A Novel That Focuses on LGBTQ+ Characters

1. Bibliography

Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. 2012. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781442408920

2. Plot Summary

Aristotle is “fifteen,” “bored,” and “miserable.” He’s also friendless. Although he can’t swim, Ari has the idea to spend his summer at the local pool, sitting around in the shallows. Luckily, Ari meets Dante, another fifteen-year-old, who offers to teach Ari how to swim. The two boys become fast friends and spend the rest of the summer connected at the hip, even though Dante is outgoing and connected to his feelings while Ari is closed off and confused about what he wants. As part of their summer escapades, the two friends see a dying bird in the road and decide to help. But when Ari sees that Dante’s bird-saving efforts have put him in the direct path of a speeding car, Ari makes a split-second decision, pushing Dante out of the way and putting himself in the car’s path instead. Ari spends the rest of the summer in the hospital, trying to heal, and hating Dante and the world for seeing him as a hero.

At the end of the summer, Dante and his parents move to Chicago, but Dante continues writing letters to Ari. Dante begins going to parties in Chicago, getting high and drunk, and kissing girls. Ari wonders what it would be like to kiss a girl and get drunk, and determines to kiss Ileana, a girl he’s interested in, and get drunk in the desert in his new truck. By the end of the school year, Dante writes Ari to tell him that Dante’s realized that when he’s kissing a girl, he’s actually pretending to kiss “a good-looking boy.” In the meantime, Ari has kissed Ileana and wants to continue their relationship, but she admits that she already has a boyfriend. Disillusioned, Ari promises himself that he’ll become “the world’s most casual kisser.”

Dante returns for a final summer and asks Ari if they can kiss, just for an experiment. Ari agrees reluctantly, but tells Dante that he feels nothing. Although disappointed, Dante continues to hang out with Ari and starts seeing another boy, Daniel. When Dante and Daniel are caught kissing in an alley at night, Daniel flees while Dante gets beat up and sent to the hospital. Ari, angry, finds one of the boys that hurt Dante and beats him up. Dante’s parents call a family meeting, informing Dante that his actions show that he loves Ari, and that he should stop running from his feelings. The end of the book finds Ari confessing to Dante and the both of them beginning a relationship together.

3.  Critical Analysis

It’s no wonder that fans were still clamoring to read Sáenz’s sequel, Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World a whole nine years after the first book was published. Sáenz wrote a queer story that sets itself apart from the rest. Why? First and foremost, it’s so introspective that most readers will find some way to relate to teenage Aristotle. Ari’s feelings of confusion, of loneliness, and of longing are universal. Readers may not have recurring nightmares like Ari or get hit by a car as they come of age, but they may well question their sexual identity, wonder about the meaning of a kiss, feel strange and different than “everybody else,” deem their parents unreachable and unapproachable, and hide their feelings inside. Sáenz doesn’t make his characters “exotic others” because of their sexual orientation. Instead, he makes them engaging, interesting characters that reflect teenage experiences everywhere.

Sáenz’s story is also commendable for the way it addresses sexuality and the varied experiences and difficulties that may come from being queer in America. When Dante realizes that he’s gay, he writes that “I hate that I’m going to disappoint [my parents], Ari. I know I’ve disappointed you too,” and that he’s terrified of telling his dad, imagining the conversation will go something like this: “Dad, I have something to say to you. I like boys. Don’t hate me. Please don’t hate me.” When Ari’s parents gently suggest that Ari’s gay, Ari initially says, “I’m so ashamed,” “it’s not the way things are supposed to be,” and “I hate myself.” Obviously, accepting one’s sexual identity and coming out is not an easy process, whether it’s due to fear of others’ responses (like Dante) or self-shaming (like Ari).

And fear of others’ responses is a legitimate concern: Ari’s mother explains that his aunt Ophelia was shamed and shunned by her family for the rest of her life after she came out. And when Dante is seen kissing Daniel, he gets jumped and ends up in the hospital. Yet, Sáenz also shows the compassion of many others: when the girl Dante’s been kissing realizes that he’s really only interested in guys, there’s no hard feelings and the two remain friends. Ari’s parents show profound love for him when they call a meeting to reassure him that there’s nothing wrong with being gay and that he is never alone. Dante’s parents are similarly kind and loving to Dante when they learn that he’s gay. Sàenz never shies away from the difficulties that queer people face, but he also remembers to imbue his story with compassion, reminding readers that they, too, are never alone.

There were a few plot points that seemed sloppy: Ari’s fling with Ileana suggests his bisexuality, a topic that is never breached, and her disappearance due to getting “knocked up” and married to an unkind boy in a gang is a tragic plot point that’s unfairly glossed over and blamed on her. The characters display a flippant attitude toward illegal drugs, which is distressing. Furthermore, Ari’s quick acceptance of his own sexuality after years of painful torment and denial felt somewhat unrealistic. Still, while it has its faults, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an important and accessible book that treats its main characters with respect and empathy, extending its reach to readers too, both queer and heterosexual.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, 2013, Nominee

International Latino Book Award, 2013, Honorable Mention, Young Adult Fiction

Lambda Literary Award, 2013, Winner, LGBT Children’s/Young Adult

Michael L. Printz Award, 2013, Honor Book

Pura Belpré Award, 2013, Winner, Narrative

Stonewall Book Award, 2013, Winner, Young Adult

From Children’s Literature: “As much about family, friendship, and communication as it is about sexual identity, this is a truly powerful story.”

From CLW: “Ultimately, the story line that makes this novel an important addition to the existing coming-of-age body of work is the beautiful way that the story deals with homosexuality and bias, love and hate. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a novel for a young adult reading audience which handles the issue of sexual awakening and homosexuality respectfully.”

5. Connections

Ari writes down his thoughts in a journal. Give teens their own journals and spread crafts on tables, inviting teens to personalize their journals with stickers and pictures.

