KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Alethea Kontis

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Silence Between Us, as I had yet to review a book for this column featuring a deaf protagonist. I was doubly delighted to know that the story had been written by someone who is herself part of the deaf community — Alison Gervais suffered permanent hearing loss at a very young age, and is hard of hearing. Even the book's cover image is #OwnVoices, designed by deaf artist Nancy Rourke. I was absolutely ready to lose myself in a good book that both respected and celebrated deaf culture, and I was not disappointed.

Humor is incredibly subjective. It's unique to each person. So much so that my very first fiction writing teacher instructed us to never even attempt it. Instead of accepting the challenge this was probably meant to be, I took the lesson to heart. I already knew I had a strange sense of humor.

I must say, I really am enjoying this trend of contemporary novels starring young women who are 100% body positive. Laura Dockrill's My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant fits squarely into that category, pulling no punches right from the jump.

In the opening scene, our snarky, self-confident plus-size main character Bluebelle (aka "BB") is visiting the doctor after experiencing her first asthma attack. She immediately runs up against a judgmental nurse who callously informs her that many of her problems would be solved by losing weight.

I was 13 the year Doogie Howser, MD debuted on television, and I loved every minute of it. That charming, mischievous character played by Neil Patrick Harris would have fit right into my group of misfit, too-smart-for-their-own-britches friends. These days, I'm all about Grey's Anatomy. There's just that compelling magic surrounding doctor dramedies that pulls me in every time. Sona Charaipotra's new Symptoms of a Heartbreak falls right in line with the best of those, but it's specifically targeted to a YA audience.

There are a million books out there about intelligent young people who overcome insurmountable odds and triumph over adversity, all on their own. These far outnumber the books about young people that start out this way. I was happy to find that Lauren Morrill's Better Than the Best Plan is one of them.

The summer I sprained my ankle to within an inch of its life, I'd been in the middle of a Grey's Anatomy rewatch binge. The friend who took me to the ER was highly amused at the coincidence. He prompted me to spout some random medical jargon, but the only thing in my mind was "STAT!" Days later, when the pain fog had lifted from my brain, I laughed out loud at the memory. "STAT!" was what Paris Geller once yelled in a hospital during an episode of Gilmore Girls because she was distraught and couldn't think of anything else to say.

There is a "Dear Reader" in the front of my advance copy of I Wish You All the Best, in which Mason Deaver explains that they are telling the story they needed to read when they were 15 (Deaver uses they/them pronouns). Authors typically say this sort of thing when we write the books of our heart. But the book Deaver needed to read was a particularly important one, one that explored nonbinary gender issues and queer life in a way that was gentle, yet real. I'm pleased to say that they accomplished that goal with flying colors, and the literary world is a better place for it.

My friend Chris happened upon me reading There's Something About Sweetie in a coffee shop and introduced her presence by laughing. "For a second, I thought that was you on the cover," she said.

Books about rapturous, all-consuming first love are prevalent in young adult literature. But what about that last year before graduation, realistically? What about all those heartbreaking decisions that must be made when one or both parties go away to college? What happens to that beautiful teenage love then?