Reviews of the Week with Tomi Adeyemi, Gilda R. Daniels, Jessica Kim, and More!

Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

You know the drill: five days, five fabulous #ReviewsoftheDay. Catch ’em all—a sure-fire YA hit, a valuable voting resource, a self-esteem builder for middle schoolers, a reclaimed volume from an inimitable talent, and the sensitive portrayal of one extraordinary ordinary day—below.

Monday, December 16

Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi

After Zélie and Amari successfully completed the ritual that restored magic to magic-wielding majis, they soon find that they weren’t the only ones bestowed with powers as a result. Some nobles have developed powers, too, and—ironically enough—they’re building an army to carry out the legacy of King Saran and eliminate majis by any means necessary. Led by Prince Inan, Amari’s big brother and Zélie’s toxic yet electrifying love interest, the nobles wage a war against the Iyika, a group of maji rebels, testing the strength of blood, loyalty, magic, and love. Adeyemi’s propulsive writing will have readers aching for resolve as twists and turns hit unscrupulously and without pause.

Tuesday, December 17

Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in the United States, by Gilda R. Daniels

Voter ID laws, voter purges, the disenfranchisement of felons, gerrymandering, fake ads, intimidation campaigns—such are the tools of modern voter suppression. In this guide to the practice and its effects, law professor Daniels, former deputy chief in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, describes how it works and provides a road map and a call to arms for participants in what she calls the fight to vote. She draws clear lines connecting today’s attacks on voters with the more blatantly violent suppression tactics of the past, identifying a historical cycle of hard-won expansions followed by pushbacks from opponents.

Wednesday, December 18

Stand Up, Yumi Chung!, by Jessica Kim

Yumi, 11, has plenty on her plate. She helps out at her parents’ restaurant in L.A.’s Koreatown, she’s taking prep classes to win a scholarship her private school offers, and almost every moment involves living up to her parents’ high expectations. Yumi’s passion, however, is comedy, and when she accidentally finds herself in a kids’ comedy class—taught by her YouTube idol, no less—she decides to take full advantage. This, of course, leads to a web of lies from which Yumi tries to untangle herself with varying degrees of effort. Author Kim is juggling a lot here, but she does so with aplomb.


Thursday, December 19

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance, by Zora Neale Hurston and edited by Genevieve​ West

Best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God and her exuberant appreciation of African American culture in the rural south, Hurston also penned keen observations about Harlemites, many of them transplanted southerners. In another reclaimed volume, following Barracoon (2018), 21 of Hurston’s short stories  are gathered together for the first time, including nine recovered works, most focused on life in Harlem during its renaissance period, beginning in 1921 when Hurston struggled to launch herself as a writer. Presented in the order in which Hurston wrote them, the stories trace her literary development and the adjustments she shared with others of the Great Migration.

Friday, December 20

An Ordinary Day, by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković

On any given day in this idyllic suburban neighborhood, children play, plants are watered, and people come and go from houses. On this day, those ordinary things are happening—but also so much more. In two houses, side by side, a quiet waiting occurs. Two visitors arrive, each with a stethoscope and small bag. In one home, a racially diverse family of two women and three children has come to the sad decision that their beloved dog must be put to sleep. Meanwhile, next door, a brown-skinned man, woman, and child await the arrival of a new baby. Vuković’s softly colored illustrations, rendered in subdued charcoal, pastel, watercolor, ink, and graphite, contrast the concurrent events.

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About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Marketing Associate. She graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

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