Check out Steph's Best in Shelf for 2020!
In addition to capturing the harsh realities experienced by Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and put in incarceration camps by the United States government from 1942-1945, Traci Chee brings to life a group of people that remain tethered together regardless of where their journeys take them. The threads of these stories, weaving together to create a full narrative, have echoes of Tommy Orange's THERE, THERE, diving to deep emotional depths with how tightly knit each moment is.
Royal siblings are forced to go into hiding with a magical commune of women after a violent coup, leading one sibling to realize she feels more herself now than she ever did as a prince. The amount of love and support Grayce recieves throughout this book fills my heart to the brim and I hope to see more trans narratives that capture this feeling of community.
This is not an easy book. It deals with sexual assault and PTSD and the ways the legal system fails children. But this is an essential book. It celebrates the bond of sisterhood and encourages readers to find their voice, to tell their stories. Every library needs this book, because you never know what life it may change.
Just thinking about this book fosters a productive spark of anger that lights up my creativity. It contains elements of Heathers and The Craft which are then deeply cemented with found family and revenge. This queer coven of women see and accept one another in a way that everyone strives to be accepted: no hesitation, thorns and all.
Ben Philippe continues to claim his space among my top three YA contemporary writers, with characters that are always genuine and complex. They never make the "right" decision and instead are always striving to understand themselves and the world they exist in better. I found myself constantly smiling and laughing along with these characters as we took another spin around the dog park and can't wait to see where Philippe's words take me next.