Gracefully Grayson

by Ami Polonsky                  www.amipolonsky.com

What if who you are on the outside doesn't match who you are on the inside?  Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?  Ami Polonsky's moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person's spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.


Dividing Eden

by Joelle Charbonneau               www.joellecharbonneau.com

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the crown, the future of the kingdom was secure.  But appearances—and rivals for the throne—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of the crown.  As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to betrayal?  With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown.


Say No to the Bro

by Kat Helgeson             kathelgeson.wordpress.com

Say No To the Bro is more than an engaging tale about an unlikely pair of seniors trying to thwart a prom tradition. When Ava, a new student at Patterson and the new football coach’s daughter, is nominated for Prom Bowl, her only goal is to get out of the embarrassing tradition as quickly as possible. She joins forces with Mark, the school quarterback, and the couple quickly realizes there’s a bigger picture at play. Friendships are tested, norms are challenged, expectations are changed, and the two find themselves in the thick of moral dilemmas left and right. Helgeson has written a book that hits many relevant issues found not only in high schools today, but in society as a whole: sexism, stereotyping, popularity, privilege, and more. Say No To the Bro is an effective vehicle for debate and discussion that will keep readers thinking about the implications of their own assumptions and actions well into the future.

Other Broken Things

by C. Desir              www.christadesir.com

Natalie is angry. Ever since she got a DUI, it seems like the world is crashing in on her. She is court-ordered to attend AA meetings, which she hates. Her parents no longer trust her, and her friendships -- or what she thought had been friendships -- are all changing.  As Natalie fumbles through her attempts at sobriety, and faking her way through the 12 steps of AA, she meets Joe.  Joe is a recovering alcoholic who sees right through Natalie's denial.  As Natalie keeps attending meetings, and eventually starts listening, she realizes some things. Maybe she really is responsible for some of her problems. Maybe Natalie really is an alcoholic. Admitting it might help, or it might make things even harder.


Flip the Bird
by Kym Brunner                     www.kymbrunner.com

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.  When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.  With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making difficult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.

The Baseball Whisperer:  A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
by Michael Tackett                                  

Clarinda, Iowa, population 5,000, sits two hours from anything. There, between the corn fields and hog yards, is a ball field with a bronze bust of a man named Merl Eberly, a baseball whisperer who specialized in second chances and lost causes. The statue was a gift from one of Merl's original long shot projects, a skinny kid from the ghetto in Los Angeles who would one day become a beloved Hall of Fame shortstop: Ozzie Smith.The Baseball Whisperer traces the remarkable story of Merl Eberly and his Clarinda A's baseball team, which he tended over the course of five decades, transforming them from a town team to a collegiate summer league powerhouse. Along with Ozzie Smith, future manager Bud Black, and star player Von Hayes, Merl developed scores of major league players (six of which are currently playing). In the process, Merl taught them to be men, insisting on hard work, integrity, and responsibility. More than a book about ballplayers who landed in the nation's agricultural heartland, The Baseball Whisperer is the story of a coach who puts character and dedication first, and reminds us of the best, purest form of baseball excellence.


Special thanks goes to Roberta Sejnost, Leslie Forsman, Carol Owles, Julie Hoffman, Mallory P., Sherry Sejnost, Sheila Ruh, Amy Potts-Ostrowski, Donna Vorreyer, and Tammy Potts for their help in writing the book descriptions for the 2018 books.