New Releases

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them, a handful of new releases! Here are the YA novels coming out in December and early January. What’s on your to-read list?

secretThe Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Release date: 12/27/2016
An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

 

 

huntedEver the Hunted (Clash of the Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerhill
Release date: 12/27/2016

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple... [Image and summary via Goodreads]

wayfarerWayfarer (Passenger #2) by Alexandra Bracken
Release date: 1/3/2017
All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

becauseBecause of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Release date: 1/3/2017
From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

 

flyingFlying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh
Release date: 1/3/2017
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

 

 

wingWing Jones by Katherine Webber
Release date: 1/5/2017
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

poisonPoison’s Kiss (Poison’s Kiss #1) by Breeana Shields
Release date: 1/10/2017
A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

 

 

factoryFactory Girl by Josanne La Valley
Release date: 1/10/2017
In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

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After the Election: How to Help

With the election over, there’s a lot to be done. First and foremost, be sure to take care of yourself and give yourself time to recover. Beyond that, there are plenty of organizations on the local and national level that can use your time and/or money.

We at Rich in Color have put together a list of organizations which will be crucial to protecting vulnerable people in the next four years.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:
Civil rights:
Lambda Legal
American Civil Liberties Union
Southern Poverty Law Center
Anti-Defamation League

Racial justice:
NAACP
Campaign Zero
Black Lives Matter
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Hispanic Federation
National Council of La Raza
Central American Resource Center
Muslims for Progressive Values
Council on American-Islamic Relations
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

LGBTQIA, anti-violence, and reproductive justice:
Trans Lifeline
Planned Parenthood
Anti-Violence Programs
RAINN: Anti sexual assault
SAGE: Advocacy for LGBTQ older adults

Disability advocacy
Disability Visibility Project
National Council on Independent Living
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Environmental Justice
Sierra Club
EarthJustice: Environmental Law

More national organizations can be found here.

LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
Local organizations do a lot of good work in the community. Ask at your local library or community center, or search online to find out what organizations are doing in your area.
#NoDAPL
Sacred Stone Camp
Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund

St. Louis:
Hands Up United
Organization for Black Struggle
Places for People: Mental health services
St. Patrick Center: Housing and employment
ArchCity Defenders: Civil rights and legal access

Los Angeles/Southern California
Border Angels: Immigration advocacy
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Equality California
Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project
Los Angeles LGBT Center

YOUTH PROGRAMS
As shown through students walking out of classes to protest, marginalized youth will need support as well. Here are some organizations where you can donate and/or volunteer:
The Dream.Us
Boys & Girls Club of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Running Start: Bringing young girls and women into politics

OTHER WAYS TO HELP
-Get politically involved. Know your city leaders and school board members. Volunteer with the political party you support. Contact your representatives (see: the most effective methods). Turn out for local elections and the big ones. 2018 will be here sooner than you think.
Stay informed and subscribe to a local or national newspaper that you trust. Good journalism and investigative reporting will be crucial in the coming years.
-Volunteer with local schools, GED programs, English language programs, and immigration resources.
-Speak up when you encounter bigotry or prejudice! This may seem like a small thing, but it never hurts to start with the people around you.

Have any other suggestions? What are the organizations in your community that you plan on supporting? Let us know!

Edited to add further suggestions (thank you!):
Color of Change: online organization mobilizing racial justice
For supporting freedom of expression:
PEN
Amnesty International
National Coalition Against Censorship

Further edited to add more sections to the national organization list. Thank you for the suggestions!

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A Changed America

I had planned a wholesome post tonight about the presence of families in YA literature, but like often, I wait until the last minute to work on it. I figured I could knock it out while I watched election results. However, as the returns came out, I found that I couldn’t write a light-hearted post about families and Thanksgiving and love because my heart kept sinking in despair.

