Sara Benincasa

Here’s some common sense for you. I want gun ownership to be as boring and annoying as car ownership. I want you to go to some Department of Weapons and sit for hours. I want folks who own guns to prove their skill, their mental and physical health, and to be licensed and reviewed over the years just as happens with our driver’s licenses. You earn the right to own and drive a vehicle; earn the right to own and use a gun.

Quibble with me over semantics if you want to; what is a “right” vs. what is a “privilege.” I’ll be busy with my friends trying to prevent more unnecessary deaths.

Gun ownership isn’t some inalienable right granted by God.

Remember, the Constitution was written by men coming out of a long and bloody war near the end of the 18th century. It was written for their time.

It also included the “right” to own a human being.

Things change. Folks evolve.

I want a voluntary federal buyback program for firearms, with hunting weapons and vintage/historic weapons exempt. I want the sale of weapons to be even more tightly controlled than the sale of Xanax and other controlled substances. I want advertising for firearms to be as regulated as DTC (direct to consumer) advertising for pharmaceuticals (“May cause shortness of breath, long-lasting boners, etc.”) We can do all of this. It’ll create jobs, believe it or not: regulators, educators, enforcers.

It will not end murder. It won’t end rape or robbery either. It WILL make it harder to commit those crimes. There will be a black market for guns as there is for any coveted item in a capitalist society. (And I’m not anti-capitalism, btw. I’m a big fan! Sorry, hippies. I do love you guys, by the way, you’re very nice people with good instincts.) Continuing education credits for gun owners should be required, just as they are with medical professionals.

When you have a greater ability to take a human life you have a greater responsibility to prove your fitness to wield the tools that may create that end.

And that’s how the fuck you well-regulate a goddamn American militia..


This week’s diverse new releases, plus a couple that were mistakenly omitted last week:

Great by Sara Benincasa (HarperTeen)

“Adult author and comedian Benincasa (Agorafabulous!) gives The Great Gatsby a biting, genderbent twist in her first book for teens. … In many ways, this is a very faithful retelling, and any readers who have completed ninth-grade English (or caught the recent Baz Luhrmann film) will have as much fun picking out the parallels and allusions as Benincasa clearly did creating them. And, yes, there’s even a green light on a dock—the charging dock for Jacinta’s laptop.” — Publishers Weekly

Pointe by Brandy Colbert (Penguin)

“Theo Cartwright, from one of the few black families in a predominantly white Chicago suburb, lives for ballet, and she’s destined for stardom on stage. When her childhood best friend Donovan—who disappeared four years earlier at age 13—resurfaces, Theo’s life is upended. Debut novelist Colbert has written an extraordinary book about dance, seamlessly intertwined with the chilling aftermath of a kidnapping.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Between Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick (Wendy Lamb Books)

“This strong historical novel portrays the impact of Robert E. Peary’s polar expeditions on the family and world of a young Inuit woman who joined them. … Stripped of airbrushed romanticism and Eurocentric gloss, a rare look at culture clash arising from polar exploration.” — Kirkus

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Candlewick)

“This debut YA novel and series opener by indigenous Australian Kwaymullina is set in a postapocalyptic Australia where humanity’s abuse of the environment has caused a societal and environmental chaos called the Reckoning. … The world-building is particularly interesting, as the author incorporates elements of the aboriginal creation story of the Dreamtime and Grandfather Serpent into the protagonist’s visions. Give this one to dystopia fans who are looking for a unique perspective.” — School Library Journal

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose edited by Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil (Sourcebooks Fire)

“Between the ages of 15 and 18, until her death in 1999 of cystic fibrosis, a Pennsylvania teenager named Mary Rose wrote unguardedly in her journals. McCain and McNeil (co-editors of Please Kill Me: An Oral History of Punk) offer a condensed but otherwise unaltered version of her diary entries and the occasional letter. … It’s a rare, no-holds-barred documentation of an American teenager’s life, written for no audience but herself.” — Publishers Weekly

Far From You by Tess Sharpe (Disney-Hyperion)

