By L. B. Davis
Anyone craving a classic middle school book needs a copy of FOOD FIGHT. From class elections, first crushes, friendship troubles and bullies to surviving a class trip—everything's covered in all it's sixth grade glory.
The story follows Ben, a smart and athletic kid whose biggest speed bump, besides the shifting social landscape of sixth grade, is his eating. There are only ten foods he eats and that fact is getting harder to hide, especially as his social group expands. In fact, he has a condition known as ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), but no way does he want the school faculty or the other kids to know about that. As if simply surviving middle school wasn't hard enough, poor Ben tries his best to hide his problem from everyone on a daily basis but a three day school trip (where outside food isn't allowed) may prove too much to handle.
Ben is such a likable character and the group of kids he hangs out with, from nerdy Olivia to cute Lauren and bully Darren, are so well characterized and three dimensional that it's easy to become swept up in all the social dynamics and drama at play.
Highly recommend getting this book into the hands of as many upper elementary and middle schoolers as possible. A delightful read!
Frenemies with Benefits
By L. Sharp
Socially awkward Jess has a summer plan—to claim her brother's friend, Andrew, as her man and possibly even lose her V card to him. If only she had the sexual confidence to go after what she wanted. Which is where sexy jock Benjamin comes in. He and Jess have been sparring for ages and although she despises him, she can't deny how attractive he is or how experienced he is (at least by reputation) in the bedroom. Which is how she ends up requesting his help to upskill in the sexy department.
Jess is surprised to discover Benjamin has hidden depth—he's tender, thoughtful, nerdy, and a skilled musician and it isn't long before the lines between their sex-education business relationship blurs into something more and Jess finds herself craving his company when they're apart and thinking less and less about Andrew.
Highly recommended this romance for the upper YA/NA audience. The story gives page space to important conversations such as consent, contraception, pregnancy, and different types of sex all through the eyes of a relatable protagonist.
Thank you to @netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Publication date: Aug 28, 2023 (Entangled Teen)
Artifacts of an Ex
By J. Chen
This is a sweet story about Chloe, a planning obsessed teen art curator who moves to LA from NYC. Fresh from a break up, she is inspired to create an art exhibit featuring failed relationship mementos. In the process of adjusting to life in LA and making friends with fellow creatives, Chloe meets a cute film maker—Daniel. He’s as sweet as the pineapple cakes Chloe’s ahma used to make but convincing him to date her isn’t easy because of his preconceived ideas about love.
The side characters add additional interest and depth to the story and the way Chloe’s family dynamics were interwoven with the narrative worked beautifully.
This story is a nod to falling in love with LA, finding your artistic tribe, and the ups and downs of all the stages of love.
A fun read! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Publication date: Nov 13, 2023 (St Martin's Press, Wednesday Books)