NDEC Improve Your Computer Skills Program

The library is partnering up with the National Digital Equity Center (NDEC) to offer free digital literacy classes to the residents and businesses of Westbrook for its second year of the Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative.

The Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative is a program of the National Digital Equity Center committed to closing the digital divide in rural Maine. Their staff includes trained Digital Literacy Instructors who will be providing a free overview workshop.

During this workshop, participants will have a chance to hear about NDEC’s new Aging Well with Technology curriculum, which is designed for residents aged 55+, as well as many other computer skill classes. The workshop will be presented by Tyler O’Neil, NDEC Digital Literacy Instructor, who will also include a few important tips for staying safe on the internet.

If you are interested in joining or registering for the class, please contact Enica Davis at 207-854-0630 or You may also register online at Please note that the registration is limited to 15 people.

Walker's Bookshelf

Monster, She Wrote

Authors Lisa Kroger and Melanie Anderson’s Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction highlights female writers who have greatly contributed to the horror genre ever since its inception. From the classic gothic tales of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish (the 17th century Kardashian), Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Shelley to the contemporary and modern stories of Anne Rice, Helen Oyeyemi, and Jewelle Gomez, Monster, She Wrote provides a glimpse of horror’s evolution as a genre and how each female writer helped cement the tropes that we understand to be horror and speculative fiction.

Monster, She Wrote is divided in eight parts, separating authors by the theme they were exploring and the era in which they were writing. Each of the author has a brief but very informative biography. Additionally, at the end of each biography, Kroger and Anderson provide a reading list that helps connect works by different authors as well as expand the wealth of authors already mentioned in the book.

Monster, She Wrote has the fascinating and informative aspect of a reference guide as well as the fun quality of reading an illustrated book. It is a good introduction to those who are new to horror and speculative fiction and a good starting point for long-time fans who are looking to expand their repertoire of books in the genre.

Besides, if you’re a Jessica Fletcher fan, how could you not love the play on the title?

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Black History Month Week 3: Graphic Novels

For Black History Month Week 3, we are featuring graphic novels that explore the life of prominent black and/or African American figures.

Josephine Baker
by Jose-Louis Bocquet

Sassy and exuberant, Josephine Baker , born Freda Josephine  McDonald (1906–75), clowned her way through her St. Louis childhood to become one of the first black stars on the world stage. Infamous originally for her Folies Bergère cabaret act wearing only a skirt of (fake) bananas, her fresh and alluring charm infused her half-century of dancing and singing in her adopted country of France and many other places. Pablo Picasso, Charles de Gaulle, Martin Luther King (who introduced a speech by Baker  at the 1963 March on Washington), Grace Kelly, and Fidel Castro all admired her. She entertained troops during World War II and spied for the Allies, adopted 12 children, and crusaded for civil rights. Bocquet (with Muller, Kiki de Montparnasse) does Baker’s  complicated life justice in both appeal and detail. A lengthy chronology anchors key milestones and a massive biographical appendix provides background about important people in the entertainer’s life. Muller’s high-contrast, black-and-white inks finesse a mostly realistic whimsy and is especially good at rendering people recognizably in few lines. VERDICT Highly enjoyable, this is a wonderful work. For teens and up; some minor nudity.—MC –Martha Cornog (Reviewed 06/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 10, p84)

Muhammad Ali
by Sybille Titeux de la Croix

A canny Louisville, KY, police officer guided 12-year-old Cassius Clay toward boxing when the kid wanted to whup the thief who stole his bike. One of the greatest and most popular fighters in history, Ali  (who changed his name upon converting to Islam) also fought against discrimination and the Vietnam War, becoming a symbol of black activism as well as success. This stellar account brings the details of Ali’s  life, fights, and legacy into clear focus, complete with a diagram of his boxing technique. Photo-realistic art with tan/red emphasis; tweens and up. –Martha Cornog (Reviewed 01/01/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 1, p87)

The Life of Frederick Douglass
by David Walker

The story of Frederick Douglass (d. 1895), from his birth into slavery to his celebration by dignitaries around the world, is brought to readers in this spectacular graphic novel from author Walker (Luke Cage; War for the Planet of the Apes) and illustrators Smyth and Marissa Louise. Brief chapter interludes titled “Lessons” provide context for Douglass’s experiences and reference specific writings, depicting a long and often times heartrending journey in a way that is respectful and realistic. Walker states in the introduction that he aimed to have Douglass “narrate” the book  himself by using his subject’s published works to guide the narrative voice. A range of traditional multipaneled and fully illustrated pages rendered in vivid color reveal the depth and intricacies of each scene. A comprehensive bibliography and index assist in locating references to specific people or places discussed throughout. VERDICT This thoughtfully crafted portrait will delight and inform, regardless of readers’ prior knowledge of Douglass’s life and legacy. [See Prepub Alert, 7/16/18; Martha Cornog’s “Diverse Voices and Viewpoints: Must-Have Graphic Novels for Black History Month and Beyond,”] –Tom Batten (Reviewed 12/01/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 20, p65)

Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story
by Peter Bagge

Meet Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960): anthropologist who worked with Franz Boas, folklore collector with Alan Lomax, novelist (Their Eyes Were Watching God), essayist, playwright, eccentric intellectual, life of the party, and adventurous fashionista. With friends and enemies black and white, Hurston faced criminal charges, poverty, ill health, and fickle associates (e.g., poet Langston Hughes) who didn’t always stand up for her. Bagge (Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story) bends his manic, rubbery characters around Hurston’s chutzpah for a warts-and-roses portrait of this woman who stirred up controversy both within and outside of the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston insisted on reproducing black speech idiomatically as she heard it, and Bagge follows her lead. (FIRE!! was a 1926 magazine “devoted to younger Negro artists,” including Hurston.) Hurston shouldered her way up through multiple glass ceilings, and here Bagge captures her zest, humor, frustration, brain power, and accomplishments. VERDICT Current and future fans of Hurston plus anyone interested in American literary history will be entertained as well as enlightened. (See interview with Bagge on p. 69.)—MC –Martha Cornog (Reviewed 04/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 6, p66)

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Keeping up with different trends for personal, academic, and professional development can be a daunting task. Here is a list of helpful resources to get you started.

LearningExpress Library

An eLearning solution for students and professionals, LearningExpress Library provides interactive tutorials, practice tests, e-books, flashcards, and articles for academic skill-building, standardized test preparations, and career development.

Digital Maine Library, Maine’s online resource provided by the Maine State Library and Maine InfoNet, grants access to LearningExpress Library. You may learn more about this resource by going to our website ( and clicking the DATABASES button.

Niche Academy

An online learning tool that provides video tutorials for several library resources. Right now, video tutorials include signing up to Facebook, using Goodreads, accessing CloudLibrary, etc.. You may access Niche Academy through Digital Maine Library.


A program of the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina, GCFglobal offers online tutorials ranging from Microsoft Office Suite to reading, math, and science-related subjects.


edX (also known as Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs)

Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), edX is a non-profit platform for education and learning. edX serves as an aggregator for online courses offered by other universities. Most online courses, by themselves, are free; however, if you are thinking of enrolling in any of edX’s programs and degrees, such as MicroMasters or XSeries, there are fees attached.


-by E.D.

Walker's Bookshelf

Black History Month Week 2: YA Titles


February is Black History Month. To celebrate, we are featuring books that are written by African American and black writers each week.
This week, we are highlighting young adult titles.

Who Put This Song On?
by Morgan Parker

Seventeen-year-old Morgan is struggling with depression, and her family just doesn’t understand. When she tells her doctor that it sucks being alive sometimes, he thinks it’s because she doesn’t have a boyfriend, and even though she’s in therapy following a failed suicide attempt, her mother thinks she just needs more Jesus. But when she meets David, he gets it. Within their new friend group, there is a traveling notebook where they record their thoughts, feelings, and affirmations for each other. In many ways, Parker’s debut models what introspective teens may go through when questioning the world around them. Through this  story based loosely on  her own life, she takes readers on  a journey of self-exploration, full of all the universal teenage angst and drama that surround school, identity, sex, rejection, and friendship. This  is all layered into Morgan’s coming-of-age realizations about her Blackness as she becomes interested in researching specific periods of her identity’s history, hoping to understand how it—and she—fits into present-day America. When, thanks to a terrible teacher, she makes a huge scene at school, her actions may seem familiar to readers. This  fresh read provides a positive and inclusive take on  mental health and wellness and offers readers some tools to survive on  their own. — Jessica Anne Bratt (Reviewed 9/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 116, number 1, p105)

by Akwaeke Emezi

The only world Jam has ever known is that of Lucille, a town where the angels have ostensibly banished the monsters and dismantled the structures that allowed monsters and monstrous deeds to pervade. Lucille is a post-prison, post–school shooting, post–police brutality society. A society where someone like Jam, a selectively mute transgender teen, can live with complete acceptance, support, and love. Still, she can feel the hard truths of the world, can sense them in the air, hear them in words unsaid. When Jam steals into her mother Bitter’s painting studio and unleashes Pet , a winged, horned, eyeless creature and monster hunter, from one of the paintings and into their world, life as she’s known it begins to dissolve. Jam must confront the harsh realities of her world as she tentatively partners with Pet  and ventures forward to avenge a wrong not yet discovered. This is a heart-stirring atmospheric page-turner, a terrific and terrible yet quiet adventure. Emezi spins a tale that defies categorization as strikingly as their characters, forcing readers to deeply rethink assumptions about identity, family structure, and justice. VERDICT A riveting and important read that couldn’t be more well timed to our society’s struggles with its own monsters.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ –Jill Heritage Maza (Reviewed 07/01/2019) (School Library Journal, vol 65, issue 6, p49)

