Written by Kathy MacMillan
The second book in the “Sword and Verse” series is gripping, exciting, and a lesson in finding one’s voice and independence. Written in first person from Soraya’s viewpoint, it points out the problems with always doing what is expected of you rather than what you know to be right.
Soraya longs to be her own woman despite the fact that she is guided by her father’s teachings and the fact that she is female. Until she realizes just what independence means and what it will cost her, she’s really not very likeable. Once she transforms into her own person, she is strong, capable, and loveable. MacMillan shows this transformation seamlessly and skillfully. It’s worth noting that Jonis, Soraya’s mirror image on the ruling council, goes through a transformation of his own. The reader luckily gets to know many other characters well.
This is a tale set in a medieval world of the author’s invention. The world is believable and self-contained. Of course, some familiar elements of our world are present, such as women being considered the weaker sex and certain groups of people considered not as worthy to share in the good aspects of life. It’s those elements that drive the story of rebellion and suppression. Only through learning to trust the right people and use their abilities will Soraya and Jonis be able to save their country.
- Title: Dagger and Coin
- Author: Kathy MacMillan
- Published: HarperTeen/HarperCollins Children’s, 2018
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
- Grade Level: 6 Up
- Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
- ISBN: 978-0-06-232464-1
Written by Lee Wind
What an amazing debut for Lee Wind! He perfectly captures teen angst, shows the devastating effect of circumstances that get out of control, and presents likeable characters the reader can identify with. Quite a juggling act. Wind never drops the balls.
Fifteen-year-old Wyatt knows he’s gay but is not ready to come out. When he’s assigned a book report, to be prepared as a blog entry, he discovers that Abraham Lincoln may also have been gay. Of course, that one idea is more than anyone can handle. His little high school blog entry goes viral, causing all sorts of repercussions.
Although Wyatt is far from perfect, the reader can’t help but pull for him at every turn. His best friend, a girl named Mackenzie, and his new friend, Martin, are also wonderfully human. Then there’s the provocative television talk show host, who is pure evil, and Wyatt’s former friend, Jonathon, who is as hard to figure out as many teens are.
The story itself may be specific to Wyatt, but the themes are universal. All adolescents struggle with their identity. Sexual identity is a large part of that, a very timely part to be sure. Adolescents, and often adults too, struggle with who to trust and what price you want to pay for being open with others. How much blame can you take for your actions and how much will others blame you when you lose control of the situation? These are all themes we all need to explore – teens and adults alike.
- Title: Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill
- Author: Lee Wind
- Publisher: I’m Her. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?, 2018
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Paperback, 300 pages
- Grade level: 6 up
- Genre: Young adult, Adolescence, Sexual identity
- ISBN: 978-1-73222-811-5