The Cover Wars

Let’s get the feminist party started!

Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It’s packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular YA authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. Altogether, the book features more than forty-four pieces, with an eight-page insert of full-color illustrations.

Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.

Janet: The cover is busy and a little overwhelming but who cares? Look at that content! Look at that lineup! Absolutely yes please, hand this book over!

Nafiza: I’m currently reading this and there should be a review up sooner rather than later along with an interview with one of the contributors. All I want to say is that it is awesome and you will hear more of my gushing in the review.

Yash: I can’t believe I know some of the awesome people involved in this. I’m a lucky (and very starstruck) gal. And yeah, I remember thinking that the right hand side of the cover was going to be on a French flap? But now I’m so used to looking at it this way–and I like the red/orange and the journal-y style. The inside is pretty too, with margins of washi tape and patterned paper, just like a creative journal would look? The format is welcoming, the title feels inclusive, and looking at the lineup I know it actually is intersectional, so: 100x YES! Despite the fact that I agree with Janet about the busy-ness, I’m in love and I bought it and I’ve already read Malinda Lo’s amazing essay and I just *hugs book to chest* I adore this book.

Sixteen-year-old Ivy’s world is in flux. Her dad has moved out, her mother is withdrawn, her brother is off at college, and her best friend, Anna, has grown distant. Worst of all, Ivy’s body won’t stop expanding. She’s getting taller and curvier, with no end in sight. Even her beloved math class offers no clear solution to the imbalanced equation that has become Ivy’s life.

Everything feels off-kilter until a skipped meal leads to a boost in confidence and reminds Ivy that her life is her own. If Ivy can just limit what she eats the way her mother seems to she can stop herself from growing, focus on the upcoming math competition, and reclaim control of her life. But when her disordered eating leads to missed opportunities and a devastating health scare, Ivy realizes that she must weigh her mother’s issues against her own, and discover what it means to be a part of and apart from her family.

Janet: The cover is cleverly done, with that central figure seemingly seeking, and the hands that hold and maybe manipulate her. I like that Ivy loves math and that the role of family in mental health for better or for worse isn’t brushed aside. This looks good.

Nafiza: This is one of the cleverest covers I have seen in a while. It is so very provocative and evocative. The back copy is interesting and like Janet, the math bit piques my interest. Janet and I read two very harrowing accounts of eating disorders so I reckon we’ll both go into this prepared.

Yash: This is such an amazing cover and as Janet and Nafiza said the synopsis looks amazing too. I just don’t think I have it in me to read something like this right now. I’m going through some shit with myself (obviously not the same shit that Ivy is going through, but body-related nonetheless) and I don’t feel like crying over a book for a while. Maybe one day when I’m feeling better.

Josie’s friend Amanda is missing. But because she’s a runaway with a history of drug use and other risky behavior, no one seems to care. Clem, the owner of the community kitchen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where Josie works in exchange for food, advises her to just leave well enough alone. Then a young man whose friend is also missing asks her for help. Josie learns that she, along with the other teens who helped her bring down the cop responsible for the death of her entire family, is becoming known on the street as a person who makes sure justice is done. When the battered bodies of homeless teens start filling the city’s morgue, Josie and Team Retribution suspect a connection to their missing friends and begin investigating. They discover an underground fight club where at-risk youth are being forced to fight and even kill each other for sport. Josie is captured and may have to enter the ring herself to save her friends.

Janet: Bold, very Orca-style cover. (Orca is the publisher, and Orca’s covers usually involve striking photographs). The underground fight club may strain credibility, but I suspect that is because of the many movies involving this sort of thing, which obscures the fact that this sort of thing happens. (Though usually with animals, not humans, as far as I know.) It is very exciting to see a book set in Vancouver, and featuring homeless youth. I might have to glance inside. (Also! Based on the cover, Josie is a boxer, which is so cool!)

Nafiza: I have read very few novels set in Vancouver. That fact alone makes me interested in this. The cover looks fierce so yes, I think I will give this one a try.

Yash: Despite the fact that we only get bits of this model’s body, it isn’t very sexualized is it? Or, at least, I don’t think it is? The focus is on her fist and the bold title. I like the premise (well, I mean, I don’t like it, but it happens and no one talks about it)– I’d pick this up at a store, for sure.

Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted at age fourteen in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony’s rebel army in Uganda’s decades-long civil war. Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.

The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.

Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy’s unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage in the face of unimaginable horror.

Janet: Haven’t we done this book before on Cover Wars? Beautiful cover, horrifying premise (um, horrifying because no child should be sent to war! not because the premise sounds bad), definitely a book to read.

Nafiza: I don’t think we’ve done this one on the cover wars but we’ve done something similar. I’m not sure I have the courage to read this but books like these are important so I will maybe (weep) make myself read it.

Yash: This is one of those books that if I saw at a bookstore, I’d flip straight to the afterword and try to get a sense of how Ricky Anywar feels about this novel? I’d also want to read up on the author a little before I pick it up. But mostly, yes, I’m interested. The cover and title are stunning. The choice to may “Boy” the bigger word and stand out behind the kid holding a weapon immediately grabs your attention. And I’m glad they didn’t do a silhouette, that you can actually see the child. Good decisions have gone into this. I’m tentatively in.

This is not a story of sugar and spice and everything nice.

When Nina Faye was fourteen, her mother told her there was no such thing as unconditional love. Nina believed her. Now Nina is sixteen. And she’ll do anything for the boy she loves, just to prove she’s worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What is she if not a girlfriend? What is she made of?

Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are. She’s been volunteering at a high-kill animal shelter where she realizes that for dogs waiting to be adopted, love comes only to those with youth, symmetry, and quietness. She also ruminates on the strange, dark time her mother took her to Italy to see statues of saints who endured unspeakable torture because of their unquestioning devotion to the divine. Is this what love is?

Janet: The cover seems to obliterate its supposed central feature, Nina. The back copy is a solid No for me.

Nafiza: So I was immediately dismissive of the book by just looking at the cover but the back copy makes me think this will be a exploration into the darker bits of a relationship with her mother. I mean, I hope? I don’t know. I’ll wait for reviews.

Yash: Yeah, the cover didn’t do anything for me either. But the synopsis is unusual, not least because we almost always get a summary that gives too much away. This one maintains an air of mystery, but sets the tone quite well. I am curious.

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

Janet: The cover is very murder mystery-y, which is to say I’m intrigued. The back copy, though – I feel like we’ve seen books like this before. Unless there is a really, really good plot twist, I am 100% not interested in giving my time and even the slightest dregs of empathy to a murderer, or to an accomplice. And though the back copy cries out that there must be an unexpected twist or three to the story, the premise remains: murdered girl.

Nafiza: Not gonna lie, Stephanie Kuehn’s books scare me. They are always so twisty and just make me feel like humanity needs to fall of a cliff, I mean, I ALREADY feel like that so I dunno. Anyway, that title is a threat. I like the cover but due to being a chicken, I’m going to sit this one out.

Yash: Lol, why does that last line make me feel like the book is gonna be 500 pages of Ben taking naps and 100 pages of actually talking about what happened? Anyway, I’m not in the mood for something like this and the cover doesn’t really grab me, even if the author’s name makes me pause. So, yeah, pass from me. Though it definitely sounds like something people will be excited over.