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi

Eleven years ago, King Saran cemented his grip on the throne by banishing magic from Orïsha and  slaughtering the realm’s maji—Zélie Adebola’s mother included. The maji’s descendants—dark-skinned, white-haired people called divîners—have lived under tyranny ever since, but now there is cause for hope. Thanks to information gleaned from Saran’s kindhearted daughter, Amari, 17-year-old Zélie has a chance to restore magic to Orïsha and  activate a new generation of  maji. First, though, Zélie, Amari, and  Zélie’s brother Tzain must outrun the crown prince, Inan, who is determined to finish what his father started by eradicating magic for good. Book one in the Orïsha Legacy trilogy, Adeyemi’s devastating debut is a brutal, beautiful tale of  revolution, faith, and  star-crossed love. By making tangible the power that comes from embracing one’s heritage, Adeyemi conjures a story that resonates with magic both literal and  figurative while condemning apathy in the face of  injustice. Complex characters, colossal stakes, and  a kaleidoscopic narrative captivate, and  the book’s punishing pace catapults readers to a jaw-dropping conclusion that poses as many questions as it answers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Alexandra Machinist and  Hillary Jacobson, ICM. (Mar.) –Staff (Reviewed 01/01/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 01, p)

Watch Us Rise
by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

This is a refreshingly unapologetic celebration of young women’s voices in a format that encompasses poetry, blog posts, essays, and prose. Best friends Jasmine and Chelsea intend to start junior year at their progressive, social-justice-focused high school on a high note in their respective clubs: for Jasmine, the August Wilson Acting Ensemble and for Chelsea, the Peaceful Poets. When both are (ironically) met with resistance to new, more inclusive ideas, they decide to leave their clubs and form a new one focused on elevating women’s voices, especially those of activists and people of color. When their blog, Write Like a Girl, goes viral, the school’s administration attempts to shut them down. Watson and Hagan keep Jasmine and Chelsea’s voices distinct and allow them to resound with authenticity. Despite facing very real hardships like fat-shaming, sexism, and loss of a parent, Jasmine and Chelsea are steadfast in their convictions and relentlessly supportive of both each other and their own emotions. Readers won’t be able to help feeling empowered and uplifted by the end of the novel. — Caitlin Kling (Reviewed 4/19/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 16)

Walker's Bookshelf

Free Movie Streaming

Free TV and Movie Streaming

If you’re in a pinch and can’t go to the library to borrow a film or TV show, here is a list of streaming services where you can watch movies and/or TV shows for free without violating copyright.

All the streaming services listed below can be downloaded on compatible devices such as mobile, tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and smart TV. For more information, please click on the following icons that will direct you to their website.


A joint venture between Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Sony Pictures, Crackle is a free-to-use video streaming service featuring full-length movies, TV shows, and other original programming.


The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization working towards compiling digital forms and contents all over the Internet. Their mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.


Pluto TV is a free streaming television service that delivers 100+ channels and on-demand movies in partnership with major TV networks, movie studios, publishers, and digital media companies.


Unlike Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, Tubi TV is a free movie and TV streaming service. The contents are done in partnership with major movie studios like Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM, etc.

Walker's Bookshelf

YALSA 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults

YALSA 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced its 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adult. Here is the list of titles that made it to top ten.

For more information, please visit

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
by Ben Philippe

Seventeen-year-old Norris Kaplan has just had his world turned upside-down. When his mother has to relocate to find work in her field, Norris finds his identity as a Black, French-Canadian hockey fan challenged by his new existence in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. While on the surface this is a classic fish-out-of-water tale, there are many more layers to the story. Lots of different elements of identity are brought to bear in Norris’s narration: his Haitian/immigrant heritage, racial identity, and viewpoint on American high school stereotypes. The protagonist’s smart and funny demeanor will engage readers, even when he makes obviously bad decisions. Norris is particularly adept at letting his assumptions about his peers impact his ability to relate to them as individuals, either as friends or romantically. The authorial decision to have the “outsider” be the character influenced by stereotypes rather than the opposite makes for a very compelling reversal that ultimately works. The unresolved ending allows teens to revel in the messiness of high school social blunders and see the value in doing the hard work of making amends. VERDICT A witty debut with whip-smart dialogue that will find much love among fans of authors like John Green and Jason Reynolds.—Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR

Girls on the Verge
by Sharon Biggs Waller

Camille has just wrapped a successful summer with her theater troupe and is ready for a prestigious theater camp with her crush. Then one missed period becomes two, and Camille faces the  truth: her first sexual encounter, a one-time thing, has led to pregnancy. Camille knows she can’t have a baby now, but she doesn’t want to involve her parents, and her best friend, Bea, can’t reconcile her religious views with Camille’s decision. Complicating the  situation are Texas’ prohibitive abortion laws: it’s a year after Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster and Governor Rick Perry’s restrictive bill. Desperate, Camille turns to Annabelle, a girl  she admires but hardly knows, who offers to drive her to Mexico for pills that will induce an abortion. At the  last minute, despite her reservations, Bea decides to come as well. Waller (The  Forbidden Orchid, 2016) hammers home the  immense difficulties that girls  in Camille’s situation face. The  story occasionally has the  unnerving feel of a dystopia, despite taking place in the  recent past: Camille travels hundreds of miles, crosses into dangerous border towns, and faces the  judgment of legal and medical professionals as well as people she knows. The  narrative sometimes treads into the  expository, but Camille’s story is absolutely essential, as is the  underlying message that girls  take care of each other when no one else will. — Maggie Reagan (Reviewed 4/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 15, p70)

