#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Nov. 2/20

Well, I decided NOT to follow my graphic for my reading from last week or became confused, and I switched my weeks. What I said I wanted to read last week is now my intentions for this week. With our provincial election and other family matters, this week was my slowest reading week to date. I managed to finish my picture books for the Shining Willows and the many holds from the library.  

Last Week

I have found myself that I am quite enjoying revisiting old friends by listening to the audiobooks of John Flanagan’s Brotherband Chronicles and am expecting I will continue listening to the series until finished (there are eight in total, the last two ones I have not read). If you have read Diane Magras’s Mad Wold’s Daughter books, although older I believe you will enjoy this series as well. 

  • Brotherband Chronicles #2: The Invaders by John Flanagan, narrated by John Keating. When the first book ended (Outcasts), Erak the Oberjarl ostracizes and blacklists the Heron Brotherband after allowing the prized artifact the Andomal is stolen under their watch. Knowing the only way to redeem themselves is to go after the thieves to retrieve it and bring it back to Skandia to return their honour to themselves. Full of action and humour, this series is well performed by Mr. Keating and is the perfect escape for me.
  • Brotherband Chronicles #3: The Hunters by John Flanagan, narrated by John Keating. In the third installment, Zavac, the pirate who stole the Andomal continues to outmaneuver the Heron Brotherband. Just when the Brotherband think they have the pirates trapped in a small town that he is raiding, Zavac once again manages to escape with the town’s precious emeralds. The Brotherband are joined by Lydia who lost her grandfather in the raid and together they go on the hunt to retrieve the stolen items and seek revenge. Fast-paced, with well-developed character this series continues to get stronger.
  • These Unlucky Stars by Gillian McDunn: This week you will get a more in-depth review. Annie Logan is struggling to find herself feeling like an outsider in all aspects of her life, feeling like she was born under an unlucky star – just like her mother told her. When a prank doesn’t go as planned, Annie is stuck checking in on a crotchety old woman and her ugly unusual dog Otto. A beautiful story about the importance of perspective, family and tender friendships where you least expect them.
  • This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Drew Shannon (Illustrator) Ms. Lloyd provides detailed information written so middle-grade readers will understand different terms related to stereotypes such as intergroup bias, dissociation and affective contagion. Throughout the book, there are historical and current examples that demonstrate how our brain has hidden biases against many minority groups (LGBTQ+, women, and BIPOC). Concrete ways to acknowledge privilege and to expand our circles with people of all ages, gender and race will help rewire our brains are in the final chapter and conclusion. A book that is long overdue and needs to be in schools and libraries. 

Up Next

I put off starting the Nevermoor series Hollowpox, despite purchasing and downloading it as I want to savour it rather than be interrupted. I became sidetracked with the Brotherband series, and so Lisa Moore Ramée Something to Say got put on hold. Now that I can concentrate a bit more, I am back to enjoying it and wondering how Jenae will find the courage to speak in the debate and not let her new friend Aubrey down. This will be another book you will want to add to your collection.

And yes I will be reading the Eric Water books again wanting to enjoy.

Down the Road

I am looking forward to continuing the journey with the Royal Rangers series, and the latest installment that is released this week The Missing Prince.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Happy reading!

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 26/20

Happy Monday!

My puppy Kaizer has been cramping my style to read print or digital books, so I am listening more than I can ever remember. I suspect that trend will continue this week, along with some reading commitments for the SYRCA Shining Willow nominees.

Last Week

Every two weeks, I receive a bag of Shining Willow contenders, so I spent some time carefully going through these books. I read through them several times (first just looking at the images, secondly with the text and finally out loud). I also got some new releases from my public library – some that you will see on Thursday’s post of favourite picture books.

  • Dragon Assasin Volume 3 by Arthur Slade, narrated by Clare Corbett. What a phenomenal audiobook series. The final omnibus consists of two books (Hidden Powers and Burning Empires), and readers need to read the other books in the series to enjoy the last of this series. Fast-paced, with some twists you may not see coming, Carmen and Brax have new challenges
  • Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcasts by John Flanagan. A spinoff from the Ranger Apprentice series, set in Skandia. This coming of age story emerges readers in Skandia culture detailing how the Brotherbands (boys that work together to bond and become brothers for life) are formed in a series of challenges all related to Skandian sea life. In the first of eight books, we see three Brotherbands, the two competitive athletic teams of the Wolves and the Sharks versus the lowly outcasts of misfits as the third team. I love all of these books and this week was my go-to sleep audiobook

Up Next

I am equally excited to listen to the next installment of the Nevermoor series Hollowpox which will arrive Tuesday. Before its arrival, I am enjoying  Lisa Moore Ramée Something to Say. I will also finish the two chapter books (Hockey Night in Kenya and High and Dry) by Canadaian prolific author Eric Waters.

Down the Road

I have pushed two digital books to the back burner until I can find some time to enjoy These Unlucky Stars and take in the information about Stereotypes.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Oh, and for those of you curious about my reading distraction, meet Kaizer, my handsome 6-month-old lab cross. Happy reading!

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 19/20

Last Week…

My reading tends to be a bit all over the map, reading older books as well as recently released and ARCs. Since retiring, I have had to change my reading habits as the availability of getting books has changed, and I need to rely on my public library, especially picture books. Like the rest of the world, I now use ebooks far more than I ever did, except for ARCS. I listen to books the most, and this week was no different.

I rediscovered a few titles from one of my favourite authors, Australian John Flanagan, spending time revisiting some old friends, and I am looking forward to a new release the first week in November. If you like well-developed character-driven books, then you too may enjoy the Ranger Apprentice series and its three spin-off series.

Last Week…

  • Burn by Patrick Ness, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt:  Burn took a bit of time to ignite, but once the flame started, it was a great story! Set back in time, the reader sees how parallel worlds, dragons and the launch of Sputnik all intertwine with a variety of characters. Sarah and her father live on a farm who are so poor they resort to hiring a dragon Kazimir to help with the crops. Kazimir is only in this world to witness a prophecy played out. Malcolm is a dragon cult follower and a trained assassin, sent on a mission until he falls in love. Finally, there is the local sheriff, a racist who pulls the trigger to start the dominos to fall and connect them all. I enjoyed this story a great deal but not sure there is a wide audience who will appreciate it. 
  • Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan, narrated by John Keating. In the second book in the Royal Ranger series, Maddie is in her third year of training as an apprentice and plays a significant role in preventing the siege over her grandfather’s throne. The Red Fox Clan wants the law to be changed back so that only men have a claim to the throne. King Duncan changed the law making it possible for female succession, and there is are many who don’t like the idea of a woman having that kind of power. The Clan tricks Maddie’s father Horace to leave the palace leaving it somewhat vulnerable with only Maddie, her mother Cassandra and the ailing King Duncan and a few men to protect the Arulan castle. Twists and turns, readers won’t know the outcome with the cliff hanger ending. I enjoyed spending time with some old friends, and some who are not familiar with the Ranger Apprentice series may want to read at least the first Royal Ranger.
  • Willa the Wisp (Fabled Stories #1) by Jonathon Auxier: Thank you to Edelweiss Plus for an advanced reading copy. Young readers are going to love this series filled with magical creatures, and adults are going to enjoy the rich language and play on words! In this first book, eight-year-old Auggie lives on an island and is in charge of the one-of-a-kind magical beasts, where a new stable appears when there is a new creature. With the arrival of a swamp-like stable but no creature in the stable, Auggie must go into the swamp to find it. He discovers the stable is for Willa, a wisp with magical powers can search for treasure. Some men wish to capture Willa-the-wisp and use her to find treasure. A delightful introduction to what will be a fun series to read independently or as a read-aloud.
  • Class Act (New Kid#2) by Jerry Craft: A stunning sequel to New Kid, this time, Mr. Craft focuses on Jordan and how he is coping with life at RAD in his second year. Chapter headings playing on children lit titles that readers will recognize and smile at and the bonus of the numerous “Easter eggs” to find, this one is just as strong as New Kid.  Mr. Craft has given us another genius graphic novel to help unpack issues of friendship, privledge and racism.  
  • Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru. An adaptation of the 1946 radio act, this story provides an opportunity for readers to learn some history and receive some important messages. The back matter is detailed, connecting Mr. Yang to Superman and his own experiences with racism, along with the history of the Klan, and racism towards Black, Japanese and Chinese. Extremely powerful and engaging, I slowly savoured the many layers of this graphic novel.

Up Next…

I am finishing up some more picture books and will post my favourites next week. I am very excited to get the last portion of Arthur Slade’s Dragon Assasin series – I have been waiting months to finish this exciting series! I tend to be able to listen more than I can read print right now, so any spare time will I will be using to begin These Lucky Stars.

Down the Road…

I cannot remember who introduced me to Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series, but I am grateful! I am so excited to listen to Gemma Whelan take me away again and see the latest adventures of Morrigan Crow.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Hope you have a great week of reading.

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 12/20

Last Week…

  • The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hick, Narrated by P. J. Ochlan: I am enjoying the discovery of perhaps lesser-known titles. This art mystery also is a bit of an action-adventure as a boy is found in an art museum and has no recollection of how he got there or who he is. Placed in a foster home with a girl Camille who is closed to his age, the two begin to unravel who he is and how he connects to the art museum. I enjoyed the action and the friendship that developed between Camille and the boy appropriately named Art. The Rembrandt Conspiracy is another stand-alone with these two characters released next year and now is on my list to read.
  • The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley, Narrated by Bahni Tarpin: Another art mystery, where three strangers become a trio looking for missing masterpieces. Jin is a girl who lives with her grandparents, Alex, the loner, busy assisting those in need and Elvin, living on the streets after his grandfather ends up in the hospital after being beaten. Again I liked how the three worked together to figure out clues and to their next steps and provided a window into the Harlem community and culture. 
  • Siha Tooskins Know Series by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead and illustrator Chloe Bluebird Mustooch – this was a fantastic find, and I will have a post about this series this week, so stay tuned.
  • Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen: Olivia is taking a road trip back to where they used to live with her aunt, uncle and older sister Ruth. Olivia is hoping to recreate the joy of the treasure hunts they did on their way to their new home. Ruth would provide the theme words, and Olivia would take the photos while Ruth would find the song lists. This time though, things are different as Ruth has been struggling and often falls into what Olivia calls The Pit. I loved the relationships created with the two girls and the aunt and uncle and how Olivia wanted so badly to help her sister. Another strong sibling relationship book, I look forward to Sarah Allen’s third book.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear read by the author: This was a fascinating and surprisingly uplifting read about establishing “good” habits and eliminating “bad” ones. I learned a lot from this audiobook and highly recommend it.

Up Next…

  • Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky by Marsha Forchuk – I got derailed this past week trying to complete year work, and so I still have a few chapters to read, and then I am looking forward to watching the video chat I missed.
  • This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science Is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Drew Shannon. I heard about this book during the middle-grade online book club hosted by Kathie and author Colleen Nelson and thought it was an important and relevant book to read.
  • Burn by Patrick Ness: I have started listening to the audiobook and am halfway through – set back in time, the reader sees how parallel worlds, dragons and the launch of Sputnik all intertwine.
  • Shining Willow Book Nominees and Picture Books: My weekly escape with picture books.

Down the Road…

I am so excited for the release of the final instalment of the Dragon Assassin by local author Arthur Slade released Oct. 20th. I have already spent time revisiting Carmen and Brax by listening to the first two audiobooks and excited for the conclusion! Also equally excited to enjoy Gillian McDunn’s These Unlucky Stars after enjoying her previous two books. 

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians celebrating and hope you all had some time to rest and read. We are almost at the midway point of #MGBooktober and I have been getting some great book titles to add to my Options/TBR pile. Hope you are enjoying it as well.

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 5/20

Last Week…

Another busy audiobook week for me, including books that I am sure everyone except me has already listened to or read. Now I am getting a bit nervous as I have been on such a good listening roll and worry for an impending slump, or is that just me?

  • Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor narrated by Patricia Santomasso. Quickly becoming another go-to author, Leslie Connor, has once again driven me to tears with the story of Lydia. Lydia is going to live with her aunt and partner, Eileen when her mother dies from heart failure. Once on the farm, her two aunts, Elloroy, who owns the farm, an adopted troubled dog and treasured goddess creations, become intertwined in a story of love, acceptance and hope. 
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt narrated by Christopher Gebauer: Not sure why I kept putting off enjoying this masterpiece, but oh my Joseph and Jack will be with me for a long time. Foster brother Joseph comes to live with Jack and his parents on a farm. Joesph comes with some heavy-duty issues; he tried to kill a teacher and is a father to newborn Jupiter. A story of so many life lessons; love and loss, friendship and family in a manageable length book. I should have read this book a long time ago.
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, narrated by the author: Wow – this is a must-have book for middle-year classrooms and libraries. I so appreciate and will take any opportunity to listen to an author narrate their books. Jade is a young girl on a scholarship to a predominately white school and has been allowed to be one of twelve girls selected to be part of a black mentorship program. Jade is not so sure she needs the program and feels that perhaps the mentorship program and mentee can learn something from her. A story of a young girl finding her voice, exploring privilege and coming of age novel. 
  • Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake with pictures by Jon Klassen: A new series for our transitional readers, Skunk and Badger, end up being new roommates with polar personalities. I wrote a post on this book last week if you want further details. 
  • Canadian picture books: I enjoyed a variety of past recommendations that I missed and officially looking for Shining Willow nominees. Look for highlights of my favourites at the end of the month.

Up Next…

  • Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky by Marsha Forchuk – another book that I didn’t quite finish and want to enjoy – it that good and then reward myself with the video chat I missed
  • Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen: I am glad that this will be my focus this week so I can enjoy the last few chapters of this strong follow-up to her debut What Stars Are Made Of
  • Siha Tooskin Knows Series by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead and illustrator Chloe Bluebird Mustooch: just waiting on two titles so I can post about this great new series 
  • Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks – enjoying this art mystery that keeps me on my toes, and I am thrilled there is a stand-alone sequel with Art and Olivia will be released next year.

Down the Road…

I am a big fan of both of these authors, and looking forward to the audiobook version of Patrick Ness’s Burn – A Monster Calls is still in my top ten all-time favourites. I loved Gillian McDunn’s Caterpillar Summer and the Queen Bee and Me with her realistic characters, so I am looking forward to meeting Annie in These Unlucky Stars.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Hope this week has you excited about some books, and if you want to get some suggestion you may want to check out the #MGBooktober hashtag that’s happening right now- there are lots of book suggestions, and the prompts are below if you want to join in on the fun.

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Sept. 28

Last Week…

  • CANADIAN picture books! I went through a lot of Canadian picture books to begin the selection for the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards which I will blog about at a later time to highlight some of my favourites.
  • Audiobook: The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes #1) by Nancy Springer narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Enola Holmes is the younger sister of famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Enola (Alone backwards) was unconventionally raised by her mother. On her fourteenth birthday she awakens to discover that her mother has disappeared, but has left her some clues to find her in the form of a special birthday present. I missed this series, but when Netflix made it into a movie special – I knew I had to read it. The first book followed the Netflix movie fairly closely and look forward to reading the other five in the series.
  • Audiobook: The Inheritance Game (Inheritance Games #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes narrated by Christie Moreau. Avery is a teen with some smarts, spunk and empathy. Living with her sister and her less than desirable boyfriend, her plan is to get through high school, get a scholarship and get out. Suddenly she is summoned to a will reading of billionaire Tobias Hawthorne where she discovers he has left her his entire fortune with one condition – she must live in the Hawthone estate with the family he has just denied his fortune. Obviously the family is upset and want to get Avery out of the house and Avery wonders why a man she never met has left his entire fortune to her. I enjoyed the strong character of Avery and her love of chess and things related to puzzles. There are puzzles that fans of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Book Scavenger and the older Chasing Vermeer will enjoy. It is great to see a more books like this for these readers as they grow into YA.
  • Audiobook: Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson, narrated by Guy Lockard. Told in verse from his son ZJ, we learn about his father, a professional football player – the legend and the hero. To ZJ, he is just dad, as proud as he is of his father, football is not his jam – it’s music. His father appreciates this and encourages ZJ to do his thing. We read/hear about the time “before the ever after,” the time they spent together singing songs, spending time together as a family and how his dad was so calm and “there”. Now is the ever after – his father is having trouble remembering, has mood swings and debilitating headaches and having trouble with day to day tasks. No one is quite sure what is happening until the doctor diagnoses him with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). There is much to be learned, shared and perhaps revaluated about the games we play and watch.

Up Next…

  • I didn’t quite finish Amy Timberlake’s Skunk and Badger last week with illustrations by Jon Klassen but oh my this is going to be a wonderful series.
  • Another pile of Canadian picture books that I have not read and missed or been recommend by friends.
  • I have two days to read Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky of Stars so I am ready for the MG Lit Online Book Club this Wednesday.

Down the Road…

  • Still trying to find time to read Sarah Allen’s Breathing Underwater and know Tuesday I will be getting more picture books for the Shining Willows

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.    

Perhaps I will see some of you this evening at #MGBookChat to discuss Historical Fiction or Wednesday to chat about Sky of Bombs Sky of Stars, if not Happy Reading.

Laurie

What I Carry

Author: Jennifer Longo

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: January 21/20 (Audio July 31/20)

Reviewed by Laurie

I knew I would be listening/reading this book when I heard it being compared to Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree a story about siblings and adoption that I loved. I actually borrowed the book from my local public library and then was excited to hear it would be an audiobook and so waited for it. Totally worth it as Reba Buhr’s interpretations of the various characters was just spot on and Francine was my favourite characterization, but the main character Muir will stay with me for a very long time.

Abandoned at birth in a hospital, Muir begins life there named by the nurses after the John Muir Medical Center in California. Although Child Services lists her name as Muiriel she goes by Muir as she has deep rooted connections to her namesake John Muir, as she too has a deep rooted love for the outdoors and prefers to be in the woods. (For those unfamiliar with Muir, he was a naturalist and considered the Father of the National Parks).

Despite her love for the outdoors, Muir has lived her entire life in a variety of foster homes and has one more year until she “ages out” As a result, she has learned to pack light and not carry any additional baggage – items and people. Her case worker Jonelle is the only consistent person in her life and her last care home is to be off the coast of Seattle on a small island and Joellen has asked her to please try to be in one place for just one year and Muir has promised she would try.

As Muir begins life on the island, Luango cleverly reveals her past foster homes by Muir sharing an item in her expertly lightly packed suitcase. We learn the story of where she has lived , through a thimble, a ceramic polar bear from a box of Red Rose tea, an Allen wrench and a delicate gold chain tangled, but not broken. All of these back stories provide us insight to Muir and just how strong and resilient she is, the walls she has built and why she does not want to be dependent on anyone. All she has to do is get through this one year and then she will be free.

Except now that she is on the island, she is encountering new people who make Muir let her guard down. Her foster mother Francine seems to know exactly what Muir needs and her sense of timing to provide advice or space is allowing Muir to actually think about unpacking her suitcase. She also meets Kira also her age at the local coffee shop and she too seems to be able to disarmer Muir’s walls and finally there is Sean who shares her passion for nature and has had his own struggles. All of these characters want her to stay, but will she?

This book has strong character development and I found myself cheering all four of these characters on as they each tackled individual struggles along with trying to break down Muir’s walls. Readers will learn and hopefully connect to what it means to be a true friend. Really listening to your friend, which Kira does so well, but more importantly calls Muir on her irrational thinking when it comes to having friends and a boyfriend with humour and compassion. The relationship between Sean and Muir is also presented in a respectful manner and young adults need to see more of these meaningful and deep interactions. I especially was drawn to the way the two had two polar heroes in the area of the environment and how they would spar back and forth and then it is Sean who provides another way for the two to become closer. Finally, the relationship between Francine, and Muir are perhaps my favourite – as it is Francine who is the catalyst to make things different for Muir by giving her space but having boundaries and the manner in which she speaks to her. We all need a Francine in our lives to show us how we can be loved in different ways.

Not only is the character development so strong but also the topics in the various plots – Longo explores the systematic failure of the current foster system and adoption, along with bullying, racism, addiction and the environment. All of these topics deepen our understanding of the characters, but also remind us that there are serious problems that need to be addressed in real life.

As I was reading this story I was mindful and wondering if this would turn out to be an #ownvoices novel and waited until the end to read the Author’s Note. I was relieved and grateful to find out it Jenifer Luango’s connection to this story and how she wasn’t sure she should tell the story. I appreciated the research and the hard conversations Longo had with foster kids to write this beautiful book and share this story that needs to be told. In addition to there are various links placed at the end to answer any other questions and for further investigation.

Muir is a character that will stay with me for a long time for her resiliency, her love of nature, and for standing up for what is right in a system filled with so many wrongs. This is a MUST ADD and one of the few books I would say worth listening to the audio versus reading.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: Six Feet Over It  and Up to This Pointe 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for your YA collection (some language and sexual content)