Alethea Kontis

The holiday season that You've Got Mail was released, I saw it in the theater with my grandmother. Now that she's gone, I rewatch the silly, heartwarming Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic every year right around this time. Tiana Smith's How to Speak Boy was absolutely the perfect book to dovetail right into my tradition.

I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I had a few reservations about reviewing a book called Crying Laughing, just based on the title. By and large, I am not a fan of stories that make me cry. I don't mind getting teary by the last chapter because I've fallen in love with the characters and someone has just made a grand gesture or said the perfect thing — that's different. Those books don't typically have the word "Crying" just right there in the title.

It's that time of year again. Fall is right around the corner. Pumpkin spice fills the air. Kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter, and books are getting heavier. The pie-in-the-sky, read-them-in-one sitting summer-blockbuster releases now make way for complex novels filled with luscious prose, years of history, and serious issues. Books just like Maika and Maritza Moulite's Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Silence Between Us, as I had yet to review a book for this column featuring a deaf protagonist. I was doubly delighted to know that the story had been written by someone who is herself part of the deaf community — Alison Gervais suffered permanent hearing loss at a very young age, and is hard of hearing. Even the book's cover image is #OwnVoices, designed by deaf artist Nancy Rourke. I was absolutely ready to lose myself in a good book that both respected and celebrated deaf culture, and I was not disappointed.

Humor is incredibly subjective. It's unique to each person. So much so that my very first fiction writing teacher instructed us to never even attempt it. Instead of accepting the challenge this was probably meant to be, I took the lesson to heart. I already knew I had a strange sense of humor.

There are a million books out there about intelligent young people who overcome insurmountable odds and triumph over adversity, all on their own. These far outnumber the books about young people that start out this way. I was happy to find that Lauren Morrill's Better Than the Best Plan is one of them.

Books about rapturous, all-consuming first love are prevalent in young adult literature. But what about that last year before graduation, realistically? What about all those heartbreaking decisions that must be made when one or both parties go away to college? What happens to that beautiful teenage love then?