Dante likes poetry and art. Challenge teens to draw something with emotion like Dante or, if they don’t like drawing, invite them to write a piece of poetry with emotion. Have an artists’ showcase of finished drawings and poetry.

A Book About Someone with Middle-Eastern Heritage

  1. Bibliography

Budhos, Marina. 2006. Ask Me No Questions. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9781416903512

2. Plot Summary

Nadira, her sister Aisha, and her parents are illegal Bangladeshi aliens living in New York City. They’ve lived on expired visas for years, something that “everyone does.” “You buy a fake social security number for a few hundred dollars and then you can work,” Nadira knows. But everything changes after 9/11. The U.S. government begins investigating Muslim communities and cracking down on illegal immigrants. Muslim men from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are required to register with the government. Many are detained, abused, and deported.

Hoping to save himself and his family, Nadira’s father drives the family to Canada, where he hears they’re taking immigrants. Unfortunately, Canada has stopped taking Bangladeshis after the recent influx. Even worse, since his work visa is expired, Nadira’s father is detained at the U.S. border. While Nadira’s mother stays behind to await her husband’s deportation trial, Aisha and Nadira drive back to New York City to live with their an aunt and uncle and return to high school.

Aisha is the family’s golden child, the older daughter who’s at the top of her high school class, the one who knows exactly what she wants and works hard to achieve it. Aisha is “perfect.” Nadira describes herself as the “fat and dreamy second daughter,” “the one who always has to trail after Aisha,” and never does anything important. But after Aisha writes to Homeland Security, calls her father’s detention center, and works with a local Bangladeshi lawyer, all to no avail, she gives up—on her valedictorian nomination at school, on interviewing at Bernard, and on America. Nadira must hold her family together, coming to a new understanding of her value in the family, on her strength, and on the American dream.

  1. Critical Analysis

Ever since Nadira and her family arrived in America, they’ve lived by the motto, “Don’t let them see you.” To Americans, her family has become “invisible, the people who swam in between other people’s lives, bussing dishes, delivering groceries.” Illegal immigrants are “everywhere,” Nadira admits. “You just have to look.” And yet, Nadira and Aisha’s classmates and teachers don’t look. They don’t pick up the signals. They don’t ask the sisters questions. Thus, both illegal immigrants and the “Muslim problem” are faceless to Nadira and Aisha’s peers, teachers, friends, and the other American citizens the sisters interact with on a daily basis. Nadira’s honest and observant musings on her family’s invisibility in America provide valuable reflections on the distinct experiences that she and so many other illegal Muslim immigrants have shared.

Her honest musings slowly turn outward: It is when Nadira allows Americans to truly “see” her that she begins making a difference in her family’s life—showing the deportment judge that her father was saving money so that his daughters could go to college, urging Aisha to reveal her illegal status to her peers as part of her valedictorian speech, getting local media involved in her family’s appeal for residency. Ask Me No Questions is Nadira’s call to its American audience to “tell [us] who [she is]. What [she] really think[s].” Through Nadira’s character, author Marina Budhos allows readers (who, much like Nadira’s classmates, may not see or understand the plight of many of their classmates) to truly see illegal immigrants, specifically Muslims, in all their humanness. Her unforgettable story invites readers to reflect on current U.S. policies and beliefs, to analyze them, and, like Nadira, to take action.

Author Marina Budhos also uses Ask Me No Questions to point out the cultural nuances that Bangladeshis living in America must learn to navigate. Some, like Aisha, decide to assimilate to American culture, copying what the American kids do with phrases like “my mom” and “awesome” and giving up Bangladeshi fashion in order to fit in. Nadira’s parents try to find a balance between American and Bangladeshi culture, fasting for Ramadan and going to the mosque (Bangladeshi culture), but also encouraging their daughters to go to college and pursue careers (American culture). And a close family friend, “Ali-Uncle,” wears a long kurta, has a beard, and prays five times a day, just like he did in Bangladesh. Yet, despite the fact that Bangladeshis in America may express their culture in varying degrees, they all come from the same place “where there is no difference between land and sea.” Mariana Budhos offers no judgement at the way her Bangladeshi characters choose to express their Bangladeshi roots in America, offering that readers do the same.

Finally, Marina Budhos uses Ask Me No Questions to tell a coming-of-age story of one girl who begins her journey “nestled in the back, not seen,” mocked for her weight, and sure that she’s completely useless, to a girl who realizes that she’s been “the person guiding slowly from behind,” intelligent, important, and loved by her family. Nadira’s story shows readers the power of one determined girl who won’t give up, and who takes her future into her own hands, providing a framework for any teen who feels trapped by their circumstances. This little book packs a powerful emotional punch that readers won’t soon forget. Highly recommended for every teen library.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth List, 2006
Kirkus Best Children’s Books List, 2006
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults List, 2007, Fiction
From Bulletin: “Budhos has composed a compelling and thought-provoking contemporary examination of the human side of the law; further, in illustrating the secret burden that Nadira and Aisha carry with them to school each day as they pretend that nothing is the matter, she reminds readers to think differently about the people around them. Sure to elicit discussion, this novel would work very well for a teen book club selection.”
From Kirkus: “Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. . . A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe.”

