My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Honestly I had issues with this one. It had some interesting ideas and a dark topic, thirteen-year-old Wil Lowenstein has lost his brother and has invented a game called zombie tag to cope. But this is also a world where magical things are real and he can (and does) bring back his brother but zombies aren't what the living once were.
I think my issue with it was, Wil's a bit obnoxious but I could have dealt with that. Thirteen year olds often are. The bigger issues was Moskowitz breaks her own world building's rules. She has the idea that time travel is/can be real so then that begs the question why in the world would you bring back your brother as a zombie instead of just going back in time to rescue him? Young readers are sophisticated enough to be wondering that same thing.
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Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If not for the Popsugar challenge's 2019 award winner I might not have ever stumbled across this one. A coming of age story is not my usual fodder but oh, was this one sweet and just the perfect autumn flavor. You could almost taste the pumpkin spice. Josiah, most valuable employee many times over, and Deja are dedicated pumpkin patch employees but as seniors in high school, this is their last time ever working the succotash hut at the large pumpkin patch (think county fair, and also succotash? Really? Are there people lining up for that, asks the woman who stands in line for open pit fire stewed bean soup every year).
For years Josiah has been mooning over the 'fudge girl' working in the fudge stand. Deja has determined she's over Josiah's mooning and his shy lack of self esteemed. This is their last pumpkin patch and she is going to help them both make the most of it because both of them are a bit sad that they'll be going off to college and saying goodbye to it all. They're a bit melancholic (something I didn't quite identify with. I wanted out of h.s. like it was on fire)
The ebullient Deja is the mastermind behind it all. Josiah is going to talk to this girl if it's the last thing Deja does. For her part all Deja wants is to eat at every tasty treat stand (I feel you, girl) including the pumpkin bomb which is vanilla ice cream between two pieces of pumpkin pie dipped in chocolate (omg!) However for once Fudge Girl isn't at her spot and the two friends are led on a merry chase through the patch.
This story is sweet and the art matches. Josiah you occasionally want to slap upside the head for being a fool (as I suspect Deja wants to do too based on her looks) Deja gives us some nice rep as a plus-sized, BiPoC (One mean kid has something to say about her size but otherwise it's very body positive)
I especially liked Deja and as you might expect of a coming of age story, there are a few lessons like love is closer than you think, the meaning of friendship and all that. I'm glad I read this. The one slightly sour note (which got better with a later scene) was that Josiah and Deja are only pumpkin patch friends which made me a bit sad but it works out in the end.
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