Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown

You want me to tell you this is a "feel good" story?  I can't.  This is my life.  It's not always pretty, but it's mine.  No one can break me as hard as they try.  My name is Echo Brown and I am a wizard.  Yep...Black girls got magic!  How else could we have existed this long?  I am a survivor of my poverty stricken neighborhood.  That the magic.  My parents are drug addicts, and I'm my only hope in a world of oppression and exploitation.  That the magic.  It's all about the coping.  How do I cope when I feel like everything and everyone is against me?  It's not enough that I have to fight the white world, but I also have to fight the prisons of my neighborhood, my community, my mind.  That the magic.  I move between two worlds:  the East Side and the West Side, but I have to leave pieces of me and everything I know in the East Side.  Regardless of the black veil of depression that threatens me, I transcend that and everything else that tries to hold me back.  I am above; I am not beneath.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

My name is Emoni Santiago.  I'm 17 years old and I live in Philadelphia, PA.  I attend Schomburg Charter School.  I am in the 12th grade.  I love cooking and blending different herbs and flavors. I should have my whole life ahead of me, right?  For real, though, I can't even think that far ahead about myself.  I don't know what my future holds for me or if I even have a future.  Why?  You see, I'm a teen mom.  I got pregnant when I was in the 9th grade.  All I have is my baby girl and my abuela.  Baby Girl's father, Tyrone is in the picture for Emma, but not for me.  He made that clear early on, even questioning if the baby was really his.   I made a mistake, but it seems like people want to punish me for it for the rest of my life, even my classmates.  Why is it that girls who get pregnant take the brunt of the punishment and the guys get off unscathed?  Well, I'm not having any of it!

It's senior year now.  The school has added a new elective course:  Culinary Arts.  This is right up my ally!  All I want to do is take care of Baby Girl and cook!  Who knows?  Maybe someday I'll be able to work in one of the best restaurants in Philly.  "Wake up, Emoni!  Stop kidding yourself!"  That's the conversation I have with myself everyday.  I have to.  I keep my head up and shoulders back, refusing to be made to feel like I'm less than I am because I got pregnant.  I am fortunate, though.  My abuela; my best friend, Angelica; and my guidance counselor believe in me.  They must see what I can't.  A culinary trip to Spain; a new found confidence and a kind-hearted, selfless new boy begins to turn things around for me and Baby Girl.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Beauty is not everything that is cracked up to be.  There is a very high price to pay.  The price sometimes results in betrayal, loss of family, and loss of love that you should have never had.  My name is Camellia Beauregard and I am a Belle.  I was made, not born in the traditional sense of birth.  I serve one purpose and one purpose only:  to make people beautiful...a gift and a curse.  I have lost myself and what's important to me, all for the sake of being named the "favourite" Belle.  But it was not me...I was not least not at first.  Now that the Queen has selected me to be her favourite, I will show them all what I can do.  Everyone will love me...everyone will want me to reconstruct their dismal appearances and existence.  I'll say it again, the price of beauty is very costly and it may have cost me everything.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I live in two separate worlds.  No matter how hard I try to keep them apart, a collision is inevitable.  I have my world at my prep school, Williamson and then there's my other world in my hood, Garden Heights, South Central L.A.  I'm constantly suppressing who I am cuz these white folks wouldn't be able to handle it. If I ain't careful...Hell, if they ain't careful...they gonna get some of "Garden Heights" Starr.  I'm trying to stay true to me, but sometimes I feel like I'm losing me.  Chris, my white boyfriend that daddy don't know about, knows about Garden Heights, but he can't ever come up in my hood.  Ever!  I don't even hang with my old crew like I used to.  Kenya is always riding me about it, too. Ever since I watched my childhood friend, Natasha, die in a drive-by, mama and daddy wanted better for me, Seven and Sekani.  So they put us in Williamson.  What good is any of that if we still gotta go home to Garden Heights every day?  Don't get me wrong.  I love my hood!  I love the people in my hood.  Don't mean it's the best place for me and my brothers.

