Children’s / Teenage fiction: Family and home stories

Read Between the Lies

Read Between the Lies

Author: Malcolm Duffy Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Alternating between the engaging narratives of two teenage boys, Malcolm Duffy’s Read Between the Lines is a riveting, read-in-one-sitting page-turner, sharing insights into dyslexia as it also explores family frictions and how to support the people around you. Soon-to-be-stepbrothers Ryan and Tommy are as different as ice-cream and cabbage. Tommy has recently been released from a young offenders’ prison, while Ryan is a piano-playing good lad who’s moved down south with his dad following his parents’ divorce. In Ryan’s words, “Don’t do cooking but hear it’s all about the blend of ingredients. Same with families. Ours is all wrong. Like ice-cream and cabbage”. Despite their marked differences, the teenagers do have something in common — they’re both dyslexic, but have very different ways of dealing with it. Tommy’s journey through handling prejudice against his criminal past (“a single bad decision doesn’t make you bad”) and learning to read is gripping, moving and - ultimately - uplifting, as is Ryan’s dedication to teaching Tommy to read. As Ryan’s mum announces her plan for them to move, and Tommy discovers long-buried family secrets, the perfectly-paced plot ramps up the stakes, with plenty of humour and touching moments shining through the boys’ troubles.

Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told

Author: Sue Divin Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Following her Carnegie shortlisted debut novel Guard Your Heart, this is another searing story set in Northern Ireland in 2019 but gradually revealing the lives of three generations of women affected by The Troubles. The author has a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies and a career in community relations, which lends an unmistakable authenticity to the narrative. Narrated by two teens from very different backgrounds and dealing with very different issues with each voice unique and distinctive. Tara, the Catholic daughter of a two-generation single parent family from Derry, is angry and grieving after the suicide of her boyfriend Oran. Faith, the daughter of strict Evangelical Protestants from rural Armagh is hiding her true sexuality from her family for fear of being disowned. When they come face to face on an interfaith residential, they discover they look almost identical. When they unite to untangle the mystery, a DNA test reveals they are related and Faith’s father is not who she thinks he is, while Tara has never known hers. This powerful and totally absorbing novel, with its unforgettable characters, is at its heart about truth and forgiveness, but inevitably also about social justice and how political decisions and the continuing legacy of violence and conflict continues to affect lives today. A reader cannot help but be moved and informed. A must-have as both a brilliant novel and for valuable insight on a historical period.

Baby Love

Baby Love

Author: Jacqueline Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Once again, Jacqueline Wilson has created a pitch-perfect, heartfelt story for older readers, with emotionally engaging insights into teenage pregnancy and motherhood in the early 1960s, and a timelessly resonant representation of treading that tricky tightrope between childhood and teenhood. Imagine a moving, teen-centred episode of Call the Midwife with added empathy. 14-year-old Laura comes from a proud working-class family. Young for her age, Laura hasn’t had any experience of boys until she befriends glamorous, wealthy Nina, the daughter of two doctors. Laura is incredibly flattered by Nina’s attention, but aware she lives in what’s known as the “Shanty Town”, while Nina has everything she could possibly wish for, and kissing experience to boot. The dynamics between the two girls is incredibly realistic, perfectly capturing the differences between them. A trip to the lido sees Laura coaxed into spending time with a pair of older French boys. Uncomfortable with Nina’s flirting, Laura leaves, but one of the boys insists on walking her home, and leads her into the cricket changing rooms. She’s not sure what happened, but a few months later she discovers she’s pregnant. Deemed to be “spoiled goods”, Laura’s parents send her to a special home for girls in her circumstances, where she’s the youngest, where girls are typically forced to give up their babies. Truly moving, true-to-life, rich in detail that evokes the 1960s setting, and suffused with compassion, the beautiful afterword sees Laura in her seventies, reflecting on the courageous, life-changing decision she made all those years ago, thanks to the help of her forward-thinking aunt.

When I Was the Greatest

When I Was the Greatest

Author: Jason Reynolds Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/02/2022

The Carnegie medal winning author’s debut novel, published in the UK for the first time with the bonus of stylish illustrations, is a masterful portrayal of family and friendships in an urban poor neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Far from the cliché of drugs and violence in the ‘hood’ and yet unmistakably authentic and gritty, this is a rewarding and character driven novel that deals with the complexities of teenage friendships when poor decisions can have fatal consequences. The title hints at the origins of the main character’s nickname, Ali, and it is the boxing skills he has been taught by Malloy, a legless Vietnam vet and just one of the memorable minor characters, which enables him to come to the rescue when needed. A misunderstanding at the big party the three boys have been snuck into, leads to Needles, who suffers from Tourettes, getting badly beaten up while his own brother Noodles does nothing and allows Ali to fight alone. We have seen the beautifully nuanced development of their friendship since the brothers moved in next door to Ali. Nicknamed by his sassy younger sister Jazz and taken under the wing of his strict, hard working but loving mother, Doris, the boys became inseparable, but can Ali and Needles forgive this betrayal, and can they all escape the retribution which is coming their way? What this beautifully written novel does above all is showcase the strength that a loving and supportive family can give and when that is missing how friendships and community can fill the gap. Needles and his condition and the way in which he is accepted by the community is sensitively portrayed. The wisecracking dialogue is full of warmth, humour and genuine affection for the setting. A very real reading experience that is accessible and profound. Highly recommended.

This Woven Kingdom

This Woven Kingdom

Author: Tahereh Mafi Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people-New York Times bestselling author Tahereh Mafi's first novel in this epic, romantic fantasy series inspired by Persian mythology. To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight. The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can't put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom - and the world. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author, Tahereh Mafi.

