Reviews of the Week with Kelly Loy Gilbert, Sarah J. Maas, Tami Charles, and More!

The Booklist Review of the Day, posted to the top of the Booklist Online home page each day of the week, spotlights exceptional upcoming titles that are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

The Reviews of the Week, posted each Monday, offers a comprehensive look at the previous week’s awardees—while also piquing interest for the week ahead. Catch up on the week of February 22 below, then dive into the week at hand with today’s Review of the Day, Bee People and the Bugs They Love, by Frank Mortimer. For the full week-in-review treatment, subscribe to our newsletter, Booklist Reader Update.

Monday, February 22

When We Were Infinite, by Kelly Loy Gilbert

In her senior year of high school, Beth can count on two things: her close-knit friend group and her love of the violin. Both are threatened when she witnesses friend and bandmate Jason being physically assaulted by his own father. The friends rally to aid one of their own, but none of them truly understands how to save Jason from his family’s legacy of violence. As Jason spirals downward, he makes a fateful decision to end his suffering permanently. He survives, but his despair and anger spread outward like a contagion, endangering the friends’ futures. Gilbert is exceptional at presenting the nuanced and complex lives of American teenagers, especially Asian American teens.

Tuesday, February 23

A Court of Silver Flames, by Sarah J. Maas

Formerly supporting players Nesta and Cassian take center stage in the latest installment of Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses series (after A Court of Wings and Ruin, 2017). Nesta, who will be familiar to readers as series heroine Feyre’s prickly sister, is in a dark place. She’s angry at having been turned from human to high fae during the war with Hybern, guilt-ridden at her inability to save her father’s life, and drowning her self-loathing in wine and casual sex. Feyre and Rhysand, fed up with her antics, offer an ultimatum: either she is exiled back to the human world, or she agrees to a training regimen with Cassian, Rhys’ best friend, a warrior with a troubled past whom Nesta has never hesitated to verbally spar with. Nesta reluctantly agrees, and readers follow her physical and mental journey of healing, even as she faces her growing feelings for Cassian, her own untapped powers, and looming threats to the fragile, hard-won peace.

Wednesday, February 24

Muted, by Tami Charles

Together, Denver, Dali, and Shak make up the Angelic Voices, a girl group desperate to be discovered. So when famous R&B star Sean “Mercury” Ellis takes an interest in the girls after hearing them sing outside of his concert, it seems like the stars have finally aligned. Despite the incredible opportunity this presents, Denver’s parents agree that their 17-year-old daughter will not be going off to work with a 30-something man. Or so they think. What first seems to be a rags-to-riches affair takes a murky turn for the worst as this novel in verse shows the girls’ flashy life with Mercury morph into one where they are held hostage and abused. Charles plays continuously with space and language here, effortlessly weaving together the story of Denver’s and Dali’s traumas associated with family, friendships, and desires for stardom. 

Thursday, February 25

The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Particle physicist Prescod-Weinstein presents a provocative and richly detailed critique of the largely white and male scientific community and her place in it as a Black queer woman. She rejects assumptions that science is “neutral” and apolitical, based on objective empiricism, and more rigorous than social science. Her examples are amusing and tragic, such as when she points out that infrared motion detectors designed by white engineers often don’t work on black skin. Prescod-Weinstein urges scientists to apply scientific observation to social phenomena. If we can accept that light is simultaneously a wave and a particle and thus nonbinary, why do we resist the nonbinary possibilities of human sexuality and gender? She questions why white scientists who are adept at observing and recognizing patterns in the natural world are so reluctant to observe and recognize patterns of racism and sexism in their own community, despite ample evidence.

Friday, February 26

Can’t Take That Away, by Steven Salvatore

Carey Parker is a genderqueer teen who dreams of performing in front of crowds as a true diva, like their icon, Mariah Carey, but ever since a traumatic transphobic incident with one of their classmates, they have avoided this dream. When they meet musician Cris, however, and the two begin connecting on a deeper level, Carey is inspired to audition for the role of Elphaba in the school production of Wicked. That transphobic incident wasn’t one of a kind, though, as Carey learns when a campaign to have them removed from the leading role is launched. With help from their mom, friends, and a teacher who’s been subjected to homophobia at school, Carey must defend their right to sing their heart out. In their dazzling debut, Salvatore crafts a compelling protagonist in Carey. Readers won’t be able to stop cheering them on as they handle microaggressions, grief, trauma, and systemic homophobic and transphobic school policies, all while learning to take care of their mental health through therapy.'

About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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