Banned Book Club

Hyun Sook Kim

Ko Hyung-Ju

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When Hyun Sook joined the Banned Books Club at her college in South Korea in the 1980's, she just loved reading and thought it would be a nice way to make friends. Soon she finds out the club was a way for students to hide their rebellion against state censorship and her eyes are opened to the anti-intellectual totalitarian politics in her country. There's tons to talk about here whether it be history, politics, intellectual freedom, or coming of age.

Appeals to

Fans of history and politics, anyone who enjoyed Persepolis and Maus.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6967

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5737
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Beetle and the Hollowbones

Aliza Layne

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Although a Stonewall Honor Book, I feel like I haven't heard anyone talking about this lovely look into bullying, LGBT+ themes, and friendships. The Halloween-esque characters and colors are mesmerizing and work to enhance the story while world-building and showing character growth.

Appeals to

Tweens and teens that want positive LGBT+ representation (specifically f/f romance and agender).

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5363
Recommended by

Liz Hollendonner

Erased

Kei Sanbe

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What if you could go back in time to save someone's life, but at the risk of your own? Satoru faces this question thanks to his "Revival" power which allows him to travel back to moments before someone is likely to die. Returning home and finding his mother left for dead, Satoru's conscience travels back not mere moments before her attack but instead 18 years into his childhood body. Aware of his predicament, Satoru realizes he has a chance to save one of his childhood friends who went missing all these years ago and maybe get clues as to who attacked his mom in the present.

Appeals to

Should appeal to fans of time travel and alternate timelines, mysteries and murder, and some emotional gut punches.

Content Notes

Some blood and violence, child endangerment, death, and sexual assault is hinted at.

Recommended by

Kris Ritchie

Fault Lines in the Constitution

Cynthia Levinson

Ally Shwed

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This accessible introduction to the creation of the Constitution tells the story of its creation and explains its rules and their effects on the people of the United States. It also compares the United States system to other countries and asks what could be done to better represent the people who live here and give them better lives.

Appeals to

Fault Lines in the Constitution would be ideal for groups exploring civic, political, or social justice themes. Groups might consider pairing this book with an activist’s memoir (for example, March) or a book that covers a social justice topic (for example, They Called Us Enemy or Redress: The Inside Story of the Successful Campaign for Japanese-Americans by John Tateishi).

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Flamer

Mike Curato

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Aiden is at summer camp and trying to deny that he's gay while he navigates body image, anti-gay microaggressions from bullies, and a crush on his friend. If he comes out at camp will the other boys shun or hurt him? Aiden spends the summer trying to decide whether he can be himself at camp or if his journey of self-acceptance will have to stay internal.

Appeals to

Those who like to read stories about coming of age, LGTBQIA+ people, and summer camp in the 90's.

Content Notes

The story centers on homophobic jokes, slurs, and includes some thoughts about self harm.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6797
  • Sexuality: 7028

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6573
  • Sexuality: 5362
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Go With the Flow

Lily Williams

Lily Williams

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Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha go to a high school that would rather make sure the football team stays well-funded than provide enough pads and tampons in the girl's bathroom. Disgruntled at a system that does not prioritize students' health and petrifies at even the word "period," this band of friends starts a movement to make their voices heard and fight for a basic need. This comic employs a diverse amount of experiences when it comes to periods, as each girl in the main group has a different relationship with it, one having endometriosis and another that is starting her first cycle. Other than breaking barriers in the way of approaching the taboo subject of "women's" health in an open setting, the comic also displays examples of activism and empowerment.

Appeals to

Adolescents that are experiencing the beginnings of menstruation and looking for texts to relate to that go beyond nonfiction informational and instructional materials. Book Clubs may find the book appealing as a gateway to discussing activism, health issues, and stigmas surrounding taboo subjects. The comic may appeal to readers who enjoy a fast-paced, humorous read about friends coming together for a common cause.

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5974
  • Sexuality: 5363, 5366
Recommended by

Robin Eyman

Green River Killer

Jeff Jensen

Jonathan Case

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Tom Jensen, a detective for the King County Sheriff’s Department, has caught the Green River Killer in Seattle. Now he must try to get into the head of this serial killer to find the remains of his many victims so that the families can have closure. The author is able to get into the heart of this story because the detective is his father!

Appeals to

True Crime enthusiasts, non-fiction lovers, and those fascinated by the human psyche.

