CECH Library Spotlight: Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Hollow Fires / written by Samira Ahmed / 2022

CW: Islamophobia (Graphic), Racism (Graphic), Murder, Neo-Nazism (Graphic), Xenophobia, Racial Slurs, White Supremacy (Graphic)

Samira Ahmed’s contemporary thriller Hollow Fires switches between two narratives: Jawad Ali, a middle schooler who loves to invent, and Safiya Mirza, a senior with a passion for journalism. Nothing connects the two, but to the rest of their Chicago neighborhood, they’re one in the same as they practice the same religion: Islam. 

It starts with Jawad being labeled a terrorist over his Halloween costume, then his disappearance, then his murder. Safiya follows his story closely, as her majority-white school district sweeps the incident under the rug like it’s nothing. But when she starts receiving threats like Jawad did, it’s up to her and her friends to investigate, since the school and police don’t seem to care. 

Throughout her novel, Ahmed includes multimedia pieces such as interviews, text messages, articles, and transcripts to emphasis the message. By not just jumping between Jawad (after he’s passed) and Safiya’s perspectives the novel also utilizes the literary technique of being a “frame story,” where it begins at the end and then takes readers on the journey to the end. Ahmed brings nonfiction into her novel, using real life circumstances and recent history to guide the haunting truth of Islamophobia and racism in American society in the 21st century.

Ahmed tackles modern issues within America, and this novel can be graphic in its realistic portrayal of these actions. This novel is a fantastic read, but it does tackle very heavy subjects so please read up on the content warning (CW) before reading. 

This book is available from the CECH Library and the Search Ohio lending network.

Review by Alice Somers, CECH Library Student Assistant | Early Childhood Education and Deaf Studies, CECH 2026

Celebrate Pride with the CECH Library!

Check out the Pride display all month long at the CECH Library!

Explore childrens’ and YA titles that span the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity and celebrate LGBTQIA+ figures and history. To find more LGBTQIA+ titles, check out our reading list available on the CECH Library website.

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: 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

And The Winner Is… Celebrate Award-Winning Children’s Books!

display of award winning children's booksJust like films, television, and music, the best books of the year garner accolades and awards. Each January, at the American Library Association’s  Mid-Winter Conference, several of the most prestigious children’s book award winners are announced. Prepare for the 2020 award season by exploring some previous award winners from the CECH Library’s collections.

Visit the display at the CECH Library through January and check out some of the titles on our list of selected award winners.

Haley Shaw, Temporary Librarian
CECH Library