by Mindy McGinnis

All it takes is one prescription to kick-start a student athlete’s frightening descent into opioid addiction. After surgery following a car accident, Ohio softball phenom Mickey Catalan is prescribed OxyContin for pain. When she starts to run out of the Oxy she relies on to get through her physical therapy, she gets pills from a dealer, through whom she meets other young addicts. Mickey rationalizes what she’s doing and sees herself as a good girl who’s not like others who use drugs (like new friend Josie, who uses because she’s “bored”). Mickey loves how the pills make her feel, how they take her out of herself and relieve the pressures in her life. Soon she’s stealing, lying, and moving on to heroin. Her divorced parents, including her recovering addict stepmother, suspect something is going on, but Mickey is skilled at hiding her addiction. A trigger warning rightfully cautions graphic depictions of drug use. In brutally raw detail, readers see Mickey and friends snort powders, shoot up, and go through withdrawal. Intense pacing propels the gripping story toward the inevitable conclusion already revealed in the prologue. An author’s note and resources for addiction recovery are appended. This powerful, harrowing, and compassionate story humanizes addiction and will challenge readers to rethink what they may believe about addicts. VERDICT From the horrific first line to the hopeful yet devastating conclusion, McGinnis knocks it out of the park. A first purchase for all libraries serving teens.—Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN –Amanda MacGregor (Reviewed 03/01/2019) (School Library Journal, vol 65, issue 2, p115)

Like a Love Story
by Abdi Nazemian

When Reza, a  closeted teen, moves from Toronto to New York City (“by way of Tehran”) in 1989, the city feels like  the epicenter of the AIDS crisis. In a  heart-wrenching and bittersweet unfolding of events, he gravitates toward Art, the only openly gay student at his school, and to Art’s best friend, Judy, who represents everything he feels that he should desire. Though Reza tries his hardest to keep his attractions secret, dating Judy despite his chemistry with Art, he finds that he can’t live a  lie, whatever that might cost him. A  first-person narrative moves among the three characters as they discover their inner truths at a  time that sometimes feels apocalyptic for their community and loved ones. Under the nurturing guidance of Judy’s gay activist uncle, the characters subtly investigate different family dynamics. The intense and nuanced emotions evoked by the characters’ journeys help to give this powerful novel by Nazemian (The Authentics) a  timeless relevance. Ages 13–up. Agent: Curtis Brown, Curtis Brown Ltd. (June) –Staff (Reviewed 04/22/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 16, p)

Lovely War
by Julie Berry

Berry (The Passion of Dolssa) brings to life wartime horrors and passions with commentary from Olympian gods in this love story filled with vivid historical detail. To show her husband, Hephaestus, the real meaning of love and its connection to war  and art, Aphrodite (with the help of Apollo, Hades, and Ares) tells the emotion-packed WWI saga of two besotted couples drawn together by music and war : British pianist Hazel and soldier James; African-American jazz musician Aubrey and Colette, a Belgian war  orphan with a remarkable singing voice. After James reports to duty, Hazel follows, taking a wartime volunteer position in France. There, she meets Colette, who is still reeling from her wartime losses, and introduces her to Aubrey, who quickly steals Colette’s heart. James and Aubrey witness horrors on and off the battlefield, and Hazel and Colette cling to each other during the best of times, such as when Hazel has the opportunity for a brief reunion with James, and the worst, as when Aubrey goes missing. Berry’s evocative novel starts slow but gains steam as the stories flesh out. Along the way, it suggests that while war  and its devastation cycles through history, the forces of art and love remain steady, eternal, and life-sustaining. Ages 12–up. (Mar.) –Staff (Reviewed 12/24/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 52, p)

On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas

–Aspiring rapper Bri records “On the Come Up ” to protest the  racial profiling and assault she endured at the  hands of white security guards at her high school. The  song goes viral, and Bri seizes the  opportunity to follow in the  footsteps of her late father and lift her family out of poverty, but her loved ones worry, especially when some listeners paint her as an angry black girl inciting violence. Tension mounts as Bri’s mother loses her job, Bri’s relationship with her beloved aunt and musical mentor splinters, and a new manager dangles the  prospect of fame and wealth—at a price. Set in the  same neighborhood as Thomas’s electrifying The  Hate U Give, this visceral novel makes cogent observations about the  cycle of poverty and the  inescapable effects of systemic racism. Though the  book never sands over the  rough realities of Garden Heights, such as gang warfare, it imbues its many characters with warmth and depth. While acknowledging that society is quick to slap labels onto black teens, the  author allows her heroine to stumble and fall before finding her footing and her voice. VERDICT Thomas once again fearlessly speaks truth to power; a compelling coming-of-age story for all teens.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal –Mahnaz Dar (Reviewed 02/01/2019) (School Library Journal, vol 65, issue 1, p77)

