Senior year is a stressful time, especially at the prestigious St. Joan’s Academy for Girls, outside of Boston. Between prepping for AP History pop quizzes, jostling for class rank and trying not to compete with her friends for top college acceptances, Colleen has enough on her mind even before a mysterious illness suddenly strikes the most popular girls in school. A media frenzy follows as more and more students show strange and varied symptoms. Possible explanations abound, but none seem right to Colleen until she makes an extraordinary connection.
Katherine Howe’s new YA novel Conversion alternates between two narratives. In one, contemporary high school student Colleen Rowley’s senior year at the high-pressure St. Joan’s Academy for Girls is interrupted by the outbreak of an unexplained illness. In the other, set at the beginning of the 18th century, a woman confesses to the role she played as a teenager in perpetuating the Salem witchcraft panic of 1692. Taken together, the two stories dare their reader to rethink the differences between past and present, rumor and truth, and science and magic.
BookPage caught up with Howe to find out more about her writing process, her most influential book and her unusual family history.
Developmentally disabled teens Biddy and Quincy have just graduated from high school. Biddy’s been living with her grandmother, and Quincy with various foster families, but now they need jobs and new living arrangements. A team of counselors arranges for the two graduates to share an apartment above a local widow’s garage. At first, Quincy and Biddy resent each other’s company, and mixed-race Quincy isn’t sure how she feels about interacting with a white landlady.
How do you talk about a story so shrouded in secrecy, its own heroine doesn’t know what’s going on? Here’s what we do know: The characters in E. Lockhart’s 10th novel are members of a privileged American family. We know that a private island is involved, on which both intense friendship and romance bloom. But anything else we think we know could be a lie.
Mermaid princess Serafina is nervous. Today’s the day she’ll prove herself a true descendant of her famous ancestor Merrow in the royal family’s traditional Dokimí ceremony. She’ll demonstrate her worthiness to rule through “songcasting” a complex musical spell, and the day will end with her formal betrothal to the handsome but rebellious crown prince Mahdi.
If you are—or ever were—a kid who couldn’t wait for school to start in September, get ready to meet Magnolia Jane Mayfield. It’s 1988, and Maggie’s starting sixth grade. She’s thrilled to have a lunch table all to herself, because she can spread out her books better that way.
No one can ever have too many picture books about smart girls who love science—or too many stories about big, loyal dogs. Still, a book with these elements needs other features to stand out, and Maggi and Milo delivers.
Ava Lavender was born with a pair of wings. Her twin brother, Henry, rarely speaks and hates to be touched. In the rainy Seattle spring of 1944, these two siblings become the newest members of a family already known for its mysterious powers: Their grandmother can smell feelings and bake them into bread; their great-aunt once turned herself into a canary to attract the attention of her ornithologist beau; and their murdered great-uncle haunts his family in the hopes of delivering an important message.
Forbidden love among teenagers has been a hot topic since long before Romeo first met Juliet at a party in fair Verona. The latest YA entry in this genre has Kestrel, daughter of a conquering Valorian general, falling for Arin, a native Herrani slave. Romance and politics quickly intersect as the Herrani stage a violent attempt to take back their land, and loyalties are tested when Kestrel, Arin and their various allies must choose between love, power, security and family.
It’s 1917, and 16-year-old Russian noble Natalya feels confident of her future: She’ll become tsarina when she marries Romanov heir Alexei and live a life filled with glittering parties and beautiful gowns. Her plans seem especially secure when Alexei shows her a Fabergé egg that’s been infused with magical healing powers by royal advisor Grigori Rasputin.