5. Connections

Marina Budhos has written several award-winning books. Set out a display of some of them, which may include the following:
• Eyes of the World. ISBN 9780805098358
• Watched. ISBN 9780553534184
• Tell Us We’re Home. ISBN 9781416903529
• Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. ISBN 9780805051131

Create a display of Ask Me No Questions and other books about immigrants. This selection might include the following:
• Elhillo, Safia. Home Is Not a Country. ISBN 9780593177082
• Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out & Back Again. ISBN 9781476531229
• Nayeri, Daniel. Everything Sad Is Untrue: (A True Story). ISBN 9781432888725
• Umrigar, Thrity. Sugar in Milk. ISBN 9780762495191
• Ha, Robin. Almost American Girl. ISBN 9780062685100
• Van, Muon Thi. Wishes. ISBN 9781338305890

A Graphic Novel by an Asian American Author

1. Bibliography

Takei, George, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (illustrator). 2020. They Called Us Enemy: Expanded Edition. San Diego: Top Shelf Productions. ISBN 9781684068821

2. Plot Summary

George Takei, a Japanese American actor most famous for his stint in Star Trek as Captain Sulu, uses the graphic novel format to convey childhood memories of his family’s incarceration along with more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in military camps across the U.S. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, all persons of Japanese ancestry were considered enemies to America, were taken from their homes with only the possessions they could fit in their suitcase, and were placed in these camps. Japanese Americans would stay locked inside for the next four years. When Takei’s family finally got out, his parents had to rebuild a new life from scratch, having lost their home and livelihood to Roosevelt’s executive order.

Takei’s graphic novel also shows how he rose up from the difficult post-internment adjustment to become a top-notch actor, activist, and influencer in America. While Takei’s biography is punctuated by his young self’s sweet naivete (for example, when young George and his family were trained from California to their first internment camp in Arkansas, his mother told him they were going on “vacation”), Takei also narrates the story through the lens of his current understanding of the difficulties faced by his parents and other detainees before, during, and after their incarceration (for example, the racial and political prejudice Japanese Americans faced, the misplaced guilt they felt after their incarceration, and the government’s erasure of their incarceration story). Takei ends his novel with a beautiful reconciliatory experience in which he visits Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home to deliver a speech about the hope he feels in America, despite its problems, and with a warning for readers to remember the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans so that we don’t the incarceration of the innocent again.

3.  Critical Analysis

I read the highly acclaimed March graphic novels two years ago, the trilogy about John Lewis, I didn’t think I’d ever find another book that was quite as detailed, historically accurate, authentic, and thought-provoking. Lucky for me, I was wrong. They Called Us Enemy is just as detailed, historically accurate, authentic, and thought-provoking as March was. George Takei’s graphic novel memoir is something exceptional.

While there has been a recent push to retell the Japanese American internment story, many newly published books on the subject have fallen flat because the authors are not the ones who experienced it. Takei did experience it firsthand, adding powerful authenticity to his story. Though his memories are those of an optimistic child who didn’t fully understand internment (i.e. the giant barbed wire fence around their new “home” is to keep the dinosaurs away), Takei reflects on his memories these many years later with wiser eyes and clearer understanding of events (i.e. his father didn’t leave work because he had a stomachache, but because he didn’t want to shake hands with Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the man who had imprisoned his family).

Other newly published books have also fallen flat because they don’t seem well researched. Takei and his coauthors have gone the extra mile to tell the story of Japanese American incarceration with depth. Not only do readers learn that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 seventy-four days after Pearl Harbor, but readers also learn about Lt. General John L. Dewitt who said, “a Jap is a Jap. . . it makes no difference whether he is theoretically an American citizen,” and Senator Tom Stewart who told his American listeners that “they [Japanese Americans] cannot be assimilated. There is not a single Japanese in this country who would not stab you in the back.” This deep retelling allows readers to understand how Executive Order 9066 was passed, why it was passed, and why it should never be allowed to happen again. Its depth provides thought-provoking fodder for reflecting, analyzing, and responding to the event and thinking through events happening today. Still, displaying an amazing degree of forgiveness and fairness despite his family’s four year incarceration, Takei also highlights the good things that President Roosevelt did during his presidency, showing his nuanced understanding of one of America’s political leaders. Takei presents Roosevelt as the complex person that he was with both weaknesses and strengths.

Takei also does a great job fleshing out his fellow Japanese Americans. Some of the others in internment camps only spoke Japanese, some—like Takei’s mother—spoke limited English, and some—like his father—spoke English fluently. Some were Japanese immigrants, some were issei (first-generation Japanese Americans), some were nisei (second-generation), and some were sansei (third-generation). Some answered the infamous mandatory camp questionnaires with “yeses,” determined to join the American troops during World War II, and some–like Takei’s parents—refused, becoming “no-nos” and being sent to the “disloyal” internment camp. Japanese Americans are certainly not a monolith in Takei’s memoir.

In displaying his own Japanese American internment story, Takei has inspired a new generation of Americans to think deeply about the damage that stereotyping can do, and the difference that just one person can make for bad or for good. While this isn’t the only Japanese American internment story being told today, it is one of the best. If you don’t yet have this book on your shelf, you should. Highly recommended.   

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, 2020, Winner, Young Adult Literature

Cybils Awards, 2019, Finalist, Graphic Novels (Young Adult)

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults List, 2019, Nonfiction

Kirkus Best Young Adult Books List, 2019

From Publishers Weekly: “Giving a personal view into difficult history, Takei’s work is a testament to hope and tenacity in the face of adversity.”

From Booklist: “Takei, together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, interweaves scenes of his adult realizations and reflections, as well as key speeches and historical events of the period, among the accounts of his childhood, which is very effective at providing context for those memories. . . . This approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today’s political climate. Pair with John Lewis’ acclaimed March series for a thought-provoking, critical look at the history of racism in American policies and culture.”

5. Connections

They Called Us Enemy pairs well with John Lewis’s March trilogy. Read both, discussing similarities and differences between Lewis’s and Takei’s experiences. Why is it important for us to learn about these two series of events in our country’s history? Which stories from each book were the most memorable to you? What is your biggest takeaway from reading these books?

After reading They Called Us Enemy, watch an episode or two of the original Star Trek series starring Takei. Why do you think Takei wanted to be cast in Star Trek so badly? Why do you think it continues to be such a popular franchise today? What underlying message did you learn from the episode(s) you watched?

A Book By Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza

1. Bibliography

Mendoza, Jean, & Debbie Reese. 2019. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807049402. Adapted from “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014, Beacon Press.

