These new reads will make you laugh, cry and feel all kinds of sweet emotions. Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald (Candlewick). A student exchange lands hard-partying UC Santa Barbara sophomore Tasha at Oxford University, while her studious British opposite, Emily, suddenly finds herself amid bikinis and beer pong. The switch thing’s been done, but McDonald pulls off an incredibly smart debut that addresses big questions of identity and feminism, all through two charming and likable protagonists.
Surface Tension by Brent Runyon (Knopf). In this novel told in four summers, Luke goes from 13-16 years old, and we follow him on a two-week vacation at a family lake cottage every year. Runyon’s teen-boy voice is pitch perfect (well, I think it is anyway), and the nuances of each summer are alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. That’s vague and reviewery, I know, but it’s hard to nail down a plot on this one--it’s just a fantastic read, full of honest emotion.
Gentlemen by Michael Northrop (Scholastic). A dark first novel about four high school misfits--Micheal, Tommy, Mixer and Bones--who are suddenly confronting the notion that one of their teachers may have harmed a close friend. Tension mounts, the characters freak out, and you're drawn into this world through Northrop’s dead-on narrative voice. You care about these guys, but you also fear them. It’s a fantastic reader experience.