Category: Family Relationships

Vengeance Road

Set in the Wild West in 1877, inspired by the legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, a rich gold mine hidden in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, this suspense and action-filled novel follows Kate Thompson who sets out on a pursuit to seek vengeance for her father’s death. On her mission to search for her father’s murderers, she disguises herself as a boy named Nate and along the way, meets new friends throughout her journey.

I have never read a western book before and being that I grew up watching Old Western movies, I’m not sure what took me so long, but after reading this novel I’m happy I started. This book was out of the ordinary from other YA novels I’m used to reading and had many twists and turns that kept me from putting the book down! Vengeance Road is the perfect mix of suspense, humor, mystery, and romance, and I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for an adventure.


Explaining Homelessness

Explaining Homelessness cover art

Kids are curious about their surroundings.  As my daughter and I have driven around our neighborhood and our surrounding cities, we have seen an increase in the number of people panhandling and living on the streets. There is a food pantry in my daughter’s elementary school, along with several of her fellow classmates that are homeless. Books are one way of explaining homelessness to my daughter. The following books are great tools for explaining homelessness to young children:      


Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth book cover art

While reading Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce, I often contemplated the direction this book was going, but what always seemed clear was that despite it seeming like a funny light read, it carried a heavy message. Speaking on the subject of what it is like to feel like a temporary kid in a foster home, it explores the concept that home is more than just a place. Throughout the book, Prez develops a relationship with Sputnik, an alien, who seems like a boy to just Prez but a dog to everyone else. Sputnik can read Prez’s thoughts and manipulate the laws of space and time. This book contains a valuable heartwarming lesson for any child that has ever felt like they didn’t have a home to belong to; it challenges that happiness doesn’t always have to come from a family, but from within.


Want to read the analysis for Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth? Click here to check it out.

In English, of Course

In English, Of Course book cover art

The book In English, of Course follows a young girl’s journey in adjusting to life in a new country as she balances her pride with her desire to connect and adapt to the new heritages that are present. Josephine, an immigrant from Italy, struggles to communicate and connect with her American peers.  Demonstrating how a child can find their voice in another language, and by extension, their agency, In English, of Course is as meaningful as it is thought-provoking.

In English, of Course depicts students from a wide array of backgrounds. These students share their heritage with each other and come together in their pursuit of learning English and maintaining their roots. Ling-Li, a student from China, talks about her culture while Juan, an immigrant from Puerto Rico describes his home country. Finally, its Josephine’s turn to share; she describes her old life and learns new English words simultaneously.  She describes a story about a cow, a river, and a pig and making new friends. When her teacher asks her, “Did you live in a farm?”, Josephine struggles to find the words to explain the magnificence of Naples and the prestige of her parents’ professional background.

In her struggle to communicate, Josephine learns patience and learns new words such as “falling down,” “dragging,” and “push.” By the end of the book, she can communicate more effectively, and she is inspired to learn more English words. In English, of Course portrays an immigrant’s journey from uncertainty to empowerment.


Want to read the analysis for In English, of Course? Click here to check it out.


I’ve had the opportunity to read many of the books that are currently in the DIVerse Families database; one that has stood out to me was Punkzilla by Adam Rapp. This book is about a 14-year-old boy named Jamie, but also known as Punkzilla who is fleeing away from military school to reach his brother who is dying from cancer. The plot was definitely a roller coaster with all kinds of twists and turns adding to the narrative. I enjoyed reading this book because it showed me a new perspective on diversity and gave me clarity on how important the DIVerse Families database was. I feel like representation is very important; seeing yourself represented feels really good and motivating. Growing up, I’ve always gravitated towards books that represented me in some kind of way because I wanted to relate to the storyline. But lately, these past few months I’ve realized that just because a character doesn’t look like me or didn’t grow up in the same background as me, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the book and learn something new. Diversity isn’t just about seeing yourself in media but seeing everyone else as well. Seeing and understanding that people come from all walks of life, and just because they are different from you doesn’t mean their story should go unheard. I enjoyed reading Punkzilla because it was a breath of fresh air from what I’ve always been used to reading in the past. This coming-of-age story touched on multiple topics of diversity from Family Relationships, to LGBT+ topics, to even Disability and Health, and much more. I learned about problems and issues I didn’t even know existed, and for that, I’m very grateful for getting the chance to read this book. I highly recommend for everyone to go check out the book, whether you identify with the character or not, come join Jamie on his adventure to reaching his brother.


Want to read the analysis for Punkzilla? Click here to check it out.

