Mini-Review: Seven Ways We Lie

SevenWaysTitle: Seven Ways We Lie
Author: Riley Redgate
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 352
Publisher: Amulet Books
Review copy: Library
Availability: March 8th, 2016

Summary: Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: The title kind of gives it away, even if you don’t read the jacket — Seven Ways We Lie is told through the perspectives of seven students, all different in their voices, cliques, and even sexuality (a pleasant surprise). At first, it’s a lot to juggle, but once you settle into the story, that’s when the going gets good. It’s a fun and arresting read, if a little stressful thanks to the ever present mystery of the teacher-student affair and its consequences.

I was initially worried a bit about the LGBTQIA representation, but each character is written in a vivid and engaging way, so my worries were mostly put to rest. I’d be very curious to see what someone with more knowledge of Autism and neurodivergence has to say about Valentine’s portrayal.

Seven Ways We Lie manages to tackle a wide variety of issues, and for the most part, incorporates them smoothly. There were moments when certain lines rang familiar — either they were wonderfully relatable, or too much like a text post from Tumblr. But generally, the issues were handled much better than they usually are in YA. It was refreshing to read.

If you’re looking for a contemporary YA to read, this is it. Seven Ways We Lie will gobble up your time and leave you wishing for more of this band of seven students. Grab it when you get the chance!

Recommendation: Get it soon!

Guest Post: David Wright

Everyone, please welcome David Wright to Rich in Color! David is the co-author of Away Running with Luc Bouchard, and David was kind enough to talk about his new book from Orca Book Publishers:

Away RunningMatt, a white quarterback from Montreal, Quebec, flies to France (without his parents’ permission) to play football and escape family pressure. Freeman, a black football player from San Antonio, Texas, is in Paris on a school trip when he hears about a team playing American football in a rough, low-income suburb called Villeneuve-La-Grande. Matt and Free join the Diables Rouges and make friends with the other players, who come from many different ethnic groups. Racial tension erupts into riots in Villeneuve when some of their Muslim teammates get in trouble with the police, and Matt and Free have to decide whether to get involved and face the very real risk of arrest and violence.

You can learn more about the 2005 Paris riots that are the basis for Away Running on the book’s website, as well as read an interview with the authors, view a teacher’s guide for the book, and read a sample chapter. We’re giving away a copy of the book to six lucky people from the USA or Canada, so be sure to read David’s wonderful essay before entering at the end of the page!


“How do you teach tolerance in an age of fear?”

That’s what my editor at Orca suggested I consider when I asked her what I might write about for this blog post. And thinking about the question immediately got me thinking about my time playing semi-pro American football during my twenties in La Courneuve, outside Paris.

More than the Keystone Kops antics of American football in Europe in the eighties and nineties, La Courneuve, my team’s home base, was completely unexpected for me. Suburbs in France work the opposite of those in the US. Buildings inside Paris are centuries old and incredibly valuable, so poor immigrants and much of the native lower-class–“les marginaux,” as the French call them–live in American-styled, high-rise projects on the outside of the city.

My former teammates were a hodge-podge of suburban Parisians marginaux–the “beurs” (North Africans, mostly Muslim) and “renois” (blacks) who get followed by security guards in stores, who get hassled by the police during supposedly “random” stops to check ID papers. Our multicultural collective also included a few Serbian refugees who’d fled the war in the Balkans, two Poles who’d escaped Communist Poland–and some bourgeois French guys, too! We mirrored the larger society of which we were a part.

How do you teach tolerance in an age of fear? After the Paris attacks and the Brussels airport bombings? After San Bernadino and just a few weeks ago, Orlando? With the rise of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis and Trump’s border wall, on and on? It all seems to run together, it seems of a piece. Since Virginia Tech and Umpqua Community College, students in Texas, where I live, can legally carry concealed handguns in university classrooms.

We are most definitely living in an age of fear.

