A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments – even the physical violence – she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears… Read more.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Islamomisia (theme)
  • Racism
  • Hate crimes
  • Terrorism
  • Child neglect
  • Physical assault
  • Strangulation recounted
  • Animal dissection for science class mentioned
  • Bullying (theme)
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Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing… Read more.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Blackmail
  • 9/11 (theme)
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. 

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Ableism
  • Cheating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alcoholism
  • Attempted suicide
  • Terrorism
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In My Dreams by Elin Annalise

In My Dreams by Elin Annalise

Twenty-five-year-old Polly Brady was supposed to fly off on a dating holiday to meet others, like her, who identify as asexual, but when the nature reserve she works at goes into lockdown after a terrorist attack, she finds herself stuck with Harry Weller, her childhood friend and the only man she’s ever loved. There are just two problems: Harry doesn’t know Polly’s in love with him, and he’s also very sex-orientated.

Still, Polly knows other couples who have had successful ace/allo relationships and given she was looking forward to romance this summer… Read more.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Amisia
  • Death of a parent recounted
  • Death of a sibling recounted
  • Car accident
  • Heart attack (parent)
  • COVID-19 pandemic mentioned
  • Gun violence
  • Terrorism mentioned
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A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.

Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April . . . Read more.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Internalised ableism
  • Body horror
  • Blood depiction
  • Graphic physical injury
  • Hospitalisation
  • Kidnapping
  • Loss of autonomy (mind control)
  • Terrorism & terrorist attacks discussed

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armour–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the centre of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Bimisia
  • Graphic physical injury
  • Blood & gore depiction
  • Hospitalisation
  • Gun violence
  • Knife violence
  • Explosions
  • Physical assault
  • Fire
  • Terrorism & terrorist attacks

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of colour (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through the culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

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Trigger & Content Warnings

  • Queermisia
  • Ableism & ableist slurs
  • Racism & racial slurs
  • Classism
  • Misogyny & sexism discussed (theme)
  • Hate crimes
  • Rape culture discussed
  • Abortion mentioned
  • Eating disorders mentioned
  • Murder mentioned
  • Terrorism mentioned
  • Police brutality mentioned

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo 

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story–their story–at the very beginning. Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated–perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts

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Trigger & Content Warnings:

  • Cheating
  • Pregnancy mentioned
  • Death of a parent mentioned
  • 9/11 discussed

The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory by Richard Powers

An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another.

These four, and five other strangers – each summoned in different ways by trees – are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

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Trigger & Content Warnings:

  • Cheating
  • Suicide
  • Police brutality
  • Torture
  • Asphyxiation
  • Eco-terrorism

The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward

The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward

with contributions from Kima Jones, Garnette Cadogan, Claudia Rankine, Emily Raboteau, Mitchell S. Jackson, Natasha Trethewey, Daniel José Older, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Carol Anderson, Kevin Young, Kiese Laymon, and Clint Smith.

National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping-off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation… Read more.

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Trigger & Content Warnings:

  • Racism
  • Enslavement
  • Police brutality
  • Lynching
  • Terrorism
  • Refugee camps
  • Hurricane Katrina