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New Book Releases Featuring Samira Ahmed, Keanon Lowe, and A. J. Verdelle

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)

Here are three books coming out today that I'm excited to read!

Book cover of Samira Ahmed's Hollow Fires

Samira Ahmed's Hollow Fires ( |

Description from Publisher:

"Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she's learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist's job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.

"Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist--and eventually killed. But he's more than a dead body, and more than 'Bomb Boy.' He was a person with a life worth remembering.

"Driven by Jawad's haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.

"This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking."

Why I want to read it:

I'm such a fan of Ahmed's work, which includes several books Love, Hate, and Other Filters and Internment (books we've covered on the podcast). Ahmed takes super-topical issues and spins out compelling YA novels, and this one sounds like it's continuing her trend.


Book cover of Keanon Lowe's Hometown Victory: A Coach's Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home with Justin Spizman

Keanon Lowe's Hometown Victory: A Coach's Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home with Justin Spizman ( |

Description from Publisher:

"Keanon Lowe was working as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when his childhood friend and former high school teammate suddenly died from an opioid overdose. Keanon dropped everything--including the plum NFL job he had been working towards since childhood--leading him to a position as football coach at a struggling high school back in his hometown. At the time, Parkrose High School was in the middle of a 23-game losing streak--they were the ultimate underdogs.

"In many ways, the road to Parkrose was paved by Keanon's life-defining experiences--from a childhood spent dodging racist bullies and finding the support and mentorship he craved on the football team, to an NFL season where he worked closely with Colin Kaepernick as he evolved his sideline protest. Keanon was drawn to the young men on the Parkrose team, and to the school itself. After two years, he pushed them to become conference champions, mentoring countless players along the way.

"But still, there was that nagging sense that his calling wasn't meant to stop there. He was at that school for a reason. In May 2019, he got his answer when a 19-year-old student entered a Parkrose classroom with a trench coat and shotgun. Keanon disarmed him and pulled the boy into a hug, telling him he cared. In the boy, Keanon saw himself, and the young men he grew up with or mentored along the way--and weren't so many of them just looking for acceptance, for comfort, for love?

"With the heart of favorite football classics—The Blindside, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans—Keanon's journey at Parkrose is the true account of a life spent striving forward, even when faced with the unimaginable. Hometown Victory is a story about gratitude, service, and most of all, hope."

Why I want to read it:

I'm a sucker for an inspirational sports story, and the comps on this one (check out that last paragraph!) caught my attention right away. I love the shift of focus here from Lowe's career to service.


Book cover of A. J. Verdelle's Miss Chloe: A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison

A. J. Verdelle's Miss Chloe: A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison (

Description from Publisher:

"Toni Morrison, born Chloe A Wofford, was a towering figure in the world of literature when she entered A.J. Verdelle's life. Their literary friendship was a young writer's dream--simultaneously exhilarating, intimidating, fulfilling, and challenging. The relationship crossed generations, spanned several cycles in life, exhibited high and low notes, reached and dipped and found its way. Like many women friends, these two writers imagined and built a relationship that was responsive, inventive, and engaged.

"Miss Chloe powerfully situates the risks writers face and the freedom they find when they put Black women's lives into words. Verdelle chronicles her grief at Morrison's passing, and finds comfort in Morrison's astute advice--wisdom Verdelle didn't always recognize at the time. In this pensive and intricately lyrical book, Verdelle honors Morrison among the cultural greats, while illuminating and celebrating the power of language, legacy, and genius."

Why I want to read it:

I admire Toni Morrison so much, so I think this new perspective on her life and work sounds fascinating.


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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