“This beautifully realized debut delves into the emotions of a girl recovering from drug addiction and grief, all wrapped up in a solid mystery. Sophie and Mina have been best friends since second grade. When they were 14, they were involved in a car accident that nearly killed Sophie, who became addicted to OxyContin during her recovery. Sophie has kicked her habit with the help of her bounty-hunter aunt and clings to each day that she stays clean. As the book opens, however, readers learn that Mina has been murdered. … An absorbing story full of depth and emotion.” — Kirkus, starred review

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi (Sourcebooks Fire)

“Lexi Hamilton feels her homosexuality is too much of a burden on her recently widowed mother, so she agrees to go away for the summer. At Camp Horizon, a Christian ‘un-gaying’ institution on the East Coast, each teen reveals his or her past trauma in group therapy sessions led by the evil Jeremiah Martin. What keeps campers cooperating is that, like Lexi, the reality they’ve gotten away from seems much worse. Only Matthew, in love with Justin at home, remains aloof, until Mr. Martin selects him for his personal brand of mistreatment, and a rebellion ensues.” — School Library Journal

It’s like there’s this knowledge hanging in the air that one person has more power than the other, and we’re supposed to pretend everything is nice and normal and equal, but in reality, luck or chance has showered benefits on one person that the other person couldn’t dream of.
—  Sara Benincasa, Great

Here’s a selection of some of the new YA novels hitting the shelves this week (6th - 12th April). For more on new releases and all things YA lit, visit our website, follow us here and on Twitter, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release date: April 8th
Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing which will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists. But first, they have a mystery to solve. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

Between Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release date: April 8th
Sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs. The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expedition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary.

Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: April 8th
When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected.

Burn Out (Burn Out #1) by Kristi Helvig
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release date: April 8th
One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 8th
Seventeen year-old dirt-bike daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 8th
When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: April 8th
Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

Great by Sara Benincasa
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: April 8th
In Sara Benincasa’s contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: April 8th
Seventeen-year-old Prenna James immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Incinerator (Crusher #2) by Niall Leonard
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: April 8th
London ganglord The Guvnor is in hiding, and Finn Maguire has begun a new life running a boxing gym with his old friend and coach Delroy. But when Finn’s lawyer Nicky Hale vanishes overnight with all his money, Finn finds himself in hock to a loan shark with a vicious gang of enforcers.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (The Tribe #1) by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: April 8th
The Reckoning destroyed civilisation. Rising from the ashes, some people have developed unique abilities, and society is scared of them. Guided by the ancient spirits of the land, Ashala Wolf will do anything to keep them safe.

The Klaatu Terminus (The Klaatu Diskos #3) by Pete Hautman
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: April 8th
Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Where — and when — will it all end?

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: April 8th
A meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County reignites the feud between two families when the toxic fire throws together good girl Victoria Whitfield and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale. Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

The Nethergrim (The Nethergrim Trilogy #1) by Matthew Jobin
Publisher: Philomel
Release date: April 8th
The Nethergrim, a beast of legend, has returned. Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. He and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 8th
Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release date: April 8th
Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world.

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: April 8th
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: April 8th
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. They are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the souls of the damned. Only this year, the souls will not be quieted. Separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known.

Swim That Rock by John Rocco & Jay Primiano
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: April 8th
When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time.

Toxic Heart (Mystic City #2) by Theo Lawrence
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: April 8th
Aria believes she can save the city, and win back the Hunter she fell in love with. Before she can play peacemaker, though, Aria will need to find the missing heart of a dead mystic. The heart gives untold powers to whoever possesses it, but finding it means seeking out a fierce enemy whose deepest desire is for Aria to be gone—forever.

Troll Mountain: Episode 1 by Matthew Reilly
Publisher: Momentum Books
Release date: April 8th
When his sister is struck down by a deadly disease and his tribal leaders refuse to help him, an intrepid youth named Raf decides to defy his tribe and do the unthinkable: he will journey alone to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir from the dreaded trolls.

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 8th
Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school. But then Luke—the creative force behind their vigilante poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show.

What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release date: April 8th
Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide.

The World Outside by Eva Wiseman
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release date: April 8th
Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. But Chanie has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer - a profession forbidden to a Hasidic girl. When she meets David, a non-Hasidic Jewish boy, he opens the portals to the world outside her fundamentalist community.

