May 10, 2016 debuts

Even If the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

One midsummer night. Two strangers. Three rules: No real names. No baggage. No phones. A whirlwind twenty-four-hour romance about discovering what it means to feel alive in the face of one of life’s greatest dangers: love.

Who would you be if you had one night to be anyone you want?

Volunteering in New Orleans was supposed to be a change, an escape from the total mess Julie left at home and from her brother’s losing battle with PTSD. But building houses surrounded by her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions has Julie feeling more trapped than ever. And she’s had enough.

In a moment of daring, Julie runs away, straight into the glitter, costumes, and chaos of the Mid-Summer Mardi Gras parade—and instantly connects with Miles, an utterly irresistible musician with a captivating smile and a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. Together Julie and Miles decide to forget their problems and live this one night in the here and now. Wandering the night, they dance on roofs, indulge in beignets, share secrets and ghost stories under the stars, and fall in love. But when a Category Two hurricane changes course and heads straight for NOLA, their adventure takes an unexpected turn. And, suddenly, pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.

"The author's rich descriptions of New Orleans make the vibrant city come alive, from the music and ghost stories to the vampire lore and delicious beignets. The steamy atmosphere reflects the heated chemistry between Julie and Miles."
-- Kirkus reviews

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders, the German army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna.

As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a daredevil boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

"In an exemplary debut, Spinale uses Gwen and Hook’s voices to offer glimpses into the psyche of a man desperate to please his cruel mother and a girl intent on saving the only family she has left. This is a magical, wondrous treat, with a conclusion that’s nothing less than epic."
-- Publisher's Weekly starred review

Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world.

Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path.

How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?

My review: I had a chance to read an ARC of JERKBAIT and man, oh man, do I wish I could beam this book directly into the brains of so many parents and teenagers in the world who desperately need it--most particularly the ones who don't yet know they need it. It's about sports culture and the violent masculinity that entails, about oppressive parenting and the danger of parents living out their dreams by controlling their children's lives, about depression and bullies and bigotry and predators and so much more. Oh, and terrible parenting. It's about some really terrible parenting. 

But most of all it's a story about two brothers who start out not really knowing each other very well, not particularly liking or understanding each other all that much, but who grow to know and like and support and defend each other when they haven't got anybody else to count on. The relationship between Tristan and Robbie is so painful and wonderful. They're surrounded by people who really kind of utterly fail at caring for them, but they do have each other, even if they don't know it at first. 

The darling boys and their terrible parents aside, JERKBAIT is a fierce and absolutely unforgiving look at the homophobia in sports culture and how dangerous it can be. It made me really angry, which is good. It *should* make everybody angry that kids are subjected to this kind of treatment from both peers and adults. I really hope the kids out there who need to know they're not alone will find this book and be reassured to see a bit of themselves in it. 

If nothing else, they can always give it to their parents with the title scratched out and a fake title in its place: HOW NOT TO BE A TERRIBLE PARENT: A GUIDE.


Fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Jenny Han will fall in love with this heartfelt and humor-laced debut following one girl’s race to find the guy of her cosmic dreams.
 
When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love. 
 
But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.

"Not without their respective fairy tale components, the characters are also quirky and multidimensional. The tension builds to a climatic frenzy as Wil deals with a number of emotional crises. The ending is realistic and doesn’t take the easy way out of the love triangle."
-- School Library Journal