2. Plot Summary

Written like a textbook that teens actually want to read, Mendoza and Reese’s adaptation of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is chock-full of information from a uniquely Indigenous perspective. The book begins pre-1492 with a history and celebration of the peoples and cultures who inhabited the Americas. In the following seven chapters, Mendoza and Reese highlight the calculated devastation and destruction brought about by European colonizers and the American grab for land no matter the cost. The final two chapters detail the Indigenous fight for sovereignty and rights, including the very recent Standing Rock Protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and invite readers to find ways to defend Native American rights. Each chapter includes pictures, headings, “did you know?” sections, and questions for reflection. The book also includes back matter sections for further reading, book recommendations, chapter notes and image credits, and contains a thorough index.

3.  Critical Analysis

Look no further than this book to take readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Highs include learning about advanced pre-European civilizations and the victories for the Dakota Pipeline protestors. Lows include chapter upon chapter of horrific descriptions of the death and destruction incited upon tribe after tribe after tribe, and unfair killings conducted on unsuspecting, often nonviolent Native children, women, elders, and men. Chapters two through eight are heavy with traumatic events that, the authors argue, have led to intergenerational trauma for Native Americans, passed down through generations of abuse. While the lows of the Native American peoples are important to acknowledge and the decimation of entire populations is no small thing, I do wish that there were more stories of resiliency since, as emphasized in An Indigenous Peoples’ History, Native Americans are not extinct. They have overcome incredibly difficult odds and they are still here! 

Still, the text is focused and understandable and the format of the book is attractive, both a huge plus for the teen target audience. Chapters are broken into short and manageable parts and images pair well with text. Sections on recommended books and topics for further reading are thoughtful and well-prepared. Footnotes are extensive, evidence of thorough research, and the index is impressive in its scope. The information found in the book is also fresh and is often illuminating, offering sharp insights: Why did settlers often have such an easy time cultivating the “new” and “wild” land? Maybe, Mendoza and Reese suggest, because the land was already being cultivated by the Native population who had lived there for thousands of years! The text also reviews treaties promising Natives land, treaties that were signed by one American president and then ignored by the next. It highlights the unfair treatment of Natives by some of America’s most highly revered presidents, men like Thomas Jefferson (who schemed up ways to make Natives secede their lands) and Abraham Lincoln (who authorized the largest mass execution in U.S. history). This Native-centered history isn’t something teens are likely to learn about in their U.S. history class, making the book invaluable as a resource for students looking to gain a more nuanced perspective of their country. All teen collections should include this book.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Cybils Awards, 2019, Nominee, Nonfiction

Booklist Book Review Stars, 2019

Kirkus Best Young Adult Books, 2019

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2020, Grades 6-8

School Library Journal Best Books, 2019, Nonfiction

From CCBC: “This history of the place, people, and politics of this land from an Indigenous perspective rather than through a lens of American exceptionalism will offer a provocative shift for the majority of young readers. . . . This adaption by Mendoza and Reese of Dunbar-Ortiz’s adult book strikes a tone remarkable for its invitation to consider rather than desire to lecture, even as it definitively challenges the way middle and high schoolers are typically taught to understand the conquest of this land.”

From Booklist: “This adaptation of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (2014) should be required reading for all middle and high schoolers and their teachers. Dunbar-Ortiz’s scrutinous accounts of Indigenous histories are well-known among history buffs, and in this revision by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, the same level of detail is maintained while still accommodating a teenage audience.”

5. Connections

Invite teenagers to explore the blog written by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese and dedicated to topics related to The Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People found at https://iph4yp.blogspot.com/. Use the teacher’s guide found there to initiate discussion about the book with teens.

After reading The Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People with teens, create a display of some of the books recommended by Mendoza and Reese at the end of TIPH and allow them to browse the selection:

  • Bruchac, Joseph. Hidden Roots. ISBN 9780439353588
  • Charleyboy, Lisa (Ed.). #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. ISBN 9781554519583
  • Child, Brenda C. Bowwow Powwow. ISBN 9781681340777
  • Hardcastle, Nick. Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Defeated the Army. ISBN 9781543504064
  • Gansworth, Eric. Give Me Some Truth. ISBN 9781338268669
  • Minnema, Cheryl. Hungry Johnny. ISBN 9780873519267

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

A Novel by Nikki Grimes

1. Bibliography

Grimes, Nikki. 2019. Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir. Honesdale, PA: WordSong. ISBN 978-1-62979-881-3

2. Plot Summary

In Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir told in verse, Nikki Grimes recounts her own personal history from her birth in 1950 until her mid-teenagerhood in 1966. Grimes’s story is one of great trauma. As the second child of a marriage doomed to fail, Nikki remembers lots of yelling. When her father moves out, Nikki’s alcoholic, schizophrenic mother goes to find a job, leaving Nikki and her older sister, Carol, in the hands of an abusive “babysitter” who locks the girls in the closet until just before their mother gets home in the evening. A little later, when their mom can’t seem to make ends meet, Nikki and Carol move in with cousins who “shoot up” regularly. Foster care, splitting Nikki and Carol apart, comes quickly thereafter. It is while staying with her foster family that Nikki learns the power of the pen to calm her fears and manage her burdens. When Nikki returns to her mother, she is beset by gang violence, sexual abuse, racism, and the death of a loved one. Yet, while her childhood is traumatic, Nikki finds her footing with her writing, her religious convictions, and the support of her sister, her writing teacher, and her best friend Debra. The end of Grimes’s memoir includes personal photographs from various periods of her childhood and young adulthood.

3.  Critical Analysis

There’s no doubt about it: Nikki Grimes has the gift of language. From page one, readers will want to invest in the story of the woman whose name is a lie, her first “invention” to protect herself from the real name that “wasn’t worth a lot.” Nikki quickly reveals the book’s title in an early poem, “On Our Own,” writing that she was never warned that “the world was full of / ordinary hazards / like closets with locks and keys.” For Nikki, a key becomes an “ordinary hazard” that locks her in a closet for hours on end while to an outside observer, a key appears to be an object of security just like mothers and grandmothers are supposed to be people of security (although for Nikki, they’re not) and bedrooms are supposed to be places of security (although for Nikki, it’s not).

