Books of the Month

[June 2022] Book of the Month: Turning by Joy L. Smith

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Turning by Joy L. Smith was a clear choice for June’s Book of the Month. This novel cuts deep yet is so beautiful. The main character was a promising, black ballerina who was going to rock the ballet world with her talent before tragedy struck. Discovering the mystery behind it all made for an engrossing read. My emotions were all over the place. Turning has been one of my favorite reads and 2022 releases so far this year. I highly recommend reading Turning.

"Turning" by Joy L. Smith (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Title: Turning
Author: Joy L. Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Denene Millner Books / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.

Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.

But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.

But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros

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"Falling Short" by Ernesto Cisneros (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: A novel about two best friends who must rely on each other in unexpected ways.

Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won’t change things at home–not without each other’s help.

This year, star basketball player Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac’s parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, straight-A Marco vows on finally winning his father’s approval by earning a spot on the school’s basketball team.

But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?


REVIEW: Falling Short is the literal embodiment of friendship goals. Cisneros’ sincere writing quickly endears us to two unlikely best friends whose steadfast support for one another is tested as they learn to navigate sixth grade.

Marco is a very sweet and intelligent boy who wants to join the basketball team to gain his father’s approval. He’s so precious that it made me furious that his sports-obsessed father pretty much wanted nothing to do with Marco because Marco’s behavior and interests weren’t masculine enough. Marco is perfect the way he is.

Issac is athletic, friendly, and outgoing. He’s determined to do better in school, so that he can make his mom proud and not let her down anymore. He’s got a good heart, but his impulsiveness and absentmindedness sometimes get him into trouble. I appreciate Issac’s honest effort to do better.

The bond between Marco and Issac is beautiful and demonstrates what real friends do, say, and make you feel. Both of their parents are divorced and they both have strained relationships with their father. I loved how comfortable they feel with being open and honest with each other whenever they’re going through a tough time – whether it’s about school or home life. Opposites attract and, in this case, form a profound friendship and unwavering support system.

Falling Short exceeded my expectations. Over the course of the story, the main characters (and reader) learn a lot about themselves and what matters most to them. Traversing middle school for the first time and dealing with complicated family matters are arduous tasks to do all at once, so I was wholeheartedly rooting for Issac and Marco to overcome these obstacles. A lot of heart, humor, and realness permeate the story that make it easy for the reader to connect with the characters.

This story was nothing short of wonderful.

CW: alcoholic parent, toxic masculinity by a parent

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About Books

8 Sports Fiction Recommendations

Sports! They’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I played a few for many years growing up, but was never a sports fan. Sports were a way to stay active while doing something fun. They made sense when other things didn’t. I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else for fun until I fell in love with musical theater and books.

I don’t root for any team and, for me, most sports are boring to watch – I’d rather be out there playing the sport. I might watch basketball if there’s nothing else on. I almost always watch gymnastics and track and field because they aren’t on television as much as other sports. Penn Relays (a track event) is my favorite sporting event to watch. Second favorite is the summer Olympics.

These days I engage with sports through books. I love characters who are also athletes (former or active) because I can relate to them. I also love following a team’s journey to success. I find those stories inspiring. And I do adore a good sports romance novel.

Today, I thought I’d recommend some sports fiction that I love. I think the stories below are entertaining, wonderful, and relatable enough to appeal to non-sports fans and sports fans of all kinds.

Criteria was that a sport plays a major role in who the characters are or used to be and/or the main character(s) is actively engaged in a sport.

( 1 ) BALLETTurning by Joy L. Smith

( 2 ) FIGURE SKATINGAna on the Edge by A. J. Sass

( 3 ) VOLLEYBALLHaikyu!! by Haruichi Furudate

( 4 ) SWIMMINGBreath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

( 5 ) KATHAK & BOLLYWOOD DANCERadha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma

( 6 ) BASEBALLBat Boy by Christina Lee

( 7 ) AMERICAN FOOTBALLSnapped by Alexa Martin

( 8 ) BASEBALLThe Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

What’s your favorite sport to read, watch, or play and why?

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