Out of Darkness
“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”
New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion–the worst school disaster in American history–as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.
“[This] layered tale of color lines, love and struggle in an East Texas oil town is a pit-in-the-stomach family drama… A tragedy, real and racial, swallows us whole, and lingers.” – The New York Times Book Review
★ “A powerful, layered tale of forbidden love in times of unrelenting racism.” – starred, Kirkus Reviews
★ “The work resonates with fear, hope, love, and the importance of memory…. Pérez …gives voice to many long-omitted facets of U.S. history.” – starred, School Library Journal
“Elegant prose and gently escalating action will leave readers gasping for breath at the tragic climax and moving conclusion.” –Booklist
“Anyone who dares read this agonizing star-crossed love story will end up in about six billion numb and tiny pieces. Absolutely stunning.” – Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity
“As stunning as it is truthful, a narrative shaped by history and love that honestly explores racism, abuse and a young woman’s tenacity to fashion a life on her own terms.” –Daniel A. Olivas, Huffington Post
Recipient of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Honor for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
Recipient of the 2016 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award.
Recipient of the 2016 Américas Book Award from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.
The Knife and the Butterfly
16-year-old Azael wakes up to find himself surrounded by a familiar set of concrete walls and a locked door. Juvie again, he thinks. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. There were bats, bricks, chains. A knife. But he can’t remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars. Azael knows prison, and something isn’t right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember.
Lexi Allen would love to forget the fight, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much–at least when it’s time to testify. Lexi knows there’s more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. She’s connected to Azael, and he needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected.
“An unflinching portrait with an ending that begs for another reading.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An uncompromising look at two characters most readers would otherwise look away from.” —Booklist
“Azael is a dynamic and sympathetic main character with an authentic voice…. This hard-hitting novel [will be an] an assured success in libraries serving high school students.” —School Library Journal
“Based on a true incident, this work of fiction is gritty, sad, and not for the faint-hearted.” —VOYA
“Harrowing, heart-rending, and ultimately hopeful. This is the book I wish I’d had the guts to write!” –Jordan Sonnenblick, author of After Ever After and Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie
What Can't Wait
“Another day finished, gracias a Dios.” Seventeen-year-old Marisa’s mother has been saying this for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. An ordinary life–marrying a neighborhood guy, working, having babies–ought to be good enough for her.
Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Some days, it all seems possible. On others, she’s not even sure what she wants.
When her life at home becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere, and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn’t sure what she wants–other than a life where she doesn’t end each day thanking God it’s over.
But some things just can’t wait.
“Pérez fills a hole in YA lit by giving Marisa an authentic voice that smoothly blends Spanish phrases into dialogue and captures the pressures of both Latina life and being caught between two cultures…. Un magnífico debut.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This solid debut deftly explores the daily struggle of some students to persevere in the face of long odds.” —Booklist
“Pérez’s debut is a realistic portrayal of challenges faced by immigrant families and conflicting cultural norms . . . Strong-willed but emotionally vulnerable, Marisa is aware that pursuing a life that’s fulfilling on her own terms comes with a price, and her bittersweet decision leads to an honest and satisfying ending.” —Publishers Weekly
“Pérez’s perspective on Mexican American culture in Texas is authentic; the gritty setting and hard-knocks characters carry the story.” —The Horn Book Guide
“Pérez breathes credible and engaging life into her calculus-loving protagonist and the assorted adults and youth with whom she copes, on whom she relies, and against whom she battles. —VOYA
“A timely, realistic and unflinching portrayal of an unfortunately pressing problem for many immigrant teens.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This strong first novel makes an excellent choice for populations with large numbers of immigrant students.” —School Library Journal
“In a heart-wrenching struggle of friendship, family allegiance, and finding love, Marisa discovers what it truly means to leave the expectations of everyone else behind and become an individual who follows after her hopes and dreams.” —The ALAN Review