The weight of blood, stranger, the star that always remains
The weight of blood by Tiffany D. Jackson; Katherine Tegen Books, 406 pages ($18.99) Ages 14 and up.
Acclaimed author Tiffany D. Jackson delivers a brilliant reimagining of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ against the harsh 21st century backdrop of persistent racism in the fictional town of Springville, Georgia, in her second horror outing after ‘White Smoke’. ” from last year.
Maddy Washington, daughter of a racist white father and a black woman who abandoned her at birth, has always posed as white – on her father’s orders – taking care never to get her hair wet in public. Ruthlessly bullied as an outcast for her odd ways and tattered clothes, she becomes a bigger target for harassment when an unexpected thunderstorm during gym class “overtakes” her as biracial and a video of college students throwing crayons at her hair is going viral. The resulting public outcry forces the school to hold an integrated prom for the first time, and the white class president urges her black boyfriend, the champion star quarterback, to invite Maddy to the prom.
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Jackson effectively alternates the events leading up to the cruel prank his white classmates play Maddy at the prom with a true-crime podcast years later reflecting on the prom and its deadly aftermath and speculating on the mysteries that remain. Jackson does a masterful job of depicting the racial background, the town’s racist roots, Maddy’s dad’s unholy mix of white supremacy and biblical quotes, and Kendrick’s rocky relationship with his white football buddies.
Stranger by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso; Feiwel and Friends, 288 pages ($16.99) Ages 8-12.
Katherine Applegate, who won the Newbery Medal for ‘The One and Only Ivan,’ delivers pathos and humor in this wonderful tale, in verse, written from an otter’s perspective and inspired by a Monterey Aquarium program Bay who uses mature otters as surrogates to care for orphaned pups.
The story opens with 3-year-old Odder, who dives and plays and hunts for food with a friend before heading to the unprotected waters of Monterey Bay, California, where they have a fateful encounter with a large White shark. With economy of words and beautiful lyricism, Applegate paints a striking picture of this underwater world: “Underwater / There’s no need for noise, / Growls, squeals or chirps. / Not when you can twist, pretzel and weave. / Not when you’ve turned frolic into art.” Her observations are often hilarious: She notes that the otter needs to eat a quarter of its body weight each day, “like a marathon runner stuffed with carbs,” because it doesn’t have the “swaddled fat” of a seal or of a whale. The teenage shark is “a marine tween”. Charles Santoso’s wonderful illustrations bring Odder and his underwater world to life on the page.
The star that always remains by Anna Rose Johnson; Vacation Home, 271 pages ($17.99) Ages 9-12.
Inspired by her great-grandmother’s life story, Ojibwe author Anna Rose Johnson has penned a charming debut novel, set in 1914 and intentionally reflecting the sensibility of another era, a sweet and old-fashioned in the vein of “Little Women” or “Anne of Green Gables”.
Norvia Nelson, 14, grew up on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, steeped in the traditional customs of her mother’s Ojibwe people. Her father, a Swedish immigrant, is a bitter man with a gambling problem who tells the children they should be ashamed of their native heritage. After his parents divorce, his mother marries a kind widower with two married daughters and a young son and the Nelson children move to Boyne City where his mother warns them never to reveal their Ojibwa heritage.
Norvia is thrilled to be able to go to high school but dismayed to find that old friends are avoiding her because her parents are divorced. Alternating chapters return to Norvia’s childhood on Beaver Island and her Ojibwe traditions.
The author offers a sensitive exploration of Norvia’s worries about fitting in with her blended family, her struggle to make friends, her interest in boys, her determination to prepare for a career as an accountant, and her struggle to manage her emotions. negative as she faces prejudice. as a child of divorce and for his Ojibwe heritage. Family photos are included at the end.