Room To Dream

Room To Dream

Author: Kelly Yang Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2022

Mia Tang is going for her dreams: 1. She's finally going on holiday to see her family - in China! 2. She's taking on the big motel next door. 3. She is sure that her plans to be a big write are about to reach the next level. But, things around Mia are changing; in the town and even in her friendships... Can she and her motel survive? The third book in the bestselling FRONT DESK series by award-winning author Kelly Yang.

The Last Bear

The Last Bear

Author: Hannah Gold Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2022

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that's what April's father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life... This moving story will win the hearts of children the world over and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. The Last Bear is a celebration of the love between a child and an animal, a battle cry for our world and an irresistible adventure with a heart as big as a bear's.

The Ivory Key

The Ivory Key

Author: Akshaya Raman Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/01/2022

Riveting and richly realised, Akshaya Raman’s The Ivory Key (the first in a duology) presents readers with a thrilling opportunity for utter immersion. Set in a sumptuously conjured world in which magic is the ultimate resource, and driven by relatable characters that leap from the page with exhilarating verve, this is YA fantasy as its most inventive. What’s more, The Ivory Key is underpinned by the pertinent belief that resources should be equally, universally accessible. “Magic was woven into the very fabric of Ashokan society... It was even Ashoka’s biggest export… Or it had been”. So begins this story of four estranged royal siblings whose lives have taken very different paths. Four siblings who must find a way to repair their fractured relationships as they embark on a quest to find the Ivory Key that’s said to possess the power to provide the magic their land so desperately needs. Reeling with family drama, the thrill of a treacherous treasure hunt, and a smouldering romance, this is an undeniable dazzler of a debut.

SKIN

SKIN

Author: Caroline Venetia Annis Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2021

This book hooked me from the start, the writing style, the characters, all fantastic. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one go as I just had to find out what happened. Thirteen-year-old Chloe and her family, Mum, Dad, and younger sister Ella go on holiday every summer to a caravan by the sea where they meet another family, the Rossi’s. For Chloe, this year is going to be different as she has decided that she likes one of the Rossi boys, who is a similar age to her. It then starts the awkward coming of age scenarios which brought me right back to when I went through similar myself! The frustrations, self-awareness and thought processes of being a teenager is encapsulated brilliantly in this book, showing the high and lows of a family holiday with a holiday crush thrown in. A highly recommended book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author! Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Lionheart Girl

Lionheart Girl

Author: Yaba Badoe Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

At once steeped in richly-conjured West African myths and landscapes, and a page-turning thriller with real-life resonance (courtesy of its unforgettable protagonist), Yaba Badoe’s Lionheart Girl is a wonder of YA fiction. This is magic realism at its most powerful, exploring as it does universal themes of family bonds, fleeing and finding your way, through language that’s brilliantly enmeshed with its setting and subjects: “my heart, big as a lake in the wet season, shrivels to a slick of water in the dry.” Sheba was born into a family of witches, to a line of powerful women who can shapeshift, whose touch can uncover people’s deepest desires and fears. The story begins with Sheba fleeing her village to find her father, spurred by “the fizz in my fingers whenever I touched Ma’s hair”. In time, Sheba’s overbearing mother reveals, “We royal women are special. Our blood is enriched by generations of ritual and magic. Magic flows through us”. And so Sheba unknots her own powers, and secrets of her past, in a tale that rails against convention while feeling utterly timeless.

Empress & Aniya

Empress & Aniya

Author: Candice Carty-Williams Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

From Queenie to Empress, Candice Carty-Williams’ first YA novel is a fresh, authentically engaging, read-in-one-sitting exploration of class, compassion, friendship and empathy that uses a fab Trading Places/Freaky Friday device to tell the tale of two teenage girls who form a life-changing friendship. Empress lives in poverty on a South London estate. Being a bright, young thing, she’s won a scholarship to a fancy school, where she’s thrown in with a bunch of privileged girls who (mostly) mock her poverty. It’s also where she meets Aniya, who’s assigned to help her settle in. They share a birthday, but (on the face of it), not much else, given that Aniya lives in a huge house and her parents have high-profile jobs. The rich-poor divide is thrown into stark contrast when Empress goes to Aniya’s house (Aniya wants to make sure Empress eats) and meets her family. Her kindly, successful barrister dad is “a tall, handsome man who looked a bit like a budget Obama”, though their home and lifestyle are anything but budget. When Aniya resolves to understand how it feels to live in Empress’s shoes, they cast a spell that sees them swap bodies, setting in motion a succession of life-changing circumstances. Honest, warm, and utterly gripping, this heart-felt page-turner also provides generous insights into managing emotions and fostering empathy.

Endgame

Endgame

Author: Malorie Blackman Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

The first Nought Prime Minister, Toney Durbridge, is about to go on trial for the murder of notorious ganglord, Dan Jeavons. Tobey insists he is being framed. There were ten seats at Dan's dinner party the night he was killed and each guest had their own reasons for wishing him dead. Sephy Hadley was one of the guests that night. Haunted by the idea that she didn't do enough to stop the death of her first love, Callum McGregor, Sephy will not sit quietly and wait for accusations to fall on her now. She has her children to protect. It's time that the truth is uncovered. Time for the endgame. It's been 20 years since Malorie Blackman's groundbreaking series began with Noughts & Crosses, which charted the deeply forbidden romance between Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a nought) - a love affair which had repercussions for their families for generations. Endgame, the breathtaking conclusion to the series, influenced by the unprecedented global events of recent years, is full of twists and turns. Are you ready for the Endgame?