Review: Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

Sierra’s mom is once again struggling with her addiction to drugs, alcohol, and poorly chosen men while her father is serving jail time for similar vices. Placed in the foster care system, Sierra moves in with a kind, mysteriously heartbroken interracial couple next door to Lauren, a tween fraught with compassion and her rapidly changing family dynamics. Lauren’s autistic brother has just moved to NC in hopes that a specialized school will better meet his needs. No longer a shadow or crutch, Lauren must determine who she is as well as how to function in an unfair world full of homelessness and privilege. As these two characters navigate their friendship through typical school drama, Lauren begins to lose control and fall into emotional instability, seeking solace in shoplifting and stealing her wealthier friends’ and families’ extravagances. Even with somewhat innately good intentions—hoping to sell these items to donate money for…

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Book Review: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina is a Pakistani-American who has just started middle school with her best friend, a Korean-American, Soojin. Soojin is applying for American citizenship and has decided to change her name to sound more American. Soojin’s sudden refutation of identity causes a rift between the friends, which is further widened as Emily, a student who used to make fun of their cultural differences, tries to befriend the girls. As if Amina does not face enough stress and new feelings of jealously already, her strong-willed uncle from Pakistan decides to visit, her teacher pressures her to sing in the school concert—Amina never sings in public—and her Sunday school teacher and parents force her to enter a Quran competition for the local Islamic Center. Just as things cannot get any worse, Amina accidentally shares Emily’s secret crush, causing a trivial fight with her friends, and the local Islamic Center and mosque is vandalized.…

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