”Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

This adorable young adult book is a classic high school romance but for the current world we live in. The majority of the book revolves around Simon trying to keep the identity of his (same sex) crush anonymous. The twist is that Simon also doesn’t know the identity of his crush but unintentionally exposes their secret. The entire book you are obsessed with WHO the crush is and whether or not they are going to be exposed. However, my favorite part of the book is the antagonist and his genuine remorse at the end of the story. This story teaches young adults powerful lessons about acceptance, LGBT awareness, cyber bullying and consequences of impulsive actions.

— Amber L. Wendolowski, Valley Community Library volunteer

”When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Badele

The author, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, wrote this book about her life and the lives of the people she loves. This was an emotional, eye-opening book that can shake you to your core. There’s so much love, pain, fear and life experiences in this book. It made me realize how much I didn’t understand and how much I didn’t know about what’s been happening in our communities. If you want to know where a movement was born, and what it is like to be black in America when life is constantly showing you that you are expendable, please check out this book. I hope everyone reads this and can bring healing, understanding, and unity to our communities.

”George” by Alex Gino

“George” was the number one most challenged book of 2019 according to the American Library Association, while also being reviewed by the School Library Journal as a “required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.” This book has been on my TBR (to be read) list for a while now. Banned Books Week is an annual event which celebrates the freedom to read. It is typically held during the last week of September, and it highlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. Since we just celebrate our freedom to read during this times, I checked out this book this year. Books are needed for us to see ourselves in, to know that we aren’t alone, and for us to understand experiences that are different than our own. “George” does both of these beautifully. Not only will transgender kids be able to see themselves in a book, but for all cisgender people may we become better allies like Kelly.

— Fawn Contreras, Valley Community Library youth services clerk

”The Rise of Kyoshi” by F. C. Yee with Avatar co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino

Yip yip! Buckle up and batten down, readers, because this one’s wilder than a wayward winged lemur! The legendary “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series continues its narrative with not the latest bender, but a previous one. This duology features fabulous element-bending, yes, but don’t forget staggering inequity and steps taken towards the conquering thereof — all as witnessed through the eyes of a fierce girl who doesn’t truly know the power that lies within. Those familiar with the show(s) can dive back in to the world they know and love. Eager for more Avatar? Simply intrigued by strong women, elemental prowess, or even fiction? Fly on over for the ride of a lifetime!

— Angelina Estadt, Valley Community Library page

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