Title: The Astonishing Colour of After

Author: Emily X. R. Pan

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

The Blurb

Leigh Chen Sanders is sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving only a scribbled note: ‘I want you to remember’. Leigh doesn’t know what it means, but when a red bird appears with a message, she finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time.

Leigh is far away from home and far away from Axel, her best friend, who she stupidly kissed on the night her mother died – leaving her with a swell of guilt that she wasn’t home, and a heavy heart, thinking she may have destroyed the one good thing left in her life.

Overwhelmed by grief, Leigh retreats into her art and into her memories, where colours collide and the rules of reality are broken. The only thing Leigh is certain about is that she must find out the truth. She must remember.

With lyrical prose and magical elements, Emily X.R. Pan’s stunning debut novel alternates between past and present, romance and despair, as one girl attempts to find herself through family history, art, friendship, and love.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The loss of a parent is something that I find unthinkable. I have been lucky, I am well into my thirties and both of my parents are still alive so I find stories with this as its premise really hard to take. It just seems so unjustifiably unfair.

It is this premise that The Astonishing Colour of After follows. Our protagonist, Leigh, is dealing with the death of her mother. Suffering with depression, Leigh’s mum took her own life and Leigh embarks on a journey to find out about her past on her mother’s side. It is a journey that takes her to the other side of the world, to a family she has never met before to figure out just who her mum was.

The Astonishing Colour of After is an interesting story, one that is both uplifting and devastating at the same time.

For more information regarding Emily X. R. Pan (@exrpan) please visit instagram.com/exrpan.

For more information regarding Orion Children’s Books (@the_orionstar) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Fierce Fragile Hearts

Author: Sara Barnard

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

A powerful new novel from the YA author of Beautiful Broken Things, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and Goodbye, Perfect.

The stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s bestseller Beautiful Broken Things – which was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and a Zoella’s Book Club Selection – Fierce Fragile Hearts is about leaving the past behind, and learning to find love, in all its forms.

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. (Again.) She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university.

When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

The Review

Sara Barnard is one of those authors whose books I anticipate. I think she is one of the best YA fiction writers and I get swallowed whole by her stories. Fierce Fragile Hearts is no exception to this praise.

In Fierce Fragile Hearts we return to Brighton and to the life that Suzanne once knew. Fresh and optimistic she is trying to become an adult and even though things haven’t been easy for Suzanne so far it turns out that adulthood is no easy picnic. It is especially hard when her support system – her friends Caddy and Rosie – are off to pastures new for university.

Feeling alone and a little bit lost Suzanne starts to fall back on old, dangerous habits.

Fierce Fragile Hearts was a brilliant sequel to an already amazing book. Barnard manages to capture the loneliness and isolation of Suzanne, the struggles with being a child of ‘the system’ and also the difficult journey of trying to grow up. It encapsulates all the things I love, a book with friendship at its core, a coming-of-age tale and an awesome soundtrack to accompany it. If there was an extended road trip added then I would have been in book nirvana.

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard is available now.

For more information regarding Sara Barnard (@saramegan) please visit www.sarabarnardofficial.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Proud

Author: Juno Dawson

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

The Blurb

A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.

A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.

Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.

Following A CHANGE IS GONNA COME, winner of the YA BOOK PRIZE SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 2018

The Review

I love a collection of themed short stories. I find it completely captivating when several authors can hook a reader with their take on a contentious topic and completely engage the reader. Proud did this for me.

I came across writers that I have previously read works by and also some brand new authors; now I have the desire to read more of their work. Each unique story showed the struggles and the triumphs of the LGBTQIA+ community. Proud really is a collection that should be shared and spread far and wide.

Proud by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Stripes Publishing (@StripesBooks) please visit www.littletiger.co.uk.

Title: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey

The Blurb

Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But X has secrets – her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight.

Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Poet X is a story told entirely in verse. This in itself is nothing new. We have seen other writers express themselves in this way – notably, Sarah Crossan. The Poet X takes this concept and almost has writer Elizabeth Acevedo bleed her thoughts and emotions on the page.

The story is about Xiamora. It is about being a teenager. It is about being of Dominican descent and what is expected of her. It is about being a girl in a world that favours the male. Mostly, it is about growing up with these life conditions and trying to find your own place and not the one that is expected by her extremely religious mother.

My heart broke so many times when I read this story. As a reader, you feel the claustrophobia that Xiamora feels. How the world is both so big and so small at the same time.

The Poet X is amazing. Read it now.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Acevedo (@AcevedoWrites) please visit www.acevedowrites.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit www.electricmonkeybooks.co.uk.

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Author: Emily Danforth

Pages: 466 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

The night Cameron Post’s parents died, her first emotion was relief. Relief they would never know that hours earlier, she’d been kissing a girl.

Now living with her conservative Aunt in small-town Montana, hiding her sexuality and blending in becomes second nature to Cameron until she begins an intense friendship with the beautiful Coley Taylor.

Desperate to ‘correct’ her niece, Cameron’s Aunt takes drastic action.

Now Cameron must battle with the cost of being her true-self even if she’s not completely sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a real eye-opener of a book. I’ve always known that the LGBT community have a hard time of things but what Emily Danforth has done is written a story that shows the truly insidious nature of what some families will do to make sure that their child stops ‘being gay’.

Whilst I enjoyed The Miseducation of Cameron Post I did find the story quite slow paced. It took me much longer than it normally would to read the whole book.

I would recommend this story though. It really does make you aware of how much being a lesbian or being gay is still seen as a negative thing in middle-America.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is available now.

For more information regarding Emily Danforth (@emdanforth) please visit www.emdanforth.com.

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