September 6, 2017 young adult debuts

The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill

Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Lolcats. Salsa dancing. Unrequited love. Tom Crosshill's smart and witty debut teen novel treads a colorful coming-of-age journey from New York City to Havana that will appeal to fans of books by Matthew Quick and Junot Díaz.

When Rick Gutiérrez—known as "That Cat Guy" at school—gets dumped on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom instead of experiencing the real world, he realizes it's time for a change. So Rick joins a salsa class... because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. He might be half Cuban, but Rick dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn't all sun, salsa, and music. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn't just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it's got sharp edges.

"The breezy pace and descriptions of Cuban culture soften the serious issues at hand—supply shortages, imprisonment, and secret police. Despite an improbable ending worthy of a viral video itself, Crosshill’s big-hearted novel shines."
-- Publishers Weekly

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.
 
Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

"An emotionally engaging and draining debut."
-- Kirkus reviews
"Eloquently conveying the complexity of love and grief, debut novelist Sutherland creates a story filled with intriguing and memorable characters."
-- Publishers Weekly