Summer Books illustration
Illustration by Nuri Ducassi • Star Tribune

Great Escapes

Staying home? Let these fine books transport you this summer.

  • All Books (43)
  • Fiction (13)
  • Mystery (15)
  • Young Adult (15)
  • List (43)

The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

Desiree and Stella Vignes, the identical light-skinned twins at the heart of Brit Bennett’s unforgettable new novel, grew up with their names on every tongue in Mallard, La., the small black community founded by their great-great-great-grandfather. Desiree and Stella — and, let’s be honest, their “creamy skin, hazel eyes, wavy hair” — would have pleased him, for he dreamed of creating a town “for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes. … He imagined his children’s children’s children, lighter still, like a cup of coffee steadily diluted with cream.”

But Bennett understands there’s a price for such a blessing: “Lightness, like anything inherited at great cost, was a lonely gift.” The twins learn this, too, and their divergent paths into the world lead them to opposite extremes of the American experience.

“The Vanishing Half” is Bennett’s anticipated follow-up to her bestselling debut, “The Mothers,” a bittersweet examination of motherhood and community. Motherhood is a recurring topic here, too, but Bennett has expanded her scope thematically and emotionally. In “The Vanishing Half,” which ranges in time from the 1950s to the 1990s, she examines the debilitating toll of racism and colorism on one family. On us all, really. And in doing so she has given us one of the best books of the summer.

For all its weighty themes, though, the novel is hard to put down, propelled by its fascinating and flawed characters. With dreams bigger than a small town can grant, Desiree and Stella leave Mallard at 16 for New Orleans. Several years later, Stella vanishes. Desiree moves north for work, marries an abusive man and ends up fleeing back to Mallard with her dark-skinned daughter Jude (the shade of Jude’s skin, not surprisingly, is of great interest to the townsfolk, and the fallout on Jude is enormous).

Stella, meanwhile, has been living wealthy and white in Los Angeles, with a white husband and daughter who don’t know the truth about her past.

Converging the sisters’ separate lives had to be tricky, but Bennett paints a chance meeting with the inevitable luster of fate and seamlessly ties the stories together through the next generation. Her empathy for her characters never wavers; she’s particularly thoughtful in depicting Stella’s desperate need to live out her secret. She also deftly fleshes out Jude, who moves to L.A. for college and falls in love with Reese, a trans man, whose quest to establish his identity mirrors Jude’s constant struggle to be comfortable in her own skin.

That’s what this novel is about: Filling out your own skin even when the world tries to punish you for it. “Sometimes who you were came down to the small things,” Bennett writes. But “The Vanishing Half” tells us the big things count, too: Home. Family. Who you truly are and everyone who holds that information dear.

(Riverhead, $17, June 2)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Voyage of the Morning Light

By Marina Endicott

Canadian writer Marina Endicott’s fifth novel is an extraordinary gift at a time when traveling isn’t an option. This adventure doesn’t rely on the charms of rough sailors, dangerous seas, ocean creatures or foreign lands to keep it afloat (although all of those elements are present). Orphaned 12-year-old Kay and her half-sister Thea join Thea’s husband aboard a merchant ship and set sail for the South Pacific. There, reeling from a miscarriage, Thea buys a boy from a group of impoverished Pacific Islanders for boxes of tobacco. But their easy life aboard the ship turns unhappy on land. Were their actions in taking the boy justifiable? Kay wonders. How she tries to make things right provides a deeply satisfying literary escape. (Norton, June 2)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Son of Good Fortune

By Lysley Tenorio

When you don’t belong where you are, where exactly do you belong? Lysley Tenorio’s engaging and comic first novel about immigration and identity asks this question with compassion and savage humor. On his 10th birthday, Excel learned a secret that changed his world. “We are not supposed to be here,” his mother, Maxima, tells him. They are illegal immigrants who must stay hidden in plain sight. Maxima makes her living befriending lonely men on her webcam, carefully fleeces them, then disappears. Excel, now 19, gets a chance to move to a desert refuge called Hello City to start a new life among society’s outsiders. But can a simple change of scenery make up for the impossibility of forging a real identity when you have no real home? (Ecco, July 7)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune


By Jill McCorkle

“We are all haunted by something,” a character writes in Jill McCorkle’s wise and moving novel. All of the characters in “Hieroglyphics” experience the pull of personal history. Lil has been shaped by her mother’s death in a fire — and her husband Frank’s infidelity. Now, they have retired to North Carolina, and Frank is growing obsessed with a house he lived in as a boy. There, a single mom is raising her sons and battling her own bad luck and poor decisions. Her younger son believes there’s a spirit loose, but is that what’s really haunting them? McCorkle’s characters search for truth and connections, sometimes finding them, often losing them. “I want every breath I can get,” Lil admits. Don’t we all? (Algonquin, July 28)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls

By Ursula Hegi

Ursula Hegi’s haunting ninth novel, set in the 19th century on an island, opens with tragedy: A freak wave washes three children into the sea. Their father, Kalle, is certain he has caused this catastrophe because he dreams of running away with the circus. His wife, Lotte, saved their fourth child, Wilhelm, only to offer up the infant in place of the missing three. The calamity touches everyone: the circus performers; the nuns who take in pregnant girls; 11-year-old Tilli, already a mother who has lost her child. As Tilli forms a bond with Wilhelm, Kalle and Lotte construct a dangerous fantasy to return to their children. Despite its dark beginnings, the novel is uplifting, a celebration of women, mothers and daughters. (Flatiron, Aug. 18)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Second Home

By Christina Clancy

A rundown, beloved Cape Cod summer house brings together members of a Milwaukee family — including two sisters and an adopted brother — but tears them apart in the aftermath of a terrible secret. Can they forgive each other? (St. Martin’s, June 2)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

Last Tang Standing

By Lauren Ho

If “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” had a baby, it would be this hilarious novel about a Singapore lawyer trying to make partner and survive the dating scene, only to find herself torn between a billionaire and her greatest rival. (Putnam, June 9)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

Miss Iceland

By Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir

Poets are revered in 1960s Iceland, but when an aspiring writer leaves her home for Reykjavík to live with a friend, she learns conservatism runs deep: She’s valued only for her looks. How far must she travel to thrive? (Black Cat, June 16)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Lightness

By Emily Temple

The Levitation Center summer camp for girls offers courses in spirituality, but Olivia and her glamorous new friends want to levitate. Instead they learn grown-up truths about friendship, sex and betrayal. (William Morrow, June 16)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

The Chicken Sisters

By KJ Dell’Antonia

A reality-TV cooking show pits two estranged sisters from Kansas and their fried chicken restaurants against each other. The real battles, though, happen away from the cameras. Be warned: you’ll crave fried chicken throughout. (Putnam, June 30)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune


By Halle Butler

Two discontented co-workers — one in her 20s, the other a 30-something single mom — may seem different on the surface. But both are swamped with self-delusion and heading for disaster in this black comedy with a bite. (Penguin, July 7)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

Well-Behaved Indian Women

By Saumya Dave

What does it mean to be a Perfect Indian Woman? Three generations grapple with that concept and other ideas of family, responsibility and the perils of sacrificing your dreams. A warm and engaging debut. (Berkley, July 14)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing

By Allison Winn Scotch

A single-mom senator with her eye on a presidential run is forced to confront previous bad behavior when a high school friend writes a negative op-ed about her. (Lake Union, Aug. 4)

Reviewed by Connie Ogle, Special to the Star Tribune

His & Hers

By Alice Feeney

I have a small Z-shaped scar on my left knee. When I was young, I fell and skidded across the gravel on the playground at my primary school, running from a fire. When I think about the event, I see my papa, who met me at the school gates every day, in his tweed hat, his arms open wide, scooping me against his chest and ushering me to safety.

