Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos: I really loved this one! I enjoyed the way Whitman was incorporated into the book, despite not being a huge fan of his poetry, and the way James thought about and interacted with the poetry worked for me. I liked the style, which came close to over-done but never quite was. And I thought Roskos did a fabulous job of capturing the family dynamics and lack of easy answers, of showing a teen who engages with his own issues in a way that made me care about him. This is a book I wish had been published when I was in high school and I think for a certain group of teens it could be hugely important.
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: I will admit that I’m a sucker for books that show interesting family dynamics. This definitely one of them, as Devan goes to live with the mother she’s never really known. I liked the way it took on issues of family and identity and belonging, while also being compulsively readable. Devan’s relationship to music was well done, and bonus points for the cute romance.
A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron: Sequel to The Dark Unwinding. I really enjoy this series, which is a mix of historical fiction and before-its-time invention that just pushes the envelope towards alternate history. Katharine is an engaging main character and I like the way Cameron includes period details without letting them overwhelm the story. This is one to pitch to readers who normally like SFF.