Publisher: Sky Pony Press

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Review: Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

September 18, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzieSpin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
Published by Sky Pony Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (identities unclear; I think Rio is black and Magnolia is biracial?)
QUILTBAG: 0 (a few queer characters, but the book is seriously biphobic)
Disability: 1 (Mags’s mom is a drug addict but only appears in the book via flashbacks)
Intersectionality: 1 (Mags and her sister are pretty poor)

Dance remains an underappreciated art and it’s an especially difficult one to translate into writing because it’s so visual. You can list off what the character is doing as they dance or be vague to let the reader’s imagination to do the job, among other things. Does Spin the Sky nail it? Definitely! Other problems in the book, like rampant biphobia, create a major sticking point, however. Read more »

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Review: Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath

June 6, 2016 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-VathLiars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath
Published by Sky Pony Press on March 22, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars
Keep calm and make it to prom night—without a legit panic attack.

For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Bree is Mexican through her father and talks about it openly; a minor character named Brian Wang has a Chinese surname but never sees his identity confirmed otherwise)
QUILTBAG: 1 (Brian is gay; a minor character/friend of Bree’s named Sam is a lesbian or bi and I forgot to note which)
Disability: 2 (Bree goes to a therapist about her panic attacks; Maisey’s letter to Bree indicates Maisey had her own mental health problems before her death)
Intersectionality: 4 (see all the above; does intersectionality very well, especially for the limited presence)

In high school, I skipped out on prom both junior and senior year. I don’t regret it. Though I’m all about prom dresses, I’m a wallflower at heart and I knew it wasn’t anything I wanted to do. That doesn’t stop me from reading prom-centric books a la Liars and Losers Like Us, though. For me, it’s something that’s more fun to experience as a viewer than as a participant! Of all the prom-centric books I’ve spent time reading, Liars and Losers Like Us comes across as one I’ll remember for a long time. Read more »

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