Patron Saints of Nothing
by Randy Ribay

Integrating snippets of  Tagalog and Bikol, author Ribay displays a deep friendship between two 17-year-old cousins: Jay, born in the Philippines but raised in the United States since infancy, and Jun, born and raised in a gated community in Manila. Jay, considered white in an all-white school, is starting to get acceptances (and rejections) from colleges and finds out while playing video games that Jun, with whom he corresponded for years via “actual letters—not email or texts or DMs,” is dead. His Filipino father doesn’t want to talk about it, but his North American mother reveals that Jun was using drugs. Jay blames his uncle, a police chief, for his murder after researching the dictatorship of  Rodrigo Duterte (the book includes a handy author’s note and a list of  articles and websites), who has sanctioned and perpetrated the killing of  between 12,000 and 20,000 drug addicts by police and vigilantes since 2016. Jay, armed with his stack of  letters, returns to Manila to search for the truth. Ribay weaves in Jun’s letters so readers witness Jun’s questions and his attempts to reconcile the inequity around him with his faith. Jay follows Jun’s footsteps into the slums of  Manila, the small house of  his activist aunts, and the Catholic parish of  his uncle, a village priest, and learns painful truths about his family, his home country, and himself. VERDICT Part mystery, part elegy, part coming of  age, this novel is a perfect convergence of  authentic voice and an emphasis on inner dialogue around equity, purpose, and reclaiming one’s lost cultural identity.—Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City –Sara Lissa Paulson (Reviewed 06/01/2019) (School Library Journal, vol 65, issue 5, p84)

by Akwaeke Emezi

Carnegie Medal–nominee Emezi (Freshwater for adults) makes their young adult debut in this story of a transgender, selectively nonverbal girl named Jam, and the monster that finds its way into their universe. Jam’s hometown, Lucille, is portrayed as a utopia—a world that is post-bigotry and -violence, where “angels” named after those in religious texts have eradicated “monsters.” But after Jam accidently bleeds onto her artist mother’s painting, the image—a figure with ram’s horns, metallic feathers, and metal claws—pulls itself out of the canvas. Pet , as it tells Jam to call it, has come to her realm to hunt a human monster––one that threatens peace in the home of Jam’s best friend, Redemption. Together, Jam, Pet , and Redemption embark on a quest to discover the crime and vanquish the monster. Jam’s language is alternatingly voiced and signed, the latter conveyed in italic text, and Igbo phrases pepper the family’s loving interactions. Emezi’s direct but tacit story of injustice, unconditional acceptance, and the evil perpetuated by humankind forms a compelling, nuanced tale that fans of speculative horror will quickly devour. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency. (Sept.) –Staff (Reviewed 06/17/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 24, p)

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
by Junauda Petrus

Trinidadian native Audre uses the labels placed upon her as a shield, fearing those around her will discover the real reason her mother sent her to live with her distant father in Minneapolis: she was caught wrapped in the arms of another girl. Struggling with her own questions surrounding her sexuality and depleting health, Mabel holds no faith that she’s going to have anything in common with Audre, the daughter of a family friend who’s just arrived from Trinidad and has a bit of a church-girl reputation. But they find themselves drawn to each other in inexorable ways. Told through unflinching prose and poetry laced with astrological themes, Petrus’ work breaks the mold of traditional writing and uses unconventional dialogue and voice to bring life to the story of two authentic, unapologetic Black girls as they face the hardest truths head on and discover everlasting love that reaches even the most distant corners of the cosmos. Through the intersplicing of poetry, Petrus provides compelling depth to both Audre and Mabel while conveying the powerful message that those we love on earth remain with us through a connection that can only be described as celestial. Striking an agile balance between humor and heartbreak, Petrus delivers an immersive queer romance set in in a world much like our own but touched with the slightest tint of magic realism. — Tiana Coven (Reviewed 8/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 22, p60)

With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo

In this stunning sophomore novel from National Book Award and Printz winner Acevedo (The Poet X), Afro–Puerto Rican and African-American Emoni Santiago, a high  school senior, lives in Philadelphia with  her two-year-old daughter, Emma—nicknamed Babygirl—and paternal grandmother, ’Buela. A talented cook, Emoni balances school, work at a local burger joint, and motherhood—including shared custody with  her ex-boyfriend, Tyrone—with  moments in the  kitchen, where her “magical hands” create dishes that allow the  eater to access deep, surprising memories. But she’s not sure what to do with  her passion, or after high  school, until enrolling in a culinary arts elective helps her to hone her innate cooking skills in the  classroom and during a hard-won weeklong apprenticeship in Spain. As she gains practice at leadership and fund-raising, she also cautiously develops a budding relationship with  new student Malachi, a boy who respects Emoni’s boundaries. Acevedo expertly develops Emoni’s close female relationships, which are often conveyed through the  sharing of food and recipes, and which shape and buoy Emoni’s sense of her own direction and strength. With  evocative, rhythmic prose and realistically rendered relationships and tensions, Acevedo’s unvarnished depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific. Ages 13–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May) –Staff (Reviewed 03/04/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 9, p)

For the full list of 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults, please visit

-list by E.D.

