The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

People & Places

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

When the world is too boring or too hard or too angry for them, a brother and sister are reminded by their very wise grandmother that somewhere in the world somebody else felt the same way. This stunningly illustrated (by Rafael López) masterpiece from Jacqueline Woodson, former Ambassador for Children’s Literature, highlights the power of the imagination and encourages young readers to believe in something, leave troubles behind, and imagine a better world.

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López, (List Price: $18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399545535, January 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator)

A beautiful and unconventional book capturing what the year 2020 felt like to the youngest child of a fictional Black American family, told in three long sentences and a notebook’s worth of art. Haunting and gorgeous, the unnamed narrator’s observations speak powerfully to a wide range of emotions, from the despair felt watching the world crumble and seeing the country’s betrayal of its Black citizens, to the balm that family connections can provide in the darkest times.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator) (List Price: $19.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534439467, January 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell

These are the voices. The voices we need to hear, to represent the voices that need to be heard. This collection from fifteen influential Young Adult writers from the Latinx diaspora is the perfect launch pad for conversations and the perfect door to new ideas.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250763426, November 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

New Year by Mei Zihan

When growing up, it is easy to focus on how far you come and how proud you are of yourself, but it is easy to forget how much your parents may miss you and long for your presence. While growing and building your own families, you inevitably separate a little from your own. This book shows readers what a parent may think while their child is off being a grown up – proud but longing for more time with them. Mei Zihan beautifully tells of Lunar New Year and the toll that the holiday season has on him without his daughter at home. Zihan demonstrates how much he misses his daughter while also respecting her growth and being proud of the woman she has become. Beautifully told and illustrated.

New Year by Mei Zihan, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9781771647311, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Greenville, South Carolina


The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Fans of GET OUT and SAWKILL GIRLS, prepare to meet Jake Livingston. Ryan Douglass’s debut is gritty and extremely tough to read at times, but with social issues at the forefront and a hero worth rooting for, THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON is a deep novel that holds back no punches. Queer, eerie, and heart-wrenching, Douglass takes his readers on an emotional rollercoaster through these horror events – both paranormal and real-life.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, (List Price: 17.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9781984812537, July 2021)

Reviewed by Brad Sells, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Erika Meza (Illus.)

I loved that this picture book introduces young readers to the refugee crisis at the Mexico-US border in a friendly and colorful story. The story doesn’t hide the unfairness, but it ends on an optimistic note.

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Erika Meza (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Kokila, 9780593111048, 8/24/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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