But here’s the thing. My parents say there never was a fire and the scar is a birthmark. What am I remembering? Is it from a story I read? Or my perception of something else entirely? Recently, questions about memory have inspired suspense novels, many with unreliable narrators. Someone’s perception is always skewed. Someone is always lying.

As a result, I was prepared to be unimpressed with Alice Feeney’s summer thriller, “His & Hers.” I was prepared to dismiss Feeney’s novel as more of the same. I was wrong. Feeney’s dark thriller is marvelous summer literary escapism and suspenseful shifty storytelling at its best.

Anna Andrews is the “she” in the story, an “unreliable narrator of [her] own life” (aren’t we all?). Anna’s worldview is tilted toward the cynical. She spent her younger life not fitting in. As an adult, Anna’s private life is in tatters, but at least she has a prestigious job as a BBC news anchor. In the space of 48 hours, even that’s torn asunder. Anna finds herself back in her hometown, a “quintessential English village” with a “chocolate-box beauty,” drinking too much from a hotel’s minibar, reporting on the murder of an old friend, and reliving an event from her sordid past. Anna has “a scar on her conscience” that’s never faded.

Anna’s ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper, is the “he” in the story. Back in the day, Jack left a promising career to be with Anna. Tragedy struck, she left, and now “silence is Jack’s favorite symphony.” He’s “sleepwalking through a loaned-out life,” lurking on the edges of existence. His emotional anxiety screams louder than his reason and logic, which isn’t smart for a detective investigating the murder of a woman with whom he’s been having an affair. Jack’s troubles escalate when his partner, Priya, questions his choices and suspects his motives. The murder investigation drags Jack “out of his depth, but nobody else on his team” or in his life “can swim any better.” We “all travel alone inside our own heads,” says the killer whose identity I thought I’d figured out halfway into the novel. I was wrong. Again.

Jack and Anna are more than simply unreliable narrators. Feeney has created characters with emotional depth and complicated desires. Although Jack and Anna are both broken, it’s the damage they’ve done to each other that propels the novel forward at a furious pace. The suspense is jacked up even more because of the subtle reveals in their overlapping first-person points of view. Their versions of the truth keep everyone’s perceptions off-kilter. His. Hers. Mine.

(Flatiron, $27.99, July 28)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Catherine House

By Elisabeth Thomas

Set in an exclusive college hidden behind a “long iron gate,” “Catherine House” is a captivating debut cleverly constructed on the architecture of classic gothic novels. Even the title alludes to an iconic gothic heroine — Catherine Earnshaw in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” Catherine House has a locked tower where, like the madwoman in another Brontë novel, nonconformists are hidden away. When Ines Murillo enters the school, she gives up everything. In return, she’s promised a golden future. It’s a Faustian deal. Thomas explores the relationship between desire and identity while spinning the literary motifs of the gothic in dizzying ways. Is it “better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n?” (Custom House)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Mountains Wild

By Sarah Stewart Taylor

A William Butler Yeats poem hangs above Flaherty’s Long Island bar where detective Maggie D’arcy and her cousin, Erin, grew up. The poem is a touchstone to the country Maggie’s Uncle Danny left behind and the country that took his Erin. Sarah Stewart Taylor has written a beautiful, bittersweet novel about loyalty and loss and how they can blind us to the truth. Erin has been missing for 23 years, disappearing in the Wicklow Mountains. Maggie went to Dublin to search. In 2016, while searching for another woman, the Garda Síochána find Erin’s scarf. Like the hands, heart and crown of Erin’s Claddagh ring, friendship, love and loyalty carry Maggie back to Ireland. (Minotaur, June 23)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Out of Time

