences of being Chinese in the Reconstruction South: a meeting of Atlanta’s suffragettes proves unwelcoming despite their claim to want votes for all women, and though there’s stirring romance between Jo and the son of the Bell family, Jo acknowledges the difficulties in that path. But best of all is Jo’s first-person narrative, which crackles with as much witty wordplay and keen observations as her column. This spectacular, voice-driven novel raises powerful questions about how we understand the past, as well as the ways our current moment is still shaped by that understanding.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2019)
Jo Kuan leads a double life: a public role as a quiet lady’s maid and a secret one as the voice behind the hottest advice column in 1890 Atlanta. Chinese American Jo is mostly invisible except for occasional looks of disdain and derisive comments, and she doesn’t mind: Her priority is making sure she and her adoptive father, Chinese immigrant Old Gin, remain safe in their abandoned abolitionists’ hideaway beneath a print shop. But even if she lives on the margins, Jo has opinions of her own which she shares in her newspaper advice column under the byline “Miss Sweetie.” Suddenly all of Atlanta is talking about her ideas, though they don’t know that the witty advice on relationships, millinery, and horse races comes from a Chinese girl. As curiosity about Miss Sweetie mounts, Jo may not be able to stay hidden much longer. And as she learns more about the blurred lines and the hard truths about race in her city and her own past, maybe she doesn’t want to. In her latest work, Lee (The Secret of a Heart Note, 2016, etc.) continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present—and had a voice—in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo’s personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work. An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese American—and simply American—history. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.

Her website is www.staceyhlee.com/

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