EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT INDIANS BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (Young Readers Edition) by Anton Treuer


Publisher: Levine Querido
Release Date: April 6, 2021

“Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?”

Ojibwe author and professor Dr. Anton Treuer tackles this question and dozens more in this engaging and informative book, perfect for young readers and adults alike. I learned so much from this book, including Indigenous history and the lives of Natives today. The Q&A format makes the information easily accessible, while the author’s personal writing style will keep readers interested.

There were so many eye-opening parts to this book, covering topics like mascots, stereotypes, sovereignty, blood quantum, and residential boarding schools. A personal story the author shared about his treatment by police after being stopped while driving with his wife really stuck with me. Also, I went to the University of Kansas, and I had no idea about the cemetery and its history at Haskell Indian Nations University, which was just down the street.

I borrowed this book from the library, but I’m planning to get a copy of my own. This would make a wonderful reference guide for social studies classrooms too. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD by Rebecca Mahoney


Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 23, 2021

โœฆ YA Magical Realism | Contemporary Fantasy โœฆ

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD was a strange book. It was like a weird dream that sometimes makes sense and other times you can’t figure out what’s going on.

Since her best friend Gaby’s death, Rose has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks. Driving through the Nevada desert one night, Rose’s car breaks down, and she hears a familiar voicemail messages playing over the radio. This leads Rose to a town called Lotus Valley, where she finds out from the quirky locals that her arrival is part of a prophecy about a flood that will destroy everything.

I appreciate how the author presented Rose’s struggles with PTSD and her grief over Gaby’s death, both realistically and through magical realism. The beginning of the book hooked me right away, but it wasn’t until 70% or so that things started making sense and the pieces of the puzzle clicked together. Up until that point, some of it was downright confusing and frustrating. This is an emotional journey for Rose, who ultimately just wants to make it home, but she has to face the prophecy first. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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WATCH OVER ME by Nina LaCour


Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 15, 2020

โ˜† Major Cover Love โ˜†

WATCH OVER ME is a unique modern ghost story mixed with magical realism that’s easy to get lost in.

After spending a few years in foster care, Mila has finally aged out of the system. She accepts a teaching job for a homeschool on an isolated farm in Northern California. The farm is a special place, home to foster kids of all ages dealing with a traumatic past. Mila is hoping this is a peaceful place where she will finally fit in, but nobody told her about the ghosts.

Though it’s a short novel, WATCH OVER ME packs an emotional punch. Beautiful prose. Melancholy and heartwarming at the same time. This is a lovey introspective and haunting YA novel about grief, loss, guilt, and healing. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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FIVE TOTAL STRANGERS by Natalie D. Richards


Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 6, 2020

I love cold weather/snowy suspense novels, so the cover of this book was screaming for me to read it. FIVE TOTAL STRANGERS is a locked-room-on-wheels YA thriller that left me with mixed feelings.

The protagonist Mira is a high school student flying home to Pittsburgh to be with her mother on Christmas. A snow storm cancels connecting flights and leaves her stranded at the Philly airport. Desperate to get home, she makes the BAD decision of hitching a ride with four college-aged strangers who were on her flight. In a blizzard with strangers on desolate backroads? What’s the worst that could happen? Mira is about to find out…

First of all, I loved the creepy, frozen atmosphere the author created. As odd things start to happen, Mira becomes convinced that someone in their party doesn’t want them to get home. But why? There were a lot of tense moments, and my thoughts on who was the bad one was constantly changing.

Though the book kept me guessing, I thought the first half moved too slowly, and the ending was too abrupt. There were loose ends and unanswered questions that annoyed me, plus the reasoning behind the bad one’s actions wasn’t convincing, and also, what an absurd plan. You’re in a blizzard!?!

Overall though, I did enjoy the author’s descriptive writing style, and I wouldn’t hesitate to give her other books a try. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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