Living in Taiwan with her mother, Ai Shi (Anna) eagerly anticipates living in the beautiful country (the US) where their father moved a few months ago. As she gives away her favorite clothes and toys to cousins in preparation for the move, she can’t help but brag about the new life awaiting them. But she’s in for a shock when they arrive at their cramped apartment. Her father was conned into buying a failing fast-food restaurant, and Anna’s parents struggle to make ends meet. At school, she feels like an outsider since she can barely speak English. On top of that, her parents are dealing with some unkind customers who mistreat them because they’re Asians. Can Anna find her way?
Review | Honestly Elliot
Honestly Elliot was a highly anticipated 2022 read for me — so much so that I read it in December 2021. Elliot has ADHD and loves to cook. He lives with his mom and spends time with his dad and step-mom regularly. His step-mom is pregnant and Elliot feels a bit threatened since his dad already seems disappointed in his seemingly scatter-brained behavior and the fact that he’s not an A+ student. He also wants to go to cooking camp and his dad refuses to pay for it, insisting that Elliot can go if he himself pays for it. When Elliot gets the chance to execute a food-related pop-up as part of a school-wide entrepreneurial project, he sees it as a chance for redemption. Unfortunately, he’s paired with popular girl Maribel who can’t eat gluten and wants them to make yummy pies without gluten. Can Elliot and Maribel pull this off without butting heads? The two quickly find that they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Review | Dear Student
Socially anxious sixth-grader Autumn is having a rough start to middle school. Her best friend Prisha has moved to California and her father has left their family to serve in the Peace Corps in Ecuador (I know, I know). It’s just her mother and little sister living in their tiny apartment up the stairs of the veterinary hospital where her mother works.
Somehow, she makes two new friends in the first week of school — one boy named Cooper and a girl named Logan. But Logan thinks Cooper is weird, so Autumn has to navigate the fact that her friends don’t get along. On top of that, she really wants to write for the Dear Student column in her school’s newspaper — and she does! But when Autumn gives advice that polarizes her friends even more, she’s not sure how she’ll ever make it work.
Review | Maizy Chen’s Last Chance
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance follows Maizy and her mother who return to Last Chance, Minnesota when Maizy’s grandfather becomes ill. We learn that Maizy’s mom had her with the help of a sperm donor and seems to have taken a less traditional, unexpected career route since her parents expected her to take over their historical Chinese restaurant The Golden Palace. However, Maizy’s grandparents love her, and Maizy quickly bonds with them, especially her grandfather. One day, she sees pictures of several Chinese young men and when she asks her grandfather about them, he begins to tell her a sprawling story about their family’s history in Last Chance, which is interwoven with love, racism, and community. At the same time, The Golden Palace experiences a hate crime and Maizy is shocked to discover who the perpetrator is.
Review | Pizza My Heart
Pizza My Heart follows young Maya Reynolds whose parents are moving from Brooklyn, New York to a small town in Pennsylvania to expand their soul pizza business, Soul Slice. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Maya is devastated to have to leave her best friend and life behind for the move. In the new town, she gets off on the wrong foot with her first pizza delivery customer, who ends up being the son of her parents’ new interior decorator. Add a love for art, a new art exhibition she wants to join but may be unable to, new friends, and a potential new crush — Maya’s life quickly gets interesting.
Review | The Last Super Chef
Curtis Pith is a huge fan of the cooking show, Super Chef, and not just because he loves cooking. He has a huge secret: the host of the show, Lucas Taylor is his father. So when Taylor announces a final season of the show, but for kids, Curtis knows he has to apply. Once he’s accepted and meets the four other kids, it’s straight to work. Between contests, homesickness, and figuring out how to keep his secret while observing Lucas Taylor’s changing behavior, Curtis has his hands full. But will he be The Last Super Chef?
Review | Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai
Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai is the companion title to fan favorite, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter. Jenna and Keiko have remained BFFs after their fall out with Audrey. But Jenna is having a hard time with several life issues. For one, she and her boyfriend have just broken up (but she’s still stuck in the same school newspaper as he is) and now her parents are divorcing. Jenna is coping by keeping her feelings shut in and brooding a lot — until she begins to write an investigative piece for the school newspaper contest. She also starts hanging out at a cute Broadway-themed Diner where she meets a schoolmate Rin Watanabe with whom she argues a lot but begins a tentative friendship. Can Jenna find time for all the things in her life, while addressing her hurt feelings and opening up to those who love her?
Review | Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance is Nisha Sharma’s sophomore YA novel. It follows Radha, a skilled Kathak dancer who decides to stop dancing after anxiety and a family betrayal cause her to bow out of a contest. Jai is a student at the Princeton Academy of the Arts where Radha transfers. Although she is insistent on not dancing, her dance skills may be Jai’s ticket to medical school (which he’s convinced e can’t attend). Add Radha’s grandfather’s cookbook, Jai’s family dilemmas, and plenty of dancing, and this story comes to life.
Review | Ways to Grow Love
Ways to Grow Love is the second book in the Ryan Hart series. I loved the first book in the series and this book picks up soon after! It’s summer and Ryan’s mom is now heavily pregnant. It seems to Ryan that her unborn baby sister only stops her mom from doing all the fun stuff they used to do together. No more market for Ryan because her mom has to be on bed rest. Her mom can’t even come to the library with her to pick up books for the summer reading challenge and her grandma just rushes her and won’t let her pick as many books as she wants.
Review | The Great Peach Experiment #1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie
The Peach family is embarking on The Great Peach Experiment, their first one: making and selling pies out of a food truck! Oh, and they’ll be road tripping the whole summer too. Lucy, Freddie, and Herb have spent more time with each other than with their father since their mom died. But now one of their mom’s inventions has sold for a lot of money and their dad has bought a food truck and wants them to spend the summer traveling through the country as a family.
Review | All You Knead Is Love
All You Knead Is Love follows 12-year-old Alba whose mother forces her to move from NYC to Barcelona, Spain where her grandmother lives. Alba is gender non-conforming, which means that she doesn’t like the typical “girly” dresses or frilly tops her parents often want her to wear. She’s happiest in her jeans and t-shirts. Alba’s father is physically abusive, especially towards her mother, and generally treats Alba with disregard.
Review | Reckless Glorious Girl
Summary: Reckless Glorious Girl Reckless Glorious Girl is Ellen Hagan’s new middle grade verse novel. Beatrice lives with her Mawmaw (her grandmother) and her mom in Bardstown, Kentucky. Her father died in an accident months before she was born. The…