It is 11pm in California as I write this and as of right now America does not know who our next president will be. But what we do know is that many of us tonight are terrified for our lives. We are terrified of our country taking a gigantic step backward and all the progress we have made in this country to be open to people of all backgrounds, disabilities and LGBT-ness, will be gone because of one power hungry, egotistical man. I am near tears because I think about my students, many who are immigrants themselves or children of immigrants and who are fearful of what a Trump administration will bring. I am in tears because my sister-in-law asked this evening, “What type of future will I have for my children?”. I am in tears because I think of my Muslim friends who might face all sorts of violence just because of how they worship, and I think of my fellow African-Americans who have been gunned down, and could be gunned down by police. I think of all the people in my life whose very lives are in danger because of this man and I am in despair.

However, I can’t seem to break myself away from social media and am now seeing calls to fight, to stand up for justice, to fight for all the gains we have earned. And I so agree! Tonight, we mourn and then tomorrow we get ready to fight. We continue the work we’re doing to diversity YA & kidlit because education is one of the best ways to create empathy for other people. We also push harder on editors, publishers, book buyers, to publish #ownvoices authors and to market those books like they market white authors. We also take to the streets and do what we can to make sure our rights are not trampled on. We have to gather and work together to show that we will not allow for the destruction of the country that we love. This is our home and we must fight for it.

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Review: Rani Patel in Full Effect

raniTitle: Rani Patel in Full Effect
Author: Sonia Patel
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Genre: Historical
Pages: 313
Availability: October 1, 2016
Review copy:
ARC via publisher

Summary: When Rani’s father leaves her mother for another woman, Rani shaves her head in mourning. The visibility of her act of rebellion propels her onto the stage as a hip-hop performer and into a romantic relationship with a man who is much older. The whirlwind romance, coming on the heels of her father’s abandonment, make her begin to understand how her father’s sexual abuse wounded her in deeper ways than she, or her mother, have ever been able to acknowledge.

Meanwhile, she seeks solace in making lyrics and performing as well as in her boyfriend’s arms. Rani’s friends warn her about him but she fails to listen, feeling as though she finally has something and somebody that makes her feel good about herself—not recognizing that her own talent in hip-hop makes her feel secure, smart, and confident in ways her boyfriend does not. Indeed, as the relationship continues, Rani discovers her boyfriend’s drug use and falls victim to his abuse. Losing herself just as she finds herself, Rani discovers her need to speak out against those who would silence her—no matter the personal danger it leads her into.

Review: Rani is a Gujarati teen living in Hawaii and she’s struggling. She’s an outsider at school for the most part, but home is even worse. She feels abandoned by her father and shut out by her mother. One way Rani deals with the pain is through writing raps. When she’s rapping as MC Sutra, she has confidence and even though she’s pretending, Rani convinces herself along with everyone else. She explains it this way:

It’s the me
I want to be
the large and in charge person
I want the world to see
So I MC, and throw down
my self-confidence decree
and strive to be
my own queen bee

In her day-to-day life, Rani cannot see her own value. She’s unable to understand her worth without her father’s attention. For years she had measured her self-worth by his actions and words. When he not only leaves, but lavishes his attention on someone else, Rani is devastated. This is not a book filled with sweetness and light. Rani is violated, thrown aside and left wounded. There are some very raw scenes to get through, but readers also get to see Rani step out in powerful ways as she learns about herself and her strengths.

Her emotional journey is compelling. Rani survived abuse at the hands of her father and is working to change her patterns of behavior. She doesn’t want to seek his approval anymore. With him in another relationship, that becomes easier to a certain degree, but she falls into the same habits with her new, much older boyfriend.

During this trying time, Rani is not only moving away from her father, she’s attempting to close the gap with her mother. She wants love, comfort and support from her mother, but these things aren’t often given. The years of isolation have put a wedge between the two and change is slow to come. Rani has complex emotions. She feels a sense of guilt because of her relationship with her father and feels sorry for her mother. She also can’t help but be angry that her mother didn’t keep her safe over the years whether that was through ignorance, fear, or something more deliberate. I found their changing relationship intriguing. I was a little surprised at how quickly some things resolved, but thought things developed in a logical way.

Rani has very few friends, but the ones she has are extremely supportive. They’re close, but they are hiding several things from her. She has a much older boyfriend, but one of her friends is also someone she fantasizes about so those relationships get complicated.

