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When 17-year-old Che and his
family move from Bangkok to New
York City, his biggest concern isn’t
adjusting to a new country or making
friends: it’s his 10-year-old sister,
Rosa. Originally from Australia,
Che’s family never stays in one
place for long, constantly on the
move due to his parents’ work, but
Rosa’s dangerous and calculating
behavior is a terrifying constant.
His parents brush off her actions,
but Che is certain that manipulative
Rosa is a diagnosable psychopath
with a complete lack of empathy.
While keeping a vigilant eye on
Rosa, Che navigates life in N. Y.C.,
embarking on new relationships and
going against his parents’ wishes
to pursue boxing more seriously.
Larbalestier (Razorhurst) offers a
chilling contemplation on human
morality—Che’s physical sparring
in the ring has nothing on his go-arounds with Rosa, as they debate
what it means to be truthful or
“good”—while incorporating sharp
commentary on privilege, faith,
gender identity, and race. The
tension of wondering where and
how Rosa will strike next will keep
readers riveted from start to ;nish.
Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg,
Jill Grinberg Literary Management.
Soho Teen, $18.99 (320p)
Here is a preview of selected 2017 titles that take on tough topics:
AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). Haitian immigrant
Fabiola Toussaint is left to fend for herself—and to figure out school and love—when
her mother is detained by U.S. immigration. The issues: immigration, drugs, violence.
ALLEGEDLY by Tiffany D. Jackson (HarperCollins/Tegen). Mary, a black teenager who
at age nine was convicted of murdering a white baby, now lives in a group home and is
pregnant. Faced with the prospect of having her own child taken away, she tries to set
the record straight. The issues: race, class, mental health in the criminal-justice system.
DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS by Whitney Taylor
(HMH, Apr.). The lives of three teens intersect in a small town, revealing that
there is little straightforward about friendship and love. The issues: teen pregnancy, depression, the side effects of antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY by Kim Turrisi (Loft, May). In the wake
of her sister’s suicide, 16-year-old Kai is sent to “grief camp.” The issues:
suicide, grief/loss, drug and alcohol abuse.
A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstron (Poppy, Feb.).
A new relationship has 16-year-old Mel trying her best to hide her bipolar
disorder. The issues: bipolar disorder, disability, grief/loss.
SAD PERFECT by Stephanie Elliot (FSG/Ferguson, Feb.). The story of
how love helps one girl as she works to recover from avoidant/restrictive
food intake disorder. The issues: eating disorders and recovery.
THE FREE by Lauren McLaughlin (Soho Teen, Feb.). Isaac steals in order to provide more
for his younger sister than he feels his alcoholic mother can; he winds up in a juvenile
detention center. The issues: poverty, alcoholism, crime, the juvenile criminal-justice
THE DEAD INSIDE by Cyndy Etler (Sourcebooks Fire, Apr.). In this memoir, young
Cyndy spends 16 months in a “tough-love” program that uses some troubling methods in the
name of rehabilitation. The issues: child abuse, troubled teens, abusive treatment programs.
BANG by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown, Apr.). Ten years after accidentally shooting his
infant sister, 14-year-old Sebastian Cody still struggles with the guilt. The issues: gun
violence, tragedy, death, depression, suicide, prejudice, racism, grief/loss. ;
Unslut as a way to gently broach the subject. “A few days later, I heard from the
daughter, who hadn’t realized that her mother had reached out personally,” she says.
The book, Lindin says, can be an effective tool to bridge a generation gap. “Being able
to hand someone something and say, ‘Let’s read this separately and then come back
together,’ is much easier with a hard copy,” she says. “It makes it more accessible.”
; What’s Next: Based on the response from her blog and her book, Lindin has
launched a nonprofit initiative that raises awareness about sexual shaming and lets
survivors share their own stories. She has also created a documentary film, writes a
column for Teen Vogue’s website, and regularly speaks on the topic. “Almost any time
I do a public event related to the;Unslut Project, at least one person comes up to me
afterward to talk about their own experience,” Lindin says. “It’s so fulfilling to know
that all I had to do was to talk about my life and what I went through.”