The latest novel from Cyn Bermudez, The Dragons Club, offers a sharp and genuine portrayal of a teen musician grappling with her older sister’s drug addiction while learning to define her own identity. When her sister’s addiction puts Faith’s violin scholarship at risk, she reluctantly joins a teen support group called the Dragons Club. Connecting with the other members soon starts to bring Faith and her music back to life, but as her sister’s addiction escalates, Faith must choose between her sister and the life she is trying to build for herself.
Full Kirkus STARRED Review:
THE DRAGONS CLUB [STARRED REVIEW!]Author: Cyn Bermudez Review Issue Date: October 1, 2022 Online Publish Date: September 14, 2022 Publisher: West 44 Books Pages: 200 Price (Hardcover): $25.80 Publication Date: August 1, 2022 ISBN (Hardcover): 978-1-978596-03-0 Section: Teen
“As her sister’s addiction worsens, Faith learns hard lessons about boundaries while finding strength and companionship through talk therapy.
When cancer took their father, Faith and Emma Navarro’s mother started working a lot more. Faith is a talented violinist attending a special arts school on a scholarship, but while she was practicing, older sister Emma was partying and is now struggling with a meth addiction. Faith tries to take care of Emma, but missing too much school lands her in the Dragons Club Teen-Speak Support Group. Participation is mandatory for her to remain enrolled. Though Emma is worsening, Faith begins to feel less alone and invisible as she develops the detachment and boundaries she needs. The sessions are therapeutic even for readers; calm, wise teacher Mr. Padilla, or Boots to the kids, threads coping mechanisms, comfort, and advice organically into the dialogue. Razor-thin verse spotlights a quick chain of moments, never landing too long in one place or lingering on the pain, though Emma’s situation is portrayed realistically and with clarity. Faith’s on-page struggles with anxiety are also no less powerful for their brevity. Any reader who loves a person with an addiction will feel seen, and others will gain much in terms of insight and perspective. Faith’s family and Boots read Latine.
Sharp, tender, carefully crafted; highly recommended for both strong and striving readers. (Verse novel. 12-18)”
More new Kirkus Reviews:
To Be Maya– Maya is excited when lacrosse star Josh Williams suddenly expresses interest in her, but her mother, a Guatemalan immigrant deeply connected to her roots, isn’t on board. Can Maya show her mother she’s ready to grow up before Josh moves on to someone not held down by their heritage?
Full Kirkus Review:
TO BE MAYAAuthor: Claudia Recinos Seldeen Review Issue Date: October 1, 2022 Online Publish Date: September 14, 2022 Publisher: West 44 Books Pages: 200 Price (Hardcover): $25.80 Publication Date: December 1, 2022 ISBN (Hardcover):978-1-9785-9618-4 Section: Teen
“A fast-paced novel in verse touches on relatable teen struggles.
Maya was born in the United States after her parents emigrated from Guatemala. Now a sophomore in high school, she and her mom live alone, without the father who left years ago and whom she can’t remember. Gemma, Maya’s wealthy Cuban American best friend, left their high school to attend a private school, and now Maya struggles to navigate her absence in the face of casual racism from classmates. The third friend in their trio, Andres, has Peruvian and Mexican parents and is grappling with a same-sex crush. Maya is so engrossed in her own romantic interest in a White boy that she overlooks the difficulties her two friends are facing. Friction with her mom comes to a head when Maya is caught lying. Maya is able to recognize and apologize for her shortcomings while also standing up for herself. She voices her frustration with the racism and classism she experiences as well as the ways that Gemma is treated differently because of her light complexion. The three friends each face very different challenges and offer different perspectives, highlighting the diversity of both Latin American diaspora and individual experiences. The brief page count and attractive spot art should encourage reluctant readers. Spanish words are italicized, something that may support non-Spanish-speaking struggling readers.
A strong voice and lyrical prose center the experiences of a Guatemalan American teen. (Verse novel. 13-18)”
Right on Cue– Years after being taken away from her alcoholic mother and placed in a foster home, Alex is finally taking hold of her future and applying to film schools. But right on cue, her birth mother comes back into her life. Alex is not about to let her mother derail her life again. Then she learns her mother is very sick.
Full Kirkus Review:
RIGHT ON CUEAuthor: Sabine Bradley Review Issue Date: October 1, 2022 Online Publish Date: September 14, 2022 Publisher: West 44 Books Pages: 200 Price (Hardcover): $25.80 Publication Date: December 1, 2022 ISBN (Hardcover):978-1-9785-9615-3 Section: Teen
“A high school senior dreaming of a filmmaking career gets sidetracked when her newly sober mother reenters her life.
Five years with stable, loving foster parents have enabled Alex to leave her chaotic childhood behind and envision a future studying film at a New York college to which her art teacher, a former foster kid herself, encourages her to apply. Each applicant must submit a short documentary. Alex has procrastinated and further loses focus when she learns that her birth mom, Marie, now sober but gravely ill, wants to see her. Fearing a reprise of Marie’s humiliating drunken behavior in public two years earlier, Alex visits reluctantly. Aware that frail Marie is eager for her companionship and love, Alex holds back, unwilling to trust her continued sobriety—they’ve been here before. But witnessing Marie’s illness firsthand dissolves Alex’s resistance; she begins to let go of past pain and, with awakening compassion, to forgive. Ignoring college application deadlines, Alex embraces this all-consuming reconnection. Then Marie starts pulling away and suddenly disappears. The short, evocative poems bring Alex to passionate life, sustaining readers’ interest. Selectively omitting granular details, Bradley keeps readers’ attention on the universalities of Alex’s journey to acknowledge and heal the emotional scars she bears, accept the support she needs, and, despite everything, find a place for Marie in her heart. Characters are racially ambiguous.
A compact, emotionally resonant tale ideal for reluctant readers. (Verse novel. 12-18)”
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