But it’s the other part of the question that strikes me, the notion of “tolerance.” The word is tossed around as this lofty goal to aspire to. Teaching a person to be tolerant of someone different from them is treated like this demanding thing, but it seems like such a low bar. To “tolerate,” according to Dictionary.com, is “to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance,” “to endure without repugnance,” “to put up with…”

Really? Is that the best we can–or should–aim for?

Why not seek out this difference–and not just in the name of “political correctness” or as a gesture of politeness (though that’s plenty important, too), but for our own betterment. The more we know others, and know about them, only makes our own lives bigger, richer, more meaningful.

In Away Running, my co-author and former teammate Luc Bouchard and I weren’t only attempting to chronicle the tragic story of the 2005 Paris riots. To tell those boys’ story is to honor their memory and signal the brutal treatment of young people of color, particularly boys, at the hands of the police–and that’s hugely important. But we also tried to get at something broader. At the heart of Away Running is a story about a community of people. The black and brown boys and girls, and the police officers who fear and are suspicious of them, are all members of one community, of a single society. So, in telling the story of this community, we were exploring the notion of “tolerance.”

But we wanted to turn it on its head a little bit. For instance, the least tolerant character at the beginning of the story is one of the more oppressed ones. Freeman is a working-class black kid from the urban South. (Anyone who has been to Texas knows that it is as much, if not more, Southern than it is Western.) Free thinks that his only way out of the ‘hood is through sports–and he may be right in that.

But he also sees the world through the very narrow lens of his limited experience. All the North Africans he meets in Paris are “Arabs” to him and to be mistrusted. He lumps all white people together in a similar way. He’s more generous in his judgment of them (his friend Matt; his host family), but by virtue of their race, he sees them as being of a single tribe, just as he sees himself as belonging to a particular tribe, one whose name is written in the color of his skin. Freeman gives himself credit for “tolerating” these people, but he can only see their difference.

The other main character, Matt, who is white, is more generous in his worldview (and, significantly, has had more experience in the larger world outside his hometown). More than merely tolerating, he’s actually drawn to the “Other.” But his inability to recognize his own privilege–how the world views and treats him differently because of his whiteness and his financial privilege–keeps him from truly seeing them. In regarding them as Other (even if their Otherness attracts him), he is also shackled to preconceived notions of difference.

These are the guides who lead readers through the world of the novel, through the Paris of projects and poverty, of racial oppression and police brutality. (And that world, on many levels, very much resembles Ferguson, Missouri or Baltimore, resembles any of the many places here in the US where similar tragedies have occurred.)

But Luc and I didn’t want to construct facile “straw men” either. The police aren’t merely uniform, faceless stormtroopers like in Star Wars. We wanted to complicate even minor figures. We didn’t want to merely “tolerate” the villains of the story. We wanted to humanize them. Because when we merely “tolerate” another person, foreign or not, ally or adversary, we are, in essence, distinguishing that person from ourselves. We’re creating an “us” and “them” that, by its very definition, emphasizes divergence and even dissonance.

We, as humans, are so much more alike than we are different. Freeman, in Away Running, has more in common with Moussa, whom he mistrusts and, on some level, fears, than he does with Matt, with whom he bonds because of their shared North American-ness. And Matt, in his fascination with and attraction to Aïda, comes to understand that the fierce curiosity and daring independence that they share unites them. He and the Muslim girl are more of a kind than he is with any of his teammates.

To know others you need to move towards them, you need to be curious. To try to know others is to know yourself better. They are the mirror in which we can find our own reflection.

So maybe in place of an idea like “tolerance,” we should encourage “curiosity.” Maybe when we see unease and mistrust, “experience” should be championed instead. Maybe we should adopt a view like France’s SOS Racisme organization does: “Touches Pas Mon Pote.” Don’t mess with my buddy. The slogan means that I’m not merely going to “put up” with others–to endure them without repugnance. It claims the Other as my friend and declares that I’m going to defend her or him. And not just their presence, their right to be here, but their right to be whomever they are.