By David Klass

Like Edward Abbey’s eco-terrorist novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” David Klass’ thriller is a thought-provoking stunner of a read. The eco-terrorist in Klass’ novel, dubbed the Green Man, is a solitary figure. He believes active resistance to stop threats to the environment is a moral imperative. But he’s killing people to achieve it. Tom Smith is a data analyst with the FBI, sympathetic to the Green Man’s cause, but the law shapes his worldview. Ellen directs the Green Center, an environmental group. Huey Newton and Gandhi shape hers. The novel has its own moral imperative — to highlight the ticking bomb that is climate change within the constructs of a twisty, unrelenting, morally robust thriller. (Dutton, July 7)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Daughters of Foxcote Manor

By Eve Chase

This wonderfully evocative mystery chronicles the relationships among three mothers and their daughters and the secrets they’ve buried. But secrets can’t be hidden forever — they nibble like “moths in a wardrobe” until one day everything’s unraveling. After a fire destroys the house where she works as a nanny, Rita takes Jeannie and her children, Hera and Teddy, to their country home, Foxcote Manor, nestled deep in a secluded English forest. The story unfolds from perspectives of Sylvie (Rita’s daughter), Rita and Hera. Years later, after a car accident leaves Rita in a coma, Sylvie sets out to discover the secrets connecting these mothers and daughters to “everything that happened in a forest long ago.” (Putnam, July 21)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

These Women

By Ivy Pochoda

This stunning, thought-provoking novel set in Los Angeles is about a group of women connected in terrible, tragic ways. The narrative flips the lens of a traditional serial killer novel and focuses light on the women with an unabashed authenticity. (Ecco)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Death on Tuckernuck

By Francine Mathews

This sharp mystery is set on Nantucket Island, where detective Merry Folger struggles to investigate a double murder and drug smuggling on a luxury yacht while her wedding and a hurricane barrel down on her. (Soho Crime)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Streel

By Mary Logue

During a potato famine in 1877, Brigid Reardon is shipped to America with her brother, Seamus. Brigid becomes a maid. Seamus heads west to make a fortune. They meet up again in Deadwood, S.D., where a prostitute’s murder tests the siblings’ loyalty. (UMPress)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Home Before Dark

By Riley Sager

Baneberry Hall is the Holt family’s Hill House. The family fled the Victorian mansion in the wee hours when Maggie was a child. As a cynical but curious adult, she returns to restore the place but is unprepared for what’s inside. (Dutton, June 30)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Survivor Song

By Paul Tremblay

Yes, this is a virus novel, but it’s also a visceral, breathless, sensational thriller about two women — one pregnant, one a doctor — racing against time and a virulent rabies virus to get Natalie a vaccine before she becomes feral. (Morrow, July 7)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Vacation

By T.M. Logan

She shouldn’t have looked at his text. He shouldn’t have had an affair. But she did and he did. Now the paradise vacation of a lifetime with their friends is purgatory by a pool in this irresistible domestic thriller. (St. Martin’s, July 21)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Silence of the White City

By Eva Garcia Saenz

The return of a series of ritualistic murders at ancient archaeological sites in the Basque country of Spain forces Inspector Unai López de Ayala to reconsider the guilt of a famous imprisoned archaeologist in this extraordinary thriller. (Vintage, July 28)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne

By Elsa Hart

In 18th-century London, women are expected to collect suitors. Cecily Kay collects artifacts and plant specimens instead. When Barnaby Mayne is murdered, she uses her knowledge of botany to root out the killer. (Minotaur, Aug. 4)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Wicked Sister

By Karen Dionne

Rachel believes she killed her parents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula years ago. She’s locked herself away from the world and the truth ever since. With intersecting narratives of then and now, this is a gut-clenching wilderness thriller. (Putnam, Aug. 4)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

Under Pressure

By Robert Pobi

Astrophysicist and ex-FBI agent Lucas Page has “recalibrated” his life after a bomb took an eye, leg, arm and his life as he knew it. But he is unrelenting in his hunt for a serial bomber in this gripping psychologically complex procedural thriller. (Minotaur, Aug. 4)

Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman, Special to the Star Tribune

The Whitsun Daughters

By Carrie Mesrobian

Minneapolis writer Carrie Mesrobian has carved out a literary terrain exploring the seam where sex and gender expectations collide.

