“In the beginning there was nothing. And then there was everything.” Nicola Yoon

I’ve finally had a chance to start reading some of the Advance Reader Copies I brought home from Book Expo America. First up, one of the top YA picks for the fall- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

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I have to admit, the premise isn’t one I would normally gravitate to, but after hearing it discussed at BEA, I added it to my must read list. In this story the protagonist, Maddie, has a rare disease and faces some insurmountable odds. She’s basically a bubble girl, allergic to the world, and unable to leave her house.

And then a boy moves in next door.

I’m not usually a fan of girl meets boy and life finally gets interesting, but Yoon gives the old archetype some new life and the book is insanely readable. There’s a love story, sure, but it’s part of a larger narrative and that’s what keeps you reading. Maddie makes you want to root for her.

Also, being a big supporter of diverse books, I have to say that I appreciate that the protagonist was racially diverse, but was allowed to tell a story that had nothing to do with race. Stories about learning to accept what makes you different are important, but equally important are stories where diverse characters are accepted as part of the story without having to highlight the ways in which they are different.

Kudos and congratulations to Nicola Yoon on writing a story worth reading. I couldn’t pull myself away from the book until the end, and even then I wanted to know more. Everything, Everything comes out on September 1, 2015 and I highly recommend finding yourself a copy.

Oh, and of you want to read it first, leave me a comment below. If at least five people comment with their favorite book featuring a diverse character, I’ll pick one commenter randomly to win a copy of Everything, Everything before it goes on sale. The winner will be posted next Friday, July 10th. Good luck and happy reading!

Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic…

I’ve been working on a new project this month that I’m very excited about, but I’m determined not to use it as an excuse to neglect my other endeavors. Instead, I’ll just take you guys along for the ride!

I’m starting work on my first middle reader novel. It is also my first totally fictional effort. I’m not bad with the semi-autobiographical, but this is new territory for me so I’m pretty nervous about it.

I’m working on a story that features an LGBTQ protagonist. Shouldn’t actually be all that groundbreaking, but there is a huge dearth of LGBTQ friendly books for kids who have graduated from easy chapter books but aren’t necessarily ready for most of YA. And that’s sad. Because the need is there. Kids are coming out earlier and earlier and finding no literary representation. No one is telling their stories. These kids don’t need the sex and the intense, life changing relationships of YA, but they do need someone to tell them it is totally normal if you’re a boy who wants to hold the hand of another boy or a girl who is crushing harder on Taylor Swift than on Taylor Lautner. Even more than that, they need to see that these LGBTQ characters do the same things normal characters do. They go to the mall and tell jokes and play sports and drink Frappucinos. They get in trouble and win science fairs and dance awkwardly at school functions. And it’s not just LGBT kids that need these books. ALL kids need to see diversity in their literature.

I’m sending in a sample of this new project to apply for a diversity grant. The grant helps support diverse writers while they are creating diverse books, but more than that, for me I think it would be confirmation that I am on the right track with this.

All my fingers and toes are crossed for good news!

What about all of you awesome readers? What’s a book you would have liked to read in middle school that didn’t (and maybe still doesn’t) exist? Let’s discuss!