FICTION, January 2016
Hill, Lawrence. THE ILLEGAL, W.W. Norton, January 2016. 416p. $26.95. ISBN: 978-0393070590. Fiction. Like every young boy in Zantoroland, all Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect. Running means riches. And who can stop him? His country turns out the very best runners on earth. But when Keita’s family is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views, Keita must run for his life. Viola Hill is a black reporter trying to break out the sports pages challenged less by the limits of wheelchair than by her editor’s efforts to thwart her investigations. Wise-cracking and tough, Viola is on a mission to expose the government’s corruption, no matter how dangerous her assignment. John Falconer is a star student, a mixed-race child living two lives one on the wrong side of the track in the Township of Africtown, where many of the inhabitants are illegal immigrants, and one at the Clarkston Academy for the Gifted, where he has received a rare scholarship. But he finds himself in the midst of an international political scandal that might get him killed. Lula DiStefano, the unofficial and self-proclaimed Queen of Africtown, is a combination of saintly civic leader and demon who runs Africtown’s infamous brothel. If it’s happening in Africtown, Lula has a part in it. And if you’re in Africtown, Lula gets a part of you, too.
Hitchcock, Shannon. Ruby Lee & Me. Scholastic Press. January 2016. ISBN: 9780545782302. $16.99. Ages 8-12
Everything’s changing for Sarah Beth Willis. After Robin’s tragic accident, everyone seems different somehow. Days on the farm aren’t the same, and the simple fun of riding a bike or playing outside can be scary. And there’s talk in town about the new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek. Word is spreading quickly—Mrs. Smyre is like no other teacher anyone has ever seen around these parts. She’s the ?rst African American teacher. It’s 1969, and while black folks and white folks are cordial, having a black teacher at an all-white school is a strange new happening. For Sarah Beth, there are so many unanswered questions. What is all this talk about Freedom Riders and school integration? Why can’t she and Ruby become best friends? And who says school isn’t for anybody who wants to learn—or teach? In a world ?lled with uncertainty, one very special teacher shows her young students and the adults in their lives that change invites unexpected possibilities.
Walter, Jon. My Name is Not Friday. David Pickling Books. January 2016. $18.99. ISBN: 978-0-545-85522-8. Fiction. Ages 12+
In Jon Walter’s YA debut My Name is Not Friday, readers go back in history to the Civil War period and meet two siblings, who are freeborn black boys. Well-mannered Samuel and his mischievous younger brother, Joshua, are living in an orphanage during the end of the Civil War. Samuel takes the blame for Joshua’s latest prank, and the consequence is worse than he could ever imagine. He’s taken from the orphanage to the South, given a new name—Friday—and sold into slavery. What follows is a heartbreaking but hopeful account of Samuel’s journey from freedom to captivity, and back again.
Wilson, Amaworo JJ, Damni?cados. PM Press. January 2016.Trade Paperback Original, $15.95, 274 pages, ISBN: 978-1-62963-117-2.
In the novel, six hundred ‘damni?cados’ — vagabonds and mis?ts — take over an abandoned tower in a city called Favelada. They set up a community complete with schools, stores, a bakery, and a beauty salon. Soon the tower is claimed by a prominent and tyrannical family named Torres, a family equipped with armies, political power, and a propensity for violence. The damni?cados must ?nd a way of resisting. Taking place in an unnamed country at an unspeci?ed time, the story has elements of magical realism: avenging wolves, biblical ?oods, massacres involving multilingual ghosts, arrow showers falling to the tune of Beethoven’s ninth, and a garbage truck acting as a Trojan horse. The ghosts and miracles woven into the narrative are part of the fabric of Favelada, a world in which the laws of nature are constantly stretched and the past is always present.