Yet, while Nikki’s “ordinary hazards” provoke readers to horror, her adolescent life—though exceedingly difficult—is punctuated by what Nikki sees as God’s grace. For her, “hard evidence appears / round every corner.” It’s in the Christian church that Nikki is drawn to that leads her to her best friend, Debra. It’s in her reacquaintance with her father who becomes Nikki’s ally and confidante. It’s in her metamorphosis, as the slip cover shows, of a pitiful black moth—blurry on the edges—into a striking butterfly of neon light revealed underneath. Readers will come away from Nikki’s trauma-filled story full of that same hope she feels as an aspiring poet when the famous writer James Baldwin reads her writing, looks her in the eye, and asks her to give him a call.

African American culture plays a part in Nikki’s formation. Through it, she experiences deep trauma: For example, in June 1964, she mourns the “white-hooded devils” who killed black men like Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, and she’s physically scarred when she refuses to join a neighborhood gang. But through her culture, she also experiences deep peace: attending the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, dubbed a “Black church” by Nikki, brings her the family she’d never had and gives her the strength to “brave the darkness at home, once again.” Her father teaches Nikki about Black history, Black painters, Black musicians, and Black writers, allowing Nikki to see “Black so beautiful,” and to dream of herself as a singer, a dancer, and a writer. Never before have I read a book so unapologetically candid about both the negative and the positive aspects of a culture.

Nikki Grimes’s book invites readers of all backgrounds to rise above their difficulties and cultivate their talents. Raw, gripping, and packing a powerful poetic punch, Ordinary Hazards deserves a place on every young adult shelf. Highly recommended.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Cybils Awards, 2019, Finalist, Poetry

Michael L. Printz Award, 2020, Honor

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, 2020, Honor

Horn Book Fanfare Title, 2020, Nonfiction

From Kirkus: “Grimes recounts her story as a memoir in verse, writing with a poet’s lyricism through the lens of memory fractured by trauma. Fans of her poetry and prose will appreciate this intimate look at the forces that shaped her as an artist and as a person determined to find the light in the darkest of circumstances. A raw, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story of trauma, loss, and the healing power of words.”

From Booklist: “The memoir has heartbreaking moment—seven soul-crushing ones—that will make readers ache for young Grimes and teens grappling with similar circumstances. But inspiring moments bolster her raw, resonant story, showing that there is always light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.”

5. Connections

Ordinary Hazards is a memoir told in verse. Invite teens to write a few memoir poems of their own. Then invite them to share their poems in an online library showcase if comfortable.

Create a display of Ordinary Hazards and other children/YA books written by Nikki Grimes, such as the following selections:

  • One Last Word. ISBN 9781619635548
  • Garvey’s Choice. ISBN 9781501964695
  • Bronx Masquerade. ISBN 9780803725690
  • Words With Wings. ISBN 9781590789858
  • Off to See the Sea. ISBN 9781492638292
  • Legacy: Women’s Poets of the Harlem Renaissance. ISBN 9781681199450

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

Graphic Novel (Audiobook)


Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Hey, Kiddo. Read by Jarrett Krosoczka and a full cast. New York: Scholastic Audiobooks, 2018. Unabridged, 2 hr., 50 min.


Jarrett’s family life has always been a little bit out of the ordinary. As a toddler, he lived with his drug-addicted mother, Leslie, who often let strange men in the house and wasn’t very available to her three-year-old son. Joe and Shirley, Leslie’s parents, quickly stepped in to raise their grandson from his toddlerhood all the way through high school graduation. Hey, Kiddo deals with Jarrett’s childhood and teenage pain: Although Leslie makes promises of recovery, she hardly ever follows through, and Jarrett knows next to nothing about his father. But this book is also a thank-you letter to Jarrett’s grandparents: Though a little vulgar and a little prone to overdrinking, they do everything they can to make sure their grandson feels loved, and introduce him to his greatest passion, art. The book also gives thanks to Jarrett’s next-door neighbor and childhood friend, Pat; his ever-listening aunt, Holly; his art comic instructor, Mark Lynch; and his long-lost father and half siblings, the Hennessys. Although Jarrett’s childhood is full of inner turmoil against his mother, Jarrett slowly comes to a place of forgiveness and peace, eventually realizing that his mother does love him despite her imperfections. The afterward includes biographical information about Jarrett’s life after college, as well as the lives of his mother and grandparents.


There’s no question why this audiobook adaptation of the graphic novel has received so many awards: The listening experience is truly incredible. While fictional audiobooks include a full cast of “characters,” the cast of Hey, Kiddo is uniquely equipped to allow almost the entire voice cast to be made up of the actual people that Jarrett writes about in his memoir; this “real” cast allows listeners to truly immerse themselves in the story. Jarrett manages to find voice parts for just about everyone who is involved in his memoir. Jarrett voices himself, of course, but his friend Pat also voices himself, his aunt Holly voices herself, his long-lost father, Richard, voices himself, and even his old art teacher, Mr. Shilale, voices himself. As an added bonus, Jarrett’s daughter voices his kid self while Pat’s son voices Pat’s kid self. Even the baby noises used in the audiobook to announce Jarrett’s foray into the world are noises that Jarrett recorded from the mouth of his own newborn son! Realistic sound effects bring the story to life. Shirley’s squeals as she watches Jarrett’s runaway hamster scurry across the floor are so convincing that listeners might almost believe they are real recordings of the incident. Authentic 90s music like the Club Nouveau’s remix of “Lean On Me” also add greater depth to the audiobook experience.

