Posted in Guest Post, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Worst/Best Day of My Life

guest post by B. Lynn Goodwin author of
Disrupted (Olympia Publishers, January 25, 2024)

“O.M.G. This is the worst day of my life. Bowen gave us double homework in algebra and Diego walked right past my locker as if I was invisible. Probably his head is in his music, but where does that leave me?”

Sixteen-year-old Sandee Mason is living her life one moment at a time and one issue at a time. Sometimes it seems like everything’s a crisis, but when a real earthquake rocks the school while she’s on top of a ladder, she gets a new perspective on what’s vital. Staying alive is vital. Her brother, who was killed by an IED six months earlier, didn’t have the privilege of staying alive. As her parents mourn, she tries to show them that she’s still here and still matters. She tries to make right choices, and some days she succeeds.

If you have a teen in the house or a good memory of your own experiences, if you teach teens or coach them, you know intense and dramatic the teen years can be.

Loss hits teens with the same intensity as returning a promise ring or losing a lead role or having someone else picked as team captain. It’s horrendous. Bone-chilling. A disaster of unequal proportions. Everything shifts and in that moment many teens are filled with the fear that nothing will ever be the same again. Some lash out. Others shut down, and why wouldn’t they? They’re still acquiring coping skills.

One wise solution for teens, or any of us, is to find a person to listen. Fortunately, Sandee cares, and she listens to her friends because someone was there for her when she lost her brother. She offers help when Nicole finally asks for it. Eventually she finds the courage to ask the new boy, Pete, probing questions when his story doesn’t add up, even though she has no idea how big of a loss he’s been through. It’s amazing, but I’m not giving you any spoilers. Suffice it to say that Sandee uses her own creative spirit to take solution-oriented actions.

Loss hurts and it’s something we’ll all relate to sooner or later. Disrupted shows teens how characters cope with their losses, how they recover, and that things are not always as they seem. I’m being deliberately vague about the plot because I’d love to have you click on the link, read about the book, and maybe read the opening for yourself. There you’ll get a first-hand look into how teens cope. Keep reading. Pick up some ammunition for your worst days. It’s so much better than floundering in the dark.


Disrupted is Lynn’s 5th book, and her 2nd for teens. She’s been helping writers with Writer Advice ezine since 1997.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Amari and the Night Brothers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1) (Balzer & Bray, 2021) by B. B. Alston is like a cross between Men in Black and Harry Potter at summer camp.

13-year-old Amari Peters struggles with anger against those who think she doesn’t fit in since she’s a scholarship student and black. It’s worse since her older brother Quinton has been missing. Many believe he is dead, but Amari knows he’s alive. A chance to tryout for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs this summer may help her find out where Quinton is. But again in a world of magic, there are those who don’t think she belongs. Amari must stand up for herself and learn all she can about this new world to have any chance of finding her brother.

This was B.B.’s debut novel. The books have been published in over 30 countries and a movie is in the works! Wow! Here’s the Spanish version, Amari y Los Hermanos de la Noche. The third book in this trilogy is expected out this summer.

Awards:

  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books, 1995-2024. Commended, 2022. (Association of Library Services for Children)
  • Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award, 1997-2023. Selection, 2022. (Children’s Literary Assembly)
  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1997-2024. Commended, 2022. (YALSA)
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011-2024. Selection, 2022. (YALSA)
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year, 2010 – 2023. Selection, 2021. (School Library Journal)

Read about this NY Times bestselling author here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Sierra Blue

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Although Sierra Blue by Suzanne Morgan Williams (2023) is aimed at early young adults, it’s definitely appropriate for upper middle grade readers. It has fun and interesting magical realism. And a cool cover.

Magic’s best friend reveals her secret–she can see the auras of animals. To get away from the teasing she is sent to her aunt’s ranch the summer between 8th grade and 9th. There, because of her psychic ability, she pleads for the life of a race horse that would be put down. Magic and Sierra Blue bond, but of course, the horse isn’t hers.

Suzanne writes fiction and nonfiction. Read about her here and read about her other books here. And here’s an interview!

Posted in Award Winners, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Where the World Ends

Where the World Ends (Flatiron Books, 2019) by Geraldine McCaughrean is an amazing historical novel of survival. It’s a 2020 Michael L Printz Honor book, a winner of the 2018 Carnegie Medal (published in the UK by Usborne in 2017) and is on many other lists.

Every summer, men and boys are put ashore on a remote sea stack to harvest birds, eggs, feathers, and oil. But this year, for Quill and his friends, no boat comes to get them. What does it mean that no one came? Is it the end of the world? And how can they survive the winter?

Right from the first line, “His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.,” we know we are in a different setting. You’ll meet John who has been hiding a secret and learn about all kinds of birds as Quill endures abandonment and struggles to survive.

Geraldine writes for children and adults–she’s one prolific author! Read about her here and check out all her books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Orbiting Jupiter

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Need a good middle grade read? Easy. Read a book by Gary D. Schmidt (two-time Newbery Honor winner). Orbiting Jupiter (Clarion Books, 2015) was no exception. It’s labeled young adult, but the main character is in sixth grade. I think if it was published now, it probably would be labeled middle grade, although there are definitely tough topics.

Sixth-grader Jack and his family are taking in an eight-grader. They’ve been warned, Joseph tried to kill his teacher, and he has a 3-month old daughter he’s never met. But when Joseph comes, Rosie, the cow loves him. According to Jack, “You can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him.” Does that mean having Joseph in their lives is easy? No. But you’ll have to read it to see what happens.

This is such a heartfelt heart-breaking book–a mixtures of sadness and joy.

Read about Gary and his books here.