Zom-B Mission (Zom-B #7) by Darren Shan
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 8th
B Smith and the other Angels are relieved to finally receive their first mission - to safely escort a group of human survivors from the zombie-infested streets of London to New Kirkham, a barricaded safe haven in the country. But after battling through crowds of undead monsters, B discovers that the survivors of the town aren’t the best of humanity.

The End of Never (Spitfire #2) by Tammy Turner
Publisher: BQB Publishing
Release date: April 9th
Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Peyton is too smart to fall for pickup lines. She knows crushing on her immortal admirer Kraven could get her heart broken. Or maybe even ripped out of her chest. Literally.

Deadfall (Agent 21 #4) by Chris Ryan
Publisher: Random House
Release date: April 10th
Zak Darke is sent on what seems like a straightforward surveillance op in South Africa but it soon turns into the toughest, most dangerous mission he has ever faced. An old enemy has teamed up with a terrifying gang of child soldiers and Zak is caught in the middle.

Goddess by Laura Powell
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: April 10th
The Cult of Artemis is the only home Aura has ever known. Her dream is to serve the Goddess and taking a vow of chastity and obedience seems a small price to pay. But days before Aura is due to be initiated as a Priestess, she meets Aiden, the rebellious son of a cult insider, whose radical ideas force Aura to question everything – and everyone – she knows.

Hate by Alan Gibbons
Publisher: Indigo
Release date: April 10th
Eve’s older sister, Rosie, was bright and alive and always loved being the centre of attention. Then one day, she is brutally murdered. Six months later, Eve meets Antony and discovers that he was there the night Rosie died and did nothing to help. Is there any way she can ever get past that?

Mayday by Jonathan Friesen
Publisher: Speak
Release date: April 10th
Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. She won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t as clear-cut as she remembered.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: April 10th
Theo is better now. She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

The System (The Killables #3) by Gemma Malley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: April 10th
Everybody watches everyone else; nothing is hidden. And for those who fail to ‘update’ every fifteen minutes, the consequences are deadly. Evie and Raffy have escaped the City but they still fear for their lives. Now the only person who can help them is Frankie, the most popular girl in the world, watched every second by millions of people.

The Soul Healer (Silver Moon Saga #2) by Melissa Giorgio
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Release date: April 11th
It’s been two months since Gabi Harkins first learned of demons and the mysterious hunters who battle them. Now she wants to settle into a normal routine, but when her life is destroyed by the ultimate of betrayals, Gabi must survive her hardest challenges yet.

Epic Reads Epic Week

WOOHOO it’s #ARCParty week [insert *Book Shimmy* here]! We unveiled 22 summer and fall YA books from HarperTeen. Watch the recap on Tea Time!


FROZEN CHAPTER REVEAL- Why wait until the 15th? Read the first chapter of FROZEN now!

11 recipes for Bookworms- Bookish noms? Sign us up!  

GREAT – Teen girls in love with each other and Gatsby influence thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love?!

44 Gifs of FOUR- No explanation necessary.

Lovecraftian Literary Nail Wraps- No books were harmed during the making of these nail wraps.  

Snarkles gets a Makeover! 

The lovely and always hilarious Sara Benincasa commissioned a portrait from me which I finished yesterday.  As she is (among many other things) the Jezebel advice columnist, we decided that all the starfish would seek advice from mermaid Sara. Please don’t ask me how ink works under water. It JUST DOES.

I finally got around to reading her book, Agorafabulous, which just came out in paperback this week, and it’s excellent. It’s the very, very funny autobiographical story of her anxiety disorder, how she got better and how she became a comedian. It’s totally worth your time and you should all read it. (I’ll likely be writing something more substantial about it in the very near future).


“World’s Biggest Breaking Bad Fan”

The show explained by someone who’s never watched it: Comedian Sara Benincasa.

My favorite place to write is pretty boring: on my couch at home or, if I’m feeling super-productive, at a desk at home. But usually I’m just on my couch. Neil Gaiman told me he writes in a gazebo with a tombstone as the step to the front door. Fucking Gaiman and his better-than-everyone-else set-up.

Sara Benincasa for the Rumpus.

Do you guys get it yet? I love Sara and I love her book and it’s out today. *sigh*