The Prince and the Dressmaker

princedressmakerThe Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second, Feb 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Summary: After designing an outfit that proves shocking to her late-19th-century Parisian milieu, plucky seamstress Frances is offered a job making dresses for a new client who she is surprised to learn is none other than the Crown Prince of Belgium. Frances’s dresses provide Sebastian freedom in the form of both disguise and access to a fundamental part of himself, dubbed Lady Crystallia. The two strike a bargain: she’ll keep Sebastian’s secret because working for him could lead to her becoming a world-class designer. But cavorting in dance halls in beautiful outfits can’t last forever. Sebastian’s double-life is difficult to keep up, especially with looming princely expectations, and guarding Sebastian’s secret is a dead-end for Frances’s career that will cause a rift in their relationship, even as it begins to turn romantic.

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Blanca & Roja

blancayrojaBlanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Feiwel Friends, Oct 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: This retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” crossed with Swan Lake, with hints of other fairy tales, centers two sisters who grow up knowing that one day one of them will be turned into a swan. In their predominantly white town, being latina links Blanca and Roja both to witchcraft and strangeness, but Blanca’s sunshine yellow hair affords her better treatment than Roja, whose red-stained black hair marks her at a glance as other. Despite their differences, they’ve spent their whole lives trying to become indistinguishable from one another, to prevent the swans from being able to choose between them. The arrival of the swans to their family home coincides with the arrival of two local boys, Page and Barclay, and rising tensions breed jealousy and resentment. As the trust the sisters have worked so hard to make unbreakable begins to dissolve, will they still be able to protect one another? And will they want to?

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Hurricane Child

hurricane-childHurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
Scholastic, March 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: Caroline’s mother disappeared over a year ago, leaving Caroline with her father on Water Island, part of the US Virgin Islandsthe part tourists don’t see because they don’t want to. Troubled by questions about her self-worth, Caroline is determined to find her mother and get an explanation for her abandonment. The arrival of new girl Kalinda to the Catholic school Caroline attends on St Thomas brings a welcome reprieve from the bullying of classmates and teachers. Caroline is intent on making Kalinda the first friend she’s ever had, only to succeed and discover that her feelings are also romantic. Caroline suspects that she and Kalinda share an ability to see things that no one else can, which might mean that Kalinda is just the person to help her find her mother.

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Teen Nonfiction

As slim as the pickings for LGBTQ+ nonfiction usually are, there’s a recognized need for informational books that center queer experience. Though proportionally small compared to the amount of fiction published, nonfiction tends to do well at the Stonewall Award. In seven of the past nine award years, a nonfiction book has been among those honored. In this post, I’ll cover a few nonfiction titles for teens on MoMM’s radar this year. (See Alec’s post on Pride and Sewing the Rainbow for a look at some of this year’s nonfiction picturebooks.)

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Odd One Out

oddoneoutOdd One Out by Nic Stone
Crown Books for Young Readers, Oct 2018
Reviewed from ARC

Plot Summary: Courtney has known his best friend Jupiter since they were kids. Together, they’re “Jupe-and-Coop,” a unit so inseparable that they often fall asleep cuddling. Which isn’t okay because, even though Jupiter is an out and proud lesbian, Coop is in love with her. The arrival of new-girl-in-town Rae Chin sparks jealousy and misunderstandings–especially when it’s not clear to anyone, Rae included, whether she’s falling for Coop or Jupiter. Told from three perspectives, Odd One Out’s doozy of a love triangle is a dramatic reminder that sexuality is complicated and so are human relationships.

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

ladysguideThe Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Katherine Tegen Books, Oct 2018
Reviewed from ARC

Plot Summary: In this sequel to 2018 Stonewall Honor The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague knows that marriage isn’t for her. What she wants, fiercely, is to study medicine–an ambition that is met with rejection and ridicule in 18th-century England. One last lead takes her to Germany, where a physician she admires is seeking an assistant for an expedition. The journey tangles her fate with those of two women: Sim, an Algerian Muslim possibly-pirate, and Johanna, Felicity’s estranged childhood best friend who is due to marry the physician. Secrets come to light, and Felicity is thrown into a globe-traversing quest that brings her closer to Sim and Johanna. With patriarchy-smashing aplomb, the novel celebrates the power of women working together against the societal forces that would rather see them crushed.

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Leah on the Offbeat

leahLeah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Balzer + Bray, April 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: As the follow-up to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Leah has enjoyed a lot of automatic YA limelight from the get-go. Fat, bi, Jewish, and from a lower-income, single-mom family, Leah has always felt like the odd one out in her friend group. Her insecurities aren’t helped by shifting dynamics and rising tensions as the end of senior year looms large. In the months leading up to prom, relationships change, especially Leah’s with Abby. The prospect of attending college together and Abby’s recent break-up bring the former friends closer, and Leah is reminded of the attraction that caused her to keep her distance in the first place.

[Heads up, this discussion is spoilery.]

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