Elatsoe is a magical realism YA novel where the world we are used to exits in tandem with many other creatures such as vampires and werewolves. The world of Elatsoe reminds me of the world in the Spiderwick chronicles (the book, obvi, not the deplorable movie). Elatsoe, who goes by Ellie, is a bright young woman whose cousin has just been murdered. Everyone is calling it an accident, a car wreck, but Ellie knows better. She has dreams about the dead, and her cousin visits her while she's asleep shortly after he dies. Ellie, with the help of her ghost dog Kirby, as well as her wonderfully present and supportive parents and her hometown friends, begins to unravel the mystery of her cousin's death. But communing with the dead is a serious feat, and if done wrong, things can quickly get out of hand. Is Ellie strong enough to handle the darkness around her family's history?
I read every book written in verse that I can find because most of the time I adore them. They also aren't really marketed as a genre; I've never seen a section in a bookstore dedicated to verse books, so whenever I stumble upon once I get excited.
Punching the Air tells the story of a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. It's a story about racism as well as finding your passion, that thing that gets you through each day, no matter how difficult the day. For Amal Shahid, that's poetry and art.
How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of 14 short stories. The title story, which is also the first story, sets the tone for the rest of the collection. Collectively, these stories paint an image of sorrow, of displacement, of a longing to belong, to feel at home. "How to Pronounce Knife" describes a young girl in school learning how to read. The word "knife" appears in a book she has taken home to read for school, but there is not a picture next to the word to help her identify it, and so she asks her father.