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Pub Day Shout-Outs! for September 1, 2020, featuring Woodson, Cole, and Zoboi and Salaam

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)

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

Book cover for Jacqueline Woodson's Before the Ever After

Jacqueline Woodson's Before the Ever After

Description from Publisher:

"National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed.

"For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that--but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?"

Why I want to read it: I'm here for anything Woodson writes. Her stories, no matter the topic, always promote empathy and compassion. Additionally, I love that this explores the long-term impact of football injuries on both the player and his family members.

Book cover for Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam's Punching the Air

Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam's Punching the Air

Description from Publisher:

"From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

"The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

"Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. 'Boys just being boys' turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

"The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

"Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both."

Why I want to read it: I cannot wait to read this book! I love everything I've read by Ibi Zoboi, and I've already heard so many great things about this book. I also am always here for books that advocate for prison reform. And I just learned that it is a novel in verse--even better!

Book cover for Alyssa Cole's When No One is Watching

Description from Publisher:

"Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

"Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

"But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

Why I want to read it: I've heard so many great things about Cole's other work, and I'm always interested in authors who try out different genres. I'm also really interested in the intersection between the thriller genre and the real-life issues such as gentrification.


This is a great week in publishing! Here are a few others coming out today that I'm also excited to read: Pénélope Bagieu and Roald Dahl's The Witches: The Graphic Novel, David Karashima's What We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami, Louise Penny's All the Devils Are Here, Lilliam Rivera's Never Look Back.

(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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