Ellis, Garfield . The Angels’ Share. Akashic Books. January 2016. $15.95. 288p. ISBN: 978-1-61775-373-2. E-ISBN: 978-1-61775-413-5. Fiction/Literature/Caribbean Studies
Everton Dorril, a rising star at a Jamaican beverage company, immediately fears the worst when his stepmother calls one morning to tell him his father is missing. Everton soon discovers that his father has run off to track down a woman he has been in love with for thirty-five years. An "outside" child born to his father’s mistress, Everton deeply resents his father and hates the idea of jeopardizing the most important moment in his career to go find him, but feels he has no other choice. His father's stubborn refusal to return home leads Everton to reluctantly give up a week of work—one week only—-to join him on his quest. By the fourth day, Everton is fed up with his father’s lies and excuses. ln spite of his better judgment, and worried his father might be dying, Everton finally confronts him one drunken night and airs his resentments. He discovers that his father, frightened and unhappy with the failings of his past, is seeking closure and reconciliation. Fearing this is his last chance to find out more about the father who had no time for him when he was growing up, Everton and his father set out on an adventurous quest across Jamaica, hoping to make up for lost time.
Rax, Cydney. If Your Wife Only Knew. Dafina Books. January 2016. $9.95. ISBN: 978-1-4967-0134-3.
The most important things in Kiara Eason's life are her family, her job, and her marriage. She feels like her goal of having a solid family and a long lasting marriage is realistic and she's determined to make it happen. Divorce is running rampant and she wants no part of that for her own life. But her greatest obstacle is her husband Rashad, who lately has been acting very distant and unconcerned. Rashad loves working as much as his ambitious wife, but his job as a master carpenter isn't the only thing that keeps him too busy to spend time with Kiara. What she doesn't know is that every chance he gets, he loves kicking it with Alexis McNeil, his beautiful, horny and demanding lover who's also a woman that he met through his wife. Rashad and Alexis have many secrets. Yet Rashad loves Kiara, and he believes what she doesn't know can't hurt her. But what he doesn't know is that his wife is hurt by his wishy-washy behavior. In fact, Kiara is furious. So when she suspects he's being unfaithful, it is more than she can bear. In order to cope with Rashad, she confides in an attentive male work colleague, and the lure of temptation causes her to get entangled in far more drama than she could ever imagine. As the repercussions of the Easons conduct unfold, and more people are drawn into their web of revenge and destruction, the marriage that Kiara desperately wanted evolves into the nightmare she wishes would end.
Frazier, Sundee T., Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. January 2016.
Hardcover ISBN: 978-O-545-82235-0. Paperback ISBN: 978-0-545-82236-7. $16.99 / $6.99. Ages 8 to 12
Also available as an ebook.
In Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire, smart and driven ?fth-grader Cleo has tremendous creative energy and verve. Inspired by an Oprah-esque celebrity, Cleo has been the neighborhood entrepreneur for years— it’s no surprise that she uses a class project as the jumping off point for a school-wide service, patenting a tooth loosening aid in return for a cut of her friends’ Tooth Fairy money. But the worlds of business and ?fth grade can be harsh: Cleo loses customers when her potions cause allergies and even her BFF Caylee is tired of her business-only focus. When Cleo is bullied over being adopted, her whole world seems ready to collapse. Will Cleo be able to salvage her friendships and learn what it means to really be a success?
Johnson, Varian. To Catch a Cheat. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. January 2016. ISBN: 978-0-545-72239-1, $16.99.Ages 8 – 12. Also available as an ebook.
Jackson Greene is of?cially retired from conning, so Principal Kelsey is (mostly) off his back. His friends have great new projects of their own. Jackson has been hanging out with Gaby de la Cruz a lot and he thinks maybe, just maybe, they’ll soon have their ?rst kiss. Then Jackson receives a link to a faked security video that seems to show him and the rest of Gang Greene ?ooding the school gym. The thugs behind the video threaten to pass it to the principal unless Jackson steals an advance copy of the school’s toughest exam. So Jackson devises a three-part plan to foil the blackmailers, clear his friends’ names for good, and trap the true bad guys along the way. As Gang Greene executes another multistep caper full of twists and turns, they learn that sometimes it takes a thief to catch a cheat.