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      The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

      by Sherry Thomas

      Dec 2019

      Young Adults

      CHINA, 484 A.D.
      All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel. Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

      Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion…before it’s too late.

      Author’s note. Further information on China in the 400s and on Chinese words used.

      Becoming Beatriz

      by Tami Charles

      Nov 2019

      Young Adults

      Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days—that, and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her gang leader brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her gang needs running, when her mami can’t brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go?

      Author’s note. Further information about gangs and drug dealing in 1980s Newark, the ACT-SO contest, and Debbie Allen.

      Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love

      by Elsie Chapman

      Oct 2019

      Young Adults

      A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

      Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

      told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

      Map. Contributor bios.

      The Grief Keeper

      by Alexandra Villasante

      Sep 2019

      Young Adults

      Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.
      But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.
      The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

      Resources.

      Hope and Other Punchlines

      by Julie Buxbaum

      Aug 2019

      Young Adults

      Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

      Author’s note.

      Somewhere Only We Know

      by Maurene Goo

      Jul 2019

      Young Adults

      9:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest Korean pop star on the scene, and tomorrow is her debut on The Tonight Show, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. She’s in her fancy hotel, and her feet are killing her. She’s dying for a hamburger.
      10:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid reporter job that he keeps secret from his high-profile journalist father. On his way out, he runs into a girl wearing hotel slippers who is determined to find a hamburger. She looks familiar. She’s kind of cute. He’s really curious.
      12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

      Fear of Missing Out

      by Kate McGovern

      Jun 2019

      Young Adults

      Every teen has a fear of missing out on something–a party, a basketball game, a hangout after school. But what about missing out on life? When Astrid learns that her cancer has returned, she hears about a radical technology called cryopreservation that allows terminally ill patients to freeze themselves until a future time where there is a cure. She sets out with her supportive boyfriend, Mohit, and her best friend, Chloe, to see if this is the path she really wants to take. What will Astrid miss out on if she goes through with cryopreservation? What will she miss out on if she doesn't?

      Field Notes on Love

      by Jennifer E. Smith

      May 2019

      Young Adults

      It’s the perfect idea for a romantic week together: traveling across America by train. But then Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him. Her parting gift: the tickets for their long-planned last-hurrah-before-uni trip. Only, it’s been booked under her name. Nontransferable, no exceptions.
      Mae is still reeling from being rejected from USC’s film school. When she stumbles across Hugo’s ad for a replacement Margaret Campbell (her full name!), she’s certain it’s exactly the adventure she needs to shake off her disappointment and jump-start her next film.
      A cross-country train trip with a complete stranger might not seem like the best idea. But to Mae and Hugo, both eager to escape their regular lives, it makes perfect sense. What starts as a convenient arrangement soon turns into something more. But when life outside the train catches up to them, can they find a way to keep their feelings for each other from getting derailed?

      29 Dates

      by Melissa De La Cruz

      Apr 2019

      Young Adults

      When Jisu flubs a test at her Seoul school and skips out on a matchmaker-arranged date to spend time with friends, her traditional parents decide to send her to private school—in San Francisco.
      Author’s note.

      Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday

      by Natalie C. Anderson

      Mar 2019

      Young Adults

      When Abdi's family is kidnapped from their home in Somalia, Abdi must take on a dangerous mission to save their lives. He becomes a child soldier—and double agent—within the ruthless terrorist group Al Shabaab.
      Author’s note. Glossary.

      A Very Large Expanse of Sea

      by Tahereh Mafi

      Feb 2019

      Young Adults

      2002: Shirin figures everyone at her new school will dislike her for her race, religion, and hijab. Then she meets Ocean James, who actually seems to want to get to know her—and she discovers breakdancing.

      In Another Time

      by Caroline Leech

      Jan 2019

      Young Adults

      World War II: In Scotland as part of the Women’s Timber Corps, Maisie finds the independence she’s craved. But she is frustrated by reserved lumberjack John Lindsay and his many secrets. Author’s note.
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