YA novels have been written in the form of letters, diary entries, text messages . . . and now, in a long-anticipated follow-up to John Green and David Levithan’s collaboration Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the script of a musical theater production. In Green and Levithan’s original book, the 16-year-old openly gay, bodily large and ironically named “Tiny” Cooper writes and directs a musical, which fans now have the chance to read in its entirety.
It takes a special talent for an author to tap into the mind of a character who is radically different from himself, and first-time novelist David Arnold has uncannily captured the voice of a 16-year-old girl with beauty and style in Mosquitoland.
Crime fiction groupies can usually form a pretty quick mental picture of the cop, PI or little old lady detective in any new mystery novel, and that take remains, embedded in the reader’s imagination, for the duration of the story.
David Treuer’s fourth novel, Prudence, is set in northern Minnesota, near the Leech Lake Reservation where he grew up. It opens in August 1942, as Frankie Washburn is returning to the Pines, the resort owned by his parents, for a brief visit before joining the war as a bombardier. The reunion is fraught with negative memories from the past, especially the distance between Frankie and his father, Jonathan. Frankie’s sexual orientation, although never mentioned, is planted like a wall between them. Frankie’s mother is oblivious, her main concern in life being the upkeep of the Pines itself.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has become a joke in our culture. We label ourselves OCD if we prefer our socks folded a certain way or our desktop arranged just so. In The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought, David Adam exposes the insensitivity of these casual mentions by sharing his own struggle with this crippling mental illness. His book puts the OCD diagnosis in historical context, but he combines this broader frame of reference with his personal story, which adds humor, pathos and authority.
It’s no easy feat to cast a German who admits to cheering Hitler’s election as the lead detective in a murder mystery. But readers quickly discover that little is as it seems in this dark historical thriller based on an actual gruesome crime spree that shook Nazi Germany in the months before the U.S. entered World War II.
Twelve-year-old Mel isn’t expecting Christmas to be exciting. His family life has recently come apart, so he and two other classmates are spending the holidays at their posh boarding school, where they’re known as “the Left Behinds.” When a history teacher escorts the trio to a Christmas Day re-enactment of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, things go strangely haywire, and Mel, Bev and Brandon inexplicably find themselves thrust back in time to December 25, 1776.
If you ever find yourself wanting to explain to a child what the phrase “snowball effect” means, pick up a copy of David Mackintosh’s Lucky to aid your cause.
Anyone who thinks the compact novel of ideas is dead would do well to turn to Canadian writer David Bezmozgis’ second novel, The Betrayers. In scarcely more than 200 pages, this tension-packed story explores themes of betrayal, forgiveness, moral courage and its opposite that are both contemporary and timeless.
These days it seems dogs are everywhere. We have dog detectives (Spencer Quinn’s delightful Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults), lost dogs (Chris Raschka’s Caldecott-winning A Ball for Daisy) and even, apparently, dogs with blogs. So, do kids (and adults) need another dog book? The answer, as any dog lover will tell you, is a resounding yes, especially when the book is created by the talented David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken.