Uplifting and unputdownable, a coming-of-age verse novel about family, mental health and the healing power of music.
Azadeh is a budding violinist on a music scholarship at an expensive private school, dealing with all the usual trials of being sixteen: trying her best to fit in, keep up and have fun. Then as her mum’s mental health spirals out of control, Azadeh’s world starts to unravel. Her friendships fall away, and as much as she and her dad try to keep a lid on everything, their problems insist on taking over. Feeling alone, it’s her violin that finally helps Azadeh to find her way back to her friends, herself and even her mum.
A beautifully packaged, highly important and irresistible novel about mental health struggles and the solace we find in music and rhythm, friendship, family and honesty.
Title : The Silver Chain Author : Jion Sheibani Format : Physical Page Count : 352 Genre : Contemporary YA Publisher : Hot Key Books Release Date : June 23, 2022
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
Headlines: Told in verse Parental mental illness Poles apart friendships
There was a lot to unpack in this story told in verse. I really enjoyed the format where some sections were more lyrical than others, and some more straight narrative. Azadeh was something of a prodigious violinist, having a scholarship at a private school. In fact, Azadeh’s family were from humble means setting her apart financially from her peers but also in term of her heritage. Azadeh had a Persian father and I think an English mother although I wasn’t certain. Azadeh had some longings towards her origins that seemed unfulfilled.
Azadeh sought solice in her music, her violin, the notes, the message of the music. When things went wrong at home however, she lost her connection to music for some time. That seemed to untether her own mental wellbeing.
There were some slightly toxic friendships in this book, some lack of cultural understanding from friends and racist microagressions. Azadeh found this hard to navigate and it was uncomfortable to witness.
There was a strong storyline of mental illness and while that was good representation, I didn’t always feel that it was fully unpacked. It felt a little unfinished in the end from that perspective.
The most enjoyable aspect of this book was in it’s narrative style of verse. I found it very easy to read and listen to.
Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.
And by fix, they mean straighten, they mean whiten;
but how do you fix this shipwrecked
history of hair?
In her most famous spoken-word poem, author of the Pura Belpré-winning novel-in-verse The Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo embraces all the complexities of Black hair and Afro-Latinidad–the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance.
Paired with full-color illustrations by artist Andrea Pippins in a format that will appeal to fans of Mahogany L. Browne’s Black Girl Magic or Jason Reynolds’s For Everyone, this poem can now be read in a vibrant package, making it the ideal gift, treasure, or inspiration for readers of any age.
Title : Inheritance Author : Elizabeth Acevedo Format : eBook (overdrive) Page Count : 48 Genre : poetry / picture book Publisher : Quill Tree Books Release Date : May 3, 2022
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : unrated
Hollis’ unrated star review
I am not rating this due to the length (it’s short! and to mirror that this review will be, too) and also because it’s poetry and that’s almost on par with non-fiction for me. Having said that I wanted to boost this onto the blog because the illustrations are gorgeous and I think a lot of readers will appreciate this. Also, love the pun with the title.
Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Laura Perez, Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.
In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers.
Title : Living Beyond Borders : Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America Author : edited by Margarita Longoria Format : eARC Page Count : 224 Genre : YA contemporary/mixed media anthology/short stories Publisher : Philomel Books Release Date : August 17, 2021
Who made the rules on what being Mexican was or wasn’t? I’d always been told to check a box — to fit in one category or the other. But it wasn’t ever that easy. And why did it matter?
I wasn’t sure I was going to rate this, as I don’t tend to award stars to non-fiction (not that I read much of it, to be fair, despite my best intentions!), but as I think most of what is comprised of this anthology is fiction (though I could of course be wrong..), I felt it deserved to be rated. Particularly in the hopes that people see the stars and feel inspired to look a little closer at this and maybe, even, hopefully, pick it up.
Mom and Dad used to love taking me to all the Mexican and Chicanx pride events, and I used to like it too until I got older and couldn’t wrap my head around how it’s possible to dance with such fierce colourful joy while shouldering a legacy of so much pain.
Though there are twenty different offerings within this collection this is not a long read and, in the case of some of the specific ones I’ll shoutout below, I wish it had been longer. I can’t possibly know the impact of what this collection will do for readers who see themselves, or their parents, or their loved ones, in these stories but I have a feeling this’ll mean a lot for a lot of people.
I understand that for many Americans — including my own parents — being seen as American is a struggle that can be tiring and long.
As for those standouts? These were mine.
Coco Chamoy y Chango by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo was the first one to make me wish there had been more to it. I wanted to keep reading, I wanted to learn more about these characters, and where they were going. It was such a casual little snapshot in time but it made an impression.
Next was My Name is Dolores by Guadalupe Ruiz-Flores and, to quickly sum up, it broke my heart. The image of that little girl.. well, I won’t spoil. But it was one of those little big moments that leaves quiet devastation in its wake.
An Ode to My Papi by Guadalupe García McCall might have been the shortest of the bunch but.. I don’t want to call it lovely, because it was also so sad, but it was a bittersweet, heartwarming, heartaching little tribute. Though there’s nothing little about the message.
Finally, there was La Princesa Mileidy Dominguez by Rubén Degollado which snuck up on me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t invested in the story as it unfolded but it wasn’t until the final paragraph or two when I realized how much I had softened as the story went on until I found myself brushing away tears. Partially it was the importance of the celebration described, the moment of transition from child to young adult, but it was more how this group of strangers, this community, came together without hesitation. It was incredibly moving.
There was one more quote I really wanted to share so I’ll use it to sign off this review but suffice it to say yes, I had some favourites, but most of the quotes I’ve pulled didn’t even come from those stories I’ve mentioned. There was something different, something important, something moving, in everything offered in this collection. And also something for everyone.
I’m so tired of these trying political times, and I’m tired of trying to care about the newest protests and the hashtags and the kids who die or almost die and get fifteen minutes of fame from the adults who have all the money and the clout and the thoughts and prayers but don’t actually do anything.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 5 star review
Here’s a collection of short stories to push you right into your emotions and some of them are going to be discomforting ones. From the first story of this anthology of stories/poems/letters from people who have straddled the Mexican/American borders, I was absorbed. These stories made me angry and hopeful, sad and in awe.
While I appreciated them all, here’s a flavour of some of the ones that either hit me in the gut, educated me or transported me to someone else’s experience (sometimes all of these things).
Ghetto Is Not An Adjective by Dominic Carrillo took a chance encounter and made an impact through poetry, ignorance felt like it was the theme for this story.
“There Are Mexicans In Texas?” by Trinidad Gonzales really conveyed the importance of family history to how he’s navigated peoples’ ignorance and racism at various junctures. These familial stories seemed to ground the author’s sense of self. I could have read his experiences and anecdotes for much longer. This quote really hit home and has relevance to other countries too:
The struggle to belong is found not only in the politics of the street, but in official institutions that are supposed to be inclusive of all Americans.
Ode to My Papi by Guadalupe García McCall squeezed my heart in a mere moment on the paper. So much was conveyed in a short space.
There were so many others to mention, but I wanted to give a dynamic snapshot of what’s on offer here.
I live overseas but I read and watch these issues, wanting to know more, especially when tensions were heightened under the 45th POTUS’ control. This book afforded me a deeper dive into individual experiences both fictionalised and non-fiction. I recommend this to all and it is definitely suitable from teenage upwards.
The editor/author provided me with a early copy through netgalley but this has not influenced by review.
Former Children’s Laureates Michael Rosen and Sir Quentin Blake join forces for a personal and uniquely affecting collection of poems about migration.
“What you leave behind Won’t leave your mind. But home is where you find it. Home is where you find it.”
Michael Rosen and Sir Quentin Blake join forces for a landmark new collection, focusing on migration and displacement. Michael’s poems are divided into four: in the first series, he draws on his childhood as part of a first-generation Polish family living in London; in the second, on his perception of the War as a young boy; in the third, on his “missing” relatives and the Holocaust; and in the fourth, and final, on global experiences of migration. By turns charming, shocking and heart-breaking, this is an anthology with a story to tell and a powerful point to make: “You can only do something now.”
Title : On the Move: Poems about Migration Author : Michael Rosen Illustrator : Quentin Blake Format : eARC Page Count : 144 Genre : Children’s Poetry Publisher : Walkers Books Release Date : October 1, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
This is a stunning book of poetry with illustrations that hit at the heart. It also has a compelling story to be read as the whole, steeped in history, migration, war and prejudice. It is aimed at 9-12 year olds but like all the best Pixar and Disney animations, it has a level that speaks to the adult and I’m emotional just writing this review; it touched me deeply.
You can’t speak of it. It is the unspeakable. You can’t say it. It is the unsayable. You can’t say what you know. It is the unknowable.
Rosen navigates his family’s story, from his own eyes and stories he’d heard. The themes are sometimes potentially distressing but they have much to say about the past and today.
This isn’t one of Rosen/Blake’s upbeat books but it is still wonderful like his Sad Book and it will open up these experiences to many readers, young and older.
Thank you to Walker Books for the early review copy.
“more forgetting time. more midnight dances with yourself.”
amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.
Title : Break Your Glass Slippers Author : Amanda Lovelace Series : You Are Your Own Fairytale #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 160 Genre : Contemporary Poetry Publisher : Andrews McMeel Publishing Release Date : March 17, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 5 star review
I got the early review copy of this poetry retelling and cracked it open immediately, I had zero chill. It was a good call because this is my favourite read so far from Amanda Lovelace. It was definitely less sad than some of her previous work and it was incredibly empowering.
The poems are told in a way that depicts a retelling of Cinderella. There are various narrators such as fairy godmother, Cinders and Charming. Fairy godmother was my favourite, instilling sage words for any women to have affirmed to them. The prose was simple and yet beautiful, it touched me on an emotional level.
her precious fairy tales showed her what would happen if she found her prince, but they never prepared her for what she should do if her prince turned out to be her unhappily ever after –cinderella
This book is so easy to read front to back, and I can definitely imagine myself rereading it but also dipping in and out of it. From what I can see from the electronic copy, the illustrations are beautiful and colourful but also simple. I can’t wait to see them in the flesh in a real book.
This is poetry that is suitable for young women and older alike. There are f-bombs that might make this unsuitable for younger girls however, the messages are powerful and empowering. I will be buying this for my daughter.
you are the only set of keys to your castle. the rest of them are nothing but bad copies.
Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing for the early copy to devour.