Elevate Difference

Reviews of Second Story Press

Gladdy’s Wake

It took me a while to really sink my teeth into Gladdy’s Wake. The book weaves in and out of three generations, each tying together through family, hints of religion, and the story of Nawal Habib, a devout Muslim. Nawal (once Janie Kelly) is suspected of terrorism, an act that reunites her with her estranged brother, Frank (now a priest) and hospitalized father, Daniel (a once devout Catholic); both of whom she left to eventually reinvent herself as Nawal Habib. The story runs through Nawal’s family tragedy, her rebellion, the birth of her son, and eventual religious transformation, all the while introducing the reader to her grandfather, James Kelly, a womanizing Irish immigrant interested in fast cash with no real ethical principles, lest it regard his passion: Gladdy Sage.

The Orphan Rescue

The Orphan Rescue opens in Sosnowiec, Poland in the late spring of 1937 as twelve-year-old Miriam and her grandfather take her younger brother David to an orphanage. Miriam’s grandparents have no other choice. The Depression has been a financially trying time for everyone, and when her locksmith grandfather injures his hand and can no longer work, the family is faced with a difficult decision.

Old Photographs

Old Photographs by Sherie Posesorski is the story of Phoebe Hecht, a teenage girl who is struggling through most boring summer of her life. Originally from the small town of Barrie, Phoebe moved to Toronto about a year ago when her mother married Greg, a very rich, very serious doctor. While her mother is excited about all the changes in their life, Phoebe is less than thrilled.

The Way It Is

Donalda Reid is gutsy to take on heavy racial undertones in her first novel They Way It Is. The story is historical fiction; although, aside from the creation of the main characters, this young adult book is more history than fiction.

Our Earth: How Kids are Saving the Planet

Warm colours cover this book of global children’s experiences of how they are changing the world. Janet Wilson’s Our Earth is a brightly illustrated compact collection worth reading. The core message is simple: all people need to come together to heal the Earth.

A Chanukah Noel: A True Story

A Chanukah Noel is a welcome addition to the limited but much-needed canon of interfaith children’s books, and it has the particular additional benefit of being entirely secular. This combination of qualities already sets it apart from most Christmas picture books. The story is about a young Jewish girl named Charlotte who moves to rural France and struggles to fit in.

A Woman's Agenda 2011: Celebrating Movers and Shakers

Whenever I walk into an office supply store, my heart bursts into song. Traipsing rapturously down the aisles of Staples or Office Depot, it's all I can do not to spin like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Patrick's Wish

Patrick's Wish is a true story told from the perspective of a young girl whose brother had a serious illness. It is evident from page one that there was some serious hero worship going on when it came to her older brother, Patrick. The book itself has an almost scrapbook feel to it, with alternating pages of text and photographs from Patrick and Lyanne’s childhood, and it details Lyanne’s eventual discovery that her brother’s illness is terminal.

The Second Trial

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a scourge that affects families in every country and at every social class. Between twenty-five and fifty percent of women worldwide will be a victim of IPV at some point in thier lives, and forty to seventy percent of female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner. These statistics are shocking, but what is too often left out of the discussion about IPV is the way violence can affect so many lives.

Fearless Female Journalists

Fearless Female Journalists is a set of ten short profiles of female reporters, photojournalists, and newscasters hailing from various times and places over the last two centuries. Among the women featured is one of the early pioneers of modern journalism: nineteenth-century American newspaperwoman Nellie Bly, a daredevil stunt reporter.

Sandy's Incredible Shrinking Footprint

Struggling with the idea of how to teach your child about the concept of his or her environmental footprint? Who isn't! With young children being so literal, it's hard for them to think about how a footprint could be anything other than, well, a footprint.

Song Over Quiet Lake

In Song Over Quiet Lake, Sarah Felix Burns tells several intertwining stories of loss, love, and healing. The novel centers on an unlikely friendship between a young white woman, Sylvia, and a Tlingit elder, Lydie Jim. Both are students at the University of British Columbia, and they meet when Sylvia is assigned to be Lydie’s tutor.

The Last River Child

The Last River Child is the story of a town caught up in a legend: they believe there are children possessed by the spirit of the river meant to bring misfortune to everything around them. Everyone is taught to stay away from the river, but a young girl named Peg feels drawn to the river and refuses to believe the story.


As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I was very eager to dig into Thinandbeautiful.com. This young adult book was written by Liane Shaw, a teacher who once struggled with anorexia. The story follows Maddie, an anorexic teenage girl who finds herself sucked into the "pro-ana" (pro-anorexia) website thinandbeautiful.com.


A first day in a new school. Stomach butterflies, lunchroom trades, art projects. Kids asking why you’re not the same color as your dad. This is the story of Violet, a children’s picture book by Tania Duprey Stehlik with edgy illustrations by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic. Violet’s mom is red, her dad is blue, and Violet is, well, violet. Back home at the kitchen table after school, Violet asks her mother to explain.

The Madwoman of Bethlehem

Before I started to read The Madwoman of Bethlehem, a story about a woman’s struggle against her patriarchal culture, I wondered whether it would be depressing. It wasn’t.

Rough Magic

Most of Caryl Cude Mullin’s Rough Magic takes place on a magical island, the home of sirens and air spirits. When an exiled Queen bent on revenge and accumulating more power takes control of the island’s magic the fate of its inhabitants is left for the islands own control. Chiara, a young Princess with an interest and talent for magic, is ordered by her father to marry a Spanish Prince for his own ambition.

Home Free

Books with young female characters who love books make my heart smile. Home Free by Sharon Jennings made my heart shine with a full-faced grin. Meet Leanna Mets. She loves books, aspires to be a writer, and is trying to figure out what life means. This alone is no easy task, but it’s especially hard as she’s trying to navigate her blossoming life under the strict and watchful eye of her conservative mother. Leanna just wants to feel free.