But while the quality of Hey, Kiddo’s audio is phenomenal, some portions of the storytelling seem random and unfocused. Why, for example, does Jarrett include details about high school gym class and the vulgarity of the men’s locker room? Jarrett doesn’t have any life-changing moments there, and it’s no secret that high school language can be crude. Young Jarrett’s sadness about the destruction of his beloved backyard parking lot seemed equally unfocused. The anecdote doesn’t really illustrate anything about Jarrett or about anyone else. At other moments, I wish Jarrett’s storytelling had more depth. In the epilogue, Jarrett expresses his gratitude for his father and half-siblings. Yet, the story itself hardly mentions them. For most of the story, Jarrett is angry at is father or hurling expletive-filled messages his way. A deeper explanation of Jarrett’s reconciliation would have been helpful. Jarrett also mentions Leslie’s boyfriend Miguel during a few scenes, but then quietly drops him from the storyline, leaving listeners wondering where he went.

Still, while the memoir doesn’t always have focus, it does have authenticity. Jarrett’s memoir is frank—frank about Jarrett’s inner turmoil, frank about his mother’s battle with heroin, and frank about the ways he found peace with his past. Teens who have found themselves in a similar situation will feel understood, hopeful, and encouraged. Teens who haven’t had experiences like Jarrett’s will find a story that inspires empathy and awareness. Young adult librarians should find a place on their shelf for Hey, Kiddo.


Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2019

Audie Award Winner, 2020

Odyssey Award Winner, 2020

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Audio for Youth, 2019

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor, 2019

National Book Award Finalist, 2018

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist, 2019

From AudioFile: “A full cast of more than 40 performers brings this powerful graphic novel memoir vividly to life. . . . With music, sound effects, and affecting performances, listeners feel like they are at the dinner table with him and his hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandparents in Worcester, Massachusetts. As co-producer and co-director, Krosoczka has created a uniquely personal audiobook, casting family and friends in the production. . . . making every interaction incredibly authentic.”

From Booklist: “There have been a slew of graphic memoirs published for youth in the past couple of years, but the raw, confessional quality and unguarded honesty of Krosoczka’s contribution sets it apart from the crowd.”


  • Jarrett Krosoczka found his voice through art and comics. After highlighting Hey, Kiddo in the teen section of the library, invite a local comic artist to give a young adult presentation about creating comics. Encourage teens to write their own comic panels. Print out comic panel handouts for teens to take home. Allow them to send in their finished panels and create an online showcase of teen’s comics on the library’s website.
  • Create a display of biographical graphic memoirs (like Hey, Kiddo) for teens to browse. The following books are possible candidates:
    • Ha, Robin. Almost American Girl. ISBN 9780062685100
    • Feder, Tyler. Dancing at the Pity Party. ISBN 9780525553021
    • Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (illustrator). March: Book Three. ISBN 9781603094023
  • With teens, listen to part of Hey, Kiddo on audiobook. Invite teens to create their own short anecdote as an audiobook with sound effects. Then have a listening party, allowing teens to share their work with others.
  • Put out a display of some of the 2020 Audie Awards finalists including Hey, Kiddo. Then allow teens to vote on their favorite audiobooks and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • Berry, Julie. Lovely War. Published by Penguin Random House Audio.
    • Nazemian, Adb. Like a Love Story. Published by HarperAudio.
    • Thomas, Angie. On the Come Up. Published by HarperAudio.
    • Acevedo, Elizabeth. With the Fire on High. Published by HarperAudio.

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

Michael Printz YA Award Honor Book


Stiefvater, Maggie. The Scorpio Races. New York: Scholastic Press, 2011. ISBN 9780545224901


Every year, people come flocking to the little island of Thisby to watch men and their horses compete in the Scorpio Races. But these horses aren’t like other race horses. Scorpio horses are a bloodthirsty, wild species called capall uisce, predators that migrate once a year from their underwater homes onto Thisby’s shores. The man who wins the Scorpio Races takes home a hefty sum, but many of his competitors will die before they reach the finish line, prey to the dangerous animals. So when Kate Connelly, better known as Puck, decides to enter the race as the first female competitor and the first competitor to ride a farm pony rather than a capall uisce, she creates quite a stir on the island. Despite attempts to dissuade the fiery teen, Puck enters the races, hoping to save both her home and her wayward older brother. Sean Kendrick, another competitor, is a four-time Scorpio Races champion. Yet, Sean—a loner and an orphan—still doesn’t have the one prize he desires most of all: Corr, the capall uisce that he rides every year, owned by the richest man on the island. Striking a bargain, Sean agrees that if he wins this year, Corr will be his, but if he doesn’t, the offer is off . . . forever. Both teens have everything to lose in the Scorpio Races, but when the two form an unlikely alliance, they realize an uncomfortable truth: only one of them can win.


The strength of The Scorpio Races lies in its characters. Puck is fiery and independent, unwaveringly loyal to her family and unafraid to speak her mind. Sean is quiet but passionate, wholly committed to Corr and perceptive to the horses under his charge. While both characters had every reason to be bitter—both have lost parents to the cappall and live unglamorous lives—both characters rise to meet their challenges and find beauty in unlikely places, in the island and in the cappall. Readers will cheer Puck on as she battles blatant sexism and continues training for the races, despite a few near-death encounters. Readers will cheer Sean on as he confronts those who have used his talents for their own gain. Although Puck and Sean don’t always make the right decisions, their decisions never seem childish or frivolous. Puck and Sean are written well, and readers will wait in breathless anticipation for the Scorpio Races to finally begin and for the destinies of the heroic pair to be revealed.

The Scorpio Races also sets itself apart with its highly detailed descriptions of the island of Thisby. The book begins, “Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea is all the colors of the night: dark blue and black and brown.” Readers will feel the chilly November air and hear the haunting call of the cappall uisce. The dark, gritty setting invites readers to immerse themselves in the island’s danger, mystery, and intrigue. Readers will understand Gabe’s insistent desire to leave the island and never return and Puck’s insistent desire to stay on the island forever. The setting also helps to convey an important theme: Puck loves the island wholeheartedly, even though loving the island can be dangerous and includes the possibility of pain. Love can be painful, but only by loving and hurting can Puck experience joy.

