New Book Spotlight: The Magic Fish

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

The Magic Fish / written and illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen

As the son of refugee parents from Vietnam, Tiến doesn’t know how to tell his mom that he is gay and worries that she won’t accept and love him anymore. Not only that, but he struggles to find the right words in Vietnamese. On the other hand, Tiến’s mother, Hiền, experiences her own journey of wondering if immigrating to America was worth leaving her family in Vietnam behind and if she’s to blame for the disconnect between her and Tien. 

Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish takes an unconventional approach to graphic novel storytelling by sharing fascinating fairytales and intertwining them with Tiến’s and his mother’s journey with vibrant colors and pictures that immediately draws readers in. Although not all readers will directly relate to Tiến’s or his mother’s story, it will surely take you on an emotional journey that might just encourage you to reflect on your own personal journeys. 

The Magic Fish is available from the CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks. 

Review by Alexis Parker, CECH Library Student Assistant | Public Relations and International Affairs, A&S 2024 

New Book Spotlight: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me / written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrations by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell / 2019

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: toxic relationship, abortion, emotional abuse, adult/minor relationship, infidelity

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me is a coming-of-age story. Freddy, our seventeen-year-old protagonist, is dating Laura Dean, the attractive popular girl who is all wrong for her. Laura keeps cheating on and breaking up with Freddy, but they always end up back together. 

This graphic novel is a great read for older teens and adults alike. It has diverse representation and portrays LGBTQIA+ relationships in a way that is rarely seen in YA fiction. It focuses on the relationships between people rather than homophobia, coming out, or struggling with identity (though those themes are somewhat present). We get a glimpse of Freddy’s inner monolog as she struggles to navigate her relationships through emails to an advice columnist. It’s a realistic and raw portrayal of a toxic relationship and how it can impact every part of life. This book really captures the essence of high school relationships and what it feels like to love someone who isn’t good for you. The characters are hard to love and their flaws are at the forefront of the story. But they do feel real and raw. 

Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s art brings the story to life. It is dynamic and makes very creative use of color. Much of the book is black and white; however, pops of pink appear throughout the panels making it both visually appealing and dynamic to read. On particularly powerful moment in the book has all the characters, except Freddy, facing away from the reader really emphasizing how truly alone she is, as well as how much she has alienated her friends because of her toxic relationship with Laura Dean. 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is available from CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian

 

New Book Spotlight: The Astonishing Color of After

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library

The Astonishing Color of After / written by Emily X.R. Pan / 2018

This is an intensely emotional young adult novel about Leigh who is battling
grief after the loss of her mother. She journeys to Taiwan in order to meet her
maternal grandparents for the very first time, and embarks on a path to remember her
mother, the events that led up to her death, and the deep impact on her family.

Pan uses magical realism to create an immersive and touching atmosphere to tell the
story, weaving in themes of friendship, coming-of-age, grief, hope, and ultimately
love. Mental illness plays a large part in telling the story, and we get an engaging look
into family life in Taiwan, as well as the culture that also plays a large part within the
story and Leigh’s family history. Pan’s use of color to describe emotions throughout
was a beautiful touch to the story. The Astonishing Color of After is an alluring story
woven together by various important themes, and an important look at the impact of different cultures on mental illness and familial relationships.

The Astonishing Color of After is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

New Book Spotlight: Lovely War by Julie Berry

book cover lovely war by julie berryThe New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library

Lovely War / written by Julie Berry / 2019

A mix of historical fiction, romance, and mythology, Lovely War sees Greek Gods narrating an emotional story of two relationships, two wars, and the power of love. Accused of unfaithfulness by Hephaestus, Aphrodite has the chance to avoid trial by the Gods and tell the story of four mortals during WWI and the transcendence of love. It tells the story of James, a young British man drafted to serve in the army in France, falling for Hazel, a young and hopeful pianist. It also spans the story of Aubrey, a black soldier and ragtime pianist with Colette, a singer from Belgium who lost her family in Dinant. Showing perspectives on racism, sexism, mental health issues, and the tragic nature of war, Berry does an excellent job in incorporating the historical aspect during the time period, as well as the heart-wrenching circumstances young adults faced during the time. Topping my favorite books of 2020, Lovely War was an excellent and timeless read, showing the importance of hope, humanity, and friendship perfect for any young reader.

Lovely War is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

New Book Spotlight: Bloom by Kevin Panetta

image from graphic novel bloom by kevin panettaThe New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library

Bloom / written by Kevin Panetta ; artwork by Savanna Ganucheau / 2019

In this contemporary graphic novel, Bloom tells the story of love, friendship, family, and baking. As Ari reaches the end of high school with dreams of moving to the city, he is eventually left working at his family’s bakery for the summer. When Hector ends up working there, the two develop a connection that spans friendship, love, and ultimately self discovery. Bloom perfectly captures that feeling of uncertainty with what the future holds along with these pivotal experiences that we have all felt and struggled with. A light yet impactful read, Bloom hits the exact mark of reality for that transitional period between leaving your teenage years and growing into adulthood. Panetta does not shy away from the real and natural road bumps of life; Bloom is an excellent coming-of-age novel with stunning illustrations.

Bloom is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK, and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022