Walker's Bookshelf Youth Services

100th Anniversary of the 19th Ammendment

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gives women the right to vote. Here’s a list of books you can borrow to explore the history of women’s suffrage.
We also encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.

Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Women Suffrage
by Anne B. Gass

Voting Down the Rose is a lively account of Maine native Florence Brooks Whitehouse’s efforts to win women voting rights in the decisive final years of the campaign, 1914-1920. Considered radical for picketing the White House, Florence helped win women suffrage against a backdrop of conservative views of women’s roles, political intrigues, WWI, and the 1918 influenza epidemic (Publisher).

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
by Elaine Weiss

Weiss (Fruits of Victory) chronicles the  crucial and contentious struggle to make Tennessee the  final state to ratify the  19th Amendment during the  sweltering summer of 1920. She traces the  history of the  suffrage movement, and profiles the  principle players. Social, political, regional, economic, and racial factors complicated the  fight. Suffragists were disunited; Carrie Catt (protégé of Susan B. Anthony) created the  National American Women  Suffrage Association, which warred with Alice Paul and Sue White’s radical National Woman’s  Party. Tennesseans and other Southerners used trickery to prevent the  imposition of yet another national amendment to invite federal election oversight and threaten white supremacy. Corporate interests believed female voters would threaten their corrupt stronghold over state government. President Woodrow Wilson courted women’s  votes to gain support for the  League of Nations, and waffling presidential candidates used the  suffrage issue to suit their advantage. VERDICT This well-researched and well-documented history reveals how prosuffragists sometimes compromised racial equality to win white women’s  enfranchisement, and that, although the  19th Amendment was ratified, there exists to this day an ongoing battle to effect universal, unrestricted suffrage. Essential for all libraries and readers interested in this vital issue. [See “Editors’ Spring Picks,” p. 29.] –Margaret Kappanadze (Reviewed 02/01/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 2, p113)

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore

New Yorker writer Lepore (David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of History , Harvard Univ.) presents an engaging, well-researched look at the  unconventional family behind the  character and stories of Wonder Woman . The  author focuses on the  character’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and his family: Elizabeth Holloway Marston, his wife and partial inspiration for the  character; Olive Byrne, who lived with the  couple in a polyamorous relationship; and Margaret Huntley, who also lived with the  family on and off through the  years. Also featured are the  family’s four children: two with Holloway Marston and two with Byrne. Marston was a psychologist, one of the  originators of the  modern lie detector, and a fervent propagandist of  female sexual power, if not necessarily female emancipation. Lepore handles her potentially thorny topic well and manages to avoid being salacious or gossipy. Readers looking for an exploration of Wonder Woman  herself would do better to try Tim Hanley’s Wonder Woman  Unbound . Lepore uses the  character more as a touchstone to guide her exploration of the  Marston family. VERDICT Fans interested in the  background of the  character and readers who appreciate well-written popular history  will enjoy this thought-provoking volume. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.]— Hanna Clutterbuck, Harvard Univ. Lib., Cambridge, MA –Hanna Clutterbuck (Reviewed September 15, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 15, p96)

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
by Rebecca Traister

As Beyoncé sang, “Now put your hands up!” Today, only 20 percent of  adults under the  age of  29 are married, compared with nearly 60 percent in 1960, a dramatic shift in which unmarried women  played a major role. In this compelling narrative, Traister (Big Girls Don’t Cry: The  Election That Changed Everything) investigates how scores of single women  have contributed to important social and  political movements that have changed U.S. history—before and  after Betty Friedan and  Gloria Steinem. A thoughtful journalist, Traister explores the  history of the  “spinster” and  explains how issues such as class, race, sexuality, and  religion have impacted single women  throughout time, and  how they in return have influenced the  workplace, personal space, and the  concept of  family. In addition to her painstaking research, Traister includes stories from the  unattached ladies  themselves in more than 100 interviews and  draws on pop culture references such as Sex & the  City and  Bridesmaids. While the  image of the  free, independent woman  is considered a modern sensation, Traister reveals that she has always fought for the  right to own her self-identity as well as for the  rights of  others. VERDICT This fast-paced, fascinating book will draw in fans of  feminism, social sciences, and  U.S. history, similar to Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed. [See Prepub Alert, 9/28/15.] –Venessa Hughes (Reviewed 02/15/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 3, p121)

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights
by Kate Hannigan

Hannigan presents an invigorating account of the life of Belva Lockwood, taking readers from her childhood in Niagara County, N.Y., to her career as one of the first women lawyers in the U.S. to her 1884 run for president (“Are women not worth the same as men? Belva spent her whole life asking that question.”). Working in her distinctively crackled folk style, Jay depicts powerful moments of resistance and courage from Lockwood’s life—whether storming into a classroom or protesting before the Supreme Court. Endnotes provide a timeline of Lockwood’s life and beyond, highlighting significant events in the ongoing fight for women’s rights and concluding with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. Ages 9–12. Author’s agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lorraine Owen, the Organisation. (Jan.) –Staff (Reviewed 11/20/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 47, p)