Then there's Khalil.  We've been friends since we were like three years old and don't think for one minute that he has ever let me forget that he's older than me (only by a few months).  So, Kenya's giving me flack about not hanging and wouldn't you know it.  The one time I do decide to, I run into Khalil.  See, it's been a minute since I've seen him.  I just got so caught up in my other life.  I run into him at this party in The Heights.  We just hanging and catching up when...POP..POP...POP!  Gun shots ring out and we hightail it out of there!  We escape only to be faced with another threat, a least a threat to a young Black boy in South Central.  If the gangs don't get you, the cops will.  I'm Starr Carter and I want justice for Khalil.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

My name is Libby Strout and I am fat.I'm also known as, "America's Fattest Teen."   If that has been a struggle for me, how can you possibly have anything negative to say about me?  I mean, after all, it is MY struggle.  When my mom died, I didn't know how to cope and my dad....well...I don't blame him.  He's great and has always done the best he can.  He was grieving, too.  Once my weight was out of control, I'll never forget how humiliating it was to have the fire department cut me out of my home.  Literally, they had to cut out a wall to get me out of the house.  Sometimes you just want to forget, but the bullies won't let you.  Now!  I'm choosing me!  I'm an amazing person and if no one can appreciate that, too bad.  "Hey!  Get off me!  Let go! Jerk!  Nooooooo!" and then I punch his lights out!

Jack Masselin.  That's me.  I look good; I have a killer smile; and you want to be me.  Not really.  You don't want to be me because I have a secret.  I can't recognize faces from one minute to the next.  My parents don't even know.  I've managed to recognize people by identifiers, like voice, shape or color of your hair.  Easy stuff.  But sometimes, it doesn't work for me and man, does it get me in so much trouble!  Kissing girls who aren't my girlfriend.  Mistaking the wrong kid for my little brother and being accused of kidnapping him from a party.  Hugging girls that I don't know.  "Wait, did you just punch me?"  She did!  This mistake may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Hunt Killers Trilogy by Barry Lyga

Hey.  My name is Jasper Dent.  Some people, Howie, my best friend and Connie, my girlfriend, call me "Jazz."  I'm not an alcoholic and I don't do drugs, but I the son of one of the most infamous serial killers, Billy Dent.  His actions ruined (and still ruin) my life.  I live in a small town, Lobo's Nod.  Yeah, he's locked up now, but Billy Dent doesn't stay anywhere he doesn't want to.  It's happening again.  Serial killings.  How is this possible?   He's locked up!  Ahhhhh....Billy's following.  I almost forgot all about that.  There are some folks who think Billy Dent is a hero.  It's like some kind of cult following. People think what he did was magnificent.  I think it sucks and I feel like I'm paying the price for what he did.  All these stupid copycat killers.  It's bad enough it happened in Lobo's Nod, now ti's spread to New York City and the FBI wants me to help. Remember when I said Billy doesn't stay anywhere he doesn't want to?  Well guess what?  He's escape and the killings are escalating.  Billy can't be working by himself!  Will I become a serial killer like him?  After all, he did teach me everything he knows.  

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

My name is Lady Catherine Pinkerton and I am doomed to marry a king I do not...can not love.  Before I bore you with all those details, you first need know that this is not a story about "Alice in Wonderland."  This is my story...the story of the Queen of Hearts and how I came to be.  You see, I wasn't always so cruel.  I was kind, loving and thoughtful.  I love to bake because it gives me such pleasure to put the happiness of others before my own.  I bake simply delectable dishes if I must say so myself!  Marianne (my maid) and I are going to open a bakery some day!  I will not be told how to live my life or will I?  My parents expect me to marry the ridiculous King of hearts! I never thought I had any other choices until I met him.  Jest.  He's everything the king is not.  Brave. Funny. Quite Attractive. There is something here, but to no avail, my parents will have their way.  I didn't meant to fall in love with Jest.  It just happened.  I control my destiny!  I will not yield to the whimsical desires of others.  Join me on this magical journey of delectable treats, monsters, courtiers, kings, queens, and a Cheshire Cat!