Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant
★★★★☆ | Goodreads
This book is so much better than I was expecting! Inside are two healthy romantic relationships, a girl learning how to navigate different kinds of relationships as she grows up, a well explained “magic system,” a discussion of class and privilege, and so much more!
Eva Walker is a math genius who I need to hire as my tutor because she is fantastic at what she does. Of course, it helps that her “gift” tells her exactly what her student is struggling with. While Eva is a genius in school, the student she tutors (and her love interest) Zenn struggles to find the motivation to go to class because college doesn’t feel like a possibility to him, and he has to work several jobs to keep his small family under a roof. I liked the contrast in their characters and thought that drew them together. Plus, I loved them together romantically.
There were, however, a few things that bothered me. The major red flag was the casual slut-shaming throughout the story. There are comments from several characters, and Eva points out several times that she “isn’t like the other girls.”
Despite that, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance!
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey and Sfe R. Monster
I loved this book! It’s not often that I find a book with a transgender main character that I have very little criticism of. Shane is a typical sixth-grader preoccupied with baseball and trying to talk to his crush, Madeline. When a classmate finds out that Shane is transgender, he threatens to tell the whole school, which would shatter Shane’s image among his peers who may not understand that being trans doesn’t make him any less of a boy. It’s a book of ups and downs that highlights the struggle of getting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a transgender minor. I love how supportive the majority of the characters were towards Shane identity and how authentic his character felt. The different plot lines were balanced enough between each other that this is just a book about a boy who is the pitcher for his baseball team, loves creating graphic novels about space adventures, has family struggles just like you and I do, and happens to be transgender. While I love the representation in this, I also adore the wholesome story that you find inside!
[As a form of content warnings, I had to add that there is some ableist language at the beginning of the book, casual sexism throughout the book, talk of mental illness that can get a little dark for a middle-grade novel, and an unsupportive parent in the story. Please forgive me if this list isn’t complete as I’m writing this about five months after I read the story!]
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
★★★★★ | Goodreads
There aren’t many books that have made me cry (or gotten me close to it), but This Is Where It Ends is definitely one of them. This story kept me so emotionally charged the whole way through. It’s difficult to read this and not get attached to the characters who all go through so much in such a short period of time. We follow four main characters who are connected to the shooter in one way or another. Each does their part to try to stop him or at least slow him down until the police arrive.
Although the majority of the events in this spans less than an hour, there are backstories, full plot points, and entirely fleshed out characters that I loved. Nijkamp crafts a great story that discusses the real and dark parts of these all too common school shootings. Not to mention, there is so much diversity of characters. The cast includes several characters of color, an f/f couple, and a disabled character who are beautifully written. If you haven’t already, go find a copy of this book!