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragist, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
by Mara Rockliff

A car made up of bright primary colors—yellow hood, blue doors, and red luggage compartment—transports suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, a kitten, and readers across the United States all in the name of “Votes for Women!” Throughout, the pacing is excellent, and Rockliff begins the adventure with a litany of items found inside the petite yellow vehicle (“tools,/spare parts,/a teeny-tiny typewriter”) and introduces Richardson and Burke and emphasizes their determination to get the word out (“V. for W.!”). Readers will follow the two women (and their kitten) from New York City to Philadelphia, through a blizzard, a stop at an all-yellow luncheon, a stint in a circus parade, and more as they drive down South and along the U.S. and Mexican border all the way to California and back. Rockliff communicates the boundless energy of these two figures and adds touches of humor to lift the narrative; this small but significant historical moment is presented as accessible and fun without undermining the importance of Richardson, Burke, and the fight for women’s equality. Hooper shows the women working together (a concluding image of Richardson handing Burke a daffodil is wonderful), the curiosity and interest on the faces of passersby (mainly white folks), and the dress and style of the times. While this is an excellent introduction to the efforts of suffragists, when discussing this text and the Nineteenth Amendment, librarians may want to clarify that statements such as “At last, American women had won the right to vote” (mentioned in the back matter section titled “Winning the Vote”) did not always reflect the reality of African American women and other women of color, who often faced legal and illegal barriers to vote (especially in the South) until well into the 1960s. VERDICT Prepare for the arrival of the “little yellow car” into the hearts of readers; this charming and vibrant account of two lesser-known figures will bolster historical collections.—Della Farrell, School Library Journal –Della Farrell (Reviewed 07/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 7, p95)

A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen
by Kathryn Lasky

Kat Bowen records her days in Washington, DC, in a diary from her mother. A typical 13-year-old from a well-to-do family, she expresses her dreams and hopes as she recounts her thoughts on school, homework, relationships, parties, and her special bond with her cousin Alma. As the early days of 1917 pass, Kat becomes increasingly aware of the political issues that are prevalent, particularly the inevitable involvement of the U.S. in World War I and women’s suffrage. Her physician father is quietly supportive of his wife’s activism in the movement, while his brother-in-law, Alma’s father, demeans it and forbids the women in his family to participate in any way. Kat soon joins her mother sewing banners and bringing hot bricks for warmth on the picket line. Lasky entwines some of the real characters of the day with her fictional figures. She gives a good overview of the harsh treatment these women endured during their picketing and imprisonment and touches on divorce, the plight of African-American citizens in the South, and President Wilson’s disinterest in rights for women. Kat is well developed into a young woman whose exposure to the politics and consequences allow her to mature and decide what true liberty and justice for all really means. A historical note and reproductions of photos are appended.–Rita Soltan, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI –Rita Soltan (Reviewed August 1, 2002) (School Library Journal, vol 48, issue 8, p190)

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba
by Margarita Engle

This engaging title documents 50-year-old Swedish suffragette and novelist Fredrika Bremer’s three-month travels around Cuba in 1851. Based in the  home of a wealthy sugar planter, Bremer journeys around the  country with her host’s teenaged slave Cecilia, who longs for her mother and home in the  Congo. Elena, the  planter’s privileged 12-year-old daughter, begins to accompany them on their trips into the  countryside. Both Elena and Cecilia are inspired by their guest’s independence, Elena to wonder if she can avoid eventual marriage and Cecilia to dream of freedom for her unborn child. Using elegant free verse and alternating among each character’s point of view, Engle offers powerful glimpses into Cuban life at that time. Along the  way, she comments on slavery, the  rights of women, and the  stark contrast between Cuba’s rich and poor. The  author takes some license with the  real Bremer’s journey; Elena is fictional, which the  author is careful to point out in her author’s note. She also includes a reference list for readers who want to learn more about Bremer. The  easily digestible, poetic narrative makes this a perfect choice for reluctant readers, students of the  women’s movement, those interested in Cuba, and teens with biography assignments.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD –Leah J. Sparks (Reviewed February 1, 2010) (School Library Journal, vol 56, issue 2, p129)

Walker's Bookshelf

Starred Review: Circe

by Madeline Miller

Countless writers have taken inspirations from characters in Greek Mythology for their quintessential characterizations everyone could easily recognize. Written in first-person narrative, Madeline Miller’s Circe follows the life of its titular protagonist as she navigates the world around her.

In Homer’s The Odyssey, Circe plays a minor role as one more obstacle that Odysseus needed to overcome. Miller, on the other hand, takes Circe’s story and turns it into an epic tale that spans thousands of years (gods are immortal, after all). Born as the daughter of Helios, the god of the Sun, Circe does not exude the beauty of her naiad peers or other gods—she is a lesser god among other lesser gods. According to her father, “Circe is dull as a rock” . . . or so he thinks. Circe discovers where her true power lies. When she uses it against one of her fellow nymphs, Circe is exiled to an isolated island called Aiaia. In exile, Circe hones her craft and makes a name for herself.