Recommended by

Mariela Siegert

Heathen

Natasha Alterici

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Aydis' father had two choices when she is caught kissing another girl from the village they live in. Marry her off or kill her. He chooses to kill her, but he really helps her escape. Aydis, a Viking in her own right, is now set on killing the god-king Odin with help from her horse Saga to free a mighty Valkyrie that she may be in love with.

Appeals to

Those interested in Viking stories, strong females, Norse mythology, and epic tales with an LGBTQ+ twist.

Creator Identities:

  • Sexuality: 7031

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5366
Recommended by

Mariela Siegert

Incognegro

Mat Johnson

Warren Pleece

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Incognegro. Where an African-American could pass as white. Reporters who could go incognegro would take the dangerous assignments to report on the lynchings in the south. Zane, a reporter from New York has to 'pass' long enough to get to the bottom of a story where his own brother is wrongfully being charged for killing a white woman.

Appeals to

Those interested in the darker side of American history and people fighting back in quieter resistance style ways.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6704

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5974
Recommended by

Mariela Siegert

Measuring Up

Lily LaMotte

Ann Xu

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Cici just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and she misses her grandmother A-Ma and wants her to visit but her parents say they can't afford it. So she enters a kid's cooking competition to try to win money for a plane ticket. There's just one problem: she only knows how to cook Taiwanese food. Can she win the competition without knowing how to cook western cuisine? There's lots for any group to discuss here from immigration and identity to favorite foods and cooking shows.

Appeals to

Fans of cooking shows, realistic fiction, and memoir-style comics for kids like Smile and Roller Girl.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6983

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6644
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Red Panda and Moon Bear

Jarod Rosello

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Red Panda and Moon Bear are a sibling pair having adventures and battling supernatural threats in their urban community. They rescue lost cats, fight bullies, and make sure to get home before Mami and Papi do. Groups talking about this book might wonder just what really happens and how much of it is imagination, or talk about the community they live in and how adventures in a city might be different than suburban or rural places.

Appeals to

Fans of Saturday morning cartoons, justice winning the day, and sibling adventure stories.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6765

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6561
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

RX

Rachel Lindsay

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Rachel Lindsay holds an advertising job with a pharmaceutical company in order to have health insurance--which is essential for managing her bipolar disorder. However, working on an account for the very medication she takes pushes her to the brink until she is committed.

Appeals to

Groups interested in experiences of managing mental illness within the US healthcare system and society.

Content Notes

Portrayal of downward spiral; hospitalization; swearing; nudity

Creator Identities:

    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

    Save it For Later

    Nate Powell

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    The artist for the critically acclaimed March ruminates on parenting and protest in these illustrated essays. While Powell does take a technically more liberal view, he wrestles with the injustice and toxicity in American white culture in a way that is open and nuanced.

    Appeals to

    This book would be an interesting discussion book for adults who are also parents or asking similar questions about their role in the problems that plague the United States.

    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

    Shadow Life

    Hiromi Gato

    Ann Xu

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    Kimiko flees her nursing home to find a place of her own. Yet a shadow of death follows her to her new home, making her struggle to live her life that much more difficult.

    Appeals to

    Readers who like magical realism and want to explore life (and death) as we age.

    Content Notes

    Some nudity; violence; mental deterioration

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 7130

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 5397
    • Sexuality: 5364
    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

    Skim

    Mariko Tamaki

    Jillian Tamaki

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    In the wake of the suicide of a popular kid in her high school, Skim feels increasingly alienated from her classmates. This quick read touches on mental health issues, queerness and homophobia, religion, relationships with inappropriate power dynamics, and more. The art is incredibly meaningful; it is influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock art, and every full-page spread makes unconventional use of panels and perspective to add to the story.

    Appeals to

    Queer book clubs, teens, and anyone who liked the Tamaki cousins' This One Summer.

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 7130
    • Sexuality: 7029

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 5397
    • Sexuality: 5363
    Recommended by

    Shira Pilarski

    Strong Female Protagonist

    Brennan Lee Mulligan

    Molly Ostertag

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    After a mysterious event grants individuals superheroes, the world becomes full of heroes but things are still a mess. Allison-a girl gifted with invulnerability and super strength-- leaves the hero game to enter college. Her journey intertwines and clashes with others as she looks for her way to make a difference.

    Appeals to

    Fans of the superhero genre will like this, and it should also appeal to readers who like discussing themes like power and justice. With two bound volumes and material online, there will be plenty to read and unpack.

    Content Notes

    Discussion of rape; violence and gore; sexism; attempted sexual assault; drinking

    Creator Identities:

    • Sexuality: 7029

    Main Character Identities:

    • Sexuality: 5363
    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

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