I’m back from two glorious weeks of baked goods and hours spent on the sofa reading for pleasure. Part of my holiday haul always includes new books from the past year. This time around, I received Mexican Gothic, Furia and The Enigma Game, all of which I’ll be savoring in the coming days. But first, I wanted to give a shoutout to three titles that were part of my couch vacation and that are due out in the next few weeks.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (YA; Dutton, Jan 2021): I’ve been a fan of Malinda Lo’s fantasy novels for a good while, but here she turns her storytelling skills to historical fiction, immersing us in San Francisco during the late 1950s. Lily Hu is in her last year of high school, a girl who dreams of space exploration – and exploring her own sexual identity as a lesbian. The novel weaves in so much erased history, not only about San Francisco’s Chinatown community, but of LGBTQ Asian women, early space exploration and US/China relations. It’s a hefty read, but one that is meticulously researched and told with unflinching honesty. Here’s Malinda talking about Last Night...
Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson (YA; Bloomsbury, Feb 2021): This is a sweet YA love story set in Harlem, one that follows high school senior Nala through a hot crush on Tye, a handsome social justice warrior she meets through her cousin, Imani. What’s the trouble? Advocacy isn’t her real passion, at least not yet. So would it be so wrong to stretch the truth a little to keep his interest? In Watson’s able hands, this is at once funny and thought-provoking, particularly as young readers wrestle with the question of how self-love figures into the relationship equation with others. Here’s Renée explaining how self-love is radical love.
Pity Party by Kathleen Lane (MG; Little, Brown, Jan 2021): If you’re looking for something that feels very different and yet relatable to middle grade readers, this new title* from Kathleen Lane might be right up your alley. It’s a series of interwoven stories about students at Bridger Middle School – all of whom feel different, picked-on, worried, or obsessed. In other words, they’re like most middle schoolers. The collection includes odd-ball touches, like letters from the Department of Insecurity and Choose Your Own Adventure options, magical realism…also a visual story of a tree named Martha who longs for another identity. Reviewers are charmed. Even if you were to find a story that is not to your taste, the collection more than makes up for it in inventiveness. My guess is that Lane is at the start of a long career. Meet Kathleen at her Pity Party on Vimeo.
*In the original post, I listed Pity Party as a debut, which is incorrect. Kathleen Lane is also author of The Best Worst Thing.