Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland

under-the-dusty-moonDundurn, 2016.

It’s hard to be sixteen when your mother’s a rock star and pretty much everybody knows her for her famous band, the one that broke up when Vick was a toddler. Vick and her mom, Mick (rhyming names, of course!) are close, but sometimes Vick just wants to have her own life. She wants to be certain that some people like her for herself, not because of her mom. When Mick goes off to Japan on tour, Vick finally has a chance to explore who she is on her own terms.

I loved this book! Suzanne Sutherland captured beautifully what it is to be sixteen. I was completely with Vick as she struggled with her over-the-top but loving mother, her first boyfriend, and her relationship with her best friend. Her writing manages to evoke full emotion, setting and mood without pages and pages of description. The story moved quickly and included a cast of characters and relationships that were very appealing, warts and all. They were realistic and yet definitely upbeat.

This book will appeal to the music obsessed, computer gamers, geeks, and anyone who’s just trying to build their own life. This one’s going on the gift list.

I received an electronic advance reader copy of Under the Dusty Moon courtesy of Dundurn and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe

Sparkers

Viking Penguin, 2014.

When Marah first went to the market alone, it was because her family needed food. She was scared to go among the magic users who could be dangerous to halani like Marah. Her father had just died and  though she was only eight, Marah needed to go because mother was needed at home to care for her brother. At the book stall that day Marah and began a friendship with Tsipporah, the bookseller that would change her life and that of her country forever.

The world building in Sparkers is absolutely beautiful. It is clear from reading the book that Glewwe is a student of linguistics. Character names clearly indicate whether characters are halani, non magical folk, or kasiri, upper class magic users, and make it easy for the reader to be drawn right into the world and the story. The story is compelling and the characters engaging.

This story felt so relevant to today with its themes of inborn privilege and oppression. Other themes of loyalty, love, and sacrifice make the story inspiring and uplifting. I’d recommend this middle grade book to many individual readers and also for classroom and school libraries, but I especially hope that this book is read by groups of kids, whether organized or not. The social justice thread of the story just screams to be explored within the context of the story and in relation to our own world.