But if readers pick up this book hoping to read an action-packed racing story, they’re sure to be disappointed. While the plot is certainly creative, it trots along slowly and steadily, only galloping during the last fifty pages. Instead of high-speed chases and gory passages, the book is full of introspection, unhurried relationships, and a series of quiet events that gradually build into a heart-stopping finale. This story is focused on creating developed characters, not on creating a brisk plot. Still, the right readers will be thoroughly captivated by this novel and its perfectly bittersweet ending. The Scorpio Races is highly recommended to teens who enjoy character-driven stories, descriptive settings, and a dash of fantasy.


Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, 2012

Odyssey Award Honor Book, 2012

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature Finalist, 2012

From Kirkus: “Masterful. Like nothing else out there now.”

From Booklist: “A book appealing to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.”


  • After reading The Scorpio Races, invite teens to draw their own depictions of the cappall uisce, the island of Thisby, the characters, or any other subject inspired by the book. Put up a gallery of the finished artwork.
  • Ask teens to decide whether they would choose to leave Thisby like Gabe or stay on the island like Puck. Team Gabe should discuss reasons why Gabe is right to go and Team Puck should discuss reasons why Puck is right to stay. Then hold a friendly debate.
  • Set out a teen book display featuring other books written by Maggie Stiefvater, such as the following:
    • Stiefvater, Maggie. Call Down the Hawk. ISBN 9781338188325
    • Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. ISBN 9780545424929
    • Stiefvater, Maggie, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton. The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories. ISBN 9780761375272
  • Put out a display of all the 2012 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature finalists including Scorpio Races. Then allow middle-graders and teens to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • Sherman, Delia. The Freedom Maze. ISBN 9781931520300
    • Mantchev, Lisa. Eyes Like Stars. ISBN 9780312380960
    • Pierce, Tamora. Terrier. ISBN 9780375814686
    • Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. ISBN 9780312649616

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

Historical Novel by Kirby Larson


Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky. New York: Delacorte Press, 2006. ISBN 9780385733737


Hattie has been moving from house to house for almost as long as she can remember. This time, she’s been taken in by her distantly related aunt and uncle, although Aunt Ivy hopes to get rid of the orphan by employing her at the local boardinghouse. But Aunt Ivy’s plans are dashed unexpectedly when Hattie’s late uncle leaves her a homesteading claim in rural Montana. At just sixteen years old, Hattie takes an Iowa train west, hoping for a place to finally call home. But first she’ll have to appease an angry cow, brave the cruel winter weather, learn how to cook, make friends with strangers, cultivate forty acres of land, and set 480 rods of fence, all by herself. Things don’t always go smoothly in Hattie’s neck of the woods. Local prejudice against German immigrants—like her friendly neighbor, Karl—are high due to nationwide anti-German sentiment; the weather makes Hattie wonder if she’ll ever get a crop; and she worries for her childhood friend and pen pal, Charlie, who is off fighting World War I across the sea. Yet, Hattie never loses her grit and positive outlook. Daily conversations with God ease Hattie’s lonely existence along with blossoming friendships with homesteading neighbors, even when tragedy strikes. Although Hattie’s story may not be a perfectly painless one, it is surely one of determination and of hope.


Hattie’s story—the story of a sixteen-year-old orphan turned homesteader—isn’t a sugar-coated one. When Hattie first arrives at her new abode in the middle of nowhere, snowdrifts and mouse droppings greet her from inside the tiny shanty house. Hattie’s first few months are spent freezing, scaring off a hungry wolf, and trying to learn how to bake bread instead of the grain bricks that keep coming out of the oven. Putting down fenceposts in the muddy spring isn’t much easier, nor is the planting stage that comes a little while later. On every step of Hattie’s homesteading journey, she must confront an obstacle, each one seemingly more unsurmountable than the last. But Hattie’s no slouch. Her gumption and can-do attitude made Hattie easy to like and her ability to laugh at herself will have readers guffawing along with her.

While the story of one pioneering orphan girl in 1917 may seem completely different from the world of today, Hattie’s story is also a timeless one. Hattie refers to herself as “Hattie Here-and-There,” never feeling like she has a place in the world where she is truly at home. And while Hattie writes to Charlie, a childhood friend who fights the Germans across the ocean, she also befriends a German immigrant, Karl Mueller, and his wife and children. In an America embroiled in World War I, German immigrants are treated with suspicion and, in some cases, with outright cruelty. Through Hattie, the author addresses prejudice, friendship, belonging, and courage, themes that continue to resonate with tween and teenage readers today.

What makes this book truly special is that it is both resonant with its readers and true to its historical period. The story is thorough in its research and authentic in its voice. Kirby Larson’s end notes shed light on her extensive research process as the book’s author, including reading dozens of homesteaders’ journals and books about the “honyockers” of Montana. Recipes for Perilee’s Wartime Spice Cake recipe and Hattie’s Lighter-than-Lead Biscuits found in the back matter are another fun (and delicious-looking) addition that interested readers will be excited to try. And Larson’s revelation that Hattie’s story is based loosely on the life of the author’s own great grandmother will delight readers and may spark a newfound love of history. Although Hattie Big Sky doesn’t end with a traditional happily ever after, this story is sure to be a popular favorite on any bookshelf.


John Newbery Medal Honor Book, 2007

School Library Journal Best Books List for Grade 6–8, 2006

YALSA Best Books for Young Adults List, 2007

From Kirkus: “This fine offering may well inspire readers to find out more about their own family histories.”

