Title: Squad

Author: Mariah MacCarthy

Pages: 249 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group

The Blurb

Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. And she wants you to know it’s not some Hollywood crap: they are not every guy’s fantasy. They are not the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re literally just human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. And their team is at the top of their game. They’re a family.

But all that changes when Jenna’s best friend stops talking to her. Suddenly, she’s not getting invited out with the rest of the squad. She’s always a step behind. And she has no idea why.

While grappling with post-cheer life, Jenna explores things she never allowed herself to like, including LARPing (live action role playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels a lot like love.

When Jenna loses the sport and the friends she’s always loved, she has to ask herself: What else is left?

The Review

Squad is set during that awkward transition period of high school when you are still trying to figure out who you are and who you are going to be. It is made even more so when you lose your support group. This is what happens to Jenna Watson. She feels her best friend slipping further away but rather than dealing with it by crying and over eating she kind of goes a bit off kilter.

Squad is a fantastic look at toxic friendships and how mental health of young adults. We watch as Jenna slowly disintegrates and has to find out who she is away from the safety of the squad.

As far as books about friendship go then Squad is a fantastic story of how the heartbreak of losing your best friend is just as bad as losing your first love.

Squad by Mariah MacCarthy is available now.

For more information regarding Mariah MacCarthy (@MariahMacCarthy) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Permanent Record

Author: Mary H K Choi

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Leanna and Pablo turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

The Review

Permanent Record is a sort of reverse Cinderella story between a young man, Pablo who is struggling to try and fit in to his position as adult and Leanna who is a celebrity who is confused by her desire for normality without losing the fame and fortune she has accrued.

Let’s start with Pablo: He is a college dropout, seriously in debt, can’t figure out what he wants to do but knows that he wants to make a fortune doing it. He wants to be successful but does not want to accept that success is hard work. He has a complicated relationship with his family and often screws up monumentally.

Leanna is a pop star/childhood sensation who cannot cut her hair without making global news. She longs for normality but actually doesn’t know how to be normal because her normal is so different from everyone else’s that she often acts selfishly without realising that she cannot solve her problems by throwing her wealth around.

They make an unlikely pair but as a reader you really root for them to be together. My one negative about the book isn’t really a negative about the book. That sounds a bit confusing but her me out. I am not a young adult. I enjoy YA fiction but I am a fully grown adult in my thirties and at time I didn’t quite understand the vernacular used by the characters. That is on me though. Mary H K Choi is writing for a very different age group who would know about the things that I found confusing.

Permanent Record is a really good story that has two highly flawed but likeable characters. Make sure you add it to your to be read list.

Permanent Record by Mary H K Choi is available now.

For more information regarding Mary H K Choi (@choitotheworld) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: We Used to Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids

The Blurb

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

The Review

I am a relatively lucky person. I have never broken a bone; the people in my life who have passed away have been old and have lived very full lives. However, there is one thing that I have been through and the pain of it is something that nearly a decade later I still feel the pain pangs of now. Not as much, they have softened over time but the pain of falling out with your best friend is something that I fail to be able to describe.

It is for that reason alone I am thankful for books like We Used to Be Friends. Amy Spalding shows just how painful a friendship break up can be. In some ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend because you just expect that your best friend will be there for you. In the story of James and Kat we see the story from two different perspectives and also two different timelines – one going forwards, the other going backwards – and we watch the actions of both of the characters and see how both are in pain but both are at fault. We see these two young women on the cusp of adulthood going into the unknown without their confidant. A scary time already made even more terrifying without the person you rely on most.

I really enjoyed We Used to Be Friends. I did feel that Spalding favoured James as a character and gave Kat some very annoying qualities (like, duh!) but overall, I felt that Spalding portrayed the hurt and confusion in a very realistic way. We can see what both did wrong and maybe it will encourage those who read it to act differently in their friendship groups.

We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding is available now.

For more information regarding Amy Spalding (@theames) please visit www.theamyspalding.com.

For more information regarding ABRAMS Kids (@abramskids) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.

Author: Rachael Lippincott

Pages: 276 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

Now a major motion picture starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson!

In this #1 New York Times bestselling novel that’s perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, two teens fall in love with just one minor complication—they can’t get within a few feet of each other without risking their lives.

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

The Review

There has been a strange trend in YA literature over the past few years that focus on terminal illnesses. This often leaves me feeling confused. Partly because I feel that books and literature should be escapism from life but the greater part of me thinks that without literature people, especially young adults, are not exposed to bigger, more important subjects.

Exposure is exactly what the reader will get with Five Feet Apart. It is the story of Stella and Will and their battle with Cystic Fibrosis. It chronicles the daily battle with the life limiting disease and also the isolation that comes with having it. Imagine having something in common with a small set of people but not being able to be close to those people because it could kill you. It must be so lonely.

I was quite moved by this story. It was uplifting and heartbreaking and funny all in one go. I was consumed by this story and was bereft when it ended.

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott is available now.

For more information regarding Rachel Lippincott (@rchllip) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: Full Disclosure

Author: Camryn Garrett

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Simone Garcia-Hampton is HIV-Positive… and is positive HIV won’t define her.

Simone is a lot of things: the new kid at school, a supreme theatre nerd, daughter to two loving but slightly overbearing fathers; and HIV-positive.

She knows that celibacy is – technically – the best way to stay safe. Enter Miles Austin: intelligent, funny and way too sexy for Simone to resist. But her classmates don’t know about her condition – and what is the truth worth in the hands of the wrong person?

A smart, funny, sex-positive YA read, perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han, Full Disclosure is a heartwarming take on the particular challenges of adolescence, written as only a teen could.

The Review

One of my favourite things about YA literature is that subjects that are often seen as taboo or scary to talk about are presented to a young, impressionable audience and allows the reader (presumably but not always of young adult age) to make their own mind up rather than relying on the hand me down beliefs of older – and not necessarily wiser – generations.

It is for that reason that we should all be thankful for writers such as Camryn Garrett who has written Full Disclosure: a book about – but not limited to – the discussion of HIV. Her protagonist, Simone, is HIV positive. For Simone, it is one aspect of who she is. Besides that, she is a young girl who is trying to navigate her way into becoming an adult. She is dealing with the everyday worries of being a teenager, and a girl, and a student, and a friend, and a girlfriend. Whilst these things may seem like run-of-the-mill things for most, Simone has to deal with them with the added pressure of a chronic illness that has so little understanding and a history of scaremongering.

Full Disclosure is a fantastic story about the brutality of high school and reminds us firstly, how difficult being a teenager can be but more importantly it reminds us to be kind to one another. You never know what another person is going through and you will invariably never know unless you forget your own prejudices.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett is available now.

For more information regarding Camryn Garrett (@dancingofpens) please visit www.camryngarrett.com.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.