“Tolerance” is such a small word. Wouldn’t our lives and our communities be so much bigger if we, ourselves, strove to be bigger, too?


David Wright 1David’s book, Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers (Scribner 2001, Oxford U. Press paper 2002), was a New Yorker notable selection and one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s “Best Books of 2001;” the Memphis Flyer called it “social history at its readable best.” He wrote the screenplay for the documentary, Rescue Men, based on the book. Magic Johnson’s Aspire network aired it on September 15, 2012. His work has been recognized with awards and fellowships from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others, and appeared in The Village Voice, The Kenyon Review, Newsday, Callaloo, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere. A former Fulbright Fellow to Brazil, he teaches at the University of Illinois.


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New Release

We only found one new release to highlight this week. As always, if you know of others we’ve missed, please let us know.

paperPaper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
Electric Monkey

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . But at what price?

Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, Jandy Nelson, Sarah Crossan and Louise O’Neill. –Cover image and summary via Goodreads

 

 

Also, if you are interested in looking ahead, you may visit our Release Calendar (see link above) or for a list of titles being published all the way into 2018, check out our Goodreads shelf.

Review: Secrets, Lies & Scandals

Secrets Lies and ScandalsTitle: Secrets, Lies, & Scandals
Author: Amanda K. Morgan
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 352
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Review Copy: ARC received from publisher
Availability: Available July 5

Summary: In the tradition of I Know What You Did Last Summer and How to Get Away with Murder, five teens must overcome their paranoia in order to keep their teacher’s death a secret in this fast-paced suspense thriller.

Nothing ruins summer vacation like a secret…especially when it involves a dead teacher.

Ivy used to be on top of the social ladder, until her ex made that all go away. She has a chance to be Queen Bee again, but only if the rest of the group can keep quiet.

Tyler has always been a bad boy, but lately he’s been running low on second chances. There’s no way he’s going to lose everything because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

Kinley wouldn’t describe herself as perfect, though everyone else would. But perfection comes at a price, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her perfect record—one that doesn’t include murder charges.

Mattie is only in town for the summer. He wasn’t looking to make friends, and he definitely wasn’t looking to be involved in a murder. He’s also not looking to be riddled with guilt for the rest of his life…but to prevent that he’ll have to turn them all in.

Cade couldn’t care less about the body, or about the pact to keep the secret. The only way to be innocent is for someone else to be found guilty. Now he just has to decide who that someone will be.

With the police hot on the case, they don’t have much time to figure out how to trust each other. But in order to take the lead, you have to be first in line…and that’s the quickest way to get stabbed in the back.

Review: I wanted to like Secrets, Lies, & Scandals more than I did, especially since I’m sure there will be many people who love it. A lot of my disappointment stems from specific-to-me pet peeves; other disappointments are less subjective.

Amanda K. Morgan did an admirable job of giving the five students distinct voices and points of view in the alternating, sometimes fragmented story. Only Kinley and Cade are people of color, but they are allowed a proportionate amount of chapters. The strict adherence to the established chapter order (Ivy, Mattie, Kinley, Tyler, Cade) felt like a misstep on occasion, but the short chapters enhanced the overall pace of the book, as did the short timeline. Roughly three weeks pass between the death of their teacher and the end of the book, so there is little time to linger on anything—or really feel like characters or relationships are allowed to develop properly.

Perhaps it is just my aro/ace self talking, but I just did not understand how two (two!) couples could (pseudo-)form under the stress of killing a teacher, disposing of the body, trying not to get caught, and contemplating throwing everyone else under the bus, but it happens in Secrets. (One of the characters does lampshade the fact that they’re making out approximately twenty feet from their teacher’s not-yet-cold corpse, but that just made me want to throw the book. Can we maybe put romance and hormones on hold for a couple hours? Please? There are actually more important things to be done and to worry about right now, I promise.) I wish both developing romances had been excised entirely in order to give more space for each character’s secrets/lies/scandals, because those were far more interesting, and some were woefully underdeveloped. The ending (and epilogue with a new narrator) is an exercise in frustration, where things are resolved too easily and then tanked at the last second (as a sequel hook?).

