A Blade So Black

A thrilling adventure into a re-imagined Wonderland.  Shortly after her dad passed, Alice was pulled into a whole new world where dark creatures called Nightmares (from Wonderland) can creep into our world and wreak havoc.  Now she’s a dreamwalker, a skilled warrior, trained to defeat the Nightmares before they ever cross to our world.  Alice struggles balancing her new role with the rest of her life. She still has classes, friends and her mom to keep in the balance.  As Alice is completing her dreamwalker training she’s unexpectedly pulled into the middle of a terrible and dangerous scheme that might just destroy both of her worlds.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Sisters Isabel and Ruth have been slaves their whole lives.  Miss. Mary Finch, their owner, has just passed away.  Miss. Finch  promised Isabel they would be freed upon her death and even made it legal with a lawyer. But now that lawyer is gone and Miss. Finch’s son, Robert, wants to make a few bucks off them and sells them straight away. To make matters worse Ruth and Isabel are sold to a cruel loyalist family, the Locktons, who reside in New York, far from their home in Rhode Island.

It’s the middle of the revolutionary war and Isabel is determined to get her and her sister their freedom.  After meeting a young slave, Cruzon, whose owner fights with the rebels Isabel thinks that she can trade information about Loyalists in return for her safe passage to freedom.  Things don’t go as planned and as the war intensifies in New York, things go from bad to worse in the Lockton house, but Isabel is a survivor. If the rebels won’t help her maybe the British will.  Chains, is an excellent and devastating piece of historical fiction, it  illustrates the hardships of the war and the extreme cruelty of people, but also the determination of others.  After reading the first in this series, you’ll want to delve into the rest.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Rashad is a boy trying to navigate high school. He’s clean cut, an ROTC kid, and he has mad art skills. Quinn is also a boy trying to navigate high school: he’s on the basketball team and he’s really focused on impressing all those college recruiters. Rashad is black and Quinn is white. They have mutual friends, but don’t really know each other; it’s a big school. Rashad has an older brother, a very strict father, and a warm, loving mother. Quinn’s mom takes care of him and his younger brother because his dad died while serving in the army. Quinn is on the basketball team with his best friend, Guzzo. And although Quinn didn’t witness what happened inside the corner store, he was outside and witnessed when Rashad was taken down by a white cop and dragged out of the and brutally beaten. This police officer just so happens to be Guzzo’s brother, and is like a second father to Quinn.

This story is told from two different perspectives with alternating chapters, and the incident is portrayed through both the point of view of victim and bystander. It will bring up many significant questions: How do you choose sides––especially when someone you once respected is in the wrong? And if we want the violence to stop, how do we end it? This is a hard-hitting contemporary, realistic novel and it forces you to question what it means to be all American. It also makes you ask: Why is Rashad absent again today? And what does that mean?

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