Saturday, May 18, 2024

#MGLit Theme: Water!

Tracy, Taylor. Murray Out of Water
May 21, 2024 by Quill Tree Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Murray lives with her parents, baby brother Sean, older sister Kelly, and the shadow of older brother Patrick, who doesn't speak to the family, in Lavalette, New Jersey, along the shore. She loves being in the water, and seems to feel she has magic that can control the water and help her save creatures from it. Her mother doesn't understand why she wants to be a marine biologist, and hopes that she will be a doctor or lawyer, even though her grades are mediocre. When a massive storm approaches, the family evacuates inland to stay with an aunt and uncle from who they are estranged due to the circumstances with Patrick. The family is welcoming, especially older cousin Laura, who has a funky sense of fashion and wants to be called Blake and use they/them pronouns. Murray is worried about this, mainly because her mother is very religious, and is critical even of Murray's desire to read Stonewall Honor books. After the storm is over, the family finds out that their home is badly damaged, and they will have to rebuild. Kelly decides to go back home and live with a friend, and the mother and father are taking baby Sean to stay in an apartment the father has for his work. Patrick has reconnected with the family tentatively, since he was checking in with the aunt and uncle during the storm. The father seems glad, but the mother is still not happy, as the fact that Patrick is gay doesn't align with her values. Murray enjoys being with her aunt and uncle, even though she misses the sea, and makes a friend at her new school, CJ Hooker Middle School. Dylan is bullied by the other students, but the two enjoy being at the local roller rink, where the owner is supportive of all of the teens and tweens who come there to skate and practice roller derby. Murray starts to realize that she doesn't like to dress in the girly way her mother makes her, but Dylan would like to wear dresses. This conversation leads to a drag show at the roller rink. Will Murray be able to live her own authentic life while keep ing the peace with her parents?
Strengths: This was an interesting novel in verse that addresses the problem of being forced out of one's home by a natural disaster, and the author's note that this was based on Superstorm Sandy was intriguing. Murray is a very typical tween who is both wanting to please her parents but also rebelling against their unreasonable stances on many issues. Her aunt and uncle, along with her cousin, are more supportive, and it was good to see that Patrick also had support from family members even if he didn't have it from his parents. The local skating rink was a fun setting, and the LGBTQIA+ community shows the importance of found families.
Weaknesses: There was a lot going on in this book, and it would have been a fine story without the magic, which seemed to take me out of the story a bit and was confusing. For the record, the name of the school has nothing to do with TJ Hooker, the 1980s police drama with William Shatner.
What I really think: This will be a popular book with the fans of the work of Lisa Bunker, A.J. Sass, and Kyle Luckoff.

Manzer, Jenny. Picture a Girl
May 14, 2024 by Orca Book Publishers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Adelaide and her brother Billabong live on the coast of the Pacific Ocean where their mother is very invested in surfing, hence their names. Addie and Billy often have to take care of themselves, since their mother often self-medicates with alcohol when depressed and their father lives in Australia. The three live in a small rental cottage in a tourist community, and their mother finds enough work waitressing or working in other service industry jobs to support them, but they still have to shop at thrift stores and get food from the Food share pantry. Addie hopes that she can register for a local surfing contest and win the big prize to help out her family, and her friend Pokey, who has a supportive home environment, tries to help her out with this. When the mother goes "off for a little adventure" so she can return briefly to being "Jeanie Bean, girl surfer", Addie and Billy have to take care of themselves. Addie is injured during the surfing competition, their landlord demands payment, and Addie's teachers are concerned about her. When her mother returns, will anything change? 

This had some similarities to Walter's The King of the Jam Sandwiches and Rudd's How to Stay Invisible, and included some interesting things about British Columbia surfing culture that I hadn't seen before. This author also wrote My Life as a Diamond.

Wolo, Mamle. Flying through Water
May 14, 2024 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sena has a fairly stable life in Ghana. He lives with his mother, sister, and brother, and well as his grandfather, who loves to tell stories. He goes to school, and is stressing about his exams, especially when his grandfather's health worsens. Sena's friend, Bright, has despaired of school and decides to take a job fishing some miles away. Sena, missing his grandfather and concerned that his continued education will cause hardship for his family, decides to run away and join his friend. When he gets to Volta Lake where the boys will work, he is dismayed to find abysmal living conditions, very poor food, and an abusive environment. Being in the water and fixing boats leaves his skin open to wounds and infections, and he sometimes halluncinates and thinks he sees the spirit Mami Wata. When a tragedy occurs, Sena gathers his resolve and swims away from the overseers. He manages to make himself a small shelter and gather food for himself, which is a better life than he had fishing. He would like to get back home, and when he sees men from the Ghana Wildlife manatee protection unit, they help him. He finds out that the men who hired him and Bright to fish were human traffickers, and that what he thought was Mami Wata was actually a manatee. 

Like this author's The Kaya Girl, this is an interesting look at life in Ghana, and when Sena is living on his own, reminded me a bit of George's My Side of the Mountain

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