It is a feat to write a novel that spans a thousand years while making the story organically flow, and Miller has done just that. Her narrative never loses its cadence and, as readers, we find ourselves completely taken by Circe. The way Circe’s character develops feels authentic, and, it is where the strength of this novel lies. Miller’s version of Circe is one of the most captivating and genuine fictional characters I’ve come across.

There is a beautiful fluidity in Miller’s writing style. The story transforms from the ethereal world of gods to something intimate that all of us could identify with. Even though Circe is a goddess, Miller’s portrayal of her is deeply human—with all the strength and flaws that comes with being one. In Circe, Miller explores relationships, love, and mortality with a certain dynamism and tenderness that strikes our very core. One of the most poignant moment in the book that stuck with me is when Circe confronts Trygon for his tail, which serves as a poison to gods, in order to protect her son, Telegonus, from Athena.

“I felt the currents move. The grains of sand whispered against each other. His wings were lifting. The darkness around us shimmered with clouds of his gilded blood. Beneath my feet were the bones of a thousand years. I thought: I cannot bear this world a moment longer.

Then, child, make another.”

Miller’s Circe makes us appreciate the ground beneath our feet—the world we live in—with all its beauty and atrocity. Miller casts a powerful spell on her readers, and it is one that lingers for a long time.

Walker's Bookshelf

Beautiful Book Cover Thursday

Brighten up your day with today’s #beautifulbookcoverthursday post, featuring three titles that you can borrow or request now!

Three Flames
by Alan Lightman

Novelist and physicist Lightman has traveled twice yearly since 2003 to Cambodia to work with his Harpswell Foundation which empowers women leaders in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. In his first novel in seven years, Lightman’s opening dedication directly spotlights Harpswell’s “strong and courageous young women,” some of whose stories have inspired his intimate examination of a Cambodian family’s post-Khmer Rouge lives, driven by survival, redeemed by resilience. Each of six chapters, named for each family member, is paired with a pivotal year. Mother Ryna in 2012 confronts her father’s murderer. In 2009, teenage, pregnant eldest daughter Nita plots to escape her much older husband. Marriage eludes only son Kamal in 2013. In 2008, middle daughter Thida is forced to become a debt equalizer. Father Pich, a young man in 1973, earns rejection from his parents. In 2015, youngest daughter Sreypov refuses a future constrained by the “three flames :” never air family problems, never forget parental sacrifices, always serve the husband. After four decades of submission, defiance just might break the family’s cycle of desperation and humiliation. — Terry Hong (Reviewed 9/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 116, number 1, p56)

The Sweetest Fruits
by Monique Truong

He began life in 1850 as Patricio to his Greek mother, immigrating at two from the  island of Lefcada to the  Emerald Isle, his father’s birthplace, where he became Patrick. By 19, he landed in New York, made his way to Cincinnati, and married a formerly enslaved woman who called him Pat, although as a struggling journalist, he was known as Lafcadio. His restlessness pushed him to New Orleans, then Martinique in the  West Indies, until he settled on his final island, Japan, where he became Koizumi Yakumo and lived with a samurai-descendant wife and, eventually, their four children. More than a century since his 1904 death, Lafcadio Hearn remains one of Japan’s preeminent literary expatriates. Truong, whose family’s violent 1975 displacement from Vietnam when she was six makes her intimately familiar with peripatetic longing, stupendously imagined the  life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’ Vietnamese Parisian cook in her award-winning debut, The  Book of Salt (2003). She displays similar ingenuity in her extraordinary new book (an eight-year effort) presenting Lafcadio Hearn through the  four most important women in his life: his willful Greek mother, his determined first wife, his protective last wife, and his tenacious first biographer, Elizabeth Bisland. By reclaiming these exemplary women’s voices, Truong enhances history with illuminating herstory too long overlooked. — Terry Hong (Reviewed 8/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 22, p25)

Dead Astronauts
by Jeff VanderMeer

Vandermeer’s follow-up to Borne (2017) explores the multiple pasts and futures of the City and the sinister Company that twists and destroys countless living things. The fragmented narrative centers primarily on the dead astronauts  at the crossroads from Borne, revealed to be three revolutionaries consisting of former Company workers/experiments Chen and Moss and the formerly lost-in-space Grayson. As these three lovers and companions come to the latest version of the City and the sinister Company, the established patterns of their war across realities begin to shift, with factors such as the demented and tortured Charlie X, a mysterious blue fox, a vast leviathan, and the dark bird known as “”the duck with a broken wing”” all come into play. The varied points of view and stylistic shifts of the narrative allow the reader to experience reality through the eyes of different characters, human and otherwise, and the struggle of different forms of life trying to survive unites the vignettes that form the bulk of the novel. Highly recommended for those interested in sf invested in ecological concerns and speculative fiction that plays with narrative form. New readers will want to read Borne before diving in to its multi-dimensional sequel. — Nell Keep (Reviewed 11/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 116, number 5, p31)