Her characters, male and female, stumble toward hard truths in small Midwestern towns that rarely buffer them from life.

Her newest novel, “The Whitsun Daughters,” is a compressed, multigenerational tale that swirls around questions of loyalty, secrets and desire.

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is the youngest girl in a blended household run by her mother and aunt: “The Whitsuns had never been a family heavy with marriages and weddings, with men.”

Her older cousin, Poppy, is always making decisions, while middle child Lilah is wispy and given to bouts of melancholy. Daisy’s mother, Violet, is a minister, who draws inspirational lessons from every tantrum and distraction in the household, while her aunt, Carna, is a nurse-midwife with a drinking habit and secrets, including the identity of Poppy’s father.

Daisy’s life feels on hold in the shadow of Poppy’s bossy certainty and Lilah’s moods, until Lilah’s unexpected pregnancy forces the three girls to come up with a plan for a homegrown abortion.

A second thread of the story follows the ghost of Jane Murphy, an Irish immigrant who comes to Hogestyn to escape poverty and a family history of madness and marries a man who is unable to love her.

When Jane falls for the hired man, Patrick, and becomes pregnant with their child, she faces an uncertain path forward.

“A page in a Bible is not for us,” Patrick tells Jane as they seek a future together. “Live in my heart and pay no rent, Jane Murphy. That is all the oath I require.”

While the cast of this slim novel sometimes feels crowded, Mesrobian grounds the story in a poetic shorthand specific to Midwestern summers. A girl at a barn dance “rose like a flame” toward a beau, and “flickered out to the dark behind the kitchen garden.” In present-day Hogestyn, Daisy and her neighbor, Hugh, sit outside as “a firework screeched through the air, impossibly long, and the front step flared to life.”

More than anything, Daisy wants to be seen, to find a story where she’s not a coda to her sisters, or a “plot and prop” of her mother’s sermons.

In Hugh, who is drunkenly grieving the death of his mom, and his rejection by Poppy, she finds someone who craves her company, even when they’re only sitting in a hayloft with a bag of shelling peanuts and a bottle of root beer.

There’s a layering of stories and lives at the heart of this novel. Bits of dialogue, gestures and dreams ­— along with poverty, limited choices and mental illness — recur across generations. But those truths are buffered by moments of understanding and the quiet velocity of survival, despite all. (Dutton, Aug. 25)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Prairie Lotus

By Linda Sue Park

When Hanna and her father move to Dakota Territory in 1880, they are looking to start a new life after the death of Hanna’s mother, a Chinese immigrant. But her arrival triggers a backlash among the townspeople, who pull their children from the local school and start rumors that threaten the family’s dry goods store. This retelling of “Little House on the Prairie” is full of spot-on period details, from school lessons to basting patterns. Like Laura, Hanna is a spunky underdog who outwits bullies and doesn’t let prejudice stop her from flourishing in a hostile place. Park grew up reading the “Little House” books as a “road map” for what it meant to be American. This is an important reimagining of a deeply embedded Midwestern myth. (Clarion)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

By Emily Blejwas

Everything is broken in Justin’s life since the death of his dad, a troubled Vietnam War vet, in an accident in their Lake Minnetonka town. His mom has retreated into work and church. His older brother has given up his dreams to work at KFC. And Justin is targeted by a bully at school. He’s also unsure how to navigate his first crush. But as he grieves, he also finds himself making new connections — to a homeless professor who helps him see the Dakota presence on the land around him, and to his friend Phuc. Blejwas, who grew up in Excelsior, gives this novel a strong sense of place. But it really shines in its unfolding connections between history, time and loss. (Delacorte)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune


By Jordan Ifueko

In the empire of Aritsar, 12 rival lands are united under one emperor, who chooses members of each as part of his inner circle. Tarisai has been groomed since childhood to compete for a spot in the crown prince’s retinue. But she also harbors a dark secret — the distant Lady who raised her has magically bound her to kill the prince. As Tarisai journeys to the empire’s center and grows close to the crown prince, Dayo, she looks for a way to unlock the puzzle of her curse and forge her own destiny. Ifueko’s world is beautifully constructed, from the kingdom’s myths to the music of its multiple languages. The characters in her large cast never feel secondary, each fully present in this immersive and powerful debut. (Amulet Books, Aug. 18)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Everything Sad Is Untrue

By Daniel Nayeri

To be a refugee, Daniel Nayeri tells us in his debut novel, is to be a perpetual act of translation, lost to one culture and illegible to another. Khosrou is the sheltered son of a dentist and doctor in Iran, with a family history that scrolls back hundreds of years. But then his mother abruptly converts to Christianity, putting the whole family at risk from the country’s secret police. That sets off a harrowing flight that leads her, Khosrou and his sister to Oklahoma. To bridge his past and present and hold bullies and an abusive stepfather at bay, Khosrou, now Daniel, begins weaving a tapestry of stories, knitting his past and present, one that allows Oklahoma to be intelligible to Iran, and Iran to be intelligible in return. (Levine Querido, Aug. 25)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

We Dream of Space

By Erin Entrada Kelly

Can a novel about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster speak to contemporary students? A teacher with a love of space links three troubled siblings who are each affected by the journey to peer into the unknown. (Greenwillow)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Stealing Thunder

By Alina Boyden

Razia has fled her inherited role to live with her chosen family of third-gender hijras who dance and steal to carve out more authentic lives. But a handsome prince and a vengeful father complicate her future in this fantasy epic. (Ace)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

We Are Not From Here

By Jenny Torres Sanchez

Three teenagers flee Guatemala for a fresh start in America, navigating La Bestia, people smugglers and the U.S. immigration system in a story that never makes its characters and those they encounter less than human. (Philomel)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Echo Mountain

By Lauren Wolk

A financial crash forces Ellie’s family to leave their home to carve out a new life on Echo Mountain, where she discovers inner strength and a connection with a mysterious woman known as “the hag.” A beautifully told and resonant tale. (Dutton)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Private Lessons

By Cynthia Salaysay

Seventeen-year-old Claire Alalay struggles to find a foothold on the American dream until she begins studying piano with Paul, a gifted teacher who can make or break careers. But his interest takes a dark and manipulative turn in this diamond-sharp debut. (Candlewick)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

The Wolf of Cape Fen

By Juliana Brandt

Two sisters unravel a dark bargain on isolated Cape Fen, which is bound by the unpredictable magic of a figure named Baron Dire. Hastings teacher Juliana Brandt’s layered debut is filled with myth, messy families and magic. (Sourcebooks)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

All the Things We Never Knew

By Liara Tamani

Basketball whiz Carli is on the verge of giving up the sport when she locks eyes with Rex, the standout player on a mostly white team. Tamani’s novel showcases two star-crossed players who rise above the noise. (Greenwillow, June 9)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

My Eyes Are Up Here

By Laura Zimmerman

Greer navigates body image and first love while hiding a bust size that causes her physical pain and draws unwelcome male attention. Sharp dialogue and full characters round out this Minneapolis writer’s debut. (Dutton, June 23)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

We Didn’t Ask for This

By Adi Alsaid

Students at an international school in Mexico City look forward all year to lock-in night — until a classmate chains herself to the building and the lock-in becomes an occupation. Alsaid’s diverse, globe-trotting cast finds courage and connection as their plans go awry. (Inkyard)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune

Felix Ever After

By Kacen Callender

Felix is finding his way as a transgender teen, but he hasn’t yet figured out dating when he’s targeted by a cyberbully who infiltrates Felix’s circle of friends. As he slowly embraces his identity as a demiboy, Felix finds the courage to follow his heart. (Balzer + Bray)

Reviewed by Trisha Collopy, Star Tribune