As my second young-adult novel with Orca Book Publishers is set to come out in the Fall, I was lucky enough to read advanced copies of four upcoming Spring Orca titles for young adults. I’m always impressed with the quality writing and stunning covers of Orca books, and these four novels do not disappoint.
Allegra hopes that being at a performing-arts high school will change her life and make her a better dancer. But high school is still high school, complete with cliques, competition and cruelty. And home isn’t much better. Forced to take a class in music theory, Allegra takes refuge in writing music with her young teacher, who nurtures her talent. But when her feelings for him become more intense, and he seems to reciprocate, Allegra sets in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything – and everyone – she loves.
Allegra will appeal to dancers and music-lovers, as well as any teen who has felt overwhelmed by the complexity of dealing with family, friends, and romantic troubles. A layered, complex novel that does not shy away from difficult subject matter.
Lauren Yanofsky doesn’t want to be Jewish anymore. Her father is a noted Holocaust historian, and her mother doesn’t understand why Lauren hates the idea of Jewish youth camps and family vacations to Holocaust memorials. But when Lauren sees some of her friends – including Jesse, a cute boy she likes – playing Nazi war games, she is faced with a terrible choice: betray her friends or betray her heritage. Told with engaging humor, Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust isn’t simply about making tough moral choices. It’s about a girl caught up in the turmoil of bad-hair days, family friction, changing friendships, love – and, yes, the Holocaust.
Lauren Yanofsky is offbeat, sensitive, and an utterly original character. Lieberman’s novel is a refreshing take on growing up Jewish and finding oneself within the context of cultural and family history.
It’s 1963, and Jack’s family is still reeling from the sids death of his baby sister. Adrift in his own life, Jack is convinced that setting a world record will bring his father back to his senses and his mother back to life. But world events, including President Kennedy’s assassination, threaten to overshadow any record Jack tries to beat – from sausage eating to face slapping. Nothing works, and Jack is about to give up when a new friend suggests a different approach that involves listening to, not breaking, records.
In Record Breaker, Stevenson effectively portrays a child who is overwhelmed by both global and family events. Jack’s voice is convincing as he struggles to deal with his loss and anxiety in wonderfully unconventional ways.
It’s an ordinary nightmare of a family trip until Theo realizes that the beautiful girl beside the hotel pool is his childhood babysitter – and his first crush. Theo hasn’t seen Ronnie in six years, but when she invites him to join her and her toddler son, Zach, on a road trip to Hollywood, he leaps at the chance to ditch his parents. But it isn’t long before he begins to regret his impulsive decision – especially when he sees Ronnie’s terror at being pulled over by the cops. What is she hiding? And what kind of a mess has he got himself into?
In this Orca Soundings novel for reluctant teen readers, Stevenson keeps the pace moving and the characters believable. Damage is vivid, unpredictable, and satisfying.