I also had several representation issues I had with the book. Stratford, the evil teacher, is repeatedly referred to as having an uneven gait and smile, and while those are both plot relevant (barely), it pinged pretty high for me on the “doesn’t-conform-to-societal-beauty-standards = evil” trope. I wasn’t that thrilled when a character lied about having a disability, either, in order to try to cover up some other wrongdoing. Another thing that frustrated me was the discovery that a character was bisexual—which was almost immediately followed up by the revelation that the character had cheated on their prior partner. To top all that off, another character’s secret is about severe mental illness in their family, and how rage, insanity, and murder are now part of their “family’s legacy.”

Recommendation: Just skip it. While there are some good things about the premise and the writing, they were overshadowed by a number of pet peeves and representation issues.

Novellas Keep the Magic Alive

In my last review of Renee Ahdieh’s “The Rose & The Daggar”, I wished that I could spend more time in the world that she created. Well, shortly after that post I learned that Ahdieh had written a few novellas/short stories from the world she had created. This, of course, made me extremely happy but also reminded me that some authors of series we love will publish novellas and/or short stories in between books to help with the reader’s burning desire to learn what will happen next in the series. Some of the novellas can be a prequel to the series, or some give stories from the points of view of different characters in the novel. Either way, the novellas/short stories give us fans more time with our favorite characters in the worlds we love. Check out below some of the novellas/short stories that have enriched many of our favorite series.

roseeagleRose Eagle by Joseph Bruchac

A prequel e-novella to the award-winning Killer of Enemies.

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.

Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.


crown&arrowThe Crown & The Arrow (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #.5) by Renee Ahdieh

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

moth&flame

The Moth & The Flame (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #.25) by Renee Ahdieh

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

 

 

 

mirrorThe Mirror & The Maze (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #1.5) by Renee Ahdieh

The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.

 

 


dorothyv1Dorothy Must Die: Stories (Dorothy Must Die, #0.1 – 0.3) by Danielle Paige

Long before Amy Gumm got swept away from a Kansas trailer park…Dorothy Gale received a package on the night of her 16th birthday: a pair of red high-heeled shoes. Dear Dorothy, the note read. I thought about silver to match the ones you lost, but in the end I decided that red was more your color. I think you know what to do with them.

And with a knock of her heels, Dorothy returned to the magical land that made her a star—and Oz would never be the same again.

This bind-up of three prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series follows Dorothy Gale as she transforms from good girl to Wicked Witch. Kiss the land where troubles melt like lemon drops goodbye. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magical shoes won’t be able to save you.

dorothyv2Dorothy Must Die: Stories Vol. 2 (Dorothy Must Die, #0.4-0.6) by Danielle Paige

Before the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow became Dorothy’s henchmen in Dorothy Must Die

The Wizard was gone, Dorothy had returned home to Kansas, and Oz was left a changed place. Glinda the Good Witch set the three friends on their new paths: the Scarecrow would now rule the Emerald City with his new brain, the Tin Woodman and his heart would travel to the land of the Winkies to become their leader, and the Lion would put his courage to good use as the King of Beasts.But in a place like Oz, where magic and temptation lurk around every corner, the gifts from the Wizard begin to take on a life of their own…This bind-up of three prequel novellas to the New York Times Bestselling Dorothy Must Die series follows the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Lion as they evolve from Dorothy’s beloved friends into something almost Wicked.

New Releases

Happy book birthday to the two novels being released this Tuesday (6/21)! Are they on your to-read list?

mirrorMirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

neverNever Ever by Sara Saedi
Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight. Then she met a real-life Peter Pan. When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently. But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

unplulggedUnplugged (The Wired #1) by Donna Freitas

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer. [Image and summary via Goodreads]