tantly heads east to a fancy New England
boarding school, where she meets Remy
Taft, an infamous student from a famous
family, who adopts Willa like she’s a
wide-eyed puppy. Though it takes some
wading through Willa’s mile-a-minute
internal monologue in the opening chapters, once her adventures with Remy
begin, the story turns into a heartfelt,
hilarious thrill. Willa’s dry observations
can be laugh-out-loud funny (“I’m not
sure what the cutoff point is for gyrating
in sparkly clothes, but I can tell you some
of these people are really pushing it,” she
says of the crowd at a Brooklyn club). But
Willa’s early announcement of a plan to
kill herself and other foreshadowing hint
that Portes’s characters are careening
toward tragedy, with Remy at the center
of a brewing storm. Willa’s memorable
voice and humor, as well as her longing to
cultivate relationships that will anchor
her more firmly to the world, will linger
with readers. Ages 14–up. (May)
The Problem with Forever
Jennifer L. Armentrout. Harlequin Teen,
$18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-373-21205-7
Seventeen-year-old Mallory Dodge is as
meek as her old nickname, “Mouse,” and
Armentrout (the Dark Elements series)
layers her backstory with significant challenges: Mallory lived in foster homes, was
abused, and is nearly mute and trying to
learn to speak again without fear. Mallory’s
present is filled with equally remarkable
fortune: she has been adopted by kind doctors; sparks fly when she runs into Rider,
her one-time foster home protector, at her
new school; and people are generally
patient, welcoming, and kind to her.
Though Armentrout creates a diverse cast
of characters (Rider, Mallory’s parents, and
several other characters share Latino back-
grounds), they tend to be short on dimen-
sion. Rider is an ever-understanding hero,
his girlfriend is cartoonishly mean, and
Mallory’s adoptive parents are nearly per-
fect. Mallory spends the bulk of the novel
shrinking in the face of everything, and at
times her innocent demeanor feels con-
trived. But Armentrout’s effort to gradu-
ally coax her protagonist from her shell via
a supportive, loving community succeeds,
and readers looking for an inspirational
comeback story will find Mallory’s to be
satisfying and hopeful. Ages 14–up. Agent:
Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Whisper to Me
Nick Lake. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (544p)
Cassandra, 17, is already carrying a
deep emotional scar when she finds a severed human foot in her Jersey Shore
town, where a serial killer is suspected in
the disappearance of 14 sex workers. The
shocking discovery jars loose guilt and
sadness over her mother’s violent death
in the form of a disturbing voice that
harangues Cassie to harm herself in many
ways, including by sabotaging her
summer romance with the boy to whom
the story is addressed (in what would
surely be the world’s longest email).
Cassie’s conversational narration continually telegraphs impending doom, which
keeps the pages turning as readers race to
find out what horrible fate will befall the
characters, especially Paris, a stripper
who befriends Cassie at a psychiatric hospital. Cassie is a deeply sympathetic
figure, due in no small part to the terrifying and violent demands of the voice
she hears. Part romance, part crime story,
part meditation on mental illness, Lake’s
(There Will Be Lies) story covers a lot of
ground but leaves several threads
hanging, which may frustrate some
readers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Caradoc
King, United Agents. (May)
; Ada’s Violin: The Story of the
Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Susan Hood, illus. by Sally Wern Comport.
Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-
Hood’s (Rooting for You ) beautifully narrated true tale begins in Cateura, a “noisy,
stinking, sweltering slum” of Paraguay.
That’s where Ada Ríos lives with her
family, recyclers (gancheros) who collect and
sell trash from the nearby landfill. When
engineer Favio Chávez begins teaching
music to at-risk children there, Ada learns
the violin, and she and other students play
instruments made from recycled trash.
Comport (Love Will See You Through )
employs a vibrant collage technique, using
pictures of food labels, tires, and other
detritus to form colorful, almost ethereal
backdrops. Light-infused scenes of gan-
cheros picking through mountains of trash,
children playing soccer in Cateura’s
streets, and Ada practicing violin all
include hopeful shades of yellow. Torn bits
of a musical score edge out the garbage
scraps as the story progresses. When the
Recycled Orchestra gains fame, its mem-
bers perform in some of the world’s big-
gest, brightest cities: “Buried in the trash
was music. And buried in themselves was
something to be proud of.” An author’s
note expands on this uplifting, instructive
story; a Spanish-language edition is avail-
able simultaneously. Ages 4–8. Author’s
agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger
Associates. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon
Associates. (May) ;
Builder Mouse Sofia Eldarova. Clarion,
ISBN 978-0-544-35766-2, Feb.
Choose Your Days Paula S. Wallace. Cinco
Puntos, ISBN 978-1-94102-637-3, Apr.
There’s a Giraffe in My Soup Ross Burach.
Harper, ISBN 978-0-06-236014-4, Feb.
; I Am Pan! Mordicai Gerstein. Roaring Brook,
ISBN 978-1-62672-035-0, Mar.
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
Leslie Connor. HarperCollins/ Tegen, ISBN 978-0-
Beyond the Red Ava Jae. Skyhorse/Sky Pony,
ISBN 978-1-63450-644-1, Mar.
; Booked Kwame Alexander. Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-544-57098-6, Apr.
Girl About Town Adam Shankman and Laura L.
Sullivan. S&S/Atheneum, ISBN 978-1-4814-4787-
Ollie’s Odyssey William Joyce. S&S/Atheneum/
Dlouhy, ISBN 978-1-4424-7355-3, Apr.
Slacker Gordon Korman. Scholastic Press,
ISBN 978-0-545-82315-9, Apr.
Starflight Melissa Landers. Hyperion, ISBN 978-
Unidentified Suburban Object Mike Jung.
Scholastic/Levine, ISBN 978-0-545-78226-5, Apr.
The Wrong Wrights Chris Kientz and Steve
Hockensmith, illus. by Lee Nielsen. Smithsonian,
ISBN 978-1-58834-541-7, Feb.