Aside from the abusive relationship, mother/daughter issues, friends, boyfriends, and hip hop music there was another added layer – activism. This is extremely timely with the issues surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline. Rani, her father and many other people are working to protect the water supply on their island home which involves a fight against a proposed pipeline. Native Hawaiian sovereignty is also part of the discussion. I appreciated the inclusion of the activism because it added depth to the characters and the story line. This may be one layer too many for some readers, but I’m glad it’s part of the story.

Recommendation: Get it soon especially if you enjoy references to 90s hip hop. I think I missed the effect of some of those references, but Rani Patel’s story still spoke to me with power and intensity. I felt Rani’s pain, but also her energy, determination and her hope for healing.

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Book Discussion and Giveaway

wish door

In August we announced our September book discussion. We’re reading A Wish After Midnight and the sequel The Door at the Crossroads right now and will post a group discussion about both books near the end of September. These are fascinating books and we’d love for others to be involved in the discussion. If you’re reading along, please join us by tweeting about the books using the hashtag #Zettasbooks. If you don’t use Twitter, feel free to comment on any of the posts here related to this specific book discussion. We’ve used the tag Zettasbooks with our posts.

Zetta Elliott was generous enough to provide three copies of The Door at the Crossroads to be used in a giveaway. Please enter below if you would like to win a copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review: Running Away to Home

rath-coverTitle: Running Away to Home
Author: Lita Hooper
Genres:  Contemporary
Pages: 145
Publisher: Brave Books/Aquarius Press
Review Copy: ARC
Availability: Available Aug. 30

Summary:  How do you find your way home when your home no longer exists? For 17-year old twin sisters Sammie and Ronnie and their father, Willis, the answer to that question becomes a life raft when they are displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
Identity….Fear….Family
Running Away to Home, a YA verse novel, tells the story of two brave sisters, a repentant father, and the amazing triumphant spirit of familial love.
Loss.…Memory….Family
After leaving New Orleans for Atlanta, Ronnie and Sammie are separated and find themselves living in different parts of the city. Each sister is lured by false promises of love and security as they initially believe the people they encounter.
Love….Change….Family
As a YA verse novel, this story relies on poetry to express the intimacy of sisterhood and the triumphant spirit of its characters. Older YA readers will be moved by this family’s journey in the wake of one of the most memorable historical events our nation has experienced.
Spirit….Strength….Family

Review: With the 11 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming up and Louisiana under water again, Lita Hooper’s novel is especially timely. The story of Sammie & Ronnie is a very real one as families were separated as they fled New Orleans and were sent to different cities close by. Many of the stories I heard from Katrina were truly heart-breaking, so I applaud Ms. Hooper for tackling such a painful subject matter.

While Sammie and Ronnie are the main protagonists, Hooper also includes the voices of their father, and the people who “help” both of the girls when they separate. I put “help” in quotations because the people who decide to take in both Sammie and Ronnie only do so to serve their own interests. They lie to both of the girls about FEMA and their families, hence keeping both girls right where they want them. While neither girl is physically hurt, the emotional damage done to both hurt my heart.

While I felt for the girls, I didn’t care as much as I could have because I couldn’t really connect with either characters. Both Ronnie and Sammie felt very two dimensional and I didn’t get a feel of what made both girls who they are. They felt more like composite characters, there just to propel the action of the story, rather than be the heart of the story. It was stated that Ronnie was an studious honor student, and I get that in times of distress people don’t make rational decisions, but easy acceptance of her “savior’s” lies just struck me as odd. Additionally, Sammie was supposed to be the naive sister, however she came across as child-like instead of just a careless teenager. The writing for both characters was so simplistic that I didn’t get a grasp of Ronnie’s and Sammie’s feelings, how they truly felt about being separated from their twin. I feel like Hooper had a chance to go deeper, and for whatever reason, didn’t.

I understand that novels written in verse are tricky things, but I’ve read some verse novels that just floored me. I feel like Hooper could have slowed down some of the events in the novel, such as when the girls get separated, and explore the girls’ emotional response to their situation. This novel was very plot driven, which can be good, when it doesn’t come at the expense of characterization. Ultimately, that is what made the novel feel flat for me.

Recommendation: I was excited about this book based on the premise, but was disappointed in the execution.

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