From Booklist: “The authentic first-person narrative, full of hope and anxiety, effectively portrays Hattie’s struggles as a young woman with limited options, a homesteader facing terrible odds, and a loyal citizen confused about the war and the local anti-German bias that endangers her new friends. . . . Writing in figurative language that draws on nature and domestic detail to infuse [Larson’s] story with the sounds, smells, and sights of the prairie, she creates a richly textured novel full of memorable characters.”


  • Share Kirby Larson’s revelation that Hattie’s story is based loosely on the life of the author’s own great grandmother. Ask teens to learn more about their own family histories. Then have a special family history event where teens can share their favorite family stories orally, through pictures and art, or through written storytelling.
  • As part of a library youth book club, read Hattie Big Sky together. Then have a Hattie Big Sky party, complete with a “barn dance” and the recipes found in the back of the book.
  • Set out a teen book display featuring books set during World War I, such as the following:
    • Berry, Julie. Lovely War. ISBN 9780451469939
    • Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan.ISBN 9781416971733
    • Murphy, Jim. Truce. ISBN 9780545130493
  • Put out a display of all the 2007 Newbery Award finalists including Hattie Big Sky. Then allow middle-graders and teens to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • Patron, Susan, and Matt Phelan (illustrator). The Higher Power of Lucky. ISBN 9781416901945
    • Holm, Jennifer L. Penny from Heaven. ISBN 9780375836879
    • Lord, Cynthia. Rules. ISBN 9780439443821

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

A Biography


Fleming, Candace. The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. ISBN 9780525646556


The title says it all: The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh is about one man’s great triumphs—among them, his nonstop flight from New York to Paris—and his great flaws—among them, his belief in eugenics and a master race. Fleming takes her readers through Charles’s strange childhood, his short-lived college stint, and his pilot training. After graduating at the top of his class, Lindbergh heard about the race to get from New York to Paris and knew his plane could do it. With luck and incredible endurance, Charles and The Spirit of St. Louis made their historic flight across the Atlantic, the nation going wild for the “flying kid.” From then on, Charles was swarmed by tabloids. His wedding was carried out in secret, but his honeymoon was interrupted by intrusive reporters. When his young son was kidnapped and held for ransom, the press ran amok on his property. The Lindberghs finally fled to England to escape, but while there, Charles became even more enamored with Germany and eugenics. Returning to America, he became the voice of America First, opposing American involvement in World War II and supporting eugenics and anti-Semitism. For the rest of his life, Charles was both admired and detested by Americans and the world at large.


Candace Fleming has already proved that she’s well-versed in nonfiction stories for kids and teens with titles like Family Romanov, a Robert F. Sibert honor book; Amelia Lost, an ALA Notable Children’s Book; and The Lincolns, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award; and over 25 other informational books. The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, the 2021 YALSA Award winner, is another exceptional piece of writing. Not only is Fleming’s biography engaging and easy to read, but it’s also sprinkled with the genuine voices of its protagonists. Her abundant use of authentic, raw journal entries from both Charles and Anne allow their personalities to leap from the page, creating an intimate picture of two very real, very flawed individuals. Photos, an extensive bibliography organized into primary and secondary sources, detailed source notes for all thirty-three chapters, and a thorough index provide readers with a wealth of resources that many teens will undoubtedly feel compelled to use to learn more about this fascinating, sometimes shocking character.

But Fleming does more than merely write a story to shock her readers. Anyone looking for a nuanced perspective on a very complex man will find it here in the pages of The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. Fleming deftly paints a picture of the man who is neither solely the hero celebrated by America after his historic flight nor the villain decried by that same America after his infamous America First speeches echoed from radio stations across the nation. Nuance is so often lost in the human race’s inherent eagerness to categorize historical figures as either “good” or “evil.” Yet Fleming never gives in to this urge, staying ever faithful to her multifaceted approach of this complicated man, capable of both great love (stopping at nothing to save his infant boy) and terrible hatred (stopping at nothing to promote eugenics in America). Fleming invites readers to explore Lindbergh’s complicated life, to see both the bad and the good—ignoring neither—and to think critically about both. Controversial and vibrant, Charles Lindbergh comes alive in Fleming’s unforgettable biography. This book deserves be added to every library collection.


Winner of the 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2020

Booklist Book Review Star, 2020

From Booklist: “Fleming places, in his historical context and ours, a man of intense contradictions. Absorbing and distressing in turns, this utterly prescient capture of a life and the lives it influenced is essential in classrooms and for history buffs alike.”

From Publishers Weekly: “A compelling biography of a flawed, larger-than-life man.” 


  • Provide a brief introduction to The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh and other young adult aviation stories, such as the following:
    • Wein, Elizabeth. A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II. ISBN 9780062453013
    • Sheinkin, Steve, and Bijou Karman (illustrator). Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America. ISBN 9781626721302
    • Waters, Eric. Fly Boy. ISBN 9780143176305
  • Along with The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, show teens young adult materials about the Lindbergh family, such as the following:
    • Bryant, Jen. The Trial. ISBN 9780375827525
    • Haddix, Margaret P. Revealed. ISBN 9781416989868
    • Anne Morrow Lindbergh: You’ll Have the Sky. PBS Documentary: 2016. Susan Wallner (director).
  • Read a short bio about Candace Fleming, the author of The Rise and Fall of Charles Fleming. Then set out a display of other young adult books by Fleming for teens to browse.
    • Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. ISBN 9780375867828
    • Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. ISBN 9780375841989
    • Fleming, Candace. The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary. ISBN 9780375836183
  • Put out a display of all the 2021 YALSA Nonfiction Award finalists. Then allow teens to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite nonfiction pick.
    • Soontornvat, Christina. All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. ISBN 9781536209457
    • Sabic-El-Rayess, Amra, with Laura L. Sullivan. The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival. ISBN 9781547604531
    • Rocco, John. How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure. ISBN 9780525647416
    • Rusch, Elizabeth. You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Democracy and Deliver Power to the People. ISBN 9780358387428

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.