Depending on where you live, this blog should find most of you on your mid-year break; a break which is very well deserved! I don’t think I’m the only one who feels like the first half of 2022 has both raced by, and been a bit of a struggle, so some time to rest and breathe deeply is very welcome.
On this month’s blog, I have some great novels to share with you, which will appeal to middle-grade and YA readers. If you don’t subscribe to Teachers’ Hub’s newsletters, make sure you do sign up (you can find the form at the bottom of any page on the Hub), because this month we have some fantastic new releases, including an Australian YA dystopian thriller, and a gorgeous new series for Junior readers from the brilliant Ash Barty!
Ade and Shanice have both been through a lot in the past year; big changes that have left them both feeling adrift and isolated from their peers. One Saturday afternoon Ade’s mum goes to have her braids done at the salon run by Shanice’s father, and the two soon become fast friends. The Offline Diaries is a warm, funny and lovely look at the friendships that can form when children find someone who can relate to their experiences. Told through diary entries and online chat messages, this book will engage children with the use of their own language conventions and the way that two people can view the same events in different ways.
For Bren, Futhermoor is an imaginative world that allows him to escape from his malicious bully, and his family, which is fracturing after the death of his sister, Evie. In the beautiful world of Furthermoor, where his older sister still lives and Bren is in control. However, his worlds begin to collide in a way that challenges Bren to the very depths of his being; will he choose to stay in Furthermoor, or will he choose to make a life in the real world? Furthermoor is an amazing look at the challenges of grief, and the way that we all handle it differently.
In May’s household, silence speaks volumes; her mother’s disappointment in her writ large in the way she can’t find anything to say to May. After her brother’s totally unforeseen death by suicide, the silence becomes deafening, and then is shattered by the racial stereotypes that people hurl at her family. May, an expert in fading into the background, can no longer keep quiet, and finds her voice. But, speaking up has far-reaching consequences that no one could have foreseen. Many of you will know Joanna Ho from the beautiful Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. The Silence That Binds Us explores similar themes of living between cultures. This stunning, moving novel also deals sensitively with mental health, grief and living with the weight of others’ expectations.
Read of the Month – Autopsy
Sometimes, you just have to return to what you know you enjoy to get over a reading slump. And it’s somewhat fitting that the first Kay Scarpetta novel I’ve read in years is Autopsy, which sees Scarpetta returning to where it all began when she takes up a new job in her old hunting ground in Virginia.
However, many things have changed: Scarpetta is now the boss; she and Benton are now married; her long-time partner in solving crime, Marino, is now married to her sister; and her beloved niece, Lucy, now lives with her after a devasting loss which has shattered her confidence. But some things never change, and Scarpetta continues to be both brilliant and a thorn in the side of authorities who would rather some crimes are never solved.
If, like me, you find reading about gruesome murders relaxing and an effective way to wind-down, this book is perfect. I’ll be honest, this is not a groundbreaking, genre-bending novel, but sometimes you just want things to happen as you’d expect and the bad guy/s to get their comeuppance at the end.