Brooklyn, Burning

Brooklyn, Burning book cover art

I picked up this book because I’m from Brooklyn myself and something about the cover picked at my interest. Throughout the book, the main character’s gender/sexual identity is somewhat hidden. Kid’s parents kicked him out after they found out about his sexuality and he resorts to living on the streets. He finds a guy who offers him a place to stay and he’s perfect to Kid, even with his heroin addiction. Kid loves everything about him and seems to be the only one that understands him really. Fast forward to the summer, Kid is still living on the streets, he’s found a bar whose owner looks out for him sometimes and he has a new love interest: Scout. Scout is an extremely talented singer who also plays guitar to perfection. Kid describes Scout’s music almost lovingly. Kid goes through ups and downs during that time, figuring out whether moving back home should be an option, being banned from the bar because of his age (no worries the owner sets him up with his own little place in the cellar/behind the bar) and most importantly the police accusing him of burning down a warehouse that the kids on the street used to live in. My favorite thing about Kid is his approach to life. Almost everything in this kid’s life falls apart but he still manages to remain calm, funny, and so sweet. Throughout the book, I was amazed at how easily he moved through life despite every bad thing that’s happened to him. Luckily, he finds Scout, falls in love with him and the music, gives him a place to stay and goes as far as organizing a concert for him. Throughout the book, Felix’s faith is shrouded in mystery. Whenever anyone mentions him, there’s a sadness/nostalgia that comes with it. The book is great overall and towards the middle we find out the sad news that Felix killed himself by overdosing on heroin in the very bar Kid still goes to every day. Although I expected a tragedy, it still hit hard, but Kid moved on thanks to his own strength but also through his wonderful support system. I teared up many times while reading this book, but I truly didn’t put it down until I was done.


Want to see the analysis for Brooklyn, Burning? Click here to check it out.


Finlater book cover art

Finlater is a book about a boy on the wrong side of the tracks. Reading this book, I found many similarities between Cliffy, the main character, and I. He is a sweet, smart, sensitive, and wonderfully honest boy who, despite his circumstances and his lack of a father figure growing up, still sees the bright side of life while using his gifts to advance himself (he skips a grade in school and is the spelling bee champion). He is himself despite his environment and he manages to find humor in most, if not all, his misfortunes. Cliffy is intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken, and open to trying new things. In racially tense Cincinnati in 1969, he finds himself becoming close to this Jewish boy at school and they affectionately refer to each other as “soul brothers.” As they learn more about each other, Cliffy falls for Noah and vice versa. Through the troubled times at home—Noah’s dad struggling with mental illness and Cliffy’s dad reappearing in his life many years too late without anything to show for it—the two boys still found a way to blossom into their sexuality. Not once did either think less of himself for how they were feeling for each other and Noah, being a little more experienced, eases Cliffy into this new world and watching them fall deeper and deeper for each other is the most beautiful thing. Cliffy’s love for Noah is innocent, full, and honest and Noah loves him back just the same. This book is written by someone who obviously understands his characters well. Each one is well written and perfectly put in perspective. At first, I was wary of the tone and some of the language used in the book, but then I found out that the author himself was black and gay. The author did an awesome job depicting the realness and grittiness of Cliffy’s environment while also sugarcoating it in just the right amount of comedy and lightheartedness. I cried and laughed with Cliffy all the way up until the end.


Want to see the analysis for Finlater? Click here to check it out.

Mariposa Gown

Mariposa Gown book cover art

Mariposa Gown by Rigoberto Gonzales was a great insight into the new era of romantic, coming of age, novels. It was such an interesting twist to the classic teenage romance story that we’ve seen endless times. This novel discussed so many important topics in today’s society. It showcased a gay teenage boy dealing with the idea of leaving for college, as well as several other interesting issues. He is so relatable to many of us who are going through the same process of leaving home and everything we ever knew to seek something greater. He develops a romantic relationship with a boy that he meets the last summer after high school. It was a really heartwarming story of “the first love.” I really enjoyed the life lessons that the narrator continuously mentions throughout the book. It is such an interesting book written upon a brave, humble, charismatic, young man. The book also caught my attention through its captivating subplots. The main character’s best friend is a transgender woman and so we get to see and understand her story as well. There are also moments in which the book gets involved in the life of the main character and his family. This is when we see that there are deep rooted matters about the main character that we also need to be aware of. There is also a specific subplot that explores his sister, which was quite interesting and very enlightening to what the reality of our culture is.


Want to see the analysis for Mariposa Gown? Click here to check it out.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” but this time necessity is my daughter

Where do you locate picture books that showcase interracial families? 

After being the recipient of a book baby shower (for which I am grateful for the outpouring of love and support), I realized that 97% of all the books focused on white families with white kids or books that had animals as the main character.  The majority of the books did not show interracial families, such as my very own.   

This led me to question and seek out my local bookstores in trying to identify picture books that showed interracial parents or interracial families.  The local bookstores did not seem to have many books that either had non-white main characters or interracial families, even when I stopped and asked for assistance.    

As a librarian, I began researching the various library catalogs, children literature databases, and websites for books, trying to identify books that I could bring home to my daughter, who is of Ethiopian descent.  The search results brought back a few hits, but not a lot with which I wanted to start to build my home library with. 

If I, as a librarian, were having trouble with my local bookstores in trying to locate books, and the library catalog was not descriptive enough to identify the race or ethnicity of the characters in the book, how could families, who did not have the library databases at their fingertips, find and build a collection of books that represented their family? 

This project was initially started with the idea of locating books that showed interracial families.  As other members began to be interested in the project, the topic expanded to include LGBTQ+ families, as a parent from the daycare in which my daughter attended, asked me about books that represented her family. 

As I looked around my world of friends, colleagues, and neighbors, I soon learned that families needed books as tools to help explain different family dynamics.  Be the change that you want to see.  As a librarian, I